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CREATING A SPACE FOR EARLY CAREER RESEARCHERS: EXPERIENCES FROM A CONGRESS OF YOUNG MARINE SCIENTISTS

J. Moreno-Andrés 1, I. Jerez-Cepa 2, F. Sánchez-García 3, M. Pérez-Miguel 4, M. Simón4, C. Garrido-Pérez 1, J.J. Vergara 2, J.I. González-Gordillo 2, M. Bolado-Penagos 5

1Dpt. Environmental Technologies. Faculty of Marine and Environmental Sciences, INMAR, CEIMAR. University of Cadiz (SPAIN)
2Dpt. of Biology. Faculty of Marine and Environmental Sciences, INMAR, CEIMAR, University of Cadiz (SPAIN)
3Department of Chemical Engineering & Food Technology, Faculty of Sciences, University of Cadiz (SPAIN)
4Instituto de Ciencias Marinas de Andalucía (ICMAN-CSIC), Cádiz, Spain (SPAIN)
5Dpt. of Applied Physics. Faculty of Marine and Environmental Sciences, INMAR, CEIMAR, University of Cadiz (SPAIN)
Research, development (R&D), and generation of knowledge in the marine field are one of the great strengths for our natural and geographical environment in southern Spain. The geographically strategic location of the Higher Centre for Marine Studies (CASEM) of the University of Cádiz, on the border of two continents and in the environment of an ecosystem as unique as the Strait of Gibraltar, offers excellent possibilities for the aforementioned assets, as well as for the establishment of collaborations with third countries. Related to higher education studies, there are several study programs focused on marine sciences in Spain. These studies range from Bachelor (B.Sc.) and Master (M.Sc.) to Doctoral (Ph.D.) studies, and they are taught in 6 Spanish Universities. These study programs also vary in the field of specialization, providing unique careers such as Marine Sciences, Nautical Sciences, Naval Engineering, or Underwater Archaeology among others. Namely, in the Andalusian region of Spain, we find the Faculty of Marine Sciences of the University of Cadiz, located in the CASEM (University Campus of Puerto Real, Cádiz).

Moreover, there are other public research organizations and private companies where the contribution of Early Career Researchers (ECR) in marine sciences is essential. Particularly, the participation of these ECRs in the private sector has been improved in the last years by increasing the importance and involvement of new sea-related researchers in both public and private organizations. However, despite the multidisciplinary nature of the studies carried out in this field, a lack of connection among students and ECRs is denoted. Thus, the exchange of experiences between the ECRs of the different centers/companies should be reinforced.

With the idea of quantifying this fact, the I Congress of Young Marine Researchers were held in Cádiz (Spain) in October-2018, hosted by the University of Cádiz and the Marine Research Institute (INMAR), which are framed in the International Campus of Excellence of the Sea (CEI·MAR). The Organizing Committee of this Congress was entirely composed of marine ECRs in their pre-doctoral stage; therefore, it was a Congress organized and intended for marine ECRs. Results from Master’s theses and early Ph.Ds were presented in short communications and posters, resulting in a total of 171 active participants. Although major participation was from CEI·MAR sphere, contributions from different countries were also presented.

In this communication, we show the experience of organizing a Congress dedicated to marine ECRs but also analyzing the views, motivations, and final considerations of the participants in the conference, which have been addressed and studied through survey results after the conference.