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Programme for EArly-stage Researchers in Lille

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - PEARL (Programme for EArly-stage Researchers in Lille)

Reporting period: 2019-09-09 to 2021-09-08

The PEARL doctoral programme – Programme for Early-stage Researchers in Lille – co-funded by the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions and the French National Research Agency (AnR) offered the opportunity to 30 PhD fellows to perform interdisciplinary research projects in our research units.

The coordination of the PEARL programme is managed by the I-SITE Université Lille Nord-Europe Foundation, of which the purpose is to implement several actions in the framework of the construction of the new university of Lille to be created on January, 1st 2022. Our founding members are the University of Lille, Centrale Lille, ENSAIT, ENSAPL, Sciences Po Lille, ENSAM (Lille campus), CNRS, Inria, Inserm, Institut Pasteur de Lille and Lille University Hospital.

All the PEARL PhD projects are linked with two of our 4 graduate programmes which are “Precision Health”, “Science for a changing planet”, “Information & knowledge society” and “Changing cultures, societies and practices”. Their research aims at transferring fundamental discoveries to applied technologies, to produce tangible innovation in society. The PhD students involved acquire and practice a real true interdisciplinary approach and bridge the gap between different fields of science.

PEARL is offering top quality conditions and a highly attractive environment of excellence, intended to fuel student’s desire to learn, as well as boost their taste for entrepreneurship and, creativity in research. The interdisciplinary / transnational character of the PhD projects, along with international and inter-sectorial secondments will be an asset for the future employability of PhD students both in and outside academia.
From September 9, 2019 to September 2020, the actions were focused on communication and dissemination activities to recruit the first batch of 15 PhD students through two sub-calls.
A first call to pre-select research projects proposed by a couple of 2 thesis directors and then a second call to select the best PhD candidates. Following the high number of excellent candidates, we decided to fund 17 PhD students to begin on September 2020.
All the information about the calls were displayed on our website and social media. We advertised the PhD offers on Euraxess portal, through our networks and during abroad recruitment fairs. Moreover, we informed Science Attachés of French Embassies and Institut français representatives around the world in order spread information with short presentations, posters and flyers through their national networks.

During the second period from September 2020 to September 2021, we renewed the same recruitment process to fund the last PEARL PhD fellows to reach our target of 30 financed PhD students grants. In parallel, we gave special care to our first laureates in order to welcome them in the best conditions possible, advice for VISA, accommodation, bank accounts, etc. We ensured with our partner organisations a smooth recruitment process regarding all the administrative documents to prepare and fill in. The PEARL project manager is their privileged contact at the I-SITE ULNE foundation concerning these matters. Their thesis directors, laboratory and doctoral school staff are their privileged contact regarding their scientific project.
Considering the increasing competitiveness in science research, undertaking an interdisciplinary thesis is crucial for a researcher career. PEARL PhD students have at least two supervisors, one for each speciality. Excellency in science is also made from interconnections between researchers’ team around the world. That is why, PEARL plans to strengthen the collaboration aspect of the PhD thesis, by achieving secondments abroad: PhD students benefit from I-SITE ULNE academic cross border network, which includes top ranked universities as Ghent University, KU Leuven and University of Kent, as well as a large number of internationally recognized partner universities. Due to its unequalled geographic situation (proximity with Paris, London and Brussels), Lille area offers to its workers the opportunity to integrate European exchanges to their practices. This is a cultural effect, induced by the border and that will benefit to the PhD students.
The interdisciplinary / transnational character of the PhD projects, associated to international and inter-sectorial secondments constitute an asset for the future employability of PhD students both in and outside academia.
The unique training portfolio offered by PEARL complete the scientific and technical trainings proposed by the graduate programme, focusing on acquiring soft skills such as communication, digital mastering, business culture etc. The acquisition of skills will be monitored by the Career Development Plan, to be updated/modified proactively by PhD students and their supervisors.
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