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Celebrating 20 years: “Future Faculty has taught me how to navigate Academia”

3 people on bench. Photo.
Future Faculty´s Saema Ansar, Anders Rasmussen and Nicole van Der Burg. Photo: Agata Garpenlind.

Three members share their take-aways from getting involved in an organization committed to bringing forward the voice of young researchers and teachers at the Faculty. Register for the anniversary on May 2, no later than April 20.

Anders Rasmussen, 40, Associate Professor in Neuroscience & PI, Future Faculty Chair:

How, when and why did you get involved in Future Faculty?
"I went to a retreat in Ystad in 2018 organized by Future Faculty without knowing much about the organization. It sounded like a nice retreat with good speakers and an opportunity to meet other young researchers. All my expectations were fulfilled. Thus, when I had finished my postdoc, I started attending meetings more regularly, first as a non-member, which was a great way to learn more about Academia and meet new friends. When I got my BUL, I applied to become a board member, and in 2020, I became Vice-Chair. The next year I took over as Chair, a position I still hold for another few months."

What has Future Faculty meant for you and your career?
"Future Faculty has been tremendously important for me, personally and professionally. I have met friends with whom I can talk about the good and bad aspects of Academia. Crucially, Future Faculty has taught me how to navigate Academia – how to apply for positions and grants, how to get teaching, the requirements of building a career etc, how to write a good CV. Also, as Vice-Chair and chair, I have learned what it means to lead an organization, something that I now apply in many other situations now."

In what ways does Future Faculty contribute to the Faculty, you think?
"It contributes in many different ways. It educates young researchers about career pathways, inside and outside of Academia, including how you can optimize your chances. Those who join the board gain valuable experience in leadership. Future Faculty also connects young researchers and in extension different research groups – thus increasing collaboration. Finally, Future Faculty represents the voice of young researchers (the Future Faculty!) to boards and committees at the Faculty, a voice that may otherwise be forgotten. 

Is Future Faculty worth the time investment, would you say?
"Without a doubt! Future Faculty does take some time, especially if you become a board member. But you gain so much more than if you would have spent a few more hours in the lab. I don’t think I would have gotten my BUL position had it not been for the advice from Future Faculty. I think that joining, either as a member or even better as a task-force member or a member of the Board – is one of the best investments in your future that you can make." 

Future Faculty's 20-year anniversary and Minerva Award

This event will highlight the role that Future Faculty has played from its inception until today. The event will be attended by the Dean of the Medical Faculty, Maria Björkqvist, as well as some legacy members of Future Faculty who initiated the organization.

It will also be the occasion for Laura Wisse, Senior Lecturer and PI at the Faculty,to receive this year’s Minerva Leadership Award, which is awarded every year by the Future Faculty to good leaders and role models at the Faculty.Mingle with finger food and drinks will follow.

Please register here before April 20th.

The event: May 2, 15:30
Location: Belfragesalen, BMC, Sölvegatan 19, Lund
Contact: future_faculty [at] med [dot] lu [dot] se (future_faculty[at]med[dot]lu[dot]se)

Read more about Future Faculty here

Nicole van der Burg, 34, PhD, Postdoc:

Sometimes it can be more satisfying than my lab work. 

New to Sweden in 2019, she went to her first Kanelbulledagen organized as an outreach event by Future Faculty.
"There I met some of the board. Then I actually won the randomized ideas competition and was recommended to consider joining the board in the next term to bring my ideas to fruition. Sounded too good to be true to not only have ideas, but actually to be able to implement them (contrasting applying for the dreaded research funding). So, I nominated myself and was elected on to the next board."

What has Future Faculty meant for you and your career?
"I find people take you much more seriously when you can sign off as ‘Steering Board member of Future Faculty’ – especially if you can add more to that like Chair of Task Force X. By people I mean those in the Faculty when you ask for help and those externally when you ask for their participation in our events. Being on the board has given me great insight into how almost all decisions are made in workplaces. When you want to make a difference in the way things are at any level this is the first thing you really have to understand and what better way than with your peers!"

