Project Coordinator

Eric OelkersDr. Eric H. Oelkers

CNRS/UPS/OMP, Laboratoire GET, Toulouse, France






Project Manager:

Giuseppe Saldi:

Management meetings

Heraklion, Crete, September 21, 2016

Both PI’s and fellows took part in the last Management meeting of the project. In the first part of the meeting the project coordinator expressed his gratitude for the great participation and interest of the fellows in the different activities organized for the present and past training events of the network. The fellows were asked to provide some feedback about the last training activities, which were mostly aimed at preparing them to apply for research grants within the European Union and to successfully hold job interviews for academic positions. All the fellows expressed very positive criticisms about the training on curriculum vitae preparation, job interviews and where and how to apply for individual research grants, but some of them also pointed out that, for the future, it might be useful to offer some training activity that could help the participants to see how the skills and knowledge they acquired can be invested for their personal career development, especially in relation with the needs and competition within the private sector and the research developed and conducted by industry.

A quick overview of the different milestones and deliverables of the original grant agreement was also offered by the coordinator, Eric Oelkers, who showed how most of the objectives were successfully achieved. A short discussion among PI’s and fellows then followed and highlighted the difficulties and technical details encountered when working at the different tasks, which could have delayed the progress of different parts of the project.

Next, the discussion moved to some financial aspects. An updated summary of the costs of the network meetings held since the beginning of the project was presented by the project manager, who illustrated how the organization of the meetings was very cost-effective considering locations and facilities the group had the opportunity to use and enjoy within the hosting structures. The central reservation and payment method operated through the University of Leeds proved to be particularly important and efficient in reducing the costs while maintaining a very good quality of the services that were provided.

Right after, the possible recruitment of a student at the University of Copenhagen for the last 4-5 months of duration of the project using the remaining fellow months not used by Maersk Oil after Sandy Boehnert’s resignation was discussed. Several CV’s of potential candidates were examined and a few of them would fit very well into the project and could complete the part of the work that the previous ESR had started. It was concluded that the project coordinator, Giuseppe Saldi, would ask for permission from the project officer to hire a short term fellow at KU while the project manager would take care of the transfer of project funds between Maersk and KU to cover the costs of this recruitment.

In the final part of the meeting all partners were reminded to prepare their second financial report in time and to create adjustment forms to correct the errors on the form Cs from the first reporting period. At the same time, fellows were invited to prepare and send to Giuseppe their last progress report before the end of the project and inform him about new publications and conference abstracts, so that all the information could be uploaded on the website and be available for reports to the European Union. The ESRs were also encouraged to communicate a permanent email address to their supervisors to keep in touch with their institutions after the completion of their dissertation (or after the end of their contract) and provide some information about their career development. That would offer the PIs an important opportunity to assess the impact of the provided training on the scientific careers of the fellows, introduce elements of novelty and improvements in future training programs and involve the current ESRs in future meetings and collaborations.

Leibnitz, Austria, April 17, 2016

As with previous meetings, this management meeting was open to both PIs and fellows.

The meeting started with an explanation of the state of the first financial report submitted to the European Commission and the reason for the delays in the interim payment. Additional information has been provided each time the financial officer or project officer has requested clarifications, and it is hoped that the financial report will soon be accepted.

The meeting next moved to a discussion of recruitment for open positions still remaining at Reykjavik Energy and University of Copenhagen. Both of these positions are challenging to fill because they are for short durations and many potential candidates are looking for three years of funding, not just several months. University of Copenhagen has received many applications and will carry out interviews after the network meeting in Leibnitz. Reykjavik Energy thought they had identified a good candidate and offered him the job but he chose to accept a position elsewhere. They will continue to review applications but are concerned about the amount of time required to train a new ESR for only a few months remaining on the project.

Information was next presented about the costs of network meetings to date. Because group bookings have been made through a central reservation via University of Leeds, we have been able to organise very cost effective meetings in very nice locations. The fellows mentioned that they greatly appreciate the pleasant locations and that they feel that the nice suroundings have contributed to a positive networking experience at these events. A final network meeting is scheduled for September 2016 in Crete and fellows were asked to provide input into they types of training activities they would like to undertake during the final meeting. The original annex to the Grant Agreement included training in Career management skills and fellows agreed that this would be useful but that they would particularly like to receive information about how to apply for post-doctoral fellowships. PIs provided insight into some of the key factors in obtaining post doctoral funding and agreed to develop a training program for Crete in this area.

The meeting concluded with a review of Annex 1 to the Grant Agreement, once again ensuring that the network is on track to achieve its orginally defined objectives.

Prague, Czech Republic, August 17, 2015

The CO2 react management meeting was open to both PIs and fellows.

The meeting commenced with a review of the recent periodic and financial report submitted to the European Commission. The report was originally submitted on time, but the financial officer requested several modifications to the report as well as additional information regarding costs declared under management. In the information sent by the financial officer, we discovered that costs of travel to the mid term review for fellows could be charged to the management category. As none of the partners had included these costs originally, all financial statements had to be modified.

