Prof. David Kleijn mentors the second SHOWCASE workshop for early career researchers

6 December 2022

SHOWCASE held its second workshop for Early Career Researchers on 6 December 2022, mentored by the project’s coordinator Prof. David Kleijn from Wageningen University (WU), the Netherlands. The project is composed of 21 member organisations with a total of over 80 members, each with his own valuable experience. Keeping that in mind, it’s important to provide a forum for discussions between its early career researchers and the senior researchers, which is why SHOWCASE held its first workshop in May 2022.

Prof. David Kleijn, expert in Nature conservation, Ecosystem services and Pollination, started by briefly presenting the highs and lows of his career trajectory – from almost giving up on science to successfully coordinating several European-funded projects. He also discussed his experience with working abroad and how he balanced the risk of losing his home country network, while also gaining often valued experience abroad.

Participants of the second SHOWCASE ECR workshop

This introduction led to discussions on how to be open to opportunities in your career while maintaining your research focus. David highlighted that it’s important to have a common theme in your work, although you also have to pick positions that allow you to grow and improve. His advice was to look for opportunities that resonate with your values and your research interest, to consider your strengths, ask for tips from successful colleagues and last but not least, accept the fact that you will not always get it right – “that's the game”.

David also stressed the importance of stories in research. First, they are an essential part of academic writing. One of the things that distinguish a good paper from a bad one is the ability of the author to not only list his results and link them to existing literature but to also tell a compelling story – one that illustrates why this finding is exciting. Second, having a story you would like to tell in mind will help you coordinate larger author groups, as it allows you to explain to your co-authors how you will use their data and how you will recognise its importance. Third, captivating stories surrounding conservation research are essential for finding funding sources. “Nature conservation is more about people than about nature – you have to find something that will inspire people!

We look forward to more helpful insights at the next SHOWCASE ECR workshop in the spring of 2023!