Young Investigators Retreat (YIR)

BOSCH YOUNG INVESTIGATOR RETREAT, KIOLOA 2014

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The 8th Annual Bosch Institute Young Investigator’s Retreat was held at the Kioloa ANU Coastal Campus, from the 18th-20th of February 2014.

A report by Leyla Fouani, 1st year PhD Student
We began our journey piling onto the bus, PhD candidates, post-doctoral researchers and academics alike. With a karaoke machine in tow and adventure in our hearts we set off to Kioloa.

Kioloa quite simply was postcard perfect. Picture this, the green rolling hills of southern New South Whales, majestic trees and cuddly fauna, blue skies and a clear sea, starry nights by the fire and let us never forget the karaoke, dance offs and what I believe was trivia? With a few of your favourite academics. This was the Bosch Young Investigator’s Retreat 2014.

By far the most valuable aspect of the retreat was access to a highly sought-after resource, our academics. The workshops on offer guided and conducted by these experts were informative, relevant, constructive, and highly entertaining. It was up to us to take full advantage of this opportunity, and it was great to see everyone participate and engage. With this year marking the first year of my PhD it was also a fantastic opportunity to draw from the experience of these academics and fellow retreat goers. Those burning questions I had were answered and I acquired and refined skills essential for my research career. However, it was easy to see that no matter the stage we were at in our higher degrees, there was something for all attendees to gain.

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What made the retreat for me was being able to network with fellow researchers from a range of fields. We shared living quarters; dined together, danced together, stargazed together, barely slept and conversed until the wee hours of the morning. The atmosphere at Kioloa provided the perfect opportunity to unwind and openly discuss our work, our concerns and our goals. They may have been strangers at first, but they were friends at departure.

Many of us, scratch that, all of us! leaving the retreat have left with a newfound confidence in our capabilities and potential to navigate the research world. I am so grateful for the experience and for the time and energy that these academics took to show us all the light.
I’m sure I am joined by all who attended the retreat this year in thanking the academics, with special thanks given to Professor Frank Lovicu and Dr. Steve Assinder. Thank you all for imparting your wisdom. No doubt many of the successes in our careers will be attributable to the skills and advice you have provided us. Thanks should also be extended to the members of the Young investigators committee for organising the event. It was seamless and that is much to your credit also.
I would highly recommend the Bosch Young Investigator’s Retreat to anyone partaking in a higher-level research degree. So go on, treat yourself to Kioloa!

everyone and classroom


Report by Tom Owens, PhD & Dan Johnstone, PhD
Much was learned and fun experiences shared at the recent Bosch Young Investigator Retreat. Held as usual at the Kioloa ANU Coastal Campus, it brought together 40 postgraduate students and postdocs for 3 days of career development workshops and networking opportunities. Scientists at various stages of their careers were available to offer advice to those less experienced about what lies ahead.

Being able to describe your research in simple terms is a critical skill to develop; this enables one to communicate their work to others in an engaging way. The Sci-shorts exercise helped participants to hone their communication skills by giving researchers just one slide and 2 minutes to describe the research of a partner they were paired with on the journey down. This exercise also provided insight into the broad scope of cutting-edge science that occurs within the Bosch Institute. The late afternoon of free time gave the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful local beach that is just a stone’s throw from the campus. Following dinner, discussions of life and laboratory experiences around the campfire went on into the night.

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On the second day, small group workshops enabled participants to select the sessions most relevant to their stages of career, and ensured something of use for all attendees, even those that had been on previous retreats. Topics included long term career planning, CV workshop, publishing, the postgrad to postdoc transition and options for jobs in industry. As postdoc mentors, we ran a session that pointed out the important choices that are faced when transitioning from postgrad to postdoc: staying in same focussed research area or broadening your horizons, staying in Australia or venturing overseas, joining a small lab or a big lab, applying for fellowships or following a traditional post-doc route. This session reinforced that there is no one correct path, as everyone has their own individual experiences and priorities. After lunch, presentation and teamwork skills were developed through the “Headlines” challenge. A spot or two of rain didn’t dampen people’s enthusiasm or stop them getting down to the beach during free time to take a swim, play volleyball or explore the rock pools.

The last evening’s entertainment was provided the traditional retreat trivia, which came with a good dose of laughter and was followed by music and dancing for those with energy left to enjoy it. The final day we travelled back to University with more knowledge and friends than we had only 2 days before. Highly recommend it.


