Science, scicomm and vlogging – Martijn Peters

Science, scicomm and vlogging – Martijn Peters

I’m very excited about the first Scientist Showcase of 2018! I’d like to welcome you to Martijn Peters, a scientist and very talented science communicator living in the land of beer, chocolate and French fries – Belgium! Over to you Martijn…

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So, why science?!

The origin of my spark for science can be traced back all the way to my early childhood. My grandfather took me on many hiking trips and explained everything he knew about nature. As a consequence, I developed an intrinsic need for wanting to understand everything that occurred around me. This eventually resulted in me studying the awesome science field that is Biomedical Sciences at university, I then specialized in Bioelectronics & Nanotechnology for my Master’s degree, and recently completed my PhD.  

“The human body is one of the most amazing accomplishments of nature and I really wanted to learn how it works and interacts with its environment.”

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Congratulations on getting your PhD just before Christmas! Tell us about your research!

Thank you! My PhD research revolves around a specific aspect of our brain. Our brain is one of our most precious treasures, one that requires protection at all costs. Therefore, nature safeguards it behind an impenetrable wall, called the blood-brain-barrier. This fortress keeps foreign invaders, like diseases, out but also makes it very hard for us researchers to investigate the brain when something goes wrong. As a results, to this day the working mechanisms of many brain diseases are still shrouded in mystery.

During my PhD I designed novel visualization probes that enable us to study the brain and diseases that wreak havoc upon it. These visualization probes are nanoparticles, small spheres one million time smaller than the width of a human hair, that consist of semiconducting polymers. Most people know these polymers from applications like solar panels or OLEDs that reside inside your smartphones and TVs, but they are also fluorescent and non-toxic. I covered the nanoparticles with special structures, which ensure that they will target specific cells, like a guided missile system. On top of that, they are small enough to cross the daunting blood-brain-barrier! This type of novel visualization probe will help us shine a new light on brain diseases like Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s.

Martijn - PhD defence

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For other current/soon-to-be PhD students, what are your dos and don’ts?!

Persistence is the key! If you’re persist you will get there.

However, don’t lose yourself in the process and don’t focus too much on the accomplishments of others. It can be quite stressful working in an environment that consists of nothing but top students. You often wonder if you are good enough. But rest assured, you are. You are also one of those students. You can do it! So work hard for your passion but also don’t forget to take a break now and then. You need and deserve them!

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Why is science communication important to you?

To me, science communication is important because it is all about building bridges. We often forget that we are the expert in our own research topic, and everyone else (even fellow scientists) are a lay audience.

“Learning how to communicate will not only help society but also science. A good scientist is a good communicator.”

Throughout my PhD I discovered that I could combine my creative side with my technical side through science communication, which has been an eye-opening experience for me. I am rather proud of my science communication achievements (especially since I managed to achieve them without losing any quality in my science work) and it has become a passion for me.

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So you’re an award-winning science communicator? Tell us about OMGitsScience!

OMGitsScience is a project that I started to show the human side of science. Too often we just shower people with nothing but facts. Yet we do not provide them with insights into who we are or how science works. Because these aspects are missing, people have a hard time making a connection of trust with scientists and distinguishing between “science facts” and “fake facts”. To counter this movement, I started communicating science on Twitter and a YouTube channel called OMGitsScience on which I show the life of a scientist through vlogging. I’ve also embarked on an Instagram journey recently (I really love editing pics and combining them with a story).

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Check out this fun vlog which showcases a day in the life of Martijn! Enjoy!

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Finally, how do you balance work and personal life?

I think a healthy work-life balance differs for everyone. Some weeks were really hectic during my PhD with zero free time during the day, and some weeks were rather “chill” with lots of time to do things not revolving around my PhD. You have to listen to you own body and discover what works best for you. I have used most of my free time for science communication projects (from speaking assignments to competitions to organizing a TEDx conference to starting a YouTube channel). I love being creative and it gives me an outlet to combine science with creativity. I also really enjoy reading, watching series/movies and running.

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Thank you to Martijn for being part of my blog! I absolutely love to hear about the lives of others. He’s a brilliant science communicator so please go and follow him on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and of course him awesome YouTube channel!

 

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One year of blogging

One year of blogging

A year ago today I announced the start of “In a Science World” and published my very first blog post! Where has the last year gone?! It’s been an incredible journey and I didn’t quite expect it to take me places it has done!