The project manager, Clare Desplats, was in contact with both PIs and financial representatives at the various partner institutes, but because of the summer holidays, it took a little longer than expected to receive all of the information from the various institutes. A second version of the report was officially submitted on August 12th and we are expecting to hear back from the project officer and financial officer in early September. Clare reminded the PIs that it is important that any errors in their first form Cs should be corrected as adjustments on their second financial reports.

The coordinator, Eric Oelkers, pointed out that when writing the periodic report, he was impressed by how many of the deliverables promised in the original grant agreement have already been provided. Fellows have received training in communication skills (writing, giving presentations, interacting with the media and the general public), drilling and sampling techniques, thermodynamics and kinetics and have also participated in workshops on career management, interview techniques and job search techniques amongst others. These events have always been well attended by the fellows and feedback following the courses has been outstandingly positive. He then asked the fellows if they were other training courses they would like to see offered which were not originally promised in the grant agreement. Some fellows said they would like to receive training specific to their research question, but it was agreed after discussion, that this type of training would not be of interest to the entire group and should be explored by the fellows with their supervisors on an individual basis.

Next, the coordinator raised the possibility of organizing a CO2 react network meeting in late 2015, early 2016. Both fellows and PIs agreed that this would be a good opportunity for the group to meet again and to offer another training activity. Fellows mentioned that they have enjoyed when these training events have included other networks or even non network participants, so the coordinator and project manager will look into contacting other ITNs to see if a joint training event would be of interest. Several locations for the next network event were suggested including Potsdam, Germany, Münster, Germany and Crete. These options will be further explored by the coordinator and project manager and then submitted to the group for a vote in the fall of 2015.

As this management meeting was also designed to be an opportunity for an annual self evaluation of the network, the group next quickly went through the list of milestones and deliverables in the original grant agreement, followed by a round table discussion of progress to date at each institute.

Reykjavik Energy pointed out that they are still anxiously awaiting a decision from the project officer regarding hiring a second ESR to complete the project originally given to David Stevens. The project manager will recontact the project officer in early September to stress how important it is to recruit a second person as soon as possible.

Lafarge has now found an experienced researcher to fill the position on their premises. Marco Agnelli has been offered a contract to start work there from early September. Hopefully, the delay in recruitment will not impact the overall scope of the project at Lafarge.

Christine Putnis next asked if a decision had been made about adding Curtin University in Australia and UCL in the UK as associated partners. We are still waiting to hear from the Project officer about these two Aps and Clare will include this question in the email she will send the P.O. in September.

No other issues related to finances or recruitment were raised, so the meeting concluded at this point.

Tuscany, Italy, March 9, 2015

The management meeting commenced with a reminder to all PIs about the upcoming financial report due in April to the European Commission. Clare circulated an estimated budget per partner to each of the PIs and asked that each institute send her a draft form C before clicking on submit on the participant portal. A question about whether or not real costs should be declared under the Research Training budget was raised, but Clare explained that this category is a flat rate and so institutes should declare 1800 euros per month that the fellow has worked on the project. At this point, Clare reminded the fellows that it is imperative to send progress reports in a timely manner as these reports represent a summary of the training activities of the fellows and can be used to justify how the Research Training budget is being spent.

The meeting next turned to discussion of the budget used to date for network meetings. Because the project officer agreed to allow University of Leeds to prepay network events and then re-invoice participants, we have been able to negotiate good rates with hotels and as a result, the budget is lower than the initially anticipated budget for network wide training events. This is good news as it means there is more money for other training activities.

The issue of recruitment was next raised. A new ESR has been recruited to replace the ESR who resigned at Reykjavik Energy, but it may be necessary to adjust the scope of the project because of an insufficient number of remaining fellow months. Alternately, it might be possible to recruit a second ESR, but the project officer has not yet approved this option. The Experienced Researcher at Lafarge has not yet been recruited because of a lack of eligible candidates. The ad has been re-circulated and we hope the position will be filled soon.

The coordinator reminded fellows and PIs to regularly re-visit the original annex to the CO2 react grant agreement to ensure compliance with the originally promised work program. At the present time, the project is well on track and is expected to exceed the original expectations.

Seefeld, Austria, December 7, 2014

The management meeting focused on 6 key points: Recruitment, Secondments, Collaborations, Future network events, Upcoming reports to the European Commission and Financial Management of the network.

There are two positions to be filled within the network: an experienced researcher position at Lafarge and a replacement ESR position at Reykjavik Energy. Alex Pisch, the PI from Lafarge, is to send Clare an ad for the position to be circulated amongst the partners as the feedback from the Euraxess website was weak. Many applications were received from candidates who were not eligible under Marie Curie guidelines.

