How an RSA grant can help early career researchers - Interview with Pierre-Alexandre Balland

How did your RSA grant help you in your research? 

This RSA-EC grant gave me the opportunity to truly focus on my research agenda, learn from leading scholars in the field through two research stays (UCLA & MIT), and set-up a team that combines complementary skills. 

Focus: It is often difficult for EC researchers to transition from a Ph.D./postdoc position in which we have nearly 100% research time to a faculty position in which new teaching and management tasks can be very time-consuming. The teaching buy-out was particularly useful in that respect, enabling me to tackle big research goals. 

Learning: I am lucky to be part of a research centre at Utrecht University that concentrates a large share of leading scholars in the field. In today’s academic world, however, knowledge is distributed across the globe and to keep learning new skills and to access new ideas it is important to spend time with scholars from other institutes. This EC grant enabled me to stay with David Rigby’s team at UCLA & César’s Hidalgo team at MIT. Their inputs made an invaluable contribution to this project and to my understanding of regional development. 

Team: Social science is increasingly a team sport. Even though the EC scheme is an individual grant, this project had to combine the expertise of different scholars to be successful. In particular, this EC grant gave me the possibility to be assisted for the data collection and the design of the website.

Are you an early career researcher within five years of your PhD?

Apply for the RSA Early Career Research Grant worth up to £10,000 by 31st May 2018.

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