First Alumni Careers Day for postgraduate researchers held by the Faculty of Environment

The Faculty of Environment held its first Alumni Careers Day for postgraduate researchers, which was arranged to provide careers support for current students.

In April the Faculty of Environment held its first Alumni Careers Day for postgraduate researchers in the Schools of: Earth and Environment, Geography, Food Science and Nutrition, as well as the Institute for Transport Studies, which was deemed a huge success by the students and alumni who attended. The event aimed to provide our current students, especially those whose education was affected by the impact of Covid-19, with additional support and knowledge to finish their studies and take the next steps in their careers.

The organising committee was led by Professor Bernadette Moore, Head of Graduate School, Faculty of Environment and Professor of Nutritional Sciences.

An incredibly inspiring and empowering day.

Professor Bernadette Moore

Speaking about the event, Professor Bernadette Moore said: “An incredibly inspiring and empowering day. What a pleasure to host the first Faculty of Environment Postgraduate Researchers Alumni Careers Event at the University of Leeds. We welcomed back 19 alumni from across the 4 Schools of our Faculty, who gave over 60 of our current 3rd and 4th-year postgraduate researchers hope and inspiration for life after their PhD.

Huge thanks to our keynote speakers Ekbal Hussain from the British Geological Survey, Jane Francis from the British Antarctic Survey, and all the amazing alumni who openly shared their career journeys and how they navigated their first career steps.

In addition, thanks to Steve G Carter and Jim Baxter who shared all the resources our postgraduate researchers have access to from our careers and professional development services.

The event has been over a year in the making and I couldn’t have done it without support from Luke Windsor and my amazing Graduate School Office Team.”

Paths to success

The Faculty of Environment Alumni Careers Day provided ample opportunity for our current PhD students to find out how they can get the most out of their time at Leeds. The event offered a variety of activities, from alumni panel sessions that discussed various paths to success in industry, private and public sectors, to a buffet lunch that provided a unique opportunity for our alumni, students and staff to gather in one room and discuss their work.

Had a great time flexing my networking skills with alumni and fellow PGRs. Chairing my first panel on my own has definitely left me feeling more confident.

Patrice Mwithaga

The day started with a much-needed coffee on arrival and a warm welcome from the Head of Graduate School Professor Bernadette Moore.

Starting off the event, the first keynote speaker of the day was alumni Dr Ekbal Hussain, a Remote Sensing Geoscientist at the British Geological Survey, who gave a fascinating insight into his career and how a PhD from Leeds set him on his path to the role he is in today.

During the event, attendees had the opportunity to gain invaluable insights into different career sectors and receive advice from alumni panels and the keynote speakers, including Professor Dame Jane Francis, Director of the British Antarctic Survey and Chancellor of the University of Leeds.

Image of Professor Dame Jane Francis, Director of the British Antarctic Survey and Chancellor of the University of Leeds.

In the morning two alumni panel sessions covered careers in either the private or government sectors.  These were chaired by current postgraduate researchers at the University of Leeds. These included Patrice Mwithaga, who is researching food choice among adolescents in the School of Food Science and Nutrition, and chaired the session for people looking to enter industry or the private sector. The second morning panel for those looking to enter Government or QUANGO sectors was chaired by Hazel Mooney, from the Biosphere and Atmosphere Group in the School of Earth Environment who is researching the air quality impacts of afforestation in the UK associated with climate change mitigation pathways.

A very empowering day! I enjoyed chairing the panel discussion with our alumni who have moved into Governmental roles, taking science into policy!

Hazel Mooney

During the delicious buffet and networking lunch, the careers service offered a unique opportunity for one-on-one CV consultations with the University Careers Service.

After lunch, two further alumni panel sessions were held. One session was chaired by Abiodun Ogunboye, a postgraduate researcher in the School of Geography who’s research focuses on political participation of youth in Nigeria, and Vanessa Ternes, from the Institute for Transport Studies, who studies the perceptions of fairness held in the transport planning sector addressing the role of fairness in transport decarbonisation. Their panel discussed paths to NGO, QUANGO and charity sectors.

The alternative session was chaired by both Sam Betts-Davies, a postgraduate researcher in the Sustainability Research Institute at the School of Earth and Environment exploring the role of economic inequality in climate change mitigation, and Xiaomian Tan from the School of Food Science and Nutrition whose work examines the double burden of malnutrition in Asia. Their panel discussed how students can best pursue fellowships and careers in academia.  

It was a brilliant event, where I enjoyed hearing all about the varied paths my fellow alumni have taken after graduation. Wishing all PGRs who attended the best on their next steps post PhD!

Dr Felicity Monger

The afternoon keynote speaker was Professor Dame Jane Francis, Director of the British Antarctic Survey and Chancellor of the University of Leeds, who wrapped up the event with an inspiring and motivating talk.

After a fantastic day filled with building connections and looking to the future, Professor Luke Windsor, Dean of the Doctoral College closed the event.

The event was well-received by students and alumni and we look forward to holding more of these events in the future.

Find out more

Find out more about PhDs at Leeds – search our project ideas, funding opportunities, research areas and PhD supervisors.

Interested in studying at Leeds? Visit the Faculty of Environment to learn more about the programmes we offer at Leeds.

Find out more about the University of Leeds Careers Service and Organisational Development and Professional Learning (OD&PL).