BOSCH YOUNG INVESTIGATOR RETREAT, KIOLOA 2013

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The 7th Annual Bosch Institute Young Investigator’s Retreat was held at the Kioloa ANU Coastal Campus, from the 19th-21st of February 2013. The retreat brought together 31 young researchers from laboratories of the Bosch Institute for 3 days. The 5 academics facilitated discussions and workshops on topics varying from effective presentation skills, academic writing, career-mentoring and fellowship applications. The retreat was the perfect environment to get to know a wide variety of graduate students and post docs from the laboratories of the Bosch Institute. The social schedule underpinned the formal workshops and provided opportunities for the academics to answer more directed career-related questions. The retreats great success is a credit to the hard work and diligence of the Bosch Young Investigator Committee under the leadership of A/Prof. Frank Lovicu. I learnt a great deal from the young investigators and the academics and I would like to take this opportunity thank all the participants.

Report by - Emma Collinson (Research Fellow)

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Bosch Young Investigator’s Retreat – Kioloa 2013 - a report by

- Goldie Lui (PhD candidate)

Having heard great things about the Bosch Young Investigator’s Retreat from previous years, I joined a group of PhD candidates and post-doctoral researchers for the 2013 retreat - and was definitely not disappointed!
On our way to Kioloa Coastal Campus, we stopped for a short break in the town of Berry, where many of us picked up some delicious pastries from the famous local bakeries. After approximately 4 hours, we arrived at Kioloa, with its remote beauty and nearby beach providing the perfect backdrop and atmosphere for the upcoming activities.
The retreat was filled with engaging, informative and useful seminars covering a range of topics, including effective oral presentation skills, tips on manuscript writing, improving our ‘employability’ as scientists, and opportunities for career development beyond our PhD. Notably, these were all conducted in a relaxed and friendly environment, with all academics speaking from personal experience and encouraging open and honest discussions. There were also valuable opportunities for individual mentoring from the academics, which provided helpful advice to students at any stage of their PhD.
Without doubt, a highlight of the retreat was being able to meet and form new friendships with students from many different disciplines and even faculties. There was plenty of time to relax and socialise, whether forming human pyramids at the beach, sitting around the bonfire toasting marshmallows, or playing games. The exciting and fun-filled trivia and games session on the final night was particularly memorable, and was followed by a karaoke and dance party that lasted until dawn!

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I am sure I join many others in wishing to sincerely thank the academics who attended this year’s retreat – Assoc. Prof. Frank Lovicu, Dr. Steve Assinder, Dr. Katie Dixon, Dr. Aaron Camp, and Dr. Emma Collinson – without your dedicated time, advice, guidance and most entertaining dance moves, this retreat would not have been as enjoyable as it was. I would definitely encourage any PhD student or early post-doctoral researcher to attend such a well organised, informative and fun getaway!


BOSCH YOUNG INVESTIGATOR RETREAT, KIOLOA 2012

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Tuesday the 21st of February saw 26 members of the Bosch Institute- comprising of Masters, PhD students and Postdocs together with a handful of Academics, depart the University to embark upon the 3 day Bosch Young Investigators Retreat at the Kioloa Coastal Campus. The meeting was an enormous success - please see the participants feedback and student and academic report below.
The Bosch Young Investigator Retreat is an event held annually, traditionally in February - it is becoming more popular and recognised for it value each year. For 3 days, young researchers, ranging from first year Ph.D students to late-stage postdocs participate in a range of activities covering diverse aspects of scientific endeavour, from poster and presentation design, to writing papers, thesis planning and writing and career development. Students also get the opportunity to meet and share experiences with more students and staff from a broad range of departments, disciplines and institutions at the University of Sydney.
Thanks must go to Frank Lovicu, Bosch Young Investigators Coordinator but also to Steve Assinder, Margot Day and Stuart Fraser and the Bosch Young Investigator Committee for their time, effort and support.

