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The Early Career Conference Bursary Scheme

18 January 2019 | by Guest

The BPS Early Career Conference Bursary Scheme is designed to support the work of early career psychologists by helping to fund their attendance at relevant academic conferences either in the UK and further afield.

Each bursary consists of either a £250 (UK) or £500 (international) award to contribute towards the costs of registration and travel costs for successful applicants.

The current round of applications is open until 1 April, and is for conferences which begin no earlier than 1 June and no later than 31 October.

Two successful applicants from 2018, Dr Samantha Brooks and Dr Angie Cucchi, used their bursaries to travel to conferences in South Africa and Qatar respectively, and have provided us with the following insight into how the experience affected them and how the bursary has benefited their careers:

My BPS Early Career Conference Bursary allowed me to build on work on the neural processes of appetite restraint in people being treated for methamphetamine use, over the course of six years at the University of Cape Town.

Since returning to the UK as a lecturer in cognitive neuroscience at Liverpool John Moores University in 2018, I was keen not to lose the connections I had made while in South Africa, and returning to give a presentation at the University of Cape Town Cortex Club and Neuroscience Institute allowed me to keep in touch with contacts and develop opportunities for future collaboration.

Along with my new colleagues in Liverpool I have recently submitted various grant applications to allow us to continue the research I was doing in Cape Town, and giving the presentation meant that these possibilities were kept open.

International collaboration in psychology and neuroscience is vital for us researchers to be able to continue developing our work and for patients to eventually benefit from the outcomes that we find, and I came away from Cape Town with a number of new ideas on how to continue developing my eating disorder, substance use and impulse control research, having had the chance to speak to contacts from across South Africa.

Receiving the support of a BPS Early Career Conference Bursary to return to Cape Town has allowed me to keep things on the table which may otherwise have been lost when I moved to Liverpool, and I’m sure that my research will benefit from it in the coming years.

Dr Samantha Brooks

Lecturer in Cognitive Neuroscience, Liverpool John Moores University

In 2018 I applied for and was granted a BPS Early Career Conference Bursary, which helped to fund me to visit the Medical Humanities in the Middle East conference in Doha, Qatar.

At the conference I presented my research on the importance of communication between doctor and patient, including a research project which other colleagues and I carried out in Iraq, investigating patients’ satisfaction with their doctors’ communication skills at hospitals in Baghdad.

Qatar, and the Middle East more generally, is an area where there is currently a lack of psychologists qualified at Doctorate level, so I felt that presenting there was an opportunity not only to extend my own experience and knowledge as a psychologist, but to make a contribution to psychology in the region.

Attending the conference has developed my work in this area significantly, with an extended abstract of our research appearing in a special edition of the journal Innovations in Global Health Professions Education.

I am currently working alongside Weill Cornell, the American Medical University that organised the conference, to look at opportunities for further work including a paper with the Assistant Dean, Dr Mohamud Verjee, on medical students using a model for breaking bad news.

I am also looking to collaborate with another presenter at the conference, who specialises in the psychology of spirit possession across cultures, to explore the possibility of a study on the Sudanese indigenous approach to spirit possession and how this can affect symptoms.

Attending the Medical Humanities in the Middle East conference, with the support of a BPS Early Career Conference Bursary, has opened up new doors for me as an early career researcher, and established academic, clinical and research connections which wouldn’t otherwise have been possible.

Dr Angie Cucchi

If you’re inspired by Samantha and Angie’s stories and would like to apply for an Early Career Conference Bursary, please email Carl Bourton at [email protected] for the full criteria and an application form.


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