SPARC 2011

By Jun.12, 2011

The annual SPARC postgraduate research conference took place is June, marking the occasion with its largest ever attendance. After last year’s success, the event is still growing and getting better and better. I think it’s fair to say this is the result of the hard work of my colleagues Victoria Sheppard and Sonja Tomaskovic.
The conference provide the opportunity for postgraduate researchers from across the country and beyond to exchange ideas, share research practices, and experience speaking to an interdisciplinary audience.  There were over 180 delegates, most of them presenters and poster contributors.

The conference offered a full and varied programme over the two days. SPARC was opened by Vice Chancellor Prof. Martin Hall and followed by Welcome note from Director of Graduate Studies Prof. Vian Ahmed.
Our first Keynote speaker Prof. Ghassan Aouad (Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation) held an interesting talk about completing your PhD successfully. It created a valuable discussion for those currently going through the PhD process, based on his own experience of research and supervision. He introduced the research methodologies in simple and understandable ways.

The lecture was followed by the lively Panel Discussion on ‘Managing the Supervisor-Student relationship’ which raised lots of questions from the audience and encouraged everyone to participate.

On the second day we had two more keynote speakers. Prof. Chimay Anumba came all the way from the US (The Pennsylvania State University) discussed the metrics for success in academia. Prof. Farzad Khosrowshahi had an entertaining talk about the journey inside a research philosophy. All the lectures were very well attended and the feedback was excellent.

On the second day we held Q&A session with two recent PhD graduates and a lecturer Dr Ben Halligan from Salford University. The main topic was ‘PhD pains & gains’.  Again, it was very well attended and the session created lively discussion and raised questions from the audience. In parallel, there was a ‘Presentation Skills’ workshop delivered by Maggie Hardman who started with how not to present. This encouraged students to participate and comment and it was yet another entertaining and well attended workshop.

Over the course of 2 days there were 27 parallel sessions of students presentations which were grouped in 6 different themes: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences; Built Environment; Health, Social Care & Social Work; Environmental Sciences; Science & Engineering and Business & Law. You can find the programme and session details here.

The conference also offered lots of opportunities for networking and socialising. The night before the conference there was pre-conference dinner that took place in the Japanese restaurant Sapporo Teppanyaki. A conference dinner on the Wednesday evening was held in the Salford Museum and Art Gallery and provided further social opportunity, networking and lots of fun.

This year for the first time we had awards for the best presentations in different categories (selected by the organizing committee, chairs and co-chairs) and three poster prizes (voted by the conference delegates). The winner of each discipline you can find here.

Thank you all very much for your contribution to the conference!

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