The PGR seminars of SITE, a new space for student engagement and visibility

Josep Pinyol Alberich is an ESR fellow at the Academy of Business and Society (ABIS) and a PhD candidate at the University of Exeter. Josep’s research project focuses on the analysis of the existing political discourses on the topic of Circular Economy in the European Union and the relationship between existing public discourses and policy change.

Professor Jing-Lin Duanmu joined the Business School in January 2020.  Her research interests include foreign direct investment, international trade, political relations, and corporate social responsibility. Her research has appeared in Strategic Management Journal, Journal of International Business Studies, Journal of World Business, International Business Review and World Economy.

Since March of this year, we have started a new series of webinars at the SITE department. This series of webinars allow our PGRs (MRes and PhD students) to present their research project to their peers and academics in SITE. This was also an opportunity for us to personally get in touch with all the PGRs and to get to know what their research projects are, and to both learn from it and from the feedback and opinions from our peers at SITE.

The PGR webinars were first announced on the 22nd of February, when a call of abstracts was made. The first webinar was made on the 3rd of March, and since then, we organized 8 webinars, and three more webinars are planned until November. Our objective is that at least, all PhD and most of MRes students present their research to SITE.

The PGR webinars of SITE addressed several topics, for instance providing new insights into different issues of leadership, public policy, and the circular economy. Thus, it provides an opportunity for all members of SITE to learn about what kind of research our PGR student are engaging and what methods they use, where they conduct their research, and how they have access to their data. This has been a highly inspiring experience, as it provided us a chance to learn more globally about the work that is being done in SITE, thus, acquiring a broader vision of the department’s work that we did not know before.

The organization of the PGR webinars in SITE has become highly valuable for all MRes and PhD students in SITE. First, it gives visibility to the ongoing student-led research, which helps all SITE members, especially students to better know each other and identify collaboration opportunities. The webinars are also a very valuable opportunity for early researchers to obtain feedback from the department. This feedback is an excellent opportunity for us to learn about potential literature that we may have missed, methods that we can experiment with, or data sources that we did not know about. Finally, to do these presentations is a great opportunity for students to gain experience in presenting their research.

In summary, the presence of the PGR webinars of SITE allows us to create a new space in SITE to give visibility to PGRs. This space enables students to connect and engage with the department, and for the department to know better our PGRs. This is mutually beneficial, as PGRs obtain valuable feedback and experience, and it benefits our research output, as it provides an opportunity to collaborate within the department. As organizers, this experience has been very positive, as it helped us to connect better within our faculty, and to obtain a better vision about topics and methods that we did not know about, and to learn from the feedback of our colleagues. Engaging in the discussions after the PGR presentations created an opportunity to enrich the students work with the experience and knowledge from the whole department, and an exciting opportunity for us to broaden our vision on diverse topics and to gain a department-wide perspective of how research is conducted in SITE.

Elsevier’s Early Career Researcher UK Awards 2018

Catherine is a PhD researcher in the Centre for Research in Ageing and Cognitive Health (REACH) at the University of Exeter. Her PhD research examines how people with dementia use social media. In 2016, Catherine graduated from the University of Bath with a BSc (Hons) degree in psychology. She is a cyberpsychologist interested in online communities and health research. She is also interested in internet-mediated research ethics, digital methods, and body image. Catherine is also the Vice-Chair of PsyPAG, a national organisation for postgraduate psychologists.

On Thursday 4th October, I attended Elsevier’s Early Career Researcher UK Awards ceremony at the Royal Society. I attended this event because I had been shortlisted for Elsevier’s Researchers’ Choice Communication Award. Elsevier’s Early Career Researcher Awards recognise and reward outstanding early career researchers who make a significant contribution to their field of research. I felt extremely honoured and nervous to attend this event as I was the only PhD student who was shortlisted for the science communication award. My nerves soon subsided after I met everyone, who are all friendly, like-minded people with a passion for research. Attending the event gave me the opportunity to meet a number of early-career researchers, professors, and people working for Elsevier who were able to advise me on my career. Meeting these inspirational people reinvigorated my love of research and boosted my confidence to pursue a career in this field.