I started my blog as a way to figure out whether science communication was a career route I’d like to pursue. Let’s just say I haven’t had the most seamless PhD journey and about half way through I came to the realisation that a life in academia is not for me. With plenty of thinking time and self-reflection, I realised I LOVE the science and I love teaching others about it, but I do not enjoy the process of making the science! Weird right?!

Writing my blog has opened up many opportunities that I never imagined a year ago. It’s led me to being publicist for Pint of Science, completing a science communication internship, jumping out of my comfort zone and performing my very first science comedy set and being very kindly awarded the Versatile Blogger Award…. How crazy?!

When I set out on this journey I didn’t know whether people would care about what I wrote or would be interested in what I have to say but I want to say a massive thank you to YOU!! Thank you for reading this post, for taking time out of your day to read the words I write and for following my blog (if you don’t you totally should!). Thank you for following my science journey through Instagram, expressing your support through ‘likes’ and comments and sending words of encouragement. Thank you for listening to what I have to say. I whole-heartedly appreciate all of your support.

Thank you to YOU!

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The last year has taught me a lot. Here’s what I’ve learnt over the past year (yes you know I love a bit of self-reflection) and the other awesome blogs I value, which if you also don’t follow already you really should!….

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What my first year of blogging has taught me:

  • People do actually want to hear what I have to say and value it – that makes my heart feel warm and fuzzy.
  • 1000+ word blog posts are not ideal. I’ve cut them down – minus a few!
  • Posting once a week is the most I can commit to whilst doing a PhD. That’s a Thursday by the way.
  • There is an amazing and very supportive online scientific community – especially on Instagram.
  • Instagram is such a powerful tool – I can reach out to so many people.
  • As an aspiring science communicator never shy away from ‘scary’ opportunities. They will only enhance you and lead to more awesomeness!
  • Twitter is hard for me to stay on top of – I need to work on my Twitter presence!
  • I learn so much from other scientists on social media.
  • Social media analytics are interesting in order to see what posts generate more engagement BUT I cba to analyse them for hours. I want to carry on posting what comes naturally to me and what I genuinely want to say. A scientist ignoring stats?!
  • For someone who wants to always improve, there is not enough scicomm training in the UK. But… 2018 is coming and I’m involved in some cool stuff to tackle this 😉
  • You can (and should) do other ‘science-y’ things around your PhD. Maximise those opportunities! You’ll never know where they may take you.
  • Many PhD students don’t have an easy ride. You are NEVER alone and there are always people who can relate. My PhD SOS is my most popular feature… didn’t actually expect that.
  • It is SO hard for me to say no to exciting opportunities. Anything seems more fun than writing this thesis.
  • Hmm… I seem to have learnt a lot!

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I started this blog and my scicomm journey just as I was heading into my final year of PhD, so you could say it wasn’t an ideal time! The thesis will be handed in soon so let’s see where 2018 takes me and my blog. I love this science communication world I’ve discovered.

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On a final note my most popular blog posts are “The PhD Slump” and “PhD self-care tips“. Remember: A PhD is tough and you are not alone. There is a wealth of support out there for you and seeking help is not a weakness. Do what is right by you, do the science, be awesome and thrive! Don’t just try to survive.

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Finally, time to share the science love! Here are some other blogs to go and nose at! Just click on the pictures!

Making it Mindful
Making it Mindful
dr.ofwhat?
dr.ofwhat?
Sasha
PhDenomenalPhDemale
Conservationist Krissy
Conservationist Krissy

 

Fresh Science
Fresh Science
Bites of science
Mr Shaunak’s Little Bites of Science
Scientific beauty
The Scientific Beauty
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Soph.talks.science
Heidi
Heidi Gardner

 

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Standing up for Science

Standing up for Science

It is so important that scientific research is carried out in a sound way, that it is communicated to the media clearly and effectively, and that it’s reported by the media accurately. It doesn’t always happen! From time-to-time ‘fake news’ circulates, and that’s not good. Yesterday I attended the Voice of Young Science “Standing up for Science” workshop hosted by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society. It was absolutely brilliant!

Science communication is extremely important. As science is government-funded I feel that it’s only right we give back to society through engaging the public with research by communicating the intricacies in a digestible format for anyone to understand. Communicating our science effectively builds trust between the public and researchers, plus who doesn’t love to learn something new?!

