Looking back and looking forward

RSG Belgium has held its first meeting of 2018, so we would like to take this opportunity to look back on what we have achieved in 2017, thank all the people who put in time and energy to get us where we are now, and also reveal some of our plans for the upcoming year.

Highlights of the first 2018 meeting

Firstly, we would like to thank everyone who participated in the meeting for their enthusiasm. Not only did the high turnout result in a few technical difficulties due to Google Hangout’s call limits, but we were pleased to see several new faces, who were all eager to become more involved in our community.

Board Renewal

Andrea Gazzo is stepping down as RSG Belgium’s Vice President, so on behalf of all members and the board, a big thank you for all your contributions, Andrea!

Nikolina Sostaric will take over his role from now on. Congratulations Nikolina and good luck! You can learn more about Nikolina (and all the other board members too!) on our organization page.

University Representatives

An important new board function was defined during the meeting: the university representatives. We aim to assign an RSG representative to each Belgian university. Their role will consist of networking and management. We believe that by having a local spokesperson the barrier of entry for potential new members will be lowered and the communication between universities will become more efficient. Please contact us if you’d like to represent your university, since we are still searching for representatives for UGent, UCL, UNamur, UMons and ULiège.

Joining RSG Belgium in various degrees

How do I join RSG?” is one of the most frequent questions that we heard in the past year. In order to address this issue, we have developed a three-layered structure of involvement.

  • The announcement section of our new website and the mailing list provide a passive method of participation, whereby you can receive periodical updates on our activities.
  • Closer participation can be achieved through our Slack group , which encourages both professional and social networking, as well as brainstorming on ideas and activities.
  • The third layer is becoming an active part of the board team or acting as a university representative.

The aim is to let everyone join and become as involved as they prefer, without demanding too much from any single member. Although we saw an increased interest in RSG compared to last year, we are still striving to grow the organization by recruiting in strategic positions such as Ghent, Namur and Liège.

What’s in store for 2018?

Website expansion

Our new website has been up and running for a few months now, but there are definitely some areas left which can still be improved upon. So far we’ve updated our organization page, eased the process of joining Slack and tweaked a number of aesthetic choices.

There’s more in store, however! For example, we are playing with the idea of creating a contribution page to thank and congratulate members for their work. A member list is also on the table, since connecting people based on their research interests is the main goal of this network, after all.

Student Symposium 2018

Each year we organize a Student Symposium: half a day filled with presentations, discussions and networking, for and by young researchers in bioinformatics. This year, the event will be hosted by the University of Antwerp in the month of June. The exact date and submission deadlines will be announced soon.

More initiatives

Another idea that was proposed during the meeting, was to increase the amount and the diversity of RSG events. These could range from a series of workshops, where we can diversify our skills, to hackathons, where we collaborate on a specific problem, to team-building activities and social events hosted on a more regular basis. These ideas will be further refined in the future, thanks to everyone’s input. More regular tele-conferences were also proposed as a way to bounce ideas around more often and actively push ourselves to get things done.

Overall, we have big plans for 2018, so please stay tuned for more! As always, feel free to join us on Slack to share your own ideas and suggestions. Keep your eyes open for our upcoming tele-conference in Spring as well.

All the best,

Pieter Moris - on behalf of the RSG executive team