The oLifeTraining Programme consists of three training categories: 1) research training, 2) academic skills training and 3) professional skills training. In addition, the fellows will receive career guidance to prepare them for their further career.

1) Research training

The fellows’ individual research project is the main instrument in strengthening their expertise in one or more disciplines related to the origins of life research, under guidance of top academic advisors in their chosen field(s). Within their first year of employment, they participate in laboratory visits to all relevant specialist high-end research facilities of the participating institutes, to well appreciate the importance of the technologies required for the different research projects within oLife. The fellows are expected to actively participate in the weekly group meetings at their host institute(s), reporting and discussing their research progress.

The research training is complemented by oLife Scientific Lectures, which aim to give a common background and terminology to all fellows by providing an in-depth overview of origins of life research and the four scientific research areas. They will become enablers for scientific discussion by organizing and managing these scientific lectures. Lectures are provided by oLife advisors, experts from Partner Organisations and invited external experts. To promote collaboration and exchange the lectures will be open to external researchers.

At the oLife Annual Meetings, the fellows present and discuss your research progress with your oLife peers, other postdocs, involved advisors and invited external experts.

To enhance their ability to make interdisciplinary and intersectoral connections, a dedicated ‘Interdisciplinary Collaboration’ track is organized. This track provides necessary understanding, tools and guidance to encourage the fellows to (further) explore opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration, both within and outside oLife.

Secondments to partner organisations provides excellent opportunities to both deepen their research training at other academic institutions as well as to incorporate an intersectoral dimension in their research.

The fellows are expected to participate in international conferences and visits (twice a year, one in Europe and one outside Europe) to increase their understanding of their chosen fields, to exchange ideas, build their network and foster collaboration. their research training will be finalized with the oLife Final Conference, at which they not only present the results of their individual research but also the outcomes of the joint ‘Interdisciplinary Collaboration’ track.

Content and Planning of oLife Scientific Lectures and Incorporated Tracks.

2) Academic skills training

An essential part of preparing the fellows for a further successful career in science is academic skills training. In the Netherlands, teaching is an integral part of a (tenured) researcher’s position. Therefore, the fellows are expected to prepare and teach their own lecture series on their field(s) of expertise. Also, they are expected to supervise students. The track ‘Teaching and Supervising Students’ thoroughly prepares and supports them for these tasks by providing them with tools, feedback through peer review and educational support. The University of Groningen’s Educational Support & Innovation department (ESI) provides workshops and consultation within this track.

Other academic skills are taught via a workshop series on the following topics:

  • Ethics and Scientific Integrity
  • Open Access and Research Data Management
  • Dissemination and Outreach
  • Grant and Proposal Writing
  • Intellectual Property and Patents
  • Diversity and Inclusion in Science

3) Professional skills training

To prepare the fellows for the next step in their career, whether inside or outside academia, a set of workshops is offered to maximize their professional skills:

  • Entrepreneurship
  • Project Management
  • Leadership & Management Skills
  • Introduction to Science & Policy

4) Career guidance

An integral part of oLife is career guidance with the main element being the Personal Career Development Plan. An annual Results & Development Meeting serves as an instrument to monitor the realization of the proposed objectives and goals. To help the fellows position themselves as experts and to increase their networking skills, a workshop on Personal Branding & Networking is organized. The track ‘Career Orientation’ is offered to assist them in mapping out their future possibilities and next career step. In three sessions, they will meet professionals who will provide information on their jobs: what they entail, what skills the fellows need, perceived pro’s and cons’ and the like. Professionals may stem from academia, non-profit and profit, and range from group leaders, research managers, university teachers, policy advisors, non-profit managers, entrepreneurs, scientific writer and consultants. Female scientist will participate in the track ‘Advancing Women in Science’ which couples them with a female accomplished researcher for quarterly one-to-one mentoring sessions. Also, the respective universities offer individual consultation with a Human Resource advisor for personal career advice.