As an aspiring science communicator, standing up for science and dealing with the media, journalists and ‘fake news’ could be of great relevance.  The idea of speaking about research to the media can seem daunting. What happens if you say something foolish and it will stick with you forever?! Well, the workshop provided us with the opportunity to meet scientists who’ve engaged with the media, as well as hearing from the journalists themselves about how the media works and what they want from scientists.

Here’s my summary of the day and what I learnt from the workshop.

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Session 1: Science and the media

Each panellists retold stories of their experiences with dealing with the media which were fascinating. We heard about the positives and the negatives and they dished out some useful tips.

Panel 1
Photo: Voice of Young Science

Panellists:

Prof. Johnathan Napier: leading pioneer in plant biotechnology and GM field trials at Rothamsted Research.

“What’s the point in doing the science if you aren’t going to tell anyone about it?”

Dr Helen O’Neil: molecular geneticist working in embryology and IVF at the Institute for Women’s Health, UCL.

If you don’t know the answer, you can turn it around and say your key message in a different way – “it’s a second chance of getting the message across.”

Nataliya Tkachenko: PhD student at the Warwick Institute for the Science of Cities.

“Remember, it is your interview so it is your choice what information you give out.”

Take-home messages:

  • It’s better to get media training in advance.
  • The media will take you word-for-word.
  • Certain words have a bad reputation (e.g. designer babies), so be wary!
  • Ask for the questions before the interview – but it’s not guaranteed they’ll ask those and only those! Anything can happen with the media.
  • If it’s a pre-recorded interview or a written article, ask to hear/read the final version before it’s sent out.
  • Think about the message you want to get across. Your mind will go blank so remember the overall message. You have the power to turn the conversation back round.
  • A lot of news is online so if there are any inaccuracies you can ask for them to be changed.
  • Go to science festivals, and any opportunities to engage with the public is great experience.

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Session 2: What journalists are looking for

The two panellists both spoke about how they work as a journalist, what their typical work day looks like and what they expect from scientists. The media can get a bad reputation, but it was nice to see that scientists and journalists have not-so-dissimilar perspectives.

Panel 2
Photo: Voice of Young Science

Panellists:

Jane Symons: freelance health writer and contributor to national newspapers. Dislikes nutritional nonsense and debunked homeopathy.

“Journalism is high stress but you get instant gratification.”

Oliver Moody: science correspondent at The Times.

“Journalists do go out of their way to get a well-rounded story.”

Take-home messages:

  • Journalists have tight time deadlines – 4-5 stories a day and writing might not start until the afternoon.
  • Clarity and simple explanations is vital – journalists are not always from a science background and so they can misinterpret, but it’s not intentional!
  • The story has to be entertaining – journalists are there to engage the reader.
  • Scientists can be just as guilty at ‘over-egging’ a story as journalists are.
  • It is okay to ask to check quotes before print.
  • Scientists and journalists work to different time frames. If you want to engage with the media, respond quickly! Knowing you respond quickly means it’s more likely they’ll contact you again.
  • Talk with your institute’s press office before speaking to the media. They’re there to help.
  • Journalism is very competitive, it is not always a collaborative field

 

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Session 3: Standing up for Science – the nut and bolts

This session was all about us being able to get practical guidance in getting our voices heard in debates about science and evidence. We learnt about how to respond to bad science if we see it, and top tips when coming face-to-face with a journalist.

Panellists:

Hilary Jones – senior press officer at the Medical Research Council.

“Speak to your press officer about any bad experiences.”

Leah Fitzsimmons – postdoctoral researcher at the University of Birmingham. Very proactive public engagement volunteer.

“There’s a risk of controversial issues being misinterpreted by media and public but we need the scientific voice in those debates most of all.”

Martin Smith – specialist for the House of Commons Science and Technology.

“Scientists should be active in making policy decisions. If you don’t, someone else will.”

  • Tell your institute’s press office about your paper when it’s just been accepted – don’t have to wait until publication.
  • Send the press office an image or video to go with the paper, they help to promote it!
  • Provide nice quotes. Again, helps the press office in producing a good press release.
  • Don’t have to be a public engagement specialist – small bits of training add up.
  • Be clear on what you want to communicate.
  • Practice communicating science through university magazines and blogs!
  • Get involved in social media. Check whether your institute has a social media policy.
  • If you go to the committee about a science issue, they’ll talk you through it and strive for a positive experience.
  • All scientists can be involved in committee meetings and what policy issues should be looked into.
  • Start in a ‘safe’ place. Sense about Science and their ‘Ask for evidence’ campaign is a great place to go.
  • Be an ambassador of the thing you love!