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Students Report

Bosch Young Investigator Retreat, Kioloa 2012
The 21st of February saw 26 members of the Bosch Institute- comprising of Masters and PhD students and Postdocs as well as a handful of Academics, depart the University to embark upon the 3 day Bosch Young Investigators Retreat at the Kioloa Coastal Campus. The picturesque drive down took approximately 4 hours but was broken up by a brief stop in beautiful Berry where many were quick to hit up the local bakeries or simply stretch their legs. Once at the campus, the students participated in workshops aimed to enhance presentation, writing and publishing skills (“effective communication!”) as well as offer sound and practical advice on successful career development and progression beyond post-grad research. The value of these sessions was boosted by the fact that they occurred in a very relaxed environment where students benefited from the constructive analysis and opinions from both their peers and the academics as well as gain valuable insight born of a wealth of knowledge and experience from the academics.
On the other side of the coin- the retreat was well balanced with plenty of time for all to have plenty of fun. Despite a rainy start, the days quickly pulled through to provide weather that perfectly complemented the beautiful beach just a short stroll from the campus. Bikinis and boardies were donned and the sand, surf and rock pools were set upon. The first night saw everyone enjoying toasting marshmallows over a blazing bonfire under a clear starry night, with the second night delivering a passionate game of trivia followed by an intense dance and karaoke party that lasted well into the night and on into the wee hours of the morning. Before we knew it, it was time to head back to Sydney but not without having established many new friendships and not before one more stop in Berry for lunch.
Special thanks must be given to Frank Lovicu and the members of the Bosch Young Investigators Committee for organising such a successful retreat as well as Steve Assinder, Margot Day and Stuart Fraser who were able to bring their insight and sense of humour and fun.

- Naomi Perera (MPhil candidate)

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Academic Report - coming

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BOSCH YOUNG INVESTIGATOR RETREAT, KIOLOA 2011

Bosch Young Investigators Retreat Feedback 2012

*Thanks again to you and the Young Investigator's Committee for putting together a fantastic retreat! It was a great opportunity to meet other young researchers from across the various disciplines and a great way to address many of the questions that I, and I'm sure many others, had in regards to our career development and progression. Having a number of academics take the time out of their busy schedules to share their wisdom and advice was probably the most valuable asset to the retreat. In future, though, it might be a little easier if some of the sessions were broken down into shorter and more focussed blocks - perhaps even over a greater number of days, to really ensure that adequate attention and time can be given to each of the main things we covered. Of course though, the relaxed ambience, beach visit, fun nights around the campfire and trivia really made for a memorable time! Again, thank you.

*Well organised event

*Very informative and lots of fun. Good opportunity to get to know other students.

*Useful presentation tips . More details about thesis plan.

*Well organised and helpful. More time at the beach would be nice.

*A very nice retreat. I had lots of fun. If possible can we get someone such as a non-academic/researcher that has graduated from a PhD and gone to industry so that the PhD students can share his/her experience/history.

*Great trip. Well organised. Morning session was a bit long. Might be better to have 3 x 45 mins sessions with 30 mins break in between to help keep everyone engaged. Content was very goo and helpful.

*Sci_Shorts: Great. Morning Discussion and presentation on Publish or Persih: lots of good information but too long. Poster Discussion: great More small group work., e.g. CV workshop, each person brings CV for comments from rest of group. Clearer objectives so people know what they are getting out of it. Overall, really good and glad I attended.

*Great retreat. Thanks for organising. Session on thesis plan/what is needed for a thesis? Gatorade for the morning after : )

*Suggestion: an opportunity for older students to talk about their experience (the do’s and don’t’ does).

*The information we get from this trip is very useful and I had heaps of fun! Really enjoyed the mentoring program.
Student reps need to advertise this retreat more and probably make it more appealing.

*The retreat was great! All the ‘formal sessions’ were very informative and it was great to hear different perspectives from the academics. The group mentor session was good as we got to clarify any concerns we had. The trivia event was great fun (as well as the juke box). Could we possibly have a session on scientific writing?

*I really liked the career development talk and mentoring session but maybe the talk should have had a break half way? And I’m interested in possible industry options, but I guess academics don’t necessarily have industry experience……..

*Presentation skills very helpful, as was the career advice and posters. More info on non-academic options post-PhD would be good.

*Liked the beach and trivia/ Felt like the group session was useful due to more specific discussion and questions. That being said, talks were useful but unsure as to whether there would be any point in attending next year.

*Good retreat. Could try to modify the talks year to year because we can remember from year to year. The mentoring sessions were good….. Some information about careers outside of academia would be good.

*Less trivia corruption!!!!!

*It was all really good. I liked that we had a bit more free time this year. Perhaps a quick slide on scientific CV or just where to find out about it. I didn’t really like the 20 mins to make a poster/talk exercise.


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Bosch Young Investigator Retreat, Kioloa - 15-17 February 2011

On Tuesday 15th February a group of young investigators and academics set off for the 5th annual Bosch Young Investigators Retreat, held at ANU’s Kioloa Coastal Campus on the South Coast. As the reports and feedback below clearly show - it was a wonderful and valuable success.

Thanks must go to Frank Lovicu, Bosch Young Investigators Coordinator but also to Steve Assinder, Nick Cole, Stuart Fraser and the Bosch Young Investigator Committee for their time, effort and support.