What is Science communication?

Science communication is a fantastic way of enhancing public awareness of science and provides us with the opportunity to engage with and consider different perspectives (National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, & Medicine, 2017). Scientific findings should be available to all and by communicating the findings of our research, we can ensure our findings aren’t limited to a journal which is only accessible to fellow academics. There are many different ways of engaging in science communication such as using social media, engaging with journalists, giving public talks, and using the arts.

Why was I nominated?

I was shortlisted for the award because of my research which examined the culture of bonespiration – an online trend that encourages social media account holders to achieve extremely thin bodies (Open access paper available via https://jeatdisord.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40337-017-0170-2). Following a number of radio interviews and discussions with journalists, my research received international media attention. I also worked with Devon-based artist Phillippa Mills to produce an exhibition which was influenced by my research. This was a great way of relaunching my work. It was incredible to see my research translated into art where so many people could look at the issue I highlighted from a different perspective.

Dr Caroline Ardrey, Dr Joanne Jordan, and I were shortlisted for the award. Dr Caroline Ardrey is a a lecturer in Modern Languages at the University of Birmingham. Caroline is currently in the process of putting together a new project which uses Social Network Analysis techniques from statistics and the social sciences to analyse the creative networks of Paris in the 1860s and 1870s. Through a range of events, including the launch of an augmented reality smartphone app which simulates engagement with archival materials, and a series of hackathons for school pupils, this project seeks to make research findings accessible to a wider audience.

The winner of the Researchers’ Choice Communication award was Dr Joanne Jordan. Dr Joanne Jordan’s project ‘The Lived Experience of Climate Change’ is based on research looking at urban climate resilience and how land tenure affects adaptation to climate change in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The project engaged residents of an informal settlement in the research findings, and built awareness and action on their everyday accounts of living with climate change through an interactive theatre performance. Subsequent theatre performances, documentary films, educational programmes, and public events were then used to engage a much wider set of international and national audiences. Joanne has brought her work to over 235,000 people including study participants, policy makers, practitioners, academics, students and the public.

Attending this event was a fantastic opportunity and I thoroughly enjoyed the evening. I would like to extend my congratulations to Caroline and Joanne. Even though I didn’t win the award I am extremely grateful to have been shortlisted. I hope this blog post will encourage postgraduates to not shy away from science communication!

References: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2017). Communicating science effectively: a research agenda. National Academies Press.

Written By: Catherine Talbot, PhD Researcher in College of Medicine and Health. You can find out more about Catherine and her Research by following her on twitter @Catherinetalb

Challenge Accepted!

Jess is in her 2nd Year as a PGR in the XM2 Metamaterials CDT. She is working on a project on phononic crystals and acoustic microfluidics.

 

 

 

Earlier this year I fulfilled one of my oldest childhood dreams by representing Exeter on University Challenge! I made it onto the team by obtaining one of the four highest scores on a written test of questions circulated by the production team, and our team made it through several more interview stages to get to the televised rounds.

The other team members were all undergraduates, and as I had tried out for the team three times while I was one, finally making the team as a postgraduate was very exciting. Our training consisted of working through questions from old episodes, while using buzzers with farm animal noises! We were each assigned other subjects alongside our specialities, and finding as much easily-absorbed information as possible about Literature (how broad!) was very challenging! You never quite know when that little nugget of information might be useful!

We eventually found out how much our preparation had paid off when we travelled up to Salford for filming. The process is very intense, especially as you find your way to your seat accompanied by the Game of Thrones theme tune! Our albatross mascot (NOT a seagull, though perhaps that would have been more appropriate!) is called Albus, for those wondering. The matches are all filmed in real time which is pretty scary, especially under the glare of Jeremy Paxman! The names are called out live which makes things stressful particularly towards the end of matches, and I was so desperate to hear ‘Exeter – Brown’ if the right starter question came up! It was such a fantastic experience though, and I will never forget it, even if it was a bit of a blur at the time!