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The workshop was incredibly inspiring and thought-provoking. There was definitely a lot of information to take away from the day, and I highly encourage any other early career researchers/scientists to attend this workshop!

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To top the whole day off we attended the 2017 John Maddox Prize ceremony, an award given to a scientist who has promoted sound science and evidence on a matter of public interest with perseverance and courage. Dr Riko Muranaka won the award for her efforts in countering HPV vaccine misinformation. A truly inspiring talk. You can read more about why she won the prize here.

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#uosIDS: 10 years of developing healthy lives

#uosIDS: 10 years of developing healthy lives

A week has passed since we celebrated 10 years of developing healthy lives here at the Institute of Developmental Sciences (IDS), Southampton, UK.

I’ve been doing a science communication internship alongside PhD the past few months which was in the lead up to this event. My main role has been to increase the awareness of the IDS and the research that goes on behind our pod doors. I filmed interviews with various IDS academics, edited the footage and shared via our social media channels. I was involved in the main event too on the 8th November 2017 which was an absolute highlight… I had the amazing opportunity of interviewing a few special people!

 

“fundamental research into the processes by which the environment of the developing embryo, fetus and child lays the foundations for health and chronic disease risk across the life course”

– Prof. Mark Hanson, Director of IDS

IDS

Part 1: Celebrating 10 years of IDS research and the future.

The IDS is split into different research themes which formed the basis of the day event. I could go into so much awesome sciencey goodness for you but instead I thought I’d share some #uosIDS tweets from a few of us. What better way to give you short sharp fun snippets of science?!

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Developmental physiology and medicine

devphys3devphys2

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Nutrition and metabolism

nutrition3nutrition4

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Genomics

genomics3genomics1

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Epigenomics

epigen3epigen2epigen1

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Regenerative medicine

regen2regen1

“If you can’t explain the research you do down the pub then you’re missing a trick” #uosIDS

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Part 2: “Building Superhumans?” – Debating the ethics of altering development

Okay so this was BRILLIANT! In the evening we had our very own Question Time style debate. We were fortunate enough to have a fantastic panel to answer the audience’s very thought-provoking questions.

The panel

Chair: Lord Prof Robert Winston (middle)

Panellists: Dr Adam Rutherford (science writer and broadcaster), Jamie Raftery (The Holistic Chef and healthier diet advocate), Shelley Rudman (Olympian and fitness trainer), Prof. Neena Modi (medical researcher and President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health).

So how did this work? College/A-level students submitted their questions they wanted to ask the panel about altering human development and here’s what was picked out!

1. What are the panel’s ideas of a superhuman?

2. Do you think anyone given enough training can become an Olympian?

These two questions led onto the discussion between nature vs. nurture (genes vs. environment), and that both are pretty important. With regards to question no.2, Shelley Rudman highlighted that to be a successful athlete it’s not 100% about your physical condition, but training your ‘frame of mind’ is also vital.

3. We all need a ‘healthy diet’ but how do we determine what ‘healthy’ means for an individual person?

The panel agreed that a balanced diet is key. An interesting point Jamie Raftery mentioned was something we discussed in an interview beforehand,  that a diet which works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another. We’re all different and so we need to work out our own balanced diet. Personalised diet is a form of personalised medicine, pretty cool concept right?! Dr Adam Rutherford raised the fact that according to scientific data, diets don’t work. Fad diets actually end up leading to weight gain! Prof. Neena Modi said we should give our children a whole range of foods, flavours and textures to give them the best chance of a healthy diet, and that if given a choice between unhealthy and healthy food, children tend to gravitate to the healthy stuff over time!

4. As it is now cheaper than before for genome mapping, should everyone have their genome mapped so that we can design or give interventions for diseases much earlier?

There was definitely a difference in opinion here! Some were in favour as it would be interesting to know what your genome says about you and your future health, but for those reasons, some would rather not know what lies ahead of them! Getting our genome mapped would be so fascinating, but what’s more important is knowing the results on a larger population scale, not just a few individuals. Could everyone’s genome be read at birth?

