Blog posts

A diary of the LERU Doctoral Summer School

by Holly Jenkins

A diary of the LERU Doctoral Summer School 

My name is Holly, I’m a second-year PhD student in the Section of Neonatal Medicine. This July I was fortunate enough to represent Imperial College at the League of European Research Universities (LERU) Doctoral Summer School, held at University of Zurich. LERU is “an association of 21 leading research-intensive universities that share the values of high-quality teaching within an environment of internationally competitive research.” The topic this year was: Citizen Science – nexus between research and public engagement. If you are scratching your heads wondering what citizen science is it can be broadly described as the involvement of non-professional scientists in research.

“East meets West to Combat Climate Change!” Imperial College – Tsinghua University Global Fellows Programme

by Ruth Davey – Year 2 PhD Student from Earth Science & Engineering

I signed up to the programme back in the Spring, thinking it sounded like a unique opportunity to collaborate with students from China so I was very excited to find out I’d been accepted! As the programme date drew closer however, I became bogged down with several unexpected and large workloads relating to my PhD research. I began to wonder if losing a week of research time was such a great idea. As it was, I arrived at the coach on Monday afternoon with some trepidation. My worries were quickly dispelled and, as the course evolved, it made me so aware of how much we, as PhD students, become isolated in our own research bubble.

KiW – Know it Wall

By Peter Shatwell

www.knowitwall.com

Know it Wall (KiW), is a public engagement project run by students at Imperial and UCL. It was founded in the summer of 2014 by three UCL students, and a few months later I noticed a friend of mine from Imperial (now doing an MSc in Science Media Production) working on it. I thought it sounded like a pretty cool idea, so I got in touch with the team asking to get involved. Luckily they saw I could be of some value to the team, and so the five of us decided to make KiW a collaborative project between UCL and Imperial, launching the website in 2015.

CDT Festival of Science and Art

by Jennifer Hack

Science and art are two disciplines that would not normally be put together, which is why the choice of theme for this year’s CDT Festival of Science “Science and Art-Exploring Creativity” presented an intriguing challenge. The festival‑in‑a‑day is an annual event, which is organised by a committee of PhD students from the 12 Imperial‑affiliated Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) and this year it took place on Friday 21st April in the Sir Alexander Fleming building of Imperial.

The planning of the festival happened over 5 months, during which we invited scientists and artists working at the interface between the two to come and speak about their work.

Three-Minute Thesis: From Contestant to Judge

By Sophie Damy

Summer seems to have finally arrived in London and it is hard not to start thinking about the holidays. Imagine, in a few weeks, going back home to visit your family and having to answer the recurring question: “What is it exactly that you are researching?” In my case, I can categorically forget the usual “I am developing algorithms to minimise the bias created by deterministic errors on the position estimated by a satellite-based positioning system.” You will need to keep your explanation clear and concise while trying to share your enthusiasm.

This situation is actually pretty similar to the 3-minute thesis competition!

Goats, Concubines and Misery – the Ig Nobel Awards Tour Show 2017

The Graduate School was delighted to host the fantastic Ig Nobel Awards Tour Show on Friday 17 March for the twelfth consecutive year. Presented by the wonderful Marc Abrahams, co-founder of the Annals of Improbable Research, the Show seeks to make you laugh, then make you think with research that’s maybe good or bad, important or trivial, valuable or worthless.

Marc was joined on stage by several winners of the Ig Nobel Prize, who presented their research in a hilarious and fun-filled evening. This year, Marc was joined by the following prize winners:

Mathematics – Dr Elizabeth Oberzaucher: Mathematical Analysis of the Man who Fathered 888 Children)

Management – Raghavendra Rau: Some Business Leaders Acquire a Taste for Disasters that do not Affect Them Personally

Biology – Thomas Thwaites: Living as a Goat

Also on stage were the QI Elves, who gave dramatic readings from bizarre-seeming research studies, including, “On the Reception and Detection of Pseudo-Profound Bullshit,” “From junior to senior Pinocchio: A cross-sectional lifespan investigation of deception”, and “Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments.”

Dr Elisabeth Oberzaucher of the University of Ulm, Germany, presented mathematical analysis of how Ismail Ibn Sharif, ruler of Morocco from 1672 to 1727, successfully fathered 888 children!

Evidencing Leadership and Management within a PhD

By Dr Paul Seldon

As researchers we are used to talking about our research to different audiences, explaining the ideas and findings. Often we are less able to see the wider value in our practices and how these can be translated to other roles and positions.

This became very relevant for me when having completed a PhD and several post-doctoral positions I wondered if I had relevant experience that I could evidence to gain full membership of the Chartered Management Institute (CMI). The challenge was to examine my academic progress through a leadership and management perspective. Looking through the activities of my PhD I found evidence in the five areas below.

A Year in Review: From a President’s Scholars Rep

by Abellona U

Upon becoming the year rep of the President’s Scholars, I set myself a goal – to foster a community amongst the scholars.

I was very excited to serve this community because we really are a unique bunch. We come from all corners of the world and we research in all imaginable areas across science, engineering and business. I wanted to organise social events that form part of the highlights of the scholars’ student life at Imperial.

Queen’s Tower Tour

The first event that I organised was the Queen’s Tower Tour. We walk around this iconic tower every day, yet, have you ever wondered what it’s like to go up there?

Doctoral Researchers Well-being: What’s New?

By Caroline Hargreaves, Senior Teaching Fellow, Graduate School, Imperial College London.

With the holiday now a memory, the Graduate School looks ahead to a new year of expanding and novel provision for all postgraduates. I wanted to pass on some recent findings about researcher well-being and reasons behind some of the developments, to help you with your choices.

This year I’ve had the good fortune to talk at the Higher Education Academy Surveys Conference and the Society for Research into Higher Education (SRHE) Annual Conference about changes to Well-being in researchers between our 2009 and 2014 studies. A doctoral researcher at my talk at the SRHE mentioned how well our questions reflect doctoral concerns.

The PhD can be about more than scientific research

By Adam Persing.

I am Chief Data Scientist at MRB Partners, a Manhattan-based advertising/tech start-up, where I discover and develop machine learning algorithms that drive the firm’s products. I graduated from Imperial in 2014 with a PhD in computational statistics.

The main purpose of a PhD program is to teach a student how to conduct scientific research, but it also cultivates a skillset that can prepare a student for a career outside of academia. I have found that some of the most valuable elements of that skillset are:

  1. Communication,
  2. Market research, and
  3. Self-management.

In the following blog post, I will discuss each point in some detail, highlighting how the skill was developed during my PhD and how I apply the skill today in industry.