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Bosch Young Investigator Retreat 2011 Reports

The Kioloa ANU Coastal Campus hosted the 5th annual Bosch Institute Young Investigator’s Retreat from 15-17th of February. For 3 days, 25 young researchers, ranging from first year Ph.D students to late-stage postdocs participated in a range of activities covering diverse aspects of scientific endeavour, from poster and presentation design, to writing papers and career development. The 4 academics involved were kept busy, not just at the educational level but also at the social level. Possibly the greatest benefit of this retreat was simply getting to know more students and staff from a broad range of departments, disciplines and institutions at the University of Sydney. The academics did their best to offer practical suggestions to help with young investigators embarking on a career in science. The tranquil atmosphere of the south coast, only occasionally disrupted by awful jokes around the campfire or late night karaoke, was the perfect setting for researchers, both young and those more experienced to get together and share their experience and knowledge. The success of this great retreat must be put down to the hard work and leadership of A/Prof. Frank Lovicu and the students and postdocs on the Bosch Young Investigator Committee.

Stuart Fraser
Sesqui Lecturer

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The Bosch Young Investigator Retreat took place at the Kioloa Coastal Campus from the 15th to the 17th February 2011. 25 people including 4 academics embarked on this 3 day journey. The 4-hour bus ride to Kioloa on that rainy Tuesday morning was filled with anticipation and excitement. After a brief stop in Berry, we found ourselves driving along the beautiful south coast – rolling green hills sitting alongside the blissful blue ocean. It was then that I realized what an amazing place we were heading for – well and truly a retreat!

We arrived in Kioloa just after 2pm and got to work unpacking and preparing our dorms and the kitchen. After lunch we headed down to the beautiful beach to explore our peaceful and natural surroundings. This would be the setting for a fun-filled stay that would result in the formation of many new friendships - and it was! From our morning run down to the beach, to beach soccer in the afternoon, it was a great place to socialize and have a wonderful time. Our first evening was spent sitting around the bonfire toasting marshmallows and chatting away, while the next evening included a trivia night, after which we danced until the twilight hours of the morning!

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Apart from all the fun-filled activities that took place at Kioloa, there was a lot to be gained academically as well. These included career workshops that opened my eyes to the options and opportunities that come beyond the completion of a PhD. The ability to chat to the academics in this relaxed setting was extremely valuable and their helpful advice was most appreciated. The workshops also covered every aspect of completing a PhD – from learning how to give a great presentation to preparing the perfect poster. We also received useful advice on how to prepare and publish papers and what to think about in terms of completing the all-important PhD thesis.

Overall, the Bosch Young Investigators Retreat was a very memorable and rewarding experience. It is something that every PhD student (and Post-Doc) should experience at least once during their time at the Bosch Institute and will undoubtedly be a positive step in their development as scientists. I would like to thank A/Prof. Frank Lovicu and the Bosch Young Investigators Committee for organizing such a wonderful event!

Zaklina Kovacevic


KIOLOA Retreat Feedback 2011

“Great retreat! However, when the trip is being advertised, it may be helpful to emphasise on the extremely beneficial career advice/workshops that is offered. : )”

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“Good Dorms! Do it!”

“I thought it was very well organized with a good deal of material covered…Maybe shorter sessions at times since new students wouldn’t necessarily need information about publishing etc…”

“Great retreat! Very well organized, good focus on thinking about career prospects for the future. Thanks. : ).”

“ Pretty good overall. Sessions could be shorter. Marco should bring more games.”

“Didn’t realise how career focussed it was. You should advertise this more . May bring in more people. Great trip.”

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“Awesome trip. Way better than thought! The sessions could be a bit shorter – great however to hear academic life stories of climbing the academic ladder (quite inspiring). overall fab trip. Maybe advertise the career info/writing info more to pull more people in rather than just a social event. Thanks heaps for organising!”

‘Great trip. Really good to get to know each other and informative. Maybe sessions a lil too long. Poster and presentation session could be a bit more focussed. Learnt heaps from the experience.”

‘I enjoyed it a lot. The workshop sessions were useful especially I liked the way you taught how to present our studies in a simple and effective way. The meals were good as well. Thank you for organising and giving the opportunity for this nice trip.”

“Great retreat. Very worthwhile. The teaching, motivation and encouragement from peers and academics were great! I would really like more formal workshops, like the writing a paper session, especially the presentation. Oh and real coffee would make a long session much shorter.”

“Always enjoyable. Some juniors told me that they did not know that it is such a good career development course and therefore we maybe should emphasise a little bit more of the actual program in the e-mails. Some even told me that the message came across to them that you wouldn’t do that many useful things.”