5. How do we draw the line between genetic modifications which improve health and those that give other perceived beneficial traits?

The opinions of the panel were divided on this one. Interesting, Prof. Neena Modi highlighted that by choosing who we have children with we’re actually selecting the traits we want to be carried on into the next generation. Is that a form of genetic modification? Advances in scientific technology are of course happening, and so we’ll see what happens in the future, but there could be some ethical dilemmas to figure out!

6. Should anyone be allowed to be a parent?

What a question to finish on! You could just see the whole audience lean out of their seats to see what the responses were going to be. Not surprisingly, a few of the panel did not want to respond with their personal thoughts! It’s a tricky one. The against side of this question were comments about how people such as paedophiles and murderers shouldn’t be allowed due to major impairments in their mental state. But we can’t live in a society which actively stops some people from conceiving children. That just leads down a nasty road and not very ethical! Lord Prof. Robert Winston threw the eugenics word into play! We of course already have framework in place to take children out of ‘bad’ homes. So although we can’t stop the reproductive process, and therefore the ‘nature’ side of development, we can to some extent tackle the ‘nurture’ element.

As you can probably tell this was a fantastic debate which gave me a lot of food for thought.

I just want to finish off with my personal highlight!

R.Winson interview

There are some exciting things coming from my work here, so watch this space!

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Now it’s your turn! How do YOU feel about these questions?! Let me know in the comments below!

Follow @uosIDS on Twitter to keep up-to-date with the research going on in this part of the world.

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The power of mentoring – Stemettes & MonsterConfidence

The power of mentoring – Stemettes & MonsterConfidence

It’s National Mentoring Day tomorrow, a day to recognise the importance and benefits of mentoring, whether that’s being a mentor or being a mentee.

One of my aspirations is to inspire the younger generation to pursue a career in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). I was fortunate enough to be part of the amazing MonsterConfidence event here in Southampton with Stemettes a couple of weeks ago.

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Who are Stemettes?

STEMETTES 'Monster Confidence' @ Southampton  - ©Paparazzi VIP Photography

Stemettes is a social enterprise who aim to empower young women to consider a career in STEM. They do this by introducing these ladies to amazing women who are already working and succeeding in the field. Stemettes organise many events throughout the year ranging from panel events to “hackathons” to the MonsterConfidence tour.

“Women only make 21% of the core STEM workforce.”

Wise Campaign

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They’re doing a fantastic job at accomplishing their mission. Just under 15,000 young women have attended their events, and a whopping 95% of attendees have increased interest in STEM after just one Stemettes event.

So! If you’re a young women aged 15-22 in the UK and Ireland, and would like a boost in confidence and become more informed in what the world of STEM has to offer you, then check out their upcoming events!

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Mentoring at MonsterConfidence

Head Stemette Anne-Marie has set up the MonsterConfidence tour to provide confidence, inspiration and guidance for girls and young women who may want to get involved in the world of STEM, or are unsure whether it’s the right path for them.

Just under 100 young women attended the Southampton event which was full of inspirational talks, interview practice, mentoring, career workshops and meeting people in industry. It was a fun day full of energy, encouragement and of course food!

STEMETTES 'Monster Confidence' @ Southampton  - ©Paparazzi VIP Photography

As a speed mentor I spoke to young girls one-to-one for a speedy 6 minutes a time. I was there to act as a listener, a source of support and an advisor. We discussed my journey, what they liked at school, what they struggle with and where their next steps in education might be. I was there to answer all the different questions they had and it was great to talk to a wide variety of students. Some knew their career direction already, some had an idea of potential options, but many students felt unsure. A few of the girls I spoke to said how much the event had inspired them which is fantastic. One girl even said a talk in the morning had inspired her to look into a completely different area of STEM! That just proves the power these type of events can have.

STEMETTES 'Monster Confidence' @ Southampton  - ©Paparazzi VIP Photography

I was also given the opportunity to do a lightening talk at the end of the day. I spoke about my experiences from school (and how I thought I was always going to go into graphic design) to my PhD in physiology and current aspirations to be a science communicator.

“Many expressed an improved perception, awareness *and* confidence in STEM careers.” 

