Hello, I’m Back

My PhD viva is over and done with (that’s still weird to think about), and I was feeling a bit weird about blogging – do I still blog about my research? Do I blog more on general science topics that make me rage because they can be reported so badly in the mainstream media? Or, do I just stop?

I guess the fact that I’m now blogging about what to do shows that I haven’t decided on the latter option (#meta), but I do want to change some things on the blog. I can no longer tell people about my PhD experience, but I can open this blog up a bit more into what the life of a researcher is like day to day. I’d also like to share my views on topics that are linked to the environment in which I do research (peer review, funding, diversity in the research community, potential problems in the way that we think about things etc etc), and also a little bit about what I do outside of work. I’m mentioned my side hustle a bit on this blog before, but I want to do more of that; explain why I decided to create Science On A Postcard, where I want to take it in the future, and why I think it’s important for me to have a designated side hustle to keep my mental health in check. On the subject of mental health, I want to talk more about that as well. A while ago I posted about having depression – expect more of that. A few weeks ago I was talking to friends and colleagues about my experiences of poor mental health, and how I wish that people would be more open about it; I figure I should lead by example and start talking about good days, down days, and everything in between.

So, yeah. Things are going to change around here, and I’m excited to keep sharing this weird little academic journey with you through this blog.

To kick things off, I’ve decided to do #Blogtober18. Blogtober essentially means that for every day during the month of October, I’ll be posting something new on this blog. Some days these will be wordy posts on complex topics, some will be continuations of existing series (Inspiring People, Clinical Trials Q&A, and Publication Explainers), other days there will be less formal posts to do with product development for Science On A Postcard, and I’ll throw in a few new styles of posts too.

Anyone else doing #Blogtober18?
Tagging a few people here that may want to join in, even if it’s just 1 post every day for a week!
Soph – https://sophtalksscience.com/
Jennie – https://muddledstudent.wordpress.com/
Sophie – https://sophiefquick.wordpress.com/
Kylie – https://happyacademic.wordpress.com/
Chelsea – https://chemicallyinquisitive.wordpress.com/
Katie – https://katiesphd.wordpress.com/
Jack – https://inquisitivetortoise.wordpress.com/
Gareth – https://friendlybacteria.wordpress.com/
Bella – https://bellastarling.wordpress.com/
Rebecca – https://biologybex.wordpress.com/

I’m Very, Very Excited About This

On January 25th I was in London for an interview – I briefly mentioned it in an earlier blog post but decided to skim over it in case it hadn’t gone as well as I’d hoped.

On February 13th, after a fortnight of pacing the flat every time the postman was more than 3 seconds late (side-note: the postman was well and truly sick of me by this point), a bulky A4 envelope landed on my door mat with the news I had been hoping for.

My interview was successful, and now I can finally reveal that I am the super proud recipient of one of 150 Fellowships from the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust.

WCMT was established in 1965 when Sir Winston Churchill died. The Trust is now a national memorial to Sir Winston, and each year they fund up to 150 fellows from all backgrounds to travel overseas in pursuit of new and better ways of tackling a wide range of challenges facing the UK. This isn’t an academic Fellowship – no qualifications are need, it’s about having a project and the passion to improve a community, profession or field.

There will be many more blog posts on my experiences of the Fellowship over the coming months as I plan and carry out my trip, but for now I just wanted to thank the brilliant WCMT Fellows that encouraged me through the application process – Dr Heather Doran (2015 Fellow – read her report here), Sarah Frost (2011 Fellow – read her report here), and Rick Hall (2016 Fellow – read his report here).

So what’s my project all about and where am I going?
I am so excited to be travelling to the USA, Canada, Singapore and Hong Kong to explore the process and practice of science blogging.
I’m particularly interested in why scientists are blogging, how they are sustaining these activities when they are so often done out of a passion for science, and how we can use creative approaches (here I mean anything from knitting to doodling, videos to animations – the list is endless!) to effectively communicate complex scientific topics to the public in engaging ways.

As I said earlier, check back in over the coming weeks and months to come along with me on this super exciting journey – I’m so excited!