NICER Early Career Researcher Summer School 2023


Earlier in the month, the CE-Hub hosted the annual NICER Early Career Researcher Summer School at the University of Exeter. This was the third annual ECR Summer School which offers the opportunity for Post Doctoral Researchers and PhD students from across the NICER Programme to come together for networking, learning and collaboration.

The first day began with a welcome from Professor Fiona Charnley of the CE-Hub who gave an overview of the ECR network and the opportunities within it. The first half of the day then saw the ECRs split into to four groups to present their research. All attendees had been asked to prepare a two-page presentation of their work which had been shared with their group members ahead of the event. They were all also asked to prepare feedback for each of their other group members and took it in turns to present their abstract and receive feedback from the group. This was a brilliant opportunity for the ECRs to learn about each other’s research as well as identifying areas for potential collaboration and gaining fresh perspectives and ideas. The activity provoked some fantastic discussions that continued into the lunch break.

After lunch, the ECRs took part in a challenge activity based on the work of the CEctor project who are working closely with the hospitality industry. The challenge was presented by Dani Farrow on behalf of St. Austell Brewery who are looking to refit their Pier House pub in the most circular way possible. For this activity, the ECRs again broke into four groups and rotated around four different focus areas to consider for the pub’s circular refit. These were water, menu, refurbishment and construction and prompted the ECRs to consider the opportunities and implications of circularity for each of these areas.

To wrap-up the day, Dr Okechukwu Okorie gave a talk to the ECRs on his career, discussing his achievements and the ups and downs of working in academia and how he gained his research fellowship with the Royal Academy of Engineering. This was both fascinating and inspiring for the NICER ECRs and prompted a lot of questions for Oke.

The weather lent itself to the evening activity, which was a walking tour of Exeter, allowing further opportunities for networking whilst learning about the rich history of the Exeter. Beginning on the Cathedral Green, Jackie and John our tour guides led us through the city in the evening sun ending up on the historic quayside where the ECRs were able to break off into groups and head to find some dinner in the many restaurants in the area.

On Friday morning we welcomed guests Peter Craigon and Oliver Fisher who led attendees through an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion workshop using the unique ED&I card activity which they have developed through their work. This was a fantastic group activity which really encouraged everyone to think about ED&I in all contexts and areas of their work. The feedback from the group was that the activity was really thought provoking and definitely helped to increase their awareness and keep mindful in their work moving forwards.

Fiona Charnley wrapped up the event, thanking everyone for attending and being so actively engaged in the workshops and attendees were free to make their way home for the afternoon after a great couple of days in sunny Exeter.

A key objective of the NICER Programme is to develop and support a vibrant ECR community to build capacity to implement a CE in the future, with the summer school being an annual event throughout the NICER Programme to support this.


If you would like to keep up to the date with the NICER Programme ECR Community and all other NICER activities, then you can sign up for our quarterly newsletter below.