Blog posts

What a first week…..

06/09/13

Thankfully the temperature dropped throughout the week and I am now able to work without the need for industrial sized fans. Data collection has been the main goal of this first week and it is coming along nicely. I had to devise a way of categorising the houses found in Madagascar that was as precise as possible, whilst also being efficient enough to complete the given area in the allotted time. Using the ‘Ruler’ tool on Google Earth Pro I measured the diameter of various properties and created three size groups (<5m, 5-9m, and >9m) to give a good spread of data.

Blistering Start

02/09/13

My first morning at Blue Ventures’ London HQ is over and I thought it would be a good idea to write a blog now rather than after several beers later on….

A brief overview of who Blue Ventures are, and my expectations of the project seem like a good place to start. Blue Ventures are a science led social enterprise that work alongside coastal communities in order to protect marine ecosystems. Madagascar and Belize are the two main locations that are focussed on. Although the charity is still somewhat in its infancy, they are already becoming well known and respected.

IDEAs for the future

My internship at IDEA has really shaped my thoughts for future careers.

Lots of students at Imperial are driven by two career prospects : the hardcore pursuit of scientific knowledge and wanting to “sell out to the man” and get a high paying job, probably in something like finance.

I was definitely one of these students, until my internship at IDEA. It is often hard to think about how your work directly affects others, either in a positive or negative way. Through my research at IDEA, I have been able to contribute to the highlighting of a major problem within the Debating Circuit that subsequently people are going to try hard to change.

Rathlin Island Days 15-21

I am now back in London, having had a fantastic time on Rathlin Island and having completed my placement. The whole experience has been unrivalled by anything I have ever experienced before.

The final week at the RSPB Seabird Centre went smoothly, although there were very few breeding birds left to show people so late in the season. However, it was great to see so many people who were enthusiastic about coming to the centre to learn about the conservation of RSPB despite our lack of puffins and guillemots. We also had some extra excitement around the centre last Friday, when committee members involved in the Northern Irish parliament came to Rathlin Island and visited the Seabird Centre for a presentation about the proposed new marine bill, aiming to establish Marine Protected Areas and increase conservation efforts in coastal areas of NI, including Rathlin Island.

Greetings from sun-kissed Vauxhall!

Long may the weather continue!

Week four is well underway here at the Big Issue Foundation and the project is coming along. I wish I’d written a little more sooner, it’s evolved a great deal since I first arrived and I don’t quite where to begin. I’ve still got a few more weeks before I need to log out for the final time, so I’ll start from the top, lay out the basics, and (hopefully) catch up before the end.

Speaking broadly, the nature of the third sector is changing.

Charities are becoming more businesslike. They are learning the lessons of the private sector and applying to their own to cut costs and grow impacts.

The final chapter

The past month seems to have flown by. When Friday rolled around, I couldn’t believe that I’d already spent 4 weeks working at the Royal Society. I guess that’s a good sign though. It’s been such a great experience and certainly something I’d recommend to all PhD students. It can be so useful to have something lift you out of the PhD bubble for a little while…

Thinking about the internship overall, I feel like I’ve managed to get a lot out of the placement given it was relatively short. I really benefited from having the mixture of helping out on the typical day-to-day editorial tasks and working on some of my own mini projects (for the RS anniversary issue and Neuroscience marketing strategy).

European Universities Debating Championships – IDEAl

Last week, the European Universities Debating Championships (EUDC) took place in Manchester. It was a week of stress and fun. I was there as part of the Imperial delegation, who ended up rocking it.

When I first joined the Imperial College Union Debating Society, they had only ever “broken” (gotten to the finals or semi finals etc of a competition) at one competition. Since then, our society has started to really take over the debating scene. EUDC this year typified this growth in our society.

EUDC consists of three days, each having three rounds of debating. On days one and two, you get to know where you came in the debate, i,e, whether or not you came first, second, third or fourth.

Death masks and Franklin’s guide on how to be struck by lightning

Apparently death masks were all the rage in the past…especially for highly important people like Isaac Newton. The one that I saw last week was taken as a guide for the artist who had been commissioned to make Newton’s tomb in Westminster Abbey. This wasn’t the only Newton goodie (if you can call it that!) on display when I was taken on a tour of the Royal Society’s Library and Archive last week. There was also a lock of his hair, the original manuscript of Principia, a diary detailing the first recorded version of the famous apple story and even a piece of bark from that fateful apple tree.

Rathlin Island days 10-14

Hello again from Rathlin Island!

I have nearly reached the end of my first two weeks here and it is hard to imagine where all the time has gone. The days tend to blur together with working at the seabird centre and spending the evenings socializing with other volunteers and locals. I feel very comfortable around everyone I have met here, and am getting better at managing things at the seabird centre. Just a couple of days ago I was given the responsibility of opening up the centre with the other volunteers while the boss was running an errand. Although everything went smoothly, we had an interesting beginning to the day when we found that the gate to the centre was open and approximately 40 cows had invaded the welcome area and bus park of the centre.

Rathlin Island Days 4-9

And so, my first week at Rathlin Island has come to a close. The views are just as breathtaking as ever, and I feel that I am slowly getting used to the relaxed atmosphere on the island. The weather is very unpredictable, with winds bringing different weather from both NI and Scotland. As for the RSPB seabird centre, unfortunately a majority of the birds that were left have flown away for their winter migrations. The few that are left are mostly fulmars and kittiwakes, with the occasional guillemot and gannet flying around. Today I also saw my first great Skua. However, there is still an abundance of things to share with the visitors, from puffins heads (the poor things that had been caught and killed by peregrine falcons, eaten, and their heads and legs left behind) to guillemot eggs to a number of RSPB bird and nature books to peruse.