Each student will progress through a joint 3.5 year training programme that will involve:
- A compulsory induction course
- Foundation training in research skills at their home institutions
- Regular attendance at ZELS-AS cohort gatherings
- A professional internship
- Personal project-specific training
- A three-year research project that will be embedded within or linked across ZELS-funded projects, and based largely in Africa or Asia
The induction course ran from December 2-4, 2015 and involved both formal components and informal social events to build cohesion among the cohort. The formal components included an introduction to the ZELS programme and its objectives, presentation and discussion of issues relating to international projects and zoonoses research, and allowed for interactions with researchers and young doctoral scientists from different backgrounds. The induction course also introduced students and supervisors to key elements of the training programme, including journal club, use of new media, and supervisory frameworks that will be formally agreed between students and supervisors. You can view the full Induction - Schedule or read about our students' perspective on the event on the students' Blog.
Foundation training in research skills and ongoing skills training
During the first three months of their programme, our students attended induction courses at each of their host institutions.
Online resources are being used to promote interaction among the group, with the students running monthly journal clubs and utilizing Whatsapp and Facebook to communicate with each other and develop linkages across the cohort.
Programme Manager Mary Ryan maintains regular contact with all members of the cohort and regularly circulates information on relevant training courses and opportunities.
ZELS-AS cohort meetings
All students will be invited to attend the joint ZELS annual conferences organised by the ZELS RPG grant holders, followed by the ZELS-AS cohort meetings. In addition to the intiial induction gathering, students have attended two additional meetings in August 2016 in Scotland and January 2017 in Tanzania. These meetings provide an opportunity for the students to present their work and receive feedback from the ZELS-AS supervisory group. These meetings also include specific training modules (e,g, communications, publishing, grant-writing) and practical sessions (e.g. stakeholder mapping).
A novel component of the training will involve PIPS-like placements (Professional Internship for PhD Students) for up to 3 months with translational and non-academic partner institutions, e.g. in policy, industry or the media.
The aim of the placement is to help the PhD students understand the societal context of their research. For this, we will draw on Pathways to Impact documents outlined in all nine of the ZELS proposals and on policy links with health agencies (WHO, FAO, OIE, CDC) and ministries (Health, Livestock) as well as other partners, e.g. GALVmed, national vaccine institutes, pharmaceutical companies, the dairy and meat industry, and development organisations.
Personal project-specific training
Each studentship includes funding for intensive training to provide specific individual skills as needed. We envisage these would include courses such as the STEPS Centre summer school on Pathways to Sustainability (IDS), Epidemiology and Medical Statistics (LSHTM), Introduction to Mathematical Models of the Epidemiology and Control of Infectious Diseases (IC), and Working with Pathogen Genomes (Wellcome Trust).