Collegium supports starting an independent career

Associate Professor Katja Anttila, Department of Biology

I was one of the “lucky ones” getting a Junior Group Leader position in Collegium of Science and Medicine in 2016. I say “lucky one” since there were 166 applicants and six of them got position. The competition of positions and grants has been “shadowing” the life of researchers for decades but as the pace of life seems to come more and more hectic, the competition comes harder and harder. Collegium, however, offers extremely nice opportunity (for those lucky ones that get the position) to start an independent scientific career. Those who got the position in call 2016 got a position for 3 years which gives time to start establishing your own research group and develop a career as independent researcher. Collegium also offered 20,000€ as research grant that could be used for material and travel costs and also for paying small working grants for students. Even though this extra grant might seem a small sum as compared to e.g. ERC, Academy of Finland or Tekes grants, it actually also makes a difference. To be independent you cannot rely anymore for your supervisor’s grants and building e.g. a lab requires funding. The extremely good thing in University of Turku is that most of the expensive equipment are bought centrally so actually the expenses are not that huge to start your work and even a small sum could really help. If you get your lab running fast (e.g. my collogues from abroad really have had to build whole lab all the way from the beginning which could take easily a year) you could get students working with you and you really start the group and you could spend whole three years leading a group not just doing science by yourself.

Getting the students though is another thing. The best way I have found is getting involved with teaching so that students would know you and what you are doing. Collegium allows you to spend 5% of your time for teaching. In my opinion this % could be actually higher as in University career teaching usually becomes more and more important the higher level you go. As said the position and grant that Collegium offers allows you to get fast start for independent career. This is more than important for future funding since if you are able to show that you are leading a group that opens more doors to get funding e.g. from Academy of Finland as Academy Researcher or from some other foundations as group leader. Collegium is not, unfortunately, able to offer tenure track system which would help planning the future and keeping the group that you are establishing in University of Turku (and where Collegium is investing money when they hire Junior Group Leaders). However, Collegium was able to offer at least for people starting in 2016 two-year extension. By the end of the period most of us have already got either funding or position to keep our groups running. I am more than grateful for Collegium for the position that they gave me and starting my group in University of Turku.

If you are interested what my group is doing, please, visit my webpage:

Katja Anttila
Associate Professor, Department of Biology
TCSM Collegium Researcher 2016-2019

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2 Responses to Collegium supports starting an independent career

  1. Minna says:

    Indeed we collegium researchers are the lucky ones. Some even more than others 😉 Interesting that TCSM researchers get 20 000e for costs, whereas TIAS researchers get max. 3000e annually. I do see that costs can be higher in setting up a lab than in social sciences/humanities research, but not as a rule though..?

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