Staff Travel Grant Makes a Difference

Among ILSI’s most valuable resources are its employees.

Knowledgeable and hardworking individuals around the world dedicate themselves to ILSI’s mission to provide science that improves human health and well-being and safeguards the environment. They design and implement scientific programs, foster cross-geography and cross-sector collaboration, and provide critical support to the industry and academic volunteers who lead ILSI.

ILSI’s strategic plan recognizes the value of the institute’s employees and calls for action to enhance staff organizational and scientific capacity whenever possible. Efforts to launch the Staff Travel Grant as one such action was led by Sushila Chang, PhD, Griffiths University. During her tenure as Chair of the ILSI Board of Trustees (2010 – 2011), she saw the exchange of employees among branches and the ILSI Research Foundation as a way to share ideas and learn new ways to approach their work. Most importantly she said

“In addition to the hands-on learning it provides, the [Staff Travel Grant] creates lasting relationships in themselves. It brings branches closer together and makes cooperation more second nature.”

In February, Mariana Palou de Comasema of ILSI Argentina, came to the ILSI offices in Washington, DC via a Staff Travel Grant to work with her counterparts on science communications. Ms. Palou earned her degree in communications from Universidad Católica Argentina and has worked for ILSI Argentina for four years. Her month-long visit (the longest exchange so far funded by the grant) allowed her to experience ILSI headquarters in-depth.

Ms. Palou’s time in Washington, DC resulted in tangible outcomes. In February, ILSI was busy migrating its website to a new platform. Ms. Palou used the new platform to create an English language website to highlight ILSI Argentina’s activities. This supplements the branch’s more in-depth Spanish-language site.

For the past two years, ILSI has put special effort into helping ILSI branches in achieving regional collaboration. Ms. Palou helped with this by helping to create a website which delivers information about joint activities among ILSI branches. The site is available in English, Spanish, and Portuguese so the information is accessible to stakeholders in the region as well as internationally.

More importantly, as Prof Chang indicated, the exchange now makes ongoing cooperation between the ILSI offices in Washington, DC and ILSI Argentina second nature.

ILSI plans to continue the Staff Travel Grant program for as long as funding lasts. We are very grateful to the contributions companies and individuals have made this possible†.

ILSI Argentina English language site: ILSI Argentina

ILSI Latinoamerica English language site: ILSI Latinoamerica

†A special thanks to those who have given generous support to the Staff Travel Grant program. If you would like to make a contribution, contact Suzie Harris, ILSI Executive Director: ILSI is a 501(c)3 non-profit and your contribution is tax deductible to the fullest extent allowed by US federal income tax law.

List of Supporters

Alex Malaspina
Alfred Wishart
The Coca-Cola Company
Gary Henderson
Jim Stanley
John Ruff
Kellogg Company
Kraft Foods (now Mondelēz)
Mars, Inc.
Nestlé Research Center

The ILSI Research Foundation and ILSI Communications department also provided support for Mariana Palou de Comasema's travel.

ILSI News | September 2016
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Mariana Palou, center front, with staff from ILSI and ILSI Research Foundation

Mariana Palou de Comasema on Her Experience
     Having the possibility to spend a month at the ILSI office in Washington DC and to attend the ILSI Annual Meeting was such a great experience for me on a personal and professional level.
     Regarding the Annual Meeting, I think it was a very good chance to meet and get in contact with the ILSI colleagues from around the world. During those days you are able to have face to face interactions with them, which makes so much easier to have future communications and work together with them in the future.
     My experience at the ILSI DC office was very important to me because I was able to connect and work with different people in a different environment. I had the possibility to meet with ILSI colleagues, and participated in some staff meetings that allowed me to have a better understanding of ILSI’s work, how each branch with their own resources works and the issues each of them have.
     In return, I gave a presentation about ILSI Argentina, and the work we do here, which gave the ILSI colleagues the chance to know how we work in Argentina. This was my first formal presentation in another language, fortunately I was able to make our culture and branch a little bit more known to our colleagues and share our experiences.
     Outside the ILSI office, I attended to the “Communicating Science” session at the AAAS Annual Meeting. Also, I spent a day at Food Minds, a food & nutrition company that works on science and communications.
     I strongly believe that the most valuable thing about the staff travel grant is that helps the sending and receiving entity and the person who gets the grant to create awareness about ILSI’s work globally. Because even though we all work for the same organization that shares the same values, we live in different countries and have different issues, so the way each of the ILSI branches works and the issues that are more relevant for each other is the most significant thing you learn during the whole experience.
     On a personal level, the staff travel grant was an amazing and exciting opportunity to travel, and meet different people and a different culture. And, I am sure that this was an experience that will accompany me in every new project I will start. Also was very good to improve my English skills, and the immersion in the culture was a great learning experience.
     To sum up, this grant allowed me to work with my communications colleagues at ILSI in Washington, and all the ILSI entities that are there, and become more familiar with available resources, that I am able to apply in our branch. And also gave me the possibility to learn from different people their work culture that I will apply in my personal and professional life from now on.

     Haber tenido la posibilidad de pasar un mes en la oficina de ILSI en Washington y asistir a la Reunión Anual de ILSI, fue una gran experiencia tanto a nivel personal como profesional.
     En relación a la Reunión Anual, creo que fue una muy buena oportunidad para conocer y contactarme con los colegas de ILSI de todas partes del mundo. Durante esos días, uno puede tener contacto directo con ellos, lo que facilita la comunicación y el trabajo conjunto en el futuro.
     Mi experiencia en la oficina de ILSI en Washington fue muy importante para mí ya que pude relacionarme con diferentes personas en un ambiente diferente. Tuve la posibilidad de conocer a colegas de ILSI que trabajan allí, y participar de algunas de sus reuniones de staff, esto me permitió entender mejor el trabajo de ILSI, cómo trabaja cada filial con sus propios recursos y las temáticas que son más relevantes para cada uno.
     Por mi parte, di una presentación sobre ILSI Argentina, y el trabajo que llevamos a cabo aquí, lo que ayudó a que los colegas de ILSI conozcan un poco más cómo trabajamos en Argentina. Esta fue la primera presentación que daba en otro idioma, afortunadamente pude compartir con los colegas de ILSI nuestras experiencias y la forma de trabajo en ILSI Argentina.
     Fuera de la oficina, asistí a la sesión “Comunicando Ciencia” (Communicating Science) de la reunión anual de AAAS. Además, pasé un día en Food Minds, una compañía especializada en comunicación y ciencia que trabaja en temas de alimentos y nutrición.
     Creo que lo más valioso de la experiencia con el staff travel grant es que contribuye a que se conozca mejor el trabajo de ILSI a nivel global. Esto se debe a que, a pesar de que todos trabajamos para la misma organización que comparte los mismos valores, vivimos en diferentes países y tenemos diferentes desafíos. En consecuencia, lo más significativo de la experiencia radica en aprender y comprender el modo en que cada filial trabaja y las temáticas que aborda.
     A nivel personal, ésta fue una gran oportunidad para viajar, y conocer personas y una cultura diferentes. Estoy segura de que será una experiencia que me acompañará en cada nuevo proyecto que enfrente. Al mismo tiempo, fue bueno para practicar el inglés, y la posibilidad de vivir en una cultura distinta fue una experiencia maravillosa.
     Para resumir, esta beca me permitió trabajar junto a colegas del área de comunicación de ILSI en Washington, y de todas las filiales que allí funcionan, y pude familiarizarme con los recursos que están disponibles para aplicar en mi trabajo diario. Además, tuve la posibilidad de aprender la forma de trabajar en una cultura diferente que podré emplear en mi vida a nivel personal y profesional.