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“It was a nice experience. Thanks Frank. I think it would be nice if we have a female academic along so that all the ladies can think about their future career as academia with problems . RE: Maternal leave etc. Cheers.”

“Enjoyed the mentoring session. Was helpful to discuss career advice.”

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“I had a great time and got a lot out of the meeting! The career workshop most useful but all workshops were great. Appreciate advice from the academics.”

“I got so much out of this retreat, and I do think it will be beneficial in the longrun. I hope more students can come as it definitely would help them. Maybe more advertisements and representative are needed to make sure more students know this great event.”

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“I had an awesome time at the retreat. I learnt so much in a short time period. I even learnt more than last year (1st year PhD) since now I’m a second year PhD student and know more about what it’s like to be a researcher. It definitely helps having my supervisor coming along to the retreat as I can interact with him in a social setting outside of uni. A lot of people don’t get this chance and I reckon that it makes for a greater respect between supervisor and student. To get to my point, maybe it will be a good idea to get the supervisors of PhD students that are going, to also come to the retreat if possible, so they can enjoy the same benefits.”

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2010 Retreat

Bosch Young Investigator Retreat, Kioloa - 23 February 2010

On Tuesday 23rd February a group of young investigators and academics set off for the 4th annual Bosch Young Investigators Retreat, held at ANU’s Kioloa Coastal Campus on the South Coast. We arrived just after lunch and started the first session in which all participants practiced and developed public speaking and presentation skills. Other workshops held during the retreat were focused on career development, scientific writing, and life after a PhD. All young investigators had the opportunity to take part in a mentoring session with a senior academic, to seek guidance on future career choices.

During the free time, participants made the most of the beautiful Shell Beach at Kioloa, just across the road from the campus. Body surfing, beach cricket and “nippers” were amongst the activities on offer. On the second night of the retreat a trivia night was held, showcasing the excellent team work and analytical skills of all participants. Late nights were spent chatting around the campfire and dodging kangaroos.

“The retreat was a valuable experience for me and my fellow peers. It incorporated learning in a leisurely manner which was great. Interactions with latter year PhD students as well as the academics was invaluable. It was helpful for me to set my priorities right at this early stage of my PhD studies. Will definitely recommend going for one to everyone next year.”
-1st year PhD student

"The retreat was such a good experience! I really liked the opportunity to speak to the academics in a more informal way and to get to know that there are so many ways to become what you are aiming for! Also, sharing experiences with students from different research areas was really cool!"
-2nd year PhD student

“Retreat was a great opportunity to get to know people from other disciplines as well as the academics that came. I was personally encouraged by the stories of academics when they were sharing their experiences after completion of PhDs and their career paths.”
[[i|-3rd year PhD student]]

“Once again I thoroughly enjoyed the retreat. The balance of academics, post-docs, later PhDs and early PhDs was the best so far. It was also great to see new faces in all areas (especially academics Rachel Codd, Claire Goldsbury and Nick Cole). I sincerely hope that the retreat continues into the future!!”
-Late stage PhD student

“Yet again, the Bosch retreat was a lot of fun! The academics were full of excellent advice and inspiration. I found it to be a very motivational experience.”
- Postdoc

“I really liked the mix between PhD students at any point in their candidature (not yet started, 1-3 year etc) and the postdoctoral scientists. I think it’s really valuable for the PhD students to see there is a ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ and the various stepping stones towards an academic career. I also liked the ‘everyone needs to pitch in and help’ atmosphere.”
-Academic

Thanks must go to the five senior academics who attended, Frank Lovicu, Steve Assinder, Rachel Codd, Nick Cole and Clare Goldsbury, for their expert advice and direction. On behalf of the Bosch Young Investigators Committee I would like to pay a special thank you to Frank Lovicu for the extra organizational effort that he puts into events such as this retreat, year after year.

About the Retreats

2007 saw the first edition of the Young Investigators Retreat (YIR) held in picturesque Kioloa (south coast of NSW). The retreat was a huge success both academically, and socially, with Young Investigators from across the bosch institute, as well as a number of invited academics interacting in a fun and informal setting.

In 2008 and 2009, this new tradition continued, with great success!

As with the the inaugural retreat, the YIR V4.0 will be composed of:

  • Research seminars by PhD students and Postdocs
  • Professional Development seminars by Bosch institute academics
  • Poster sessions

All embedded in a social program that includes group meals, and evening drinks (and more drinks!), as well as interactive social activities like bush-walking, and trivia.

group2007