What Does Entrepreneurship Mean to You?

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In her first article on this blog platform, Isobel Gordon has brilliantly summarised the Department of Applied Sciences (DAS) February Monthly Employability Seminar, featuring one of our very own writers, Joseph Myatt. If you’re intrigued about entrepreneurship and how this relates to you, keep on reading!

Every Sector & Entrepreneurship

The February DAS Monthly Employability Seminar, ‘An Introduction to Enterprise’, was hosted by Callum Usher-Dodd, an enterprise consultant and lecturer at UWE and Joseph Myatt, a second-year biomedical science student and young entrepreneur.

You don’t need to be working in business or enterprise in order to be an entrepreneur. Callum defines entrepreneurship as anything that involves getting an idea, business or project off the ground, and he made it clear that any field of work or any university degree can incorporate a certain level of entrepreneurial activity. He also explained that the skills you gain from enterprise can be beneficial to any future job, in any work type; making the point that employers are always looking for people who can think and behave like an entrepreneur, even if it’s not the main part of the job.

The University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) is trying to ensure that enterprise can be incorporated into all areas of the University and be available to students from all the various degree courses. This is being done in the hope that by 2030, it will evolve into a world-leading enterprise institution. As a science student, I would have never considered myself able to be an entrepreneur, however, Callum makes it clear that no matter who you are, what you’re doing or where you want to go, the skills you can gain from enterprise will always be beneficial to you.

Photo by Clark Tibbs from unsplash.

What do you see?

A simple activity was carried out within the meeting, whereby the listeners were asked to draw what they saw when they thought of an entrepreneur. When asked what they had drawn, many students stated their picture included things like lots of money, businesses suits and IT equipment. Most of the students also admitted that they had drawn a man.

I too fell into this trap and straightaway envisioned the typical billionaire businessmen such as Elon Musk (Chief Executive Officer of Tesla Motors) and Mark Zuckerberg (Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer of Facebook). However, this rich businessman image is just what the media has portrayed the typical entrepreneur to look like; this doesn’t mean this is what you have to be in order to be one.

One stereotypical image of entrepreneurs that needs to change, is that they are normally associated with men! History has shown us that women are just as capable of entrepreneurial activity, it’s just less well-known and talked about. Marie Curie, for example, managed to integrate the world of science and business into her work with radioactivity. More recently, Nina Tandon, another female scientist, is one of the Co- Founders of EpiBone, a biomedical engineering company that creates bone tissue from patients stem cells for bone grafts. Both of these women are entrepreneurs, yet when we think of the word ‘enterprise’, we don’t associate it with them.

Photo by KOBU Agency from unsplash.

A new perspective?

Entrepreneurship isn’t all about making money and building big businesses. What it’s really about is adding value to other people’s lives and making a difference! One UWE student that has demonstrated this and shown that it’s possible to be a scientist, as well as an entrepreneur, is Joseph Myatt. Whilst studying a biomedical degree, he has founded a site called WRENt, an online site with an aim to make the whole house renting process for students just that little bit simpler.

Joseph admits that he wouldn’t have been able to have achieve the founding of WRENt, if it hadn’t been for the support that UWE offers to young entrepreneurs. In 2020, Joseph was one of the few winners of the UWE Summer Enterprise Scholarship, which offered students who would win, £1,000 to bring their business or project idea to life. Despite the experience of this scholarship being virtual for Joseph, due to the pandemic, he still valued the whole experience and enjoyed being part of a community of like-minded people who he described at ‘doers’. Joseph commented that one the most valuable aspects of the programme was the mentorship that you gain from the staff at the university, as he believes ‘in the early stages, mentorship is more valuable than the money!”.

This scholarship is an amazing opportunity and is open to all students on any course and the project or idea that you pitch, can be related to anything you are passionate about. The skills that you obtain from the summer internship, will set you in good stead for any graduate job or future career you may embark on. If you feel that this is something that you would want to be involved in, or just want to find out some more information, check it out on the UWE webpage.

Photo by Danielle MacInnes from unsplash.

Thank you for reading.

Written by Isobel Gordon

Edited by Jessica Griffith

Isobel Gordon

My name is Izzy Gordon and I am a final year Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Science Student at UWE Bristol. I am currently in the process of finishing my final year research project, studying the accumulation and distribution of microplastic pollution along the South coast of the UK. Having grown up in this part of the UK, I have spent most of my life either in or by the water, and have developed a real passion for marine conservation and ocean science as a result.

