What’s it like being a visiting scientist at the John Innes Centre?

The Flexible Talent Mobility Award (FTMA) is a pioneering scheme that promotes the movement of early-career researchers either from or to the John Innes Centre. 

It has an international branch which promotes researchers travelling abroad as well as an industrial side, that organises exchanges between companies. The aim of the programme is to encourage the sharing of ideas, broaden individual’s perspectives and provide experience for future careers.

For a more personal take on what the scheme can mean to an individual, we spoke to Dr Inmaculada Ferriol-Safont, a Postdoctoral Scientist, who joined us from CRAG in Barcelona; a Centre of Excellence Severo Ochoa. 

In Barcelona, Inmaculada studies two plant viruses that infect cucurbit crops at the laboratory of Dr Juan José López-Moya, so took the opportunity to spend the last six months working in Professor George Lomonossoff’s lab, learning how to produce virus-like particles (VLPs) of flexuous viruses. 

Inmacualada hopes to use this to figure out more about the potentially devastating cucurbits virus’ molecular biology, its requirements for virion formation and how the viruses are transmitted, ultimately aiming to interfere with the disease’s dissemination by insects. She will then be able to take back these skills with her to CRAG in Barcelona, to share among her colleagues there. 

Though as Inmaculada says, the FTMA is about a lot more than just learning new skills; The Flexible Talent Mobility Award Scheme has given me the opportunity to expand the network of connections I have. Going abroad and into new labs with new people is an important thing, because iexposes you to different ways of thinking. These connections then help pave the way for future ideas and collaborations internationally.” 

Inmaculada heard about the programme through an advert at CRAGHonestly, I wasn’t planning to move to another country because in the last five years I’ve lived in four different countries – Spain, Italy, the US and now here, so it was not part of my plan. But, when I heard about the chance to come to the John Innes Centre I couldn’t say no. It’s a great opportunity” 

On arriving at John Innes Centre Inmaculada found that her expectations were met; “The John Innes Centre is a place where you can work very comfortably, people are very nice and there’s a lot of resources and technology platforms on-site to develop your research”.  

The financial support the FTMA of research costs, as well as accommodation and travel, has given Inmaculada the ability to develop her own ideas as a Postdoctoral Scientist and on completion of her current position at CRAG, she hopes to apply for Group Leader positions in the future. 

Alternatively, if you are interested in being involved in the industrial side of the scheme, contact the Knowledge Exchange and Commercialisation team at KEC@jic.ac.uk. 

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