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Portrait Photo of Hamish Symington

Portrait Photo of Laura Taylor

Hamish Symington and Laura Taylor

Highly Commended, Peer Support

The Cambridge BBSRC DTP is a PhD programme [spanning departments and institutes across the biological sciences]. As a student representative on the DRP Training Committee, Hamish Symington made a fully fleshed-out proposal... for a symposium to feature research talks by students, talks from prominent invited speakers, a student poster session and interactive sessions with representatives from companies and external organisations. The student committee, under Hamish's leadership, then proceeded to organise all aspects of the symposium.

Laura was successful in securing sponsorship for prizes for best poster and best presentation, while Hamish worked with Fellows of St. John's and Trinity to secure College sponsorship for the event. The all-day symposium... was attended by around 150 students. Invited speakers included Prof. Chris Abell (PVC for Research), Prof. Jane Clarke (President, Wolfson College), Dr Seth Scanlon (Assciate Editor, Science), and Julian Huppert (former MP for Cambridge). Consistent with BBSRC... priorities... the symposium was run with sustainable principles in mind.

Laura led the initiative to link the symposium with PIPS opportunities (a mandatory internship which forms a critical part of the DTP in preparing students for a range of bioscience-related careers). She made contact with external organisations who can potentially provide internship opportunities, with the result that representatives of 26 organisations [across a range of sectors] were available to speak with students.

Student feedback on the symposium was overwhelmingly positive. Feedback solicited from the industry reps was also uniformly positive. Overall, the symposium was a great success and we now plan to run this as an annual event. Huge credit is due to the entire student organising committee, but especially to Hamish and Laura who played critical roles in the success of this initiative. [Their] contributions went well beyond anything that is routinely expected of student representatives.


Hamish Symington and Laura Taylor are both PhD students in the Department of Plant Sciences at Jesus College (2019-20).

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