A few months later, our match was broadcast in July, kicking off the new series – watching it back (accompanied by friends and few glasses of prosecco!) was a bizarre experience, especially looking at Twitter afterwards! After a strong start from us and an incredibly close game, we lost by 15 points to Warwick. You’ll have to tune in later in the series to see if we come back as highest-scoring losers… Meanwhile I’m continuing my research in Acoustic Metamaterials!

We’re hopefully planning to reunite the team at the famous Firehouse Quiz – maybe see you there one Monday!

Written By: Jessica Brown

Do you need to develop Hidden Talent?

Claire Davey-Potts is an Academic Skills Adviser working in the Academic Skills and Student Engagement Team. She is well qualified and has over 25 years of experience in education. More recently, she has worked as a Study Skills Tutor in Accessibility providing one-to-one support.

Hidden Talent in Devon is an EU funded project designed to provide support to develop the academic skills of groups of undergraduate and postgraduate students at the University of Exeter.

 

Sometimes it can be difficult to get started on your academic journey especially if you are returning to learning or struggling with deadlines.

The ‘Hidden Talent in Devon’ project is designed to upskill and reskill eligible students and to help them achieve academic success.

Since January 2018, I have been providing personalised 1-1 Academic Skills support to eligible students on both Exeter campuses. Each bespoke appointment is designed to help students take control of their academic development and effectively deal with academic pressures. I am now offering this service to PGRs who have recently started their research degree and may need assistance with aspects of planning or writing. By discussing and identifying academic skills concerns, as an Academic Skills professional, I can help individual student’s develop strategies to improve motivation and target issues such as procrastination which can affect your performance and help with your research journey.

 

 

 

 

Hidden Talent in Devon’ is funded by the EU with the intention of supporting students develop a range of academic skills. Support is provided to UK or EU students via 1-1 meetings or email; small group work can also be arranged. Distance learners and those with little available time can be supported through Skype. It really depends on you, what time you have and what suits you.  Students who may benefit most would be those students who are returning to learning and those who are undertaking writing in order to go through the process to ‘transfer’ or ‘upgrade’ from MPhil to PhD/MS/EngD. This will normally include submission of one or more substantial piece of written work (as defined by the College) in good presentational order, where one piece of written work comprises the literature review. The submission must also include a substantial research-based draft chapter.

The feedback from students has been positive and both undergraduates and postgraduates have found the service helpful in improving their academic skills and developing confidence. It can also increase one’s motivation to complete tasks.

Each meeting is tailored to you and what you need….

I can help you to refresh your academic skills particularly with regards to Academic Writing-including how to structure an argument or critical thinking. I can also assist in developing strategies for proof reading. It really depends on what you need. Other forms of support involve various approaches to reading or note making strategies.  Time and Project Management support is also available which can help with issues around motivation and procrastination. By employing certain study skills strategies, I can help you achieve your academic goals.

 …. Are you?

Eligible students must meet one of the following criteria –

  • Disabled (you need to consider that you have a disability)
  • Ethnic minority
  • 50+ before the start of the course
  • Lone parent

“The level of the detail given in the feedback was invaluable and the fact that this was not limited to one session was even better as it allowed me to get advice on a range of my working, providing me with confidence”

“An amazing service and I cannot say enough good things about it!”

“Honestly don’t think there is anything that can be improved”

For further information go to exeter.ac.uk/htid

Written by Claire Davey-Potts

The Joy of Posters! Designing a poster that your audience will want to read

Caroline Nye is a social science researcher at the University of Exeter, having completed her PhD in rural sociology at the Centre for Rural Policy Research. She holds an MA (hons) in Social Anthropology from the University of Edinburgh, a diploma in International Development from London School of Economics (with a focus on environment) and has several years’ experience working on organic farms and in environmental education. She has also spent several years working further afield on international development projects and in industry in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
Caroline’s research expertise focuses on agricultural labour in the UK, examining the changes and challenges associated with farm labour in the transition to sustainable intensification. She is also currently working on a research project examining farmer motivations to participate in conservation-focused farmer clusters, as well as working on a project for Defra.

