Posts

Showing posts with the label #phdchat

Are PhD students 'switched on' to social media?

Image
Do you presume that all PhD students are using social media to network and talk about their research work? In March I presented at the 2nd International Conference on Developments in Doctoral Education and Training about the use of social media by PhD Students.   by    Jhaymesisviphotography   The conference focused on all elements of studying for a doctorate around the globe but this year they included a focus on  'Doctoral Candidates in the Digital Age' . There were a number of really interesting presentations and talks on this theme (all linked to below). We presented a talk based on a small study of social media use by researchers here in Aberdeen. For this we focused on the results from the PhD students about their social media use. Many presume that the current cohort of students are using social media proficiently for their own benefit. I don't think that tells a true story so wanted to explore what they were doing in more detail. Are doctoral cand

Friday Favourites 8 May

Image
A round up of the best things that I have discovered online this week. Covering everything from posts on public engagement with research, how we use social media and other good stuff. I posted this week about my upcoming trip to North America to look at the communication of science via social media. If you missed it, you can read it here .  1) LIFESAVING TOOL:  Freedom thanks to @DrMRFrancis for this one. It's an app that blocks the internet so you can concentrate when you need to. You just let the app know how long you need to stay offline and that's it, work away. I think this might be one for the thesis writers!  2) ONLINE DISCUSSION:  The #NASINTERFACE discussion on trust in science This roundtable discussion with academics and journalists looked at aspects of trust and public perceptions of science. There were some interesting side conversations on Twitter and you can view the talks online. It was focused on the life sciences (just to add some context).

My Churchill Travel Fellowship - Public Engagement with science online

Image
  Image from https://www.flickr.com/photos/balleyne/2668834386/   This June 1 - 26 I am heading to North America to undertake the first part of my Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Travel Fellowship focusing on online science communication. I've created a travel map so others can see where I am and when. I'm keen to connect with people as I go (and I will add to this map as I travel). Follow my journey through my Twitter account and through my blog (you can subscribe via the grey box on the right hand side of the page). 'Public engagement with science online' is clearly a very large area so for this part of my trip and in the time frame I have I will be focusing my efforts on these three questions: Can quality two-way dialogue and engagement between scientists and the public take place on social media? What training and environment is needed to foster this quality two-way dialogue? What can go wrong and how can that be managed? These questions are broa

How much does technology determine our behaviour? My experience of an accidental digital detox.

Image
I've been thinking about the usefulness of technology and digital tools and how, when these fail it completely effects how we behave. Does switching off really improve our lives? I found out by accident. I've had a MacBook since 2009. It's travelled where ever I've been, I've blogged on it, wrote my thesis on it and contains all of my wedding photos. The reason I bought it was because of the inbuilt webcam so I could Skype my other half when we lived apart. As you can probably tell, I love my MacBook. I don't think I am overstating when I say my life wouldn't be the same without it. But, over the past two years it's been struggling. The hard drive was full, programmes wouldn't run or update and it became extremely difficult to use. My phone also filled up with photos as I had no-where to save them. Unintentionally I was carrying out a digital detox . The only time I was connected was when I was at my desk. I didn't feel great about this,

My Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellowship about Science on Social Media

Image
Image from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/dirkb86/8444929253/ This January I visited London for an interview. I was feeling nervous and excited and, as I usually handle challenging situations, I tweeted about it. People on twitter offered words of encouragement and support. Some of the people that tweeted I have met and know well, others I only know through twitter (and I don't even know their real name). With all of these people I have built relationships completely online and we have shared advice, interesting news stories and silly memes. The tweeting helped, I found at the end of February that I was successful. The twitter conversations I had just before the interview helped me get through the interview, and reinforced my feelings about why I was there. The interview was for a project focusing on how science is shared via social media with the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust . The project is a Travel Fellowship and I'm going to be meeting with people across the US

'Careers' in Science Communication

Last week I was invited to speak at a Biomedical careers event at the University of Aberdeen about Careers in Science Communication. I thought others might find the presentation useful (especially some of the links) so I have included it below. I put a post out on twitter for gif's and images that encapsulated the 'field' of science communication. The brilliant Matthew from Errantscience.com  created these two gems. Ways to do #SciComms comic based on extensive research :P pic.twitter.com/Gh01122Rjn — Matthew (@MCeeP) February 11, 2015 . @hapsci and this is one I just drew on a whim pic.twitter.com/w20vB64BVL — Matthew (@MCeeP) February 10, 2015 I only had a limited amount of time for the talk so I gave a little background about what I did as a student (Editor and co-founder of Au Science Magazine) and how I have worked at science festivals and present the Talking Science radio show with the team in my current role. I spoke about the field

Integrating social media into researcher careers

Image
Following my post on measures of success on social media I read a paper on 'A critical evaluation of science outreach via social media: it's role and impact on scientists' published on the F1000 website which is well worth a read. The authors come to a similar conclusion my previous blog post, that the measurement of social media success needs to reach beyond simple number metrics in order to fully understand how beneficial (or not) social media channels are to academic researchers for outreach and their careers. The paper suggests three important elements which would allow the integration of social media for outreach (SOSM) into a scientists career which are: 1) It must be valued (by research funders and by universities) 2) It must be measured (the jury is still out on what this would look like) 3) It must be manageable I agree with the three elements but would also suggest that the efforts on social media must also feedback into the research to be truly usef

Creating effective social media networks; why it isn't all about numbers.

