Fostering Research Culture: SECURE Panel at MCAA 2024 Conference

The annual conference and general assembly of the Marie Curie Alumni Association (MCAA) took place at the University of Milano, Italy, from the 14th to 16th of March 2024. This year’s annual conference theme celebrated a decade of MCAA’s efforts in the research sector in Europe and worldwide, and raised the questions on the interplay of past, present and future challenges in the research field.


Among its continuous efforts to reach out to the research community directly and stir important conversations about the future of European research, SECURE project held a panel session on the topic of “Fostering Research Culture: Supporting Sustainable Careers in Europe”.

Panel moderator was Mostafa Moonir Shawrav (MCAA), and panelists who generously shared their views were Claire Viney (CRAC-Vitae), Sebastian Dahle (EuroDoc), Sara Pilia (EuroDoc), Silvia Gomez Recio (YERUN), and Gareth O’Neill (TGB, joining online). Additional support and perspective on research development was given from Maria Leptin, the president of the European Research Council, and Manuel Heitor, lead of the advisory group helping EU with evaluating the research and innovation programme Horizon Europe.

At the beginning, Claire Viney shared about SECURE’s mission: “As part of SECURE, we’ve developed guiding principles to support institutions to create sustainable and fulfilling careers for researchers. That covers things like stability, transparency, competitive and inclusive recruitment, fair pay and benefits, recognition, inclusive and healthy working environments, supportive management, and responsible evaluation.”


Gareth O’Neill provided an extensive overview of the project, emphasizing its mission to interpret the proposed European framework for research careers and its practical implications for the research field in Europe. He highlighted the project’s emphasis on identifying real actionable measures that could directly impact the lives of researchers. 

“We are trying to interpret the European framework for research careers. So, this European framework for research careers came out at the end of last year (2023) from the European Commission, supported and adopted by the European Council. Essentially, what you have in this framework are eight pillars imagined to reform and improve the lives of researchers. And not just researchers, but there is a slight focus on early-career researchers“. 

„What we will do in SECURE is essentially look at all of these eight pillars and break them down to see what we can take that’s practical for research performing organizations and research funding organizations, and have a direct and concrete impact on the lives of researchers,“ he added, emphasizing on the practical approach of this initiative.


The panelists restated the importance of adopting collaborative career paths and evidence-based approaches, stressing the need for inclusive leadership to facilitate meaningful transformations in research culture.

In closing remarks, Sara Pila put the emphasis on the involvement of the research community to make the change happen: “People make change happen. And every person in this room and the research ecosystem, has the power to change anything. It is the summing up of the little changes everyone is making that will make the actual change.“

The MCAA community brought together researchers from all career stages and scientific disciplines, MSCA project managers, and stakeholders. They encouraged networking and cooperation, making the MCAA a forum of debate between researchers and with society.

Besides the panel session, SECURE set up a promotional stand that allowed us to converse with researchers regarding their professional journeys and share with them the details about the project.