Successful early and late stage PhD assessment submissions mean only one thing… escape from the fast pace of University life is required. In mid-September, a dozen graduate students from the Centre of Synthetic Biology packed their bags and made their way to the beautiful and dramatic mountains of Snowdonia National Park in North Wales for a long weekend away from the city. The purpose of the trip was for the current graduate students to bond over some of the UK’s best hikes, while also spending some quality time with some of the 2019 master’s students before they leave Imperial to do their own thing, ensuring long lasting connections.
On the 22nd of May the first power yoga class for PG students took place at the Molecular Science Research Hub on the newly built White City Campus.
For the first Taster Session a small room was booked, because no one expected a huge demand. Instead nineteen people showed up to the first free yoga class of which quite a few did yoga for the first time!
Figure 1: Our first ever lesson had a great turnout for a tiny room.
At the beginning of the first yoga class the teacher asked everyone to introduce themselves and tell everyone what they are trying to get out of this class.
With the help of funding from the Graduate School, we put on a seminar and social event for first year PhD students based at the St Mary’s campus. Given that most first year PhD students have their early stage assessments due in June and July, we wanted to create an event where we could share our research and improve our presentation skills in a relaxed and friendly environment. Additionally, we hoped that the event would help us get to know each other and to develop a supportive network of peers throughout our PhDs.
The first part of the event started in the afternoon and consisted of a seminar hosted by Professor Wendy Barclay.
There are many pitfalls that must be navigated as you work towards earning a PhD: one of the biggest is isolation. By its very nature, a PhD requires you to be researching something new and unique and when you’re at your desk trying to work out why the data looks weird, because it always looks weird, it can be easy to forget you’re not alone. That’s why events like the PhD Summer Party are so important. Thanks to the generosity of the Graduate School and the Bioengineering Department, every year, we’re afforded the opportunity to relax, make new friends outside of the lab, and live the student dream of free food and drink.
On the morning of Friday June 14, unusually, we found ourselves amidst the Liverpool Street commuters’ rush as we headed into the heart of the financial district for the 2019 LMS PhD Student Retreat. Our destination was the imposing figure of the Gherkin. Going up to just beneath the top of the building, we took a few minutes to marvel at the panoramic views before the retreat’s ‘entrepreneurship’ theme was brought sharply into focus.
“What does it mean to be an entrepreneur?” Ben Mumby-Croft asked, as we began the morning workshop. Ben is director of the Imperial Enterprise Lab, which works to help students at Imperial College London innovate and launch new ideas for the market.
With the Christmas break a distant memory and work-weary lab members itching for a break, re-energisation of the work place was desperately in order. And how better to achieve this than with ping pong, pizza and (substantial quantities of) alcohol? Generous funding was granted from the Research Community Fund, allowing PhD students and early career post-docs from the Section of Investigative Medicine and Section of Cell Biology and Functional Genomics to attend an inter-lab social at Bounce Ping Pong on 12th April 2019. Due to popular demand, a round robin competition was held across the two hired tables, with members from different sections paired into doubles teams.
On Wednesday 13th of February 2019, the second event in the Cross-CDT series took place – a total of 14 PhD students from different 3 different CDTs gathered to face the tasks that needed to be solved. The students divided in to two teams and were required to work together to solve different puzzles in order to beat the clock (and each other), to escape and unlock their respective ‘rooms’. As this was the second of the scheduled activities, many of the students were already acquainted and were able to jump to the tasks at hand instantly.
The theme of the first room was “Project D.I.V.A”
Britain is at the forefront of energy system transformation. In 2018, 53% of electricity consumed came from low-carbon generators, up from 25% in 2009. As a result, carbon intensity halved from nearly 500 to 217 gCO2/MWh (Electric Insights). However, as an island with limited interconnection to its neighbours, the stakes are particularly high to achieve further reductions down to 100 gco2/MWh by 2030 (Fifth Carbon Budget).
At the same time, me and fellow PhD students miss the exchange amongst us as well as with other academic, industry and policy experts on energy system transformation. What is missing is a closeknit energy system community that can easily discuss transformation pathways.
The sustainability workshop was organised by PhD student Vasiliki Kioupi of the Centre for Environmental Policy (CEP) on November 13 2018. It was an opportunity for postgraduate students from different departments of Imperial College London and other Universities to participate in two sessions related to materials and circular economy and assessment of the sustainability of a proposed technology in the context of the problem-solving approach. Moreover, the aim was for the participants to develop skills related to collaboration, systems and strategic thinking.
Twenty PhD students from CEP and Design Engineering Departments as well as a CEP Teaching Fellow and a post-graduate student from Queen Mary University joined the workshop.
One of the most important skills of any physicist, second only to the ability to do research itself, is to communicate both the results and the methods of that research to a variety of audiences: students, peers, senior researchers, and to a lesser extent, the general public. All of these groups require their own unique approach, and it is to the first two that the student seminars in the theoretical physics department at Imperial are aimed. The speakers are PhD students, the audience consists of PhD and MSc students in comparable proportions. This is a pedagogical experience for all involved, albeit in different ways.