Free place reports from 2013

Every year we offer free conference places to members of the Society on low income. Here are some of the free place reports from last year’s delegates.

I was surprised to have been awarded a free place at the SSM Annual Scientific Meeting 2013 because my abstract had not been accepted for a presentation and I was looking forward to attending the conference. It was the first time I attended the SSM and I was not disappointed. The presentations were interesting, timely and inspiring and the quality of research presented was high. The delegates included PhD students, ECRs and senior academics creating a mixed and friendly audience which promoted scientific thinking and stimulating discussions during and after the parallel sessions. My research is on dementia risk factors and I initially felt the programme was too diverse, but by the end of the first day I found it was highly relevant to my PhD. The broad areas covered gave me the opportunity to consider other angles of my research related to dietary behaviour, risk factors and possible implications for public health. It was also a wonderful opportunity to share ideas with people from related disciplines. I particularly enjoyed the workshop for ECRs “Making impact with your research: Publish or perish” where the publication process from the editor’s view and dealing with rejection was discussed among other things. The session was very informative, provided good tips and there was plenty of time for questions and discussion.
The scheduled social activities were also very enjoyable; the conference dinner was great and the live band playing swing music was a delightful addition. I would also like to add that the staff organising the conference was very helpful both before and during the conference, while the students at the conference helping out with preparations and other issues did an excellent job as well. Overall, I found the SSM conference a stimulating experience I would like to repeat. I will definitely recommend it to other PhD students and colleagues and I would be happy to attend and present at the meeting next year. Thank you very much for the free place.
Ilianna Lourida, PhD candidate, University of Exeter Medical School

I was lucky enough to be selected to present two poster presentations at the ‘Society for Social Medicine 57th Annual Scientific Meeting; September 11-13th 2013 in Brighton, UK . The conference was a most valuable experience to me overall as I was able to engage with other researchers in my area, as well as present my PhD research to a wider audience through my presentations, and receive excellent questions and feedback. In addition, the multitude of didactic training sessions (Publish or Perish-Early Career Researcher’s lunchtime workshop for example) and various other workshops including sessions on data linkage and missing data were extremely beneficial to me as an early stage researcher with a keen interest in epidemiological methods. The opportunity to network and interact with peers from other organisations was also extremely useful and I met some lovely people and made some great contacts for the future. I also became more aware of the vast amount of rich data sources available to health researchers like myself. To top off my experience at Soc Soc Med, I was awarded ‘Best Poster’ for my research, which was a great shock, and a great honour. Thank you most sincerely to the committee for giving me the chance to present my PhD research as well as for the free place bursary, which you awarded me for this trip.
Sinéad O Neill MPH 
Speedmeeting Photo 2012

I was lucky enough to receive a scholarship to attend the SSM conference this September in Brighton. This was the first conference I have attended and it has provided me with new friends and contacts as well as a better idea of what I want to do with my career. It was amazing to be able to meet people from such a broad range of backgrounds and to hear about research being carried out in many different areas such as epidemiology, health services research, statistics, sociology, psychology and health policy. What made this experience even more special was the fact I was given the opportunity to present my own research. This was a daunting experience but also absolutely amazing. I loved it and it has made me realise that I want to pursue a PhD in population health. Without this scholarship I would never have had this experience and for that I am very grateful. The conference from start to finish was very well organised and ran very efficiently. I met academics from a variety of fields, learned a lot about presenting that I can bring forward with me and also picked up a great deal about current research in the broad field of health. I enjoyed getting to see presenters whose names I had seen prior to this in scientific journals. I loved the relaxed, informative and helpful atmosphere at SSM and I look forward to returning again. Well done on an amazing conference and thank you again for the experience.

Laura Keaver

The SSM conference 2013 is one of those I will never forget. Although I’ve been to international ones which involved exploring a new country and such thrills, but this conference left the largest mark in my heart. I guess it was all about the people of the society they made it so special with their care, efforts, and family like ambiance they created! I lost my poster during my travel to the conference, so I panicked and thought that my research can’t be presented and that I had just lost my chance at this conference. I called up the helpdesk and each one of them tried to comfort me and reassure me that they will try their best to get things resolved. Upon arrival I was given print outs for free so that I can at least display my project somehow on the poster space.
Then next day, the organiser of the conference himself, Dr. Anjum Memon, put up the full printed poster for me without me having to even make the effort of fetching it from the printing centre and putting it up. I was feeling even more awed and overwhelmed when they did not accept taking the money for this all. It was a brilliant personal relation that was built between me and the organizing team, and I was determined to become a member of this beautiful society! The lectures, the dinner and every event of this conference reflected such ambient and positive settings. Would definitely come back every year!!
Maya Kamar, PhD Candidate, University of Leeds

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