Bringing together the future generation of Net Zero researchers 

Last month, 250 early career researchers working across aspects of net zero gathered in Birmingham for a two-day conference organised by 14 energy consortia. The conference included a mix of keynote speakers, parallel sessions (skills and topic based) and a networking dinner.  As well as an opportunity for ECRs to present their work during the poster reception.

The ECR Net Zero Conference was opened by Myles Allen (University of Oxford), who set the scene for net zero before we heard from the 14 consortia organising the conference about their work in the net zero space.  

A plenary session on EDI ran by C-DICE/ERA, EDI + and IGNITE Network+. During this interactive plenary session ECRs explored why the ability to embed equitable, diverse, and inclusive practises into their research is a crucial skill for early career researchers to acquire in order to enable the just transition to a net zero society.  

The day then encompasses three parallel sessions on 1) multidisciplinary research, 2) public engagement and 3) writing a narrative CV. Dr Gareth Thomas from Cardiff University said: “I very much enjoyed the conference and the chance to catch up with other social science researchers in the field of energy. The session on public engagement was interesting and it was good to catch up with the Energy Systems Catapults during the Business networking session.” 

To end the first day, we hosted a buzzing poster stimulate discussion and find potential collaborative research pathways with fellow ECRs, a networking reception and a conference dinner

The development of this conference was by an organisational committee and an ECR committee. It was important to ensure ECRs feedback was considered in the development of the programme and give them experience to lead sessions.  

Dr Nabila Rufa’I from University of Birmingham said: 

“Being part of the ECR Steering Committee, as well as witnessing the success of the conference was an immensely gratifying experience. I had the amazing opportunity of connecting with other ECRs and made some industry contacts that will potentially provide valuable insights to my research.” 

Hear what our ECRs thought about the conference: 

“Attending this conference was an incredibly enjoyable experience, and the sessions with diverse array of speakers and activities offered valuable insights. It was lovely to catch up with former colleagues from previous projects and meeting new ones. Beyond the informative sessions, the networking opportunities were invaluable, allowing ECRs to connect with experts in my field.” – Dr Zoya Pourmirza, University of Birmingham  

“I would like to thank all the members of the conference organizing committee, and I would especially like to thank Rhiannon, the representative of HI-ACT. The conference was well-organized and stimulating. It contained a lot of information which contributed toward building positive ideas regarding research into achieving future zero carbon targets. Overall, I found the conference a particularly useful experience. I was able to build research relationships with fellow attendees.” Khalid Almalkai, University of Exeter  

“Attending the ECR Net Zero Conference was a remarkable experience. It provided a brilliant platform where I can meet and connect with peer researchers working in energy and sustainability fields. The workshops offered me in-depth insights into energy-related research and significantly broadened my research vision. This event definitely inspired me to explore innovative pathways in my future work in the energy field.” – Tong Zhang, Cardiff University