In my current job I help researchers engage with the public about their research work. I talk with them about how they might engage with particular groups of people or how they might think about structuring a public talk. I especially like talking with people about different ways they can engage and how they might think about using online tools and social media to engage with others about what they are doing. This post is about maximising the potential of social media networks for engagement and measuring success online. It isn't all about the numbers.... The first thing I ask is, 'why do you want to do this?' Followed closely by, 'who is it you want to engage with or reach?' This second question is so important. It's no use chatting to fellow researchers and tweeting links to scientific research papers if you want to speak to people outside of the research field about their views on nature. Tailoring content and building the right network of contacts is so i

The Age of Discovery (How old are people when they do their best scientific research?)

Image
Science is an extremely competitive field, getting research funding requires an excellent track record and researchers judge themselves against their peers. I wrote a blog post about the number of publications scientists are 'supposed' to have per year in order to be competitive on fellowships and grant applications a few years ago. I am surprised at the number of people that find that post by  searching for 'How many research papers should I have?'  . It's a worry or thought most researchers have throughout their careers. There is of course no magic number and there's a need for a track record of quality publications vs a quantity of publications. The ultimate accolade for a scientist is being awarded a Nobel Prize and I came across an interesting infographic about the age of Nobel Prize winners (when they completed their prize winning work) and also how that relates to the age at which they wrote their PhD dissertation. I have included it at the bottom of t

Academic productivity app review: Habit RPG

Image
In my previous post I asked people to share which digital tools and apps they use to help them work faster (and smarter). Lots of them sounded useful and interesting so I thought I would try some of them out and write some short reviews. @java7nerd recommended HabitRPG . The habit changing app that turns your life into a COMPUTER GAME. The aim of the app is to help you ditch bad habits and pick up good ones. The app sounded like great fun and perfect way to help me get more into a work/life balance (by that I mean not sitting at my desk when I should be at the gym). I signed up and tried it out. The app is FREE (whoop), easy to use and fun to look at. It takes some setting up as you decide what tasks you want to set where (and decide on which points to reward yourself). The app works by assigning points for tasks which accumulate until you earn enough for a reward. Points do get taken away for bad habits though.... As you can see on this list you can include anything you

How to help someone that is writing up their thesis

Image
Writing a thesis is a lonely and it can be a very stressful time. I found it extremely difficult to keep up with friends and family. Holding normal, conversations that lasted longer than two sentences without my mind drifting away to thesis related thoughts was also a challenge. Quite a few of my close friends have gone through their thesis too and I thought it might be useful for those that haven't experienced the joys, highs and lows of thesis writing how they can help support those that are writing up. A few things that you can do to help... See if they would like to go out for food or a walk but don't get annoyed if all the said person does is talk about their thesis. Getting writers away from their computer can be a welcome distraction. Send them some nice smelly soaps/shampoo - I stopped all shopping when writing up You could also send fruit and healthy snacks. Confession time. I once spent a weekend at my desk writing up and ate all of my desk mates food becau

Why do scientists work in strange cabinets...?

Image
Scientific laboratories are often surrounded by strange cabinets or 'hoods' which researchers work in...but why?  *please note I was approached to post this blog post and there is a disclaimer at the bottom*  Image from genencor_14 on Flickr I worked under a hood when working with my cell cultures  during my PhD in order to keep the cells sterile and avoid contamination and infection of the cells.  Their history These sophisticated systems were initially developed for the aerospace industry in order to control dust contamination that could negatively impact on the reliability and precision of parts. Microbiologists did not take long to switch onto the benefits associated with the technology. A 1967 scientific paper notes, experts in the field had long been seeking ways to control contamination. In their piece, which was published in the journal of the American Society for Microbiology, Martin Favero and Kenneth Berquist stated: “For many years microbiolo

Read my thesis and let's chat about sharing research

Follow my blog with Bloglovin So my thesis has been published online on the University of Aberdeen Library page. You can read it by clicking here .  It has the very snappy title 'GPR30 and ERĪ±36 and their potential role in breast and endometrial cancers' This is my lay abstract: Oestrogen is a hormone that is mostly associated with the development of sexual organs and the female monthly menstrual cycle. However, it is also known to play a role in breast cancer. The presence of oestrogen can make some breast cancers grow and in the 1970s ‘anti-oestrogens’, like tamoxifen, were developed which have successfully prevented the growth of some breast cancers by blocking the action of oestrogen. Oestrogen causes this growth by binding to specific ‘receptors’ in the body. The anti-oestrogens work by blocking the oestrogen binding to the receptor. Some breast cancers do not have the receptors and therefore can’t be treated with anti-oestrogens. These types of cancers tend to be

Want to see more good science writers in the future?

Producing a science magazine is tough going. These guys have produced a magazine and a video. Watch it and share it to help them raise funding to do even more awesome science writing. You can read their magazine here too . 

Post-PhD life - Life decisions and blogging

Image
I graduated from my PhD some time ago now. I moved away from research when my funding expired and after a lot of decision making and deliberating I took a post in Public Engagement at the University of Aberdeen. I started in late 2012 and I've really been enjoying it so far. I am involved with planning, organising and running lots of public engagement events along with speaking to researchers about the many different ways they can engage with the public, how to bring the public into research, a bit of training and also discussing how to use social media as a researcher (which I really enjoy). It wasn't an easy decision and I didn't discuss it on this blog at the time for a number of reasons. There was a post-doc opportunity too but that was in Canada and I wanted to stay in Scotland as my (now) husband is based here and I decided that I wanted to move full time into public engagement. I knew that I would enjoy the role and it seemed that this option would lead to a muc

The end of the PhD

Image
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... Me and my younger sister at my graduation 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 numb

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 thes

Preparing for a viva examination

Image
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?! Appropriate viva 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 wo

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 belie

Finishing a PhD and managing an industrial partnership

Image
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