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Showing posts from 2013

The Beauty Blogger Challenge to Ask for Evidence

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Beauty and health product manufacturers are keen to open their doors to questions from users in order to get people on the web talking about their products ( If you're interested in following some of the chat then just look at #bblogs on twitter). But with the doors seemingly opening there's still a lack of people asking the right questions about what product testing takes place to create the claims they put forward and the real scientific basis behind their formulations and potions.

Beauty and health blogs are huuuuge business, many get numbers of hits that print newspapers would be jealous of. I'm tempted to mention a few products just to score myself a better ranking on google..  Beauty and health manufacturers know this, exploit it and often run events and send free samples just for beauty bloggers. Some blogs offer critical reviews of products, others just seem to like the freebies. Then there are the really shameful attempts at debunking that are just used to promot…

Tycho Brahe Museum and the problems of publishing your science in the middle ages...

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Yesterday I visited the Tycho Brahe Museum on the tiny island of Ven or Hven in Sweden. I'm going to write more about Tycho Brahe and the museum but for now (and the observatory he built in the 1500s).. here's a little descriptor from the gardens explaining how even in the 1500s it was important to disseminate research knowledge... and that Tycho the scientist didn't trust the people that printed his works. So he built his own printing press and printed it himself.





Uraniborg was Tycho's castle and the museum is based around where it once stood.

The end of the PhD

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My PhD has been printed off, handed in, examined, corrected, printed off again in hardbound form, signed off, handed back in and I have graduated. AT LAST!!! This is my last post about the PhD (I think!) and goes through some coping mechanisms I developed at the end when I was juggling finishing off with a full time job...


The end of the PhD was hard work. It's a long, time consuming process that I have mentioned previously. I'm currently working as a project officer in public engagement with research, my job involves evenings, weekends and general odd hours. Juggling both the job and the PhD was a bit tricky at times, but just about manageable. I had to allocate work, PhD and free time effectively and stop doing a number of things that I enjoy. I haven't spoken to friends or family as much as I wanted to. Finding time to write blogs that required research was tricky as I just didn't have the time. There were a number of sunny weekends when I was stuck at my computer …

Social Media LinkedIn/Networking for employment workshop

I was invited to speak at a student led session about networking and LinkedIn with the main aims of using these to get a job...

My talk looked at networking and social media in general and outlined some of my own examples

I put together a prezi presentation so I thought I would share it here. 
If you are interested in this you might want to look at my 'how to use twitter' and Social media and the PhD presentation.

The PhD Viva (survival)

On my very first day at university I was queuing at the bank and in front of me was another female student waiting to open a bank account. One of the bank assistants came over and started filling the form in with her and he asked,  "Are you Miss or Mrs"? neither, she replied, "I'm a Dr, I passed my PhD viva this morning". I was in complete awe. I was stood in a queue with someone that had just passed a viva (whatever that is) and she is now a DR. I never imagined that 8 years later that I would be sitting one...

I sat my PhD viva last week and I am writing this in the post exam glow exhaustion. For anyone unfamiliar with a viva they can take on slightly different forms with different numbers of examiners and different requirements, but essentially 'a viva' is an oral exam. My viva was with two examiners, one from my university and the other from another university. Both examiners were researchers in an area related to my PhD topic.

I handed my thesis i…

Preparing for a viva examination

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My PhD viva is in two weeks (ish). I am remaining calm (ish) (so far). I do have one major question weighing on my mind though... what do I wear?!

I handed my thesis in back in January and I am no-longer working in the lab, or on my project, so I have taken quite a break from it. It's an advantage in some ways as I can see what I have written in my thesis from a clearer perspective. However, I also think it is a bit of a disadvantage as some knowledge seems to have fallen out of my brain and been replaced by 'other stuff' like how to correctly grow strawberry plants from seed and the ability to have a lengthy conversation with friends rather than my mind drifting away to my thesis layout.

What I am finding my mind wandering to more than often though, is what on earth I am going to wear for the viva. I know this is a very minor point.. but I want to come across the best I can, so I feel confident and so I am comfortable  There's nothing worse than being stuck in a room…

This Valentines Day Ask for Evidence

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Today (as with all days of significance) stories tend to appear that are linked to 'science', 'scientists' or 'experts'. Quite often loosely tied to a marketing campaign..

But what do you do if you spot something that might be a dubious claim or story? The Ask for Evidence campaign is a fantastic place to start... and this year they have sent everyone a lovely Valentines Day card titled 'Evidence is our aphrodisiac' .. find out what Voice of Young Science volunteers found out about aphrodisiacs when they asked researchers about various claims - click here (HT to @nonisa for sharing this!)

Some tips for spotting dubious claims and stories:

Where is it published? (On a website? Daily Mail? On a product?) - If you think the source is dubious, then follow up the claim by seeing if anyone else is covering the story, or search for more information online. If they quote any sources or evidence, check those out. Ask for evidence about the claim - and this is wh…

Gender divide in science, what can we do?

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An article on the Guardian website offers advice as to how to reduce the gender divide in science subjects and how to best teach science to girls.

There are a number of problems with the article, nicely outlined by @soozaphone in this blog post. In summary of the article, it was an amalgamation of some US government advice from a large study, some data from recent test results (US) and some strange tips and opinions from 'experts' about how best to teach science to girls, although it isn't entirely clear who provided which pieces of information and advice. For an overview of an evidence based approach to encouraging both genders in science subjects (and recognising potential differences) see this post by Chris Chambers and Kate Clancy in the Guardian.


I believe it needs to be a collaborative effort across society with many small changes that may, slowly create an impact. Kate and Chris discuss here how challenging societal constraints and identifying and addressing structu…

Saying Thanks

I am just about to send my thesis to the printers and the last part I did was my acknowledgements. I still have to do my viva examination, and I will have corrections but I couldn't wait to share this (and yes, I have thanked Twitter). 

There are also many more people I want to thank for helping me along the way. I could have written about 15 pages. 

Acknowledgements 


Firstly I would like to thank my Mum, Dad, sister Joanne and Grandparents for being there throughout my whole education and always supporting me even if they lost track of where I was, didn’t quite understand what I was doing or didn’t have a clue what I was trying to achieve. They have continually challenged me in many ways but have always been there for me, and explaining my work to them was a starting platform for my other passion, sharing the wonders of biology with others.

My deepest appreciation goes to my supervisor Professor Ruth Ross and my PhD collaborators at Selcia. I want to thank them for believing in me, a…

Finishing a PhD and managing an industrial partnership

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Finishing up a PhD isn't a swift and easy process (something my family can find difficult to understand). It's made slightly more difficult if you move away, start a new job, or if your supervisor moves half way across the globe which is something many PhD students have to contend with. Although, supervisors are always busy even if they are in the same city as you are.

I'm reaching the final stretch now. My final hand in date is the 29th of January. I wrote my first full draft back in October and immediately sent it to my supervisor to look over. I took a break over Christmas, and I started my new job in October, went to the Abu Dhabi science festival and then went home ...  all great career stuff, but it delayed me a little getting the final bits of thesis completed.


My supervisor didn't have too many comments or corrections, so I have only got a few final tweaks (and the dreaded references) to sort out before the end of January. I am finding it useful to have had a …