In what ways does Future Faculty contribute to the Faculty, you think?
"We put in a lot of effort to keep the early-mid career researchers supported and well informed so that they will stay in the Faculty of Medicine. It is well known that early-mid career researcher are some of the strongest driving factors in producing novel research ideas and findings, therefore, we strive to support the foundation of research in the Faculty. We do this by advocating for our members on several boards, ensuring new changes are taking us into account in a supporting manner. We create and join working groups in many systems of the Faculty to provide our perspective, most recently and notably being the creation of the new promotion criteria of the BUL and UL positions. We also organize workshops, seminars, retreats and networking events based on career and wellbeing support tailored to our members career stages."

Is Future Faculty worth the time investment would you say?
"Completely! It is very satisfying to be a part of a well-respected board and organization that fills a gap in the support for my peers. Sometimes it can be more satisfying than my lab work, probably because of the instant gratification we see from our members. Joining the Future Faculty board has not only given me a greater perspective of the underlying nature of the Faculty, but also of my own career goals. It has also highlighted transferable/employable skills I have beyond my research CV.

Would you recommend young researchers to get involved?
"Of course, I have never met a young researcher at the Faculty that doesn’t have a good idea or a valid point of change that could be implemented in the Faculty, I am just not sure many know that Future Faculty is the platform to realize these ideas. Members are always welcome to join a task force (without joining the Board) to implement an idea. The next step up is to join the Steering Board and the nominations for that are open from the 10th – 30th of April (for the July 2024-June 2025 board)."

Saema Ansar, 47, Associate Professor, PI:

An investment in your future that offers invaluable knowledge.

A retreat in 2016 sparked her curiosity and ignited a passion to contribute to the voices of every young researcher striving to make a meaningful contribution to the Faculty of Medicine.
"Eager to delve deeper into the organization's mission and connect with like-minded individuals, I eagerly joined board meetings, driven by a goal to foster positive change and amplify the collective voice of our community. 
I applied to become a board member and as a Chair of the Careers Task Force. In 2017 I was elected to chair the Board. Throughout my tenure as chair, my mission was guided by a commitment to transparency, integrity, and inclusivity, as we all worked together in the Future Faculty but also with the Faculty to shape the future of our Faculty and create a supportive environment where openness and progress prevails and everyone is heard and valued."

What has Future Faculty meant for you and your career?
"It has been instrumental in shaping both my professional and personal growth. Through my involvement, I have evolved into a more inclusive and empathetic leader, focusing on the mission of the organization towards amplifying and incorporating the voices of all researchers – young and established – and foster a transparent, fair and supportive environment for career growth. My roles within Future Faculty, especially as chair, groomed my ability to navigate complex decision-making processes and inspire positive change. All these learning and experiences have proven invaluable in my current research and teaching career. Beyond its tangible benefits, it has also enriched my life with meaningful friendships and the joy of collaborating with individuals – like-minded and the ones who challenged me – but united by a shared passion for innovation and progress."

In what ways does Future Faculty contribute to the Faculty, you think?
"It plays a pivotal role in many ways. As a platform representing young researchers, it serves as a support unit for their career development and as a catalyst for fostering collaboration and network. By amplifying the voices of young Faculty members (our future leaders) through representation in different boards and working groups, Future Faculty cultivates a culture of inclusivity, transparency, and excellence. I strived through Future Faculty to further enhance its impact by driving initiatives aimed at empowering young researchers and advocating for their interests at all levels of decision-making. Through these efforts, Future Faculty not only enriches the academic landscape with fresh perspectives and innovative approaches but also ensures that the voices of the next generation are heard and valued in shaping the future of academia, while developing their careers."

Is Future Faculty worth the time investment would you say?
"Unequivocally! Engaging with this dynamic organization provides invaluable knowledge, expands your professional network and it cultivates lasting connections and friendships that will enrich your career journey for years to come. The opportunities for growth, collaboration, and leadership within Future Faculty are unparalleled, making it an essential investment in your personal and professional development as a leader in Academia.
I highly recommend young researchers to get involved in Future Faculty. It's an investment in your future that offers invaluable knowledge and enjoyable experiences."