An inside view from Strategic Advisory Members
We asked two members of the EPSRC Strategic Advisory teams to share their experiences of their role. Alicia Kim and David Hogg outline what it's like to be SAT members, and provide insights for those thinking of applying.
Alicia Kim is Associate Professor, Structural Engineering at the University of California and Senior Research Fellow, School of Engineering at Cardiff University and an EPSRC Fellow. Her research field is engineering design optimization. Here she discusses the value that SAT membership brings.
Q: Why did you decide to apply to be a SAT member?
A I wanted to get to know how EPSRC works and provide input towards their decision making.
Q: How do your skills/qualities and previous experience allow you to contribute to your SAT?
A: The first and foremost is my technical expertise in my research area. Having the landscape view of the current research field and the future directions of the key players together with the perspectives of the industry, regulatory bodies and government help to provide the useful basis for the contributions to SAT.
I have been working with the professional societies such as the Royal Aeronautical Society and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics as well as my research communities and such activities help me to form a broader and international perspective and the network.
Another aspect that helps me with contributing to my engineering SAT is that my research is highly multidisciplinary and I work collaboratively with researchers from a variety of discipline areas.
Q: What value have you got from being a SAT member, particularly at this stage in your career?
A: I enjoy making contributions to the SAT and getting to know and work with EPSRC. I believe being a SAT member has increased my visibility to the engineering and scientific research communities outside my own research area. It has given me opportunities to meet other SAT members whom I'm unlikely to meet in my usual circumstances and I believe meeting and learning others' perspectives are helpful to broaden my horizons. It is also very helpful to know why certain decisions are made in EPSRC and the future directions of EPSRC to my own career.
Q: Can you comment on the commitment/work load and how you make it work?
A: I do not believe the workload and the commitments are substantial and I enjoy engaging with EPSRC at this level and having a voice to influence the decision making. I believe it is an important role of a technical expert to provide the latest state of the art information to influence EPSRC and subsequently the government and society.
David is a computer scientist at the University of Leeds, with research interests in the areas of computer vision and artificial intelligence.
Until recently he was Chair of the EPSRC Strategic Advisory Team for ICT.
He has twice been head of the School of Computing and was Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Communications and IT from 2000-2004, and Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation from 2011-2016. He has been a Visiting Professor at the MIT Media Lab and is a Fellow of ECCAI and IAPR, and the 2011 Distinguished Fellow of BMVA. He is Co-Director of the N8 High Performance Computing Facility and Chair of the WUN Academic Advisory Group.
Q: What exciting activities/key EPSRC strategies have you been involved in?
A: The review of potential EU FET Flagship projects was particularly interesting and perhaps even exciting! It gave me a good insight into the way in which the research councils work in collaboration with the EU Commission over research funding. The way in which the SAT helps to shape the EPSRC portfolio in the context of research potential and national priorities has been both informative and reassuring.
Q: What value have you personally got from being a SAT member?
A: It has given me an appreciation of the wide range of areas covered by the ICT Theme within EPSRC, and the different priorities and opportunities that exist within each of these areas. Being required to think about the future of areas that are some way from my own area of expertise in the company of expert colleagues is an educational experience in itself. I particularly enjoyed working across the ICT portfolio with fellow members of the SAT, exploring new opportunities for cross-cutting research.
Networking with other SAT members both inside and outside the meetings is rewarding, instructive and potentially beneficial for the development of one's own research.
Q: Given your current role at the University of Leeds, can you comment on why EPSRC SATs are important for universities/research and why is it important to have representatives from universities?
A: The presence on the EPSRC SATs of representatives from the academic community is essential to ensure that research potential is fully understood and properly incorporated into the planning of EPSRC. It is fundamental to the way in which the research councils operate that peer review is carried out by people who are expert in the field. Likewise for strategic planning, it is vital that input from active researchers is a cornerstone of the process.
Being on the SAT has given me a much better appreciation of the political, industrial and research environment within which EPSRC operates.
Q: If you could give one piece of advice to a potential applicant, what would it be?
A: The more you put in, the more you get out and the greater your influence on strategic planning within EPSRC.