Activity Report 2019-2020

Our association has 3 goals:

  • Represent and Defend the interests of Life Sciences PhD Students
  • Integrate new PhD Students
  • Promote scientific and social interaction between PhD students from EDNE, EDBB, EDMS, and EDCB

You will find in this report of what we have put in place during the past year in order to fulfill these goals.

2019 – 2020 Committee

President Gregory La Sala
Vice-President Ayah Khubieh
Treasurer Timo Rey
Event Manager Alexandra Waskow
Internal Affairs Coordinator Firat Altay
Webmaster Allison Burns
SV Happy Hour Coordinator Mario Romani
Fundraising Manager Silja Placzek
ADSV Antenna Affairs Coordinator Julia Brügger
Environmental Affairs Coordinator Nathan Greiner
Student Representatives EDBB, EDCB, EDMS and EDNE Representatives
ADSV Board Member Ivan Istomin
SV School Council Silvia Monari

Represent and Defend

We continue including the representatives within our committee which allows us to ensure that students are represented within our board meetings. We also include SV Faculty members, which allows us to convey the SV PhD community voice during these important meetings.

We also contribute to this goal with some of our members being involved in different initiatives within the EPFL:

  • A subgroup of the ADSV has continued working on the wellbeing of PhD students this year. This working group met with SV Faculty members and also Jeroen van Hunen from EDOC and Nathalie Ritter from SAE to discuss possible solutions and define achievables which could help students with their wellbeing.
  • One of our members, Julia Brügger, was highly involved in the “Antenna working group” within the EPFL which discuss of the antennas’ situation and aimed at submitting possible solutions to the EPFL Presidency. Julia conveyed the commonly perceived difficulties for antennae PhD students such as: travel reimbursement, teaching, scientific isolation, courses and local administration and coordination within antennae.
  • Two of our members, Elias Friman and Timo Rey, was part of the working group “EDOC 2.0” which aimed at rethinking the aims of the doctoral School.

In order to inform students about the progress which was made in the mentioned working groups, we organized an information session in November. We took advantage of this meeting to ask for feedback from the students directly.

Another of our members, Gianrocco Lazzari, was involved in the “COPIL Harassment” (COPIL as Comité de Pilotage). The aim of this working group is to create a survey to get a better idea of where more support is needed in terms of wellbeing for everyone within EPFL. Gianrocco’s aim was to represent the needs of PhD students. He was replaced by Julia after his graduation.

ADSV includes two SV Faculty Council members: Firat Altay and Silvia Monari. Their involvement helped protect the interests of PhD students in the decisions made by this council. Ivan Istomin has served as an STI Faculty Council member discussing the issues with a big and vibrant bioengineering institute (IBI) of EPFL, being between STI and SV, and often omitted left aside during negotiations.

As you can see, we are very much concerned with the wellbeing of the SV PhD Students and our members are always active in different initiatives within the EPFL to try and convey the needs and concerns of students to hopefully create improvements.

Integrate New PhD Students

As a way to gain visibility, we have decided that we wanted to send monthly newsletters to SV PhD students in order to inform them of the different events we put in place, and also the events we co-hosted. We take advantage of this newsletter to share other resources/workshops within EPFL, or even in other universities, which we believe would be relevant to the SV PhD community. This makes students more aware of our association and informs them that they can contact us if needed.

We wanted to create more opportunities for students to meet, so we decided to create monthly SV PhD lunches. Every month we would coordinate groups of students to have lunch together.

We have continued to be involved in the SV hiring days by meeting potential candidates during a coffee break with the coaches.

As part of the coaching we have also continued our effort to match newly hired students with coaches. Also, we decided to organize a coffee break event every semester in order for all new students to meet multiple coaches.

One of our members, Allison Burns, has met with Eva Schier, who wanted the perspective from a PhD student to know what information could be most relevant to include within a newcomer guideline for academic personnel.

Promote Scientific and Social Interaction

In terms of scientific promotion, we have organized or co-organized the following events:

  • September 26th 2019: High Impact Career Workshop (co-hosted with Effective Altruism).
  • November 4th 2019: Applying for research fellowships information session (co-hosted with the EPFL Research Office).
  • December 3rd 2019: Patents in Life Science (co-hosted with BSNL).
  • March 3rd 2020: Animal Research in Switzerland: from proper study to weighing of interests (co-hosted with Reatch).

As for social interactions, we have organized or co-organized the following events:

  • Monthly SV happy hour.
  • Monthly SV PhD lunch.
  • Yoga sessions.
  • October 15th 2019: Wine tasting SV edition (co-hosted with SV Travel).
  • December 10th 2019: Wine and Champagne tasting SV edition (co-hosted with SV Travel).
  • February 16th 2020: Ski Day.

Unfortunately, multiple events had to be canceled or couldn’t be organized due to the coronavirus situation. These events included a data visualization suggested by Lucie Dixsaut with a professional coach, as well as diverse soft skill workshops for which Alexandra Waskow had found coaches who could lead these workshops. We needed to secure funding beforehand to organize these events, but only managed to do so during March, shortly before any physical events could no longer be organized. We reached an agreement with the SV Faculty for the funding, but still need to send an invoice to receive the money.