Watching cat videos can give you a Nobel Prize.
Well, Ig Nobel, to be precise, but still sounds impressive. That’s what I learned thanks to our Graduate School.
I just came back from the Ig Nobel Award Tour Show 2018 hosted annually by Imperial. Ig Nobels are awarded every year at Harvard University by actual Nobel laureates. The only criterion is: the research first makes us laugh, and than think.
Having attended the show last year, I suffered from a stomach pain after laughing too much. The “goat man”, Ig Nobel prize winner in Biology who decided to become a goat for a few days, still makes me giggle.
It’s holiday season, Christmas lights everywhere, happy wishes in every corner, warmth and love in every single person around and for most students time to go home.
So, since I am just like most students, I partied to celebrate the end of term, and then partied again because it’s Christmas. Which led to a few very productive days of hangover doing absolutely nothing but Netflix – like you should. With all the partying and it’s consequences checked off my to do list, it’s time to catch a flight (right after doing laundry, miracles may happen but that’s just in Easter, right now your cloths won’t wash themselves).
Best part of doing a PhD? Conferences! When you finally manage to do some meaningful research, it’s time to present it to a wider audience. In other words, pack your suitcases and bon voyage! I know that attending conferences might be a bit overwhelming in the beginning, so here are a few tips to make the most of them.
- Find a good conference. If you’re as lucky as I am and have a great supervisor, she or he will suggest interesting events to you. Otherwise you’ll need to do the work yourself. However, at Imperial we’re flooded with e-mails advertising scientific events, there’s also Google and your colleagues who can give you some advice.
March arrives and it’s time for the annual Natural History Museum (NHM) Student Conference! I am on the student committee and so help with the organisation. There’s a lot to do organising a conference but we learnt from last year and with new members on the team it seemed a lot less stressful this year! Despite the stress and extra work being part of a committee and helping organising a conference is a great opportunity to learn useful skills and make contacts, so I highly recommend getting involved with one if you can.
Talks are compulsory for 3rd year PhD students like me so although I had spoken at the two previous years’ conferences (I need the practice :\ ) I was yet again up on stage. It was quite fun actually as last year I talked about developing my citizen science project Earthworm Watch which was just about to launch, now it has been running a year so I was able to give the first results from the project.
If a scientist does research and doesn’t tell anyone about it, have they done research at all?
Communicating results of our research to other scientists is essential, it allows others to critique it and make recommendations, build on our work and make decisions about how to manage issues based on the results.
Last week I was fortunate to attend the NERC Into the Blue public engagement event in Manchester with the British Ecological Society.
The two NERC Doctoral Training Programmes based in London – London NERC DTP and my own Science and Solutions for a Changing Planet DTP held a joint conference for students on the 1st and 2nd September at King’s College London.
This week’s #throwbackthursday is from exactly two years ago and features the Biological Records Centre 50th anniversary symposium.
Last weekend I was at a symposium in Bath celebrating 50 years of the Biological Records Centre (BRC). The BRC collates and manages species observation data, including supporting biological recording schemes in publishing atlases, developing and hosting online resources. I have a long interest in biological recording, as a child spending most of my weekends and school holidays recording wildlife in a local woodland, but it was always on my own. It has not been until the last few years I have become interested in ‘formal’ biological recording by joining schemes and societies, much of this has been helped by the emergence of the internet in allowing me to make contact with like-minded people.
I was able to attend the Bristol Festival of Nature thanks to a grant from the British Ecological Society. I was fortunate to be the first beneficiary of the Regional Funding Scheme which provides support for researchers to undertake public engagement activities.
The Bristol Festival of Nature is the UK’s largest celebration of the natural world with two days of free interactive activities and entertainment across Bristol’s Harbourside. I had a stall in the Green Forum tent in Millenium Square and spent two days talking with the public about soil health and earthworms, with activities including handling and identifying live earthworms and a ‘count the number of earthworms in the wormery’ competition – with a prize for the winner.
Last year I blogged about my first visit to the Lyme Regis Fossil Festival. This year I was back – promoting my new citizen science project Earthworm Watch, which I have developed with Earthwatch and the Natural History Museum. This time the Natural History Museum occupied a whole marquee and I attended on the Saturday and Sunday by myself, which was hard work!
I brought along some live earthworms for people to hold which was particularly popular with children. It was heartening to hear more people comment that they were “cute” rather than “yuk”. I gave out leaflets and took several sheets full of email addresses to follow up with more information on Earthworm Watch so I hope it will lead to more recruitment for the project.