Analytical Science Summer School Workshop held on 2 November 2006
Jury’s Inn, Birmingham
For further information
North Star Avenue
A one day workshop was held to examine the requirements for a Summer School type
training activity for analytical science PhD students. The driver for the workshop had
been the March 2006 Theme day in Analytical Science. A key aspect of the theme day
had been to examine the training and impact of the EPSRC / RSC analytical science
studentship scheme. The theme day panel was broadly supportive of the studentship
scheme and the requirement to underpin the postgraduate training base in this research
area. However, there was a concern that there did not appear to be any differential
between the students funded through the scheme and those funded through other routes
including EPSRC Doctoral Training Grants or Responsive Mode. It was considered
important that this key scheme should have associated with it enhanced training to
ensure the scheme was best fit to meet its objectives.
In taking forward the recommendations of the theme day report EPSRC examined a
number of potential mechanisms for delivering such training. The conclusion of this
examination was the provisional decision to invite applications to operate a summer
school in the area. The criteria for the studentship scheme itself were also re-examined
in this light, with the 2006 call inviting proposals with increased emphasis on
collaboration and enhanced training.
Thirty analytical science researchers, split between academe and industry, attended the
one day workshop.
Summer School Challenges
The key elements for a summer school in this area are to develop both increased
awareness of analytical techniques and of the research challenges of users. It was
considered important that the school is grounded in the practicalities of research,
including an overview on the current state of the art along with what is being
implemented within industry. Specific issues for this area are the barriers of taking new
techniques and methodologies developed in academe into industry, the take up of
existing technology across sectors and highlighting of best practice. The challenge of
delivering increased awareness can only be delivered through problem solving based
learning. This approach should be at the centre of a Summer School based activity.
What are the key elements of a summer school?
? The school should last at least 5 days in order to cover all the necessary basics
about what analytical science actually is, through its industrial and social context.
? How analytical science is carried out experimentally, with an emphasis on the
development as well as the use of analytical techniques.
? In response to changing analytical needs, the importance of innovation, design
and creation of new analytical methods
? The summer school should demonstrate the academic rigour of analytical science
training, highlighting the value of curiosity driven research.
? A range of students should be invited and it should not be exclusive to the EPSRC
/ RSC funded ones.
? The training within the school should be broad and cross disciplinary, and based
on problem solving skills
? Key speakers should be carefully chosen in order to engage and hopefully inspire
? Networking opportunities should also be provided, possibly through a poster
Which of these elements are best provided by industry or in partnership?
? Innovation should be highlighted with venture capitalists.
? Highlighting key technology areas from a number of sectors
? Problems solving sessions incorporating a wide range of industries.
? Exemplars from SMEs would also be important where analytical scientists can
often be the chemist.
? High quality lectures from suitable analytical scientists in industry.
? Examples of production failure and rapid trouble shooting.
? Cross discipline awareness. Need to be exposed to areas not directly covered by
their PhD programme. Examine how their skills and knowledge can make an
impact within another area.
? Technology transfer; learning how to look at business, examine the market and
issues with trying to transfer research outcomes to the commercial sector.
Ideal Summer school programme
? There should be a welcome and the opportunity for introductions. Speed
networking could also be incorporated at this point.
? A Summer School should initially address the question of what analytical science
actually is, highlighting the challenges of technique development. Core
components of this are to address questions such as accuracy and choice of
techniques. The school should be delivered through a mix of presentation and