How BU ECR ACORN funding has helped my research career
I was awarded BU ECR Acorn funding in 2018 for a study titled ‘Minimising disorientation in care homes: Experiences of care home staff’. The funding enabled me to recruit and manage a student Research Assistant to undertake telephone interviews with care home managers, exploring how they address spatial disorientation and navigation of residents with dementia in such environments.
With guidance and support from my line manager Prof Jan Wiener and colleagues from Brighton and Sussex Medical School, I was able to gain experience of leading the study as Principal Investigator and contributing to the evidence base of current practice by publishing the findings in a journal article.
This experience has proven to be an essential element in building my research profile. It demonstrates my capability to build a multi-disciplinary team and lead a study through the research cycle, from idea to dissemination stage. As such, it has been a catalyst for me to obtain external research funding from the Alzheimer’s Research UK South Coast Network to continue developing my expertise and networks in this area. It has also given me the confidence to take forwards further research interests and ideas with my other line manager Prof Jane Murphy and various internal and external colleagues. I have since applied to funders such as NIHR, EPSRC, and Alzheimer’s Society – with some success and some still awaiting an outcome!
Personally, I feel that the support for ECRs at BU has improved recently with the development of initiatives such as the ECR network, ECR Acorn funding, and training and development courses specifically aiming at ECRS as part of the RKE Development Framework. I have benefited from career planning and development advice and resources from my line managers, those who run the ECR network, the BU MyCareerHub (particularly the networking and Linked in guidance) and having access to health and wellbeing resources such as a coach to discuss career trajectory.
I would encourage all ECRs at BU to take the time to look at what is available and make use of what is appropriate to them. If applying for ECR Acorn funding, start with a small, manageable project and involve more experienced colleagues to ensure you feel supported and able to complete the study.