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OWSD 2023 Early Career Fellows come together in Trieste for orientation workshop

April 25, 2024

23 women scientists from the Global South received training in grant management, procurement, intellectual property, communications and presentation skills, and more.

From 15-19 April 2024, 23 of the 29 women scientists awarded 2023 OWSD Early Career fellowships gathered at the Central European Initiative in Trieste, Italy for their fellowship orientation workshop. The fellows arrived from 14 countries in the developing world, and are about to embark on research projects ranging from optimizing underutilized native crops for improved food security, to mapping insect biodiversity in an unexplored mountain habitat, to using machine learning for better diagnosis of children with autism spectrum disorders.

The workshop combined practical sessions on skills important to the fellows' capacity to manage their OWSD grant and other grants, with sessions on other important scientific leadership skills such as presentation skills and science communications. Practical sessions included an introduction to intellectual property presented by Mariana Viviana of the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), and a training in 'Technology and Knowledge transfer: competencies for innovation economies' by Simona Russo of the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB), both also Trieste-based institutions. Max Paoli of TWAS, the World Academy of Sciences also provided fellows with an overview of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and how to align research goals with the SDGs. Sessions on presentation skills and science communications were delivered by Tonya Blowers, OWSD Programme Coordinator, and Erin Johnson, OWSD Communications officer. 

Fellows also benefited from the presence of Tista Prasai Joshi, a 2019 Early Career Fellow and 2019 OWSD-Elsevier Foundation Awardee, who attended the workshop to share her experience with managing the grant and how to leverage the opportunity to establish research centres of excellence in developing countries.

On Tuesday, 16 April, all fellows were invited to attend the cinema event 'A Future Connected: Scientists of the World' at the Teatro Miela in Trieste, where video profiles of earlier Early Career fellows were screened. Two 2023 fellows, Violeta Chichique Martínez from El Salvador and Bennetta Koomson from Ghana, took the stage along with Tista Prasai Joshi to present their own personal stories and motivation, in moving testimonies that left all in the audience inspired.

Throughout the week, fellows also had the chance to visit the SciFabLab at ICTP, a 3D Printing Lab utilizing low-cost technologies, as well as the Elettra synchotron. They also enjoyed many networking activities, including aperitivo at one of the city's historic cafes, a group dinner, and a tour of the Miramare Castle park. 

"It was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life to meet all of my fellow women scientists," said Paola Alvizuri Tintaya, a fellow from Bolivia. "They are all inspiring women and I hope that the plans we made to collaborate come true!"

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