Stemettes

 

Despite being there as a mentor, even I got a little bit of mentoring! Dr. Jen Gupta, an astrophysicist by day, a comedian and presenter by night shared her journey with us, how you can have more than one passion, and how you can have confidence in what you do.

The event ended with the attendees taking part in a Soapbox challenge where they shared what they had learnt from the day. They showed confidence and they showed that they were mindful about their future. It was incredible to see what they had learnt, and truly proved that Stemettes is doing a brilliant job.

STEMETTES 'Monster Confidence' @ Southampton  - ©Paparazzi VIP Photography

I never had opportunity like this when I was at school. Looking back, I only really had the guidance of school teachers and my parents. Don’t get me wrong, that was great. I went to a great school and my parents were supportive of my choices, but there is so much more support out there now. No matter whether you want to pursue the STEM route, or go another direction there really is a wealth of support out there for you. Seek it out!

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Once this PhD is finished and I have a little more free time, I aim to carry on being involved with mentoring events like this for young people in STEM.

Stemettes – hopefully I can become one of your Sherpas in the not too distant future?!

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Follow Stemettes on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and check out their website!

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Scientist turned comedian – My Bright Club experience

Scientist turned comedian – My Bright Club experience

Since I’ve been blogging and exploring the world of science communication, I never expected to do some of the things I’ve done. Nearly a month ago I performed my first stand-up comedy set. Who would have thought it!

The event was called Bright Club. It’s where researchers become comedians for the evening, something I never imagined I’d be part of, other than in the audience! One of the organisers approached me through my blog and asked if I’d be up for performing. My heart skipped a few beats as I read the message but in a moment of pure madness, I thought I’d be brave and accepted. 

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September 9th: Training session

The reality that I was actually going to attempt comedy on stage hit. We had our first training session. This was a great opportunity to ask questions, get some tips and to meet the other performers. At this point we were two weeks out. I had two weeks to make a script, and most importantly, make it funny. No pressure.

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Brainstorming ideas

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September 16th: Rehearsals

With one week to go it was rehearsal time. In my head the jokes I planned to say were funny, but were they to other people?! Thankfully I got some laughs which put me at ease. We all shared tips on how to improve the content/wording of our sets so I came away with some worthwhile changes. It was definitely a boost for us all. So a few tweaks, and time to practice with my pretend microphone.

Practicex4

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September 22nd: The day of Bright Club Southampton #9

At 5.30pm we all rocked up at the venue to do a mic test and settle down for the evening. Not going to lie, the nerves started to kick in!

After the first researcher performed, I was second to take to the stage. My set was titled “A PhD: The trials & tribulations“. I spoke about my research, the moment I was asked to perform, my failings in trying to inspire the younger generation and what being cooped up alone in the lab for 18 hours a day does to you. I wrapped the set up with my top 5 tips for surviving a PhD. They may not be tips you were expecting, you’ll just have to click the image below and watch it for yourself to find out!

My set

My jokes were well received and getting the first lot of laughs calmed my nerves. My aim was to get one laugh and I accomplished that, so I was one happy girl. The audience were fantastic, and I had lots of support from my friends who came to watch. Of course the event attracted other researchers, but what was awesome is that many members of the audience were outside the world of STEM from all sorts of career backgrounds. People’s friends and partners came to watch, and members of the public got involved too.

I signed up to something totally out of my comfort zone, I put myself out there, I accomplished the task, and celebrated with a gin. Happy days.

Can science and comedy go hand-in-hand? Could comedy be a useful tool in engaging more of the public with research? Would you consider giving stand-up comedy a go?

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All the other researchers did an awesome job talking about climate change to being a stem cell detective, from the internet to embracing your weird identity! You can watch their sets by heading over to Bright Club Southampton YouTube channel, as well as all previous performances. Keep up-to-date on upcoming performances and new podcast episodes by following the Bright Club Southampton Facebook page.

Thank you to Nikhil and Dave from Bright Club Southampton for asking me to perform, it was a fantastic experience!

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Versatile Blogger Award

Versatile Blogger Award

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In a Science World has been given the Versatile Blogger Award!

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I was extremely surprised and flattered when I found this out whilst trying to wrap my brain around a load of statistics! Thank you so much to the awesome Sara for nominating me. It’s so humbling to know that other people are reading what I put out on my blog and social media platforms, but what’s even better is that they value the content! Receiving the acknowledgement that people appreciate my science communication efforts really does mean a lot to me. This is the first award I’ve been given for my blog, and it really does fuel my fire to carry on producing more blog posts and share my science journey. So thank you Sara, I’m very grateful!