Academic poster presentations are an important method of sharing your research. But in an age where multiple stimuli are constantly competing for our attention, our brain usually decides within seconds if it wants to continue focussing on any one thing before shifting its attention elsewhere. Attracting a captive audience is, therefore, a challenge. Below are ten things to consider in designing a poster that will catch the reader’s eye. If somebody walks away having retained any information about your research, then your poster has had, yes it’s that magic word, IMPACT!

  1. Look upon it as an exciting opportunity. Here is a chance for you to exercise your creativity in a way you may not be able to during other phases of your academic career. Embrace your inner artist, leap outside of the box and brandish your metaphorical paintbrush with pride. Designing a poster should be a fun project which gets your research out there visually and assists you in defining the key points of your project.
  2. Know your audience. If designing a poster for a mixed audience, start by assuming that your audience knows nothing about either your subject or your discipline. Make it easy to understand and use language that won’t have your reader yawning three lines in. If your poster is for a specific event, a sheet stuffed full of technical jargon can still be overkill, so mix it up to ensure your reader is informed whilst being entertained at the same time.
  3. Before you even begin to add any text, play around with some images that might link your research to the rest of the world. Decide whether you want a backdrop image, images dropped between the text, or a combination. Make sure any pictures you use are relevant, interesting and fun. If a picture can tell your reader what your work is about as soon as they walk into a room, then you’re already winning.
  4. Don’t be afraid to go against the grain. Many students follow a set format which can often make posters look similar and difficult to remember. Innovative examples of poster design include the use of texture, colour or 3D materials (glasses included). One extraordinary design was completed entirely by hand. Be inspired and you will inspire others.
  5. What information do you want your reader to take away with them. What is NEW about your work and what message do you want to get across to your audience? This is your story. You can choose how you tell it.
  6. You cannot fit your entire thesis on to an A3 sheet. The ability to be concise is key here. Identify the principal goals of the thesis, your methods in brief, KEY findings and MAIN conclusions. This will ensure that your poster retains much needed space for visual aesthetics, making reading it a less daunting task for the innocent passer-by.
  7. Font is key! Don’t assume your reader has 20/20 vision. Try not to make the text any smaller than 24pt, and intersperse this with bigger titles and sub titles. It is fun to play around with font styles but many can be hard on the eye for a poster so plain styles can work better alongside good, strong images.
  8. Check sizing and margins before you print. These is nothing more frustrating than adding the final flourish to your masterpiece and then sending it to the printers and unrolling a mess. Text that pushes right up to the edges and poor quality images might reveal unpleasant surprises on print day.
  9. Print it before presentation day. Leaving the printing until the last minute is a common mistake for any student, be it your poster or your actual thesis! Try to print it at least a day early in case you see any glaring mistakes.
  10. Show up! Accompanying your poster with a smile and some enthusiasm will cast a happy, colourful light over your work as you both hang out there proudly. It is an opportunity to show passion for, and knowledge about, your subject on a friendly one-to-one basis. So enjoy!

Written by: Caroline Nye

Twitter: @curlystem

If you wish to enter PGR showcase full details can be found on the PGR showcase webpage. Deadline to apply is: Sunday 22nd May.

How art can help communicate science

Anna Sowa is a documentary film producer with a strong background in international affairs policy and academic research. After completing her BA in Arabic with International Relations, Anna continued her professional and academic interest in international development at SOAS, University of London where she graduated with a distinction MSc in Migration, Mobility and Development. She is the co-founder of Chouette Films–  an award-winning production company committed to using film as a tool for social change. She is a PhD by practice candidate at the London Film School/ University of Exeter researching the role of the producer in collaborative documentary filmmaking.

A piece of advice that I remember from my school drama teacher years ago, is to always practice and test your acting by performing in front of a young child. If the child stays focused and interested, even without necessarily understanding the piece, then you have successfully achieved a genuinely engaging performance. At the same time, this teacher also used to encourage us to be authentic and to stay genuine to ourselves. I now understand how these two pieces of advice are interlinked. The teacher wanted us to find our own way of expressing each piece, to create a performance which both felt natural and was uniquely captivating. Rather than exaggerated or over-dramatic acting, simply for the sake of being shocking or different, innovative and heart-felt acting is the key to engaging an audience.

