Interdisciplinary Marine Early Career Network Newsletter
October 2019
Welcome to the first issue of the Interdisciplinary Marine Early Career Network (IMECaN) newsletter! Our newsletters focus on showcasing accomplishments of the IMECaN members, sharing conferences, funding, and job opportunities relevant to Early Career Researchers (ECRs). This first issue summarises IMECaNs history, aims, and gives an update on some of our future events.

If you are interested in providing ideas, contributing a story or being featured in the newsletter, contact us at or @IMECAN4.
What is IMECaN?
IMECaN is a networking platform for ECRs to develop collaborations. It aims to provide training and development in areas not traditionally provided through formal education and training programmes; and leadership opportunities for ECR marine researchers, particularly from developing nations.

Almost 500 early career researchers from 61 countries have already joined IMECaN! 
All marine science students (Masters and PhDs), and early career researchers (less than eight years post-PhD, and less than six years since their first research appointment) are welcome to join IMECaN! If you have not already signed up, please complete this online application form.
Geographical heatmap of IMECaN members
How IMECaN started?
The start of IMECaN dates from 2016, when the Scientific Steering Committee of the Integrated Marine Biosphere Research project (IMBeR) endorsed the establishment of a network for ECRs working on topics related to the IMBeR Grand Challenges. Soon after, IMECaN was created by some of the IMBeR ClimEco5 summer school alumni, and it was officially launched at the IMBeR Future Oceans2 Open Science Conference in Brest, France on 16 June 2019.
IMECaN activities
Even before the official launch, members of the newly formed IMECaN Organising Committee undertook two very successful early career events. The first was a workshop convened in Croatia in June 2018, to teach European Union-based ECRs how to work efficiently at the Science-Policy-Society interface. Thirty students and early career researchers participated in the workshop. Read our feature article below on how this workshop inspired a collaboration between two ECRs.

The second event was the IMBeR ClimEco6 summer school held in Yogyakarta, Indonesia in August 2018 and brought together 50 transdisciplinary ECRs to consider Transdisciplinary Approaches towards Sustainable Oceans .

At the official launch of the IMECaN network at the Future Oceans2 conference in Brest, France, we hosted an ECR workshop and about 185 early career researchers from around 40 countries participated in our workshop. We had two expert panels during the morning session, the first focused on “How to build successful careers in marine science” and was formed by Marta Coll, Henrik Österblom and Ingrid van Putten. The panelists gave inspirational talks, and shared their knowledge and personal experiences on how to have a successful career in marine science. They spoke about the things that they wish someone had told them when they were starting out, and also gave advice on how they maintain a work-life balance as marine scientists.

The second expert panel on ‘Alternate career pathways for early career marine researchers’ comprised Prue Addison, Mark Dickey-Collas, Lisa Maddison and Peter Mackelworth. They shared their experiences on moving away from more traditional academic marine research to working in different roles within marine science - as advisors, running an NGO, directing companies towards sustainability, or administering marine science projects. Both panels were followed by a Q & A session, where ECRs had the opportunity to interact with the panelists and get more information about these topics including what they value in future potential employees or the ‘extra’ skills they had to develop for careers outside academia.

There was a training session in the afternoon on “developing infographics to communicate your science”. Stacey McCormack gave a fantastic tutorial on developing infographics, followed by a practical session. The afternoon ended with science “speed-dating”, where everyone had the opportunity to meet and interact with all the other ECRs attending the workshop. This was an excellent way to get to know all the other ECRs, especially for those of us that find networking a bit challenging.
Participants at the Science-Policy-Society interface workshop held in Losinj, Croatia in 2018
Summary of expert panel tips for building a successful career in science
Summary of expert panel tips for exploring careers outside of research
Vector art stickers created by Stacey McCormack. Stacey gave ECRs a masterclass on creating infographics
What ECRs said about the ECR workshop?
Fifty ECRs completed our survey and provided feedback on the workshop contents. We were thrilled with the positive feedback from the respondents, and with the overall satisfaction of the attendees. 50% of the respondents thought the event was fantastic and the rest considered it that it was excellent or very good. The Q & A panel was the favourite among the respondents, followed by the Infographics workshop.

