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.

Three things I learned at MIT

by Matthieu Komorowski

During the fall and winter of 2016/2017 and as part of my PhD in the Department of Surgery and Cancer, I am visiting the Laboratory of Computational Physiology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston. Here are three things I learned from my visit at one the world’s top institutions.

First, “Humans were meant to dwell in dark airless places, illuminated by a flickering glow, interrupted periodically by the janitorial staff, checking for signs of life.” (formula from MIT Alumni Janet Cahn). In September, I moved to a flat in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with two PhD students in computer science.

A day lost?

By Janet De Wilde, Head of Postgraduate Professional Development, Graduate School, Imperial College London. 

Opportunities for Professional Development are snapped up by some, but for others time spent on professional development is perceived to be a “day lost” or “hours lost”. We witness this division of opinion in the Graduate School courses quite often. It is something we all have felt at some point, our mind is thinking about what we need to be getting on with. However, if we stay task focused, when would be the time to consider the big picture, develop our self-awareness, or challenge ourselves to improve if we are always busy?

Exciting times ahead!!

The Graduate School is pleased to welcome new students to Imperial College London and to welcome you back if you are returning. This is our new blog and we hope that you find it interesting. We would like to encourage you to contribute articles for the blog site so if you have something you would like to share with the postgraduate community, please do get in touch!

My name is Laura Lane and I am the Manager of the Graduate School and it is a great honour for me to be invited to write the first blog entry! I have been in my current role for coming up to four years now and I am really excited about the new programmes and events that the Graduate School is organising for the year ahead.