Swetox Academy’s third workshop was traditionally organized at Arlanda Hotellby 22-23 August, with around seventy participants, mostly PhD students and researchers from the collaborating Swetox Universities. At the workshop they got to briefly present their research, showing posters, getting to know each other and listening to representatives from Swedish authorities, pharmaceutical and consulting companies. There were also delegates from the university and health authorities in Norway.
In addition, two senior researchers and research leaders had been invited to present their work, background and the way they came to reach their current position.
“Fake news” and how to communicate research
Communication of community-related topics, such as toxicology, is becoming increasingly important. A current phenomenon discussed by participants was the growing mistrust of many people against what is reported in news. It was considered a problem that leads to confusion. It may have many reasons that may be due to journalists as well as sloppy interview answers from researchers or less truthful spokespersons with their own agenda.
The problem has to be addressed, partly through encouraging researchers to meet laymen more often in direct conversations, and partly through researchers requiring to see what will be written or reported from an interview. It should be emphasized that even negative research results should be published. Open Access should be encouraged for easier control of facts. Media training and meetings with journalists were called for, perhaps as a session at a forthcoming Swetox Academy workshop.
How to build a career?
Anne-Marie Vinggaard from DTU in Denmark and Ulrika Edlund from the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm each held an inspirational lecture on their research. And how they got where they are currently and which driving forces they had.
The sincere tone was appreciated and the participants got a lot of advice for a future career, like trusting their curiosity and being careful to learn the techniques required. At the same time one has to choose carefully what one wants to spend time on and be realistic in one’s expectations. If one has been careful in one’s work, time is rarely wasted and one is better prepared for new discoveries or career opportunities that open.
Continuation and groups on social media
The workshop was appreciated and many of the participants wanted to see a continuation in the form of joint seminars and webinars. During the workshop, a Facebook group was spontaneously started discussing the possibility of allowing an Instagram account to switch between members of the workshop participants to stimulate and inform participants.