Although drama lessons may sit on a very different branch of the arts to academic posters, I still find my old teacher’s advice very meaningful to the process of design.

Firstly, testing your work is of pivotal value to poster design. It may seem like a peculiar choice to start with this focus on testing, because it is often under-estimated as a minor and latter part of the design process. However, from my experience it is crucial to continually test an idea from its conception through to its completion as a final product. Share your ideas with someone who works in your field; share them with a stranger; share them with a child. The more diverse the group, the more well-rounded the feedback. Show them your sketches and scribbles to see what catches their interests. Testing ideas gives you the tools to analyse, reshape and build on your design.

Secondly, authenticity is vital to the meaning and impact of a poster. So, make it personal; make it yours. My work investigates the very role that I play: that of the producer. Since the perspective of my study is self-reflective and my PhD is practice-based, it felt natural for the poster to depict myself in action at a film shoot. From afar, the poster’s graphics resemble a regular film poster. Visually, this creates an instant association of the poster with film, no matter how unfamiliar the viewer may be with the subject matter of my research. It is important to make sure that your individual vision for the project remains integral to your design. Pinpoint the key images that represent your work, and experiment with ways of building graphically around these concepts.

Thirdly, I believe that the golden rule of poster design is “less is more”. The busier the poster, the less comprehensive and compelling. Too many sentences can cloud its meaning. Instead, use headlines and bullet points and let the images speak for themselves. Clear and aesthetically simple designs can be the most powerful. Pick out the key words from your research and strip back any unnecessary jargon, so that your poster communicates to every viewer, even a child.

After all, the simple truth behind academic poster design is that art can support science. Far from being its antagonist, art can enhance the clarity of conceptual scientific descriptions.

Written by: Anna Sowa-  Film PhD by Practice Researcher

Chouette films website
Twitter: @ChouetteFilms

Interested in this year’s competition is open until Friday 20 April, full details about Postgradaute Research Showcase, the poster competition and our other competitions, 3 Minute Thesis and Tweet your Thesis can be found here.

3 Minute Thesis- What made me enter!

Elisabeth is a final year PhD student studying astrophysics. In her research she aims to detect planets orbiting other stars, and understand how these interact with debris dust – similar to the Asteroid and Kuiper belts in our own solar system. When not worrying about writing a thesis, she enjoys running and playing the flute.

 

 

 

I’m in the unusual position of having given three minute pitches of my PhD four times: twice with the University’s Three Minute Thesis competition, and twice through a similar Three Minute Wonder competition run by the Institute of Physics. I was lucky enough to compete in the Three Minute Wonder final, where we spoke at the Royal Institute in London. Having grown up watching the RI Christmas Lectures I was pretty star-struck by that experience – and it’s not every day that you get to speak on the same stage where Faraday and Dirac have delivered lectures.

I would definitely recommend this competition to anyone, since it’s a really unique and exciting way to be able to share your research. For me there have been several clear benefits.

Firstly, it’s opened doors: I’m passionate about science communication, and I’ve been offered science communication opportunities as a direct result of these competitions. In September the IoP invited me to spend a week touring the South West and visiting schools to deliver science talks: I delivered 16 talks, to over 1000 kids, and had a brilliant time in the process. I was also invited to give an academic seminar at Bristol by someone who had seen my 3 minute piece, which is of course useful for forging academic connections.

Secondly, it’s a huge confidence builder. The competition feels like a very high pressure form of presentation because of the precise time limit (and the huge clock!). The first time I performed a pitch, I literally froze in on stage and my brain went blank. That was pretty horrible experience – but by repeatedly going through the process I’ve become much more comfortable presenting my science, which has been hugely beneficial at conferences and when giving seminars. If I had to freeze somewhere, I’d much rather it be at a relatively low-stakes competition like Three Minute Wonder than at a conference where there might be potential employers in the room!

I love my research, and I love talking about all things exoplanets – and events like this have given me more understanding of what the public do and don’t know about my field, and how I can simultaneously make my subject accessible and avoid dumbing it down. I really value that this means I can speak about my work in a more casual setting, and that my friends and family can start to understand what I do with my time. I am also excited by research more generally, and watching the other competitors – and talking to them afterwards – was a fascinating overview of some of the diverse research happening across the university – from microchips to autism.