CO2 React fellows attended the management meeting and were reminded about their obligation to go on secondment to other host institutes within the network and to perform public outreach activities. The PIs and fellows also discussed various means of evidencing collaborations within the network. There is already a good synergy between teams but this should be made more obvious through joint publications and common outreach activities.

The schedule of originally planned network training events was revisited and the network is already ahead of schedule in terms of these events. A short discussion ensued regarding the running of future network events. Fellows were encouraged to make suggestions about the type of training they feel they currently need or which may be useful to their future careers. PIs and fellows also discussed the advantages and disadvantages of opening up these training events to outside participants. It was generally agreed that bringing in external participants can be an enriching experience for all.

The meeting next turned to a discussion of finances. PIs were reminded that the first financial report for the CO2 react project is due in March 2015. Clare is to circulate a "best estimate" of expected spending for each institute. PIs were also reminded that their travel to management meetings can be charged against the management budget of the network. Fellows were reminded to send their progress reports to Clare in a timely manner so that the website can be regularly updated and information about publications, etc can be easily accessed for reports to the European Commission.

This management meeting represented a second opportunity for self evaluation of the network by both fellows and PIs.

Reykjavik, Iceland, 25 August, 2014

The management meeting started with a review of the original CO2 project aims and a round table discussion about best ways to keep the project on track. This management meeting was designed to comply with the milestone defined in the original annex: Self Evaluation of the Network. The evaluation was originally scheduled for month 12 but as recruitment took longer than anticipated, it was moved later to allow a maximum number of PIs to participate. Discussion then moved to the status of recruitment at Reykjavik Energy following the resignation of the ESR there. Eric is to contact the project officer to request permission to split the remaining fellow months into two projects in order to fulfill the original aims of the project at Reykjavik Energy. He will communicate the reply from the project officer to RE. In the meantime, RE will re-advertise the position.

The coordinator confirmed that the first progress report for the CO2 react project was sent to the commission on time and thanked the PIs for their input. So far, we have received no feedback following the report, but progress has been good and the project is on track, so hopefully, there are no major problems.

The meeting next addressed the upcoming mid term review scheduled for December in Austria. Eric reminded the PIs that all PIs and fellows should be present for the mid term review and that fellows would be required to fill in an online questionnaire prior to the review. The PIs discussed the two options for presenting the fellows work proposed by the commission: presentation by each fellow or poster session and chose to ask each fellow to give a 10 minute presentation.

Eric next reminded PIs that the first financial report for the CO2 react project must be completed by mid April. A draft form C should be sent to Clare prior to online submission so that she can check that spending is in line with what we expect. Electronic submission has been requested but we are still waiting for the amendment to be approved. As soon as we have more information, Clare will contact the partners to explain how to select an FSIGN representative at each institute. A periodic progress report will be submitted at the same time as the financial report, so all PIs were asked to remind their fellows to submit their progress reports on time so that the information can be used to complete the report to the commission.

Eric suggested that PIS remind their fellows that they have an obligation to perform public outreach activities and that they should start thinking about where they will undertake their secondments within the network. The meeting concluded with an open forum.

Fuerteventura, February 11, 2014

The second network management meeting was held in Fuerteventura during the kick off meeting on Feb. 11, 204.

At this management meeting, PIs confirmed that all open ESR positions had been filled at the various institutes. The only position remaining to be filled is the ER position. The coordinator revisited the budget categories with all PIs to ensure that everyone understood how the monies should be used.

The issue of adding more associated partners to offer a greater range of secondment opportunities to the ESRs was raised. Some of the ESRs are located in countries where there is no associated partner university and will therefore have to enrol in a local university. It was agreed that the coordinator would contact the project officer to request adding additional associated partners where necessary.

The coordinator reminded the PIs that the first CO2 React progress report is due in early April. Each of the PIs should prepare a short paragraph for the coordinator detailing progress on the project to dat and any expected deviations from the original work plan.

The first CO2 react kick off meeting was run in collaboration with the MINSC ITN. The coordinator asked the PIs whether or not they thought this would be a good idea moving forward. All PIs agreed that exposing the ESRs to a larger group of fellows was a positive experience and that it might even open up collaborations between networks.

The meeting concluded with a discussion about finances for the second network event to be held in Iceland in August 2014. Currently, Reykjavik Energy in Iceland has made several reservations for hotels, meeting rooms, conference facilities, etc and it was agreed that these costs should be covered by a registration fee for meeting participants.

Copenhagen, June 17, 2013

The first CO2 React management meeting was held in Copenhagen on June 17th, 2013. The goal of this meeting was to discuss the recruitment strategy for the network and to present the network budget to the PIs.

It was agreed that ESR and ER positions would be advertised on the Euraxess website and on local websites at the various institutes. PIs agreed to share cvs of interesting candidates in order to recruit for all ESR positions before the end of the first year.

In terms of the training budget, it was suggested that the coordinator would handle group reservations for network events and then re-invoice partners following network events.