Chronicle of 2nd PhD retreat

Just like the famous spaghetti western film directed by Sergio Leone (Il buonoil bruttoil cattivo) a PhD can and will have good, bad and ugly days. During this year’s PhD Retreat, attendees had the chance to explore in detail the topic of mental health in graduate education along with other current issues in science.

Dr. Paul Verschure, group leader of the Synthetic, Perceptive, Emotive and Cognitive Systems (SPECS) laboratory, was on charge of opening the round of talks that were held during the two days of the event. The researcher, a world-leading expert in the study of mind and brain using synthetic methods, talked about the psychological challenges that early-stage researchers face, and explained some of his latest research in the diagnostic and treatment of mental disorders.


“Events like the PhD Retreat help you not only to grow personally but to get to know your peers and to build a larger network of researchers. At the end of the day its people who do the science we read about, and here you get to talk and know them.”

Gerardo Ceada, Phd Student

The next speaker Dr. Gavin Lucas was in charge of introducing the second block of talks and activities which included the topics of science communication and outreach. The founder and editor-in-chief of ThePaperMill, shared with the students his extensive experience in scientific writing, editing and training, during a sunny afternoon out in the woods. The retreat also counted with the special participation of the head of the Communications and Outreach Unit of IBEC, Dr. Guillermo Orts. A communicator by heart and training, Dr. Orts showed through the use of games and examples some of the elements that lead to effective and engaging science communication.

Finally, as a wonderful closing activity Dr. Pilar Rodríguez, former PhD student at IBEC, and currently a communication manager at the Institut de Biologia Evolutiva (IBE) de Barcelona, organised a private screening of her documentary Scientifila. This project performed in collaboration with IBEC narrates, through the testimony of four researchers, the ups and downs of the scientific career. Shortlisted in several national and international festivals, the film and posterior discussion were rated as the best activities by the attendees.

To conclude, the PhD committee would like to thank our sponsors ThePapermill and DD Biolab for their support during the organization of this important event for predoctoral researchers from IBEC. We would also want to thank BIST for helping us include researchers of other BIST centres in this retreat; it was a great pleasure to make connections with researchers from ICFO and IRB.