Junior Research Assembly (JURA) 2022
The latest Junior Research Assembly (JURA) took place from the 4th to the 6th of April. Young researchers from the four universities that are part of NCCR PlanetS were invited to this 3-day event hosted at Hotel Meielisalp in Leissigen. There was a lot of motivation to participate from all universities, with an impressive number of 53 participants. For many of them this was their first ever conference due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which made it a particularly valuable experience.
by Marit Mol Lous, on behalf of the JURA 2022 organisation committee.
The JURA programme started on Monday afternoon, after a morning consisting of traveling to the venue and enjoying the snowy landscape around lake Thun. The first activity was an ice-breaker, where everyone was encouraged to talk to as many people as possible and find out some trivial facts about them. In a short time everyone got to know a lot of new names and faces. This was followed by the first of two talk sessions of the day. During the assembly there would be a total of 4 talk sessions, a social activity and a workshop.
There was a lot of enthusiasm for presenting research, as 26 participants gave a talk and 17 brought a poster. The talks were split up into four sessions. The topics covered ‘Population and Detection of Exoplanets’, ‘Planetary Atmospheres and Interiors’ (with sessions on both observation and theory) and finally ‘Instrumentation, Astrochemistry, and Planet Formation’. The sessions were chaired by the committee members and the audience was quite full of questions. The scientific posters were on continuous display during the event, but there was also a designated poster session where a lot of interaction and discussion of the posters took place.
On the second day there was, in addition to the scientific talks and poster session, also time for a social activity. Some participants opted for a hike along the Leissigen panoramic bridge. This suspension bridge was significantly less stationary than it looked, but the feeling of a near-death experience also unified the hikers. Other PlanetS members chose to play bowling and got the chance to relive their childhood, show off their unprecedented skills, beat their secret nemesis or simply enjoy the disco music and a glass of beer. Apart from this social afternoon, the evenings were also free for socializing. The hotel facilitated playing games such as table tennis, pool and boardgames.
On the last day of the JURA, we hosted invited speaker Dr. Matthew Kenworthy from the University of Leiden who gave a workshop on setting up an effective personal website. He explained the importance of providing essential information about yourself on the internet, especially as a young researcher. Since most participants did not yet have a website or were hoping to improve theirs, these were productive hours. By the end of the workshop the ‘Early Career Researchers’ of PlanetS had made themselves a lot more visible on the internet.
The feedback of participants on the JURA was very positive. It was clear that the event was helpful in several ways. There was the opportunity to practise presenting research in a low-pressure environment, which is a good preparation for upcoming conferences. People from different universities, and sometimes even within the same university, got to meet for the first time. Some found potential future collaborators or had the opportunity to discuss their research from a different angle with someone from another background in exoplanets. Others gained a better knowledge of the different research that is done within PlanetS.
All in all it was a very successful event and we look forward to another edition in the future.