We got some very useful suggestions for future events. The topics that ECRs would like to see covered include how to build an online presence, how to write postdoc and funding applications, how to develop effective presentations and communicate their science, interdisciplinarity and the science-policy interface. Workshops on CV writing and time management, as well as how to build successful collaborations were also suggested.

We plan to use this feedback to guide future events. The next one that is planned is the ClimEco7 summer school that will be held in Mindelo, Cabo Verde from 22-29 June 2020. Several other activities and events are also being discussed, including a workshop on Multi-disciplinary Marine Management. Watch this space for more info!
IMECaN feature (by Giulia Donati)
In June 2018, I had the opportunity to take part in the first IMECaN capacity building workshop. Like all the participants in this event, I had realised the increasing responsibility that we have as marine scientists to work effectively and efficiently at the Science-Policy-Society interface. This sort of training was not adequately presented in any of the academic curricula that I had followed. At the workshop, I found myself surrounded by not only very bright and inspiring scientists working in a variety of fields, but also incredible people. In fact, it was here that I met my friend and colleague, Alina Wieczorek, who is currently a PhD candidate at NUI Galway, working on microplastics pathways in marine pelagic systems. As a result of attending this workshop, under the guidance of IMBeR experts, we have been able to develop our first collaborative research project, that is currently funded by the Save Our Seas Foundation. Thanks to IMECaN, Alina and I have embarked on an incredible journey, working on the increasingly concerning environmental issue of microplastic pollution and its impact on the endangered and emblematic whale shark and major stakeholders in the Maldives. Beyond its contribution to the field of microplastics and whale shark research, where we are looking into microplastic ingestion by whale sharks, as well as routes of exposure, we strongly believe that this project is a unique opportunity to have a real-world impact, through extensive outreach and community engagement, facilitated by the charismatic nature of this species.

More information
Participants at the marine microplastics pollution workshop hosted by the Maldives National University (MNU) in April 2019 © Dawid Piotr Szlaga | Wild Island Pictures. Alina Wieczorek (front row, second from left) and Giulia Donati (front row, fifth from left).
Special issue in Frontiers in Marine Science dedicated to interdisciplinary research topics by ECRs
Solving complex ocean challenges through interdisciplinary research: advances from early career marine scientists.
Anthropogenic impacts are threatening the sustainability of the goods and services provided by the oceans, that may in turn affect societal well-being and livelihoods. Embedded within complex social-ecological systems, oceans show uncertain, unpredictable, and interconnected challenges that require interdisciplinary marine science to push towards sustainable, productive, and healthy oceans at a time of global change. As ECRs are at the forefront of this new research agenda, this special issue is designed to showcase the diversity of research undertaken by early career marine scientists.
Articles will be published as they are accepted. Frontiers in Marine Science is offering discounts for publication in this issue, and there is an additional fee waiver that ECRs can apply for.

Submission deadlines: Abstract- 29 November 2019; Manuscript-31 May 2019
Conferences, events and funding opportunities
  • The Santiago Climate Change Conference (COP25) - the Blue COP. This is the 25th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and will take place from 2-13 December 2019 in Santiago, Chile. More information
  • The Marine Socio-Ecological Systems conference will be held in Yokohama, Japan from 25-29 May 2020. The deadline for abstract submission has been extended to 15 October 2019. More information
  • The Adaptation Futures 2020 conference will take place in New Delhi, India from 27-30 April 2020. The call for abstracts and session proposals are now open. More information
  • The Advances in Marine Ecosystem Modelling Research conference will take place in Plymouth from 13-17 July 2020. The call for abstracts is open until 13 December 2019. More information
  • The 6th International Marine Conservation Congress (IMCC) will be held in Kiel, Germany from 24-28 August 2020. The call for abstracts is open until December 2019. More information
  • Humboldt International Climate Protection Fellowships enable young climate experts from developing countries to do a year-long fellowship at a host institution in Germany. Submit applications before 1 March 2020. More information
  • The Marine Research Grant Programme of the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association provides ECRs from a Western Indian Ocean country with funding for research expenses and travel to conferences or symposiums. Applications for travel grants can be submitted anytime. More information