On 23rd March, we were delighted to have Prof. John L. Brash, Distinguished Professor at McMaster University Canada here with us for the day at NUI Galway. At McMaster University, Prof. Brash has served terms as Chair of Chemical Engineering and as founding Director of the McMaster School of Biomedical Engineering. His research is in the biomaterials and biocompatibility area with an emphasis on materials for use in blood contact. These are required for devices such as vascular grafts, coronary stents, and prosthetic heart valves. Prof. Brash spoke about his research in a 1 hour seminar with the title “Protein surface interactions in blood-material contact” which brought a lot of interest from the audience, with a stimulating discussion following the seminar.

Following on from this, an open forum for discussion on careers in research was chaired by post-doctoral researcher, Dr Séan Fitzgerald who is working under the supervision of Dr Karen Doyle. The early career researcher audience was very interested and a dynamic discussion took place. See below for some of the topics discussed.

1. Do you think research can be compromised due to the pressure to publish?
We should hold results and publish bigger papers – we need more depth of thought and longer thought. If we publish too soon we may have the wrong concept – this changes the research record.

 2. Would you advise publishing a lot of publications or focus on having high impact publications?Nowadays there is too much emphasis on numbers and not enough on quality. A good year for an academic used to be publishing 3 or 4 publications, now a good year is publishing closer to 13 or 14. Researchers are often guilty of ‘slicing the baloney really thin’ in order to spilt it into multiple publications to increase their number of publications, which is not good practice.

 3. If you were looking to hire a post-doc, would you hire someone with a very relevant background to your research or someone with a broader background?I would hire a broader person, hoping they would bring in a new point of view to my lab.

4. What made you decide to leave industry after 1 year?This was a very quick decision for me personally. I didn’t find I was using my knowledge and training in a way that was fulfilling for me. I wanted to follow my own ideas in research. In industry, well-qualified people usually move quickly to people management and your technical know-how may not be needed anymore. Maybe some of you are very interested in this and would be great managers.

 5. Would you advise young researchers to move research areas in search of new opportunities?Not too often. While it is good to learn new things and get experience in other areas, it is better to become established in your area, as people will associate you with that area of work.

Researchers at Research Integrity Training