Research Staff at Glasgow, a chimeric community

By Misha Campello Gramelius, PGR Intern (Research Staff Events) in the Research Culture and Researcher Development Team

A drawing of a chimera, featuring the heads of a lion, a goat, and a dragon, with wings, paws and talons

For the past nine months I’ve been part of the Research Culture and Researcher Development Team as the PGR Intern for Research Staff Events. The main reason I was so interested in this opportunity was the idea of community-building and how to best help Research Staff at the University of Glasgow thrive, an interest that has been developed over my time in the team.

And so, the first challenge of my internship came naturally to me, through the question: What does the research community look like at University of Glasgow and how can I help them? As I continued my quest to discover the answers to this question, I encountered several meetings of, and with, the Research Staff community, and found it to be a Chimera of many faces and powers that find its strength in its ever-expanding plasticity.

I would like to emphasise that when using the word Chimera as a metaphor for our Research Staff, I am referring to a hybrid mythical creature which embodies a combination of different animals and possesses both captivating beauty and formidable power.

My first hands-on experience with the community was organising The Glasgow Crucible, one of the Team’s Talent Lab leadership development programmes. The programme is structured as a series of workshops with experts on communication, research engagement, collaborative research, and funding applications, among other events.

On the very first day, the researchers were asked to envision their ideal research culture as a group exercise. From the many visual representations that the groups created, what became apparent was a unified voice singing the same sing: the future of research culture and its community ought to be inclusive, diverse, supportive, fertile, and fruitful. This initial meeting was crucial in understanding the Chimera’s first attribute: wings that were strong enough to take it to places that were currently out of reach. In the context of this programme, this meant supporting Research Staff as they took their first steps into research independence as culturally aware leaders. Their creative re-imagining of research culture established a clear goal, a destination that the community wanted to reach but which was still somewhat distant in the future. Collectively the Chimera’s wings flapped, lifting the community up with a strength and skill beyond the individual, to heights unattainable any other way.

My next project was to organise Researcher Coffee Connect, a monthly initiative in which Research Staff across the whole university sign up to be paired up randomly, to meet each other for a coffee in an informal environment. This event allows researchers to go beyond their usual social and disciplinary circles and connect with researchers from different Colleges, thus helping to form a sense of interdisciplinary community. Coffee Connect is an opportunity for researchers to demonstrate their enthusiasm for new beginnings, the ability to be flexible and collegial, and their commitment to fostering and strengthening the community. There has been a great deal of interest in this initiative, with the engagement rate being especially high.

So then, I saw the Chimera, with its multiple faces, all combined, ever changing and all speaking to each other and communicating their perspectives and passions. All seeing, within and ahead, and spotting here and there, what can be celebrated and what needs to be addressed by the community.

Induction for new Research Staff is the latest of the initiatives I have assisted with. This event was put together to provide new Research Staff with the information, connections, and tools they need to comprehend the university’s infrastructure and how it can be of help to them. Representatives from across professional services joined us, to give our new researchers a warm welcome and provide them with information and support.

Induction is also an opportunity for new starters to meet other peers that are at the beginning of their research journey at the University of Glasgow. In this space, I saw the many legs of the Chimera working together: the potential of every new research project, and each person within the community, all underpinning the talent that invigorates the Chimera and moves it forward. Alongside other supporting legs, the Research Culture & Researcher Development Team provides systematic support that helps the community of researchers reach toward their ambitions in the most effective way, a fantastic blend of cooperation, complement and expert development.

We plan to launch the ‘Research Staff Assembly’ very soon, an initiative which strives to create both a virtual space and hold a monthly open briefing for the entire Research Staff community to come together and share news, experiences, issues, and more. I see this as a very promising platform to amplify the polyphony of the community in a way that brings them closer without stifling its ever-changing form, and individual creativity. I aspire to make the Assembly into the pulsing heart of the Chimera, that is strong and healthy and provide the community with the vitality it deserves.

I would like to finish by extending my appreciation to our whole research community and the Research Culture & Researcher Development squad for such a splendid work experience, one that has allowed me to develop both personally and professionally. We are all equipped with legs and wings, heads and hearts, and I am eagerly anticipating what lies ahead of us.

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