Finally, I recently had a postdoc interview where the opening question was “So how about you just give me a two minute summary of your research so far?”. Interviews terrify me, and this one was at a very highly ranked university so I was definitely feeling the pressure – but I think managed to get garble a decent two minutes out, and I’m sure that my Three Minute Thesis and Three Minute Wonder experiences helped me to do so. And you know what? I got the job.

Written by: Elisabeth Matthews

The Challenges of a Part-Time, Distance PGR Student

Passionate about languages, cultures and international affairs, Anne gained her Bachelors Degree in Modern Languages from Coventry University in 1997 and a Masters Degree in International Relations from the Instituto Universitario Ortega y Gasset in 2002.  In 2005 after four years studying and teaching English as a Foreign Language in Spain, Mexico and France, Anne embarked on a career in software sales.  Her roles involved working with multi-national clients across the EMEA region, predominantly in Europe and the Middle East.  Events in the Middle East over the past few years however, reignited Anne’s interest in this region and a desire to return to academia.   In 2016 therefore, Anne enrolled as a part-time, distance Doctoral Candidate in Middle East Politics at the University of Exeter, where she is furthering her research into the Kurds.  In her free time, Anne loves to play tennis, swim and read as much as possible about the world around us.

In 2015, aged 41, I was feeling unfulfilled. Despite having built a successful sales career in the software industry, I was stagnating from an academic and intellectual perspective. At this time, the Kurds were back in the news as the front line against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.  Since I wrote my Master’s thesis on the Kurds back in 2002, the resurgence of the Kurds in the international media piqued my interest and I started to think about doing a PhD.

It wasn’t the first time I had considered it, but at my age and this stage in my career, it seemed like a ‘now or never’ scenario. By now however, I had a mortgage to pay, so returning to full-time study seemed like an impossible dream. Nevertheless, I started researching PhD’s in Kurdish Studies and came across the University of Exeter.

Having emailed the PGR department, Zoe Humble arranged for me to meet Professor Gareth Stansfield, who suggested that I enrol part-time.  I had never even considered part-time study before. Not only were the fees lower, but also I could still work full-time, which meant I didn’t need to worry about funding or paying the mortgage. No need to relocate either (I live in the North Cotswolds), as only monthly contact is required and this can be via Skype.

I soon realized however, that getting accepted on to the Graduate programme was only the first challenge. Managing a stressful, full-time job that involved travel, combined with the demands of an aging Father and Father-in-Law, who live at opposite ends of the county, soon proved to be the bigger challenge. My job involved spending long hours in front of the computer if I wasn’t on the road. This meant tired eyes that didn’t feel up to more computer-based work in the evenings. On the upside, I got lots of reading done in my first year. As for the actual writing, well, let’s just say I’m playing catch-up and have to be extremely disciplined in my approach to writing.

The other disadvantage of being a distance student is that I often miss out on seminars and workshops. This in turn means that I miss out on the social side of university and don’t often get the chance to discuss my research with anyone. Attending more of the online webinars on offer has helped with this though. Since the sessions are interactive, you get to share your thoughts and opinions with others and hear theirs in return.

It was through one of Kelly Preece’s webinars that I ‘met’ Elsa, another student in a similar position. Together, we’re now starting a Facebook page for part-time, distance graduates to share their experience and make us feel more like part of the student community. You can join our online community Facebook community here. We’d love to hear from more of you about the challenges you face and how you’re overcoming them or if you need help that the university or the community can provide.

Written by: Anne Blanchflower- Middle East Politics PhD researcher

LinkedIn Profile

Why enter PGR showcase?

I completed my Biological Sciences degree here at Exeter, before continuing on into an MbyRes. I undertook a joint project between Dr Helen Dawe and Dr Isabelle Jourdain here in Biosciences, which has now progressed into a PhD funded by the Vice Chancellor’s Scholarship. My project focuses on ciliopathies, a class of severe diseases caused when your cells signalling antennae – called “cilia” – do not form or function correctly. A ciliopathy patient with a mutation in a mystery protein was discovered back in 2012, and it is my mission to figure out how this mystery protein helps to build cilia!

