IDLab Intern Aleksey Smirnov Attends Scientific Environment Seminar for Research Assistants
Alexey Smirnov, 2nd-year student of the HSE University-Perm Bachelor's in Economics, shared his impressions of the Scientific Environment seminar at HSE University
On April 27, the HSE Cultural Centre hosted 'Scientific Environment', an adaptive offline seminar for research trainees. I recently joined IDLab as an intern, and thanks to the laboratory, I was able to attend this event. The seminar consisted of an official section and a practical one (a networking session). During the official part, students were told about opportunities in the field of science and future prospects for the development of scientific activity at HSE University. It was very interesting to learn about the academic structure of the university and its history, find out more about numerous laboratories in an amazing number of different research areas, and feel like a part of this colossus. Particular attention was paid to the 'horizontal power structure' of scientific activity (which, as it turns out, is historical in nature), and the importance of student initiatives. It is good to know that no matter what positions scientists take, doors are always open to them—and if their ideas are really valuable, receiving support from the university won't take long.
The discussion covered research assistants, how HSE introduced and developed these positions, and how this innovation was able to move the scientific field forward. Other topics included master's and doctoral study programmes and academic mobility opportunities for students.
The most valuable experience was probably the 'Academic Balance Wheel' networking session. This was an exercise in understanding one's own place on the academic track and looking for prospects for its further development—similar to finding a work-life balance, only in academia.
We were asked to evaluate four areas related to science: research, projects, sources of funding, and professional connections. We then had to imagine what will happen in these areas in three years. The idea was that thinking about the future in the context of the present would automatically make us think about possible ways to achieve the desired results. And it really works—especially when your ideas are cultivated not only by your own mind, but also by the minds of experienced experts who can share their own experience and guide your train of thought. Since I am still only a second-year student, it was especially interesting for me to hear about the experiences of older participants: master's and doctoral students who, oddly enough, also have problems and doubts about their development path.
Perhaps the most important lesson for me was that it is necessary to choose and promote research topics not only according to your interests (which is still extremely important), but also taking into account the demand for their results. Returning to the idea of balance, it seems to me that in research activity, there should be a balance between personal interest and interest from potential sponsors. Otherwise, you can either burn out or not get enough resources to turn your ideas into reality. If a balance is found, then you should not forget about the skill of turning your motivations into words—otherwise, you won't be able to popularise the results and, as a result, yourself.