Go and check out Sara’s wonderful Instagram and blog Neurotravels – mixing up her life as a neuroscientist and her love for exploring the world!

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What is this award?

The Versatile Blogger Award is all about bloggers sharing the love and supporting fellow bloggers. The award is given to those who have inspired them, convey passion through their blog and write with style.

So now it’s my turn to nominate two other amazing blogs, and of course I’ve focussed my attention to science blogs. Who could have guessed?!

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My nominees:

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Making it Mindful

Chrissy who is behind the “Making it Mindful” blog has recently graduated with her PhD in Pharmacy at the University of Manchester (massive congratulations!), and is a keen supporter of women in STEM. PhDs are tough, and staying mentally strong is so important. I absolutely love her blog. She discusses topics including mindfulness, wellbeing, stress, having a positive mindset and she also dishes out great advice! Not everyone talks about this side of life, but mindfulness is a topic I love to read about and taking time to be more mindful can go a long way. So thank you for your unique blog!

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Screen Shot 2017-08-23 at 22.51.34Dr. Of What

The “Dr. Of What” blog follows the journey of Bri, a second-year PhD student in conservation psychology. She has the aim of inspiring others through showcasing what it’s like to be a PhD student, something I strive to do myself. I absolutely love her “day in the life of” series. She’s posted many of these, showing her own life but also featuring what other PhD students get up to in a day. I think it’s a fantastic way of presenting life as a PhD student. It will undoubtedly give an insight into the PhD world for prospective students, and it’s interesting for current students like myself to see what other scientists get up to both in and out of the work environment!  

 

 

To fulfil my duty as a Versatile Blogger Award winner, it’s time to share 7 random facts about me:

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1. I always thought I was going to be a graphic designer

I’ve always liked science but I fell in love with art & design and graphic design at school. At A-levels I studied graphic art but I lost the love and passion for it as I soon realised I was able to get that 100% in coursework for analysing all of my creative decisions. Clearly a scientist at heart! Biology was just my fourth and final subject, a why not subject. I found it so interesting, it made me curious and here I am working towards my PhD!

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2. Science communication didn’t come on my radar until I was at the end of my lab time.

… And hence why I have no laboratory updates for you in my blog! Long story short, I came close to quitting my PhD at the start of my third year (November 2015). I had a prolonged Christmas break to think about everything. I decided to stick it out, I reflected on a lot and learn a great deal about myself. As a result, I thought my experiences could help others so hello In a Science World blog, and hello PhD SOS feature!

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3. I love CrossFit and working out

It keeps me healthy and fit, both physically and mentally. Having it to look forward to at the end of the working day helps me to focus. It’s my daily treat! It gives my brain a little rest-bite and provides me with other focusses that aren’t related to the PhD work. Highly recommend it!

 

 

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4. Chocolate has a major hold over me

I may be into fitness, and I may eat healthily most of the time… but wow do I love chocolate. It’s the only thing that would be worthwhile giving up for lent, however lent is normally over my birthday and no way am I depriving myself of chocolate birthday cake. That would be insane.

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5. I will travel as soon as this PhD is done

I’ve never had a gap year, never had time out of education. Now I’m thinking about it that’s just madness. Undergrad led straight to my Masters of Research, which led straight into PhD (unexpectedly)! I definitely feel I need to go and seek the sun and sandy beaches to refocus and unwind. Current thoughts are travelling around Thailand. Any suggestions, let me know!

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6. I aspire to go into scientific writing/communication

I’ve decided that the laboratory and academia is not for me. Once I decided that it all seemed a little daunting. However, through blogging and writing the odd article here and there for magazines, I know that science writing and communication is the right career direction. Let’s see what the future holds.

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7. I said yes!

No, not a marriage proposal! I’ve recently been asked to do something #scicomm related (which I accepted), but I’m totally 100% scared about! I guess developing as a science communicator does involve stepping out of that wonderfully nice comfort zone now and again. More details will no doubt be coming soon!

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Please go and check out the three blogs I’ve mentioned above, they’re all so inspiring! Being nominated for this award has provided me an opportunity to think about the blogs I really value, to show recognition of other amazing writers, and to share their hard work.

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