I think I heard about the PGR Showcase from an email newsletter that circulated around the department. My first thought was that the event was probably only aimed at PhD students. After all, I was only a few months into my MbyRes, and figured that I didn’t really have enough data to present. However when I spoke to my supervisors about it, they told me that I could definitely produce a poster from what I had so far, and that it would be a useful exercise in learning how to present my research. So I decided to go for it!

My poster ended up being about 50% explaining the field, and 50% my own results, so I needn’t have worried about not having enough data. The best advice I received from my supervisor was to take out as much subject-specific jargon as I could, keep it simple, and to make the poster as visual as possible. After all, the showcase is a University-wide event, so I needed to convey (in my case) Biological Sciences research in a way that someone who studies English Literature could understand.

I considered the day a useful learning experience, and just assumed that Best Poster would be awarded to a PhD student. So I was very surprised and grateful when I won best STEMM poster, along with a £250 voucher! I think it’s great that the competition is judged not on the amount of results you have, but on your ability to present your research to an audience who are not familiar with your field (or even your discipline!).

As well as presenting your poster, getting to walk around and have a look at all the other entries was a great opportunity to learn about some of the other PG research that is going on across the University. The competition was also good practice – when I had the opportunity to present my results at a national conference later on that year, I not only already had experience making a poster and organising my results into a story, but also more confidence when explaining my research to people I had just met. I’d really recommend applying, even if you’re a Masters student – you’ll get a lot out of the day, and a shot at a great prize!

Written by: Lauren Adams (1st Year- Biosciencse PhD Student)

Twitter: @L_Adams08
LinkedIn: laurenadams08
Email: lauren.adams@exeter.ac.uk

International Women’s Day 2018- Why I got involved?

Skye is working towards a PhD in Biophysics at the University of Exeter. Her research looks at the physical properties of cell membrane and how these affect susceptibility to a parasite toxin, amoebapore. In general, she is interested in parasitology and multidisciplinary approaches to science. In addition to practicing research skills, Skye hopes that she can improve her teaching abilities and contribute towards the postgraduate community during her time at Exeter.

For International Women’s Day 2018 the Doctoral College will be holding an event to showcase the valuable women we have in this research-focussed community. This event is not only important for our community but emphasizes that we are engaged in a global celebration of progress towards gender equality. The first International Women’s Day was in 1911 and it is gratifying to see the changes that have been made. It is a day both to reflect on our progress and to motivate us to continue making changes for the better.

The World Economic Forum 2017 global gender gap report indicated that, as it stands, it will take 200 years to reach gender parity. Therefore, the official theme for International Women’s Day 2018 is #PressforProgress. This theme reinforces the need to keep putting the pressure on to achieve equality. The IWD website urges us to choose one action to #PressforProgress, giving five areas to choose from. My favourite two are to forge positive visibility of women, and to celebrate women’s achievements.

These two actions will be showcased in the Doctoral College International Women’s Day event on Thursday 8th March 2018, 10am – 12 midday. This event will celebrate the contributions from our female and non-binary PGRs and ECRs. We have a fantastic group of women who will present either their own research or their experiences as a female within their field of research.

I have personally involved myself in the organisation and think it will be a great and emotive session. I jumped in because I have previously benefitted from professional development groups designed for women at the University (e.g. Sprint). In addition, as a PGR, I appreciate supportive environments to communicate research, and I realise the importance of role models in a job made up of many self-directed tasks.

We have had confirmations of attendance from invited inspirational senior members of staff. These include Debra Myhill and Kim Soin who will attend and speak at the event. This mix of women from both early and established career stages will provide valuable networking opportunities and better visibility of potential role models.

Alongside the event there will be an online gallery of inspirational female and non-binary PGRs and ECRs who have been nominated by the University of Exeter community. If you are interested please do come along; the event is free! and registration can be accessed through Eventbrite.

Written by: Skye Marshall (PhD Researcher in BioPhysics)
Twitter: @SkyeMarshall1
Research Group Webpage
Personal Research Webpage