This September, I hope to continue my education here at UWE, by studying a Masters in Science Communication. From this masters degree, I hope to gain the skills and knowledge to be able to educate and increase awareness surrounding the problems the marine environment currently faces. I also hope to inspire people to want to make changes that will benefit our ocean. In the future, I would love to be able to influence more young people to consider marine conservation as a possible career, and to help people appreciate just how important this environment is.

From the editor: Thank you for taking the time to read this article. We hope it has widened your perspective on the influence of entrepreneurship in every sector. We also hope it has sparked some inspiration in you, whether to become a full-time entrepreneur or bring entrepreneurship into your own chosen career pathway.

As always, we are keen to have more writers/ contributions, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us via email – ScienceFutures@uwe.ac.uk and connect with us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Enjoy the rest of the week and month!

Take care and stay safe.

Up and Beyond the Labs | From UWE to Space

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Piotr has written yet another excellent article to explore another dimension of science; space. Many scientists dream of doing things on Earth, but if you are interested in expanding your scope and exploring your curiosity, have a read of this article as you begin your scientific journey in space.

The beginning

Biology and Space. Here we go! Launching in 3…2…1…

There is a wide array of disciplines and research areas within biological sciences, and, naturally, there are plenty of career paths that concern themselves with everything earthly. However, there is also yet another path, one that can lead you closer to space and to what may be waiting beyond our habitable planet. Like myself, you may be wondering how one gets from a biology-related course to working in astrobiology or for European Space Agency. Therefore, I will share what I have gleaned from attending January’s Employability Event, From UWE to Space, where Dr Nicol Caplin, Deep Space Exploration Scientist at ESA, shared her own experience in her science journey.

Photo by Richard Gatley from unsplash.

Biology and Space?

A few years ago, I learned about astrobiology for the first time. Any scientist that was described as an astrobiologist appeared to me as some sort of mistic who somehow managed to obtain the title and knowledge that seemed to be imparted within. At the time, I heard little about the discipline, yet I found it intriguing, and I have checked if there is any university offering an undergraduate course in it, yet to no avail. Nowadays, there are still very few dedicated astrobiology courses. However, there are several fascinating PhD programs across the globe. I sometimes happen to mention that I would like to work as an astrobiologist to my friends or family, and what I sometimes hear back spans from ‘Oh, you would like to meet and talk with aliens?’ to my father enquiring about ‘the alien base on the dark side of the moon’ of which he has been informed of its existence by scientists on one of those pseudoscientific documentary series one can find on TV. I then go on to explain what it is that I would most likely do, and a whole new interesting conversation takes place.

Photo by Donald Giannatti form unsplash.

Branching out in science

Astrobiology is a multidisciplinary scientific field and whether you study biological sciences, astronomy, chemistry, or geology, you may be able to find your own niche in this area of work. Nicol studied Environmental Sciences, taking particular interest in plants and radioactivity, and little she knew, she would end up working for European Space Agency (ESA). Unknowingly at the time, certain steps she undertook, enabled her to pursue that path.

Whether you have already set your eyes on the sky and what is beyond, or you’re still searching for what you want from your life and career, I think that Nicol could not stress enough the benefit of making the best of the time you have to complete your degree. Internships were one of the recommendations she made as an option during summertime, as they provided her with invaluable experience. Being interested in plant-related science, she completed an internship with Soil Association, an organic farming charity, in her first year and then with Plant Impact, an agrochemical company in the second year. Another option you might like to consider for your summer is The Summer Scheme, an opportunity to participate in an 8 week summer internship. Not only it will give you a chance to build your skill and confidence, but it is also a paid internship.

Nicol also mentioned another aspect of her career, namely science communication. When studying her PhD, she has decided to pick the Science Communication module, which is great in relation to astrobiology – astrobiology is often a controversial topic, quite complex in its nature and the ability to deliver it to the general public is especially important. Nicol mentioned exciting projects she partook in, among others, Q&A video for school children- Space Rocks, which involved science communication efforts in association with ESA, employing artists and figures from media; and Star Trek convention, where she delivered a presentation about ESA and astrobiology.

Photo by Patrick T’Kindt from unsplash.

Your journey

When it comes to getting your first experience working with European Space Agency (ESA), there are internship opportunities you can read about on ESA’s website, such as ESA Young Graduate Trainees or National Traineeships. However, bear in mind that due to their competitive nature, you may have higher chances to get your spot having completed or nearing completion of a Master’s degree. I do like to think that it is not a rule that is set in stone, and that if there is a brilliant enough mind, they will be able to land their place at such an internship even earlier. Nonetheless, it is certainly an option to consider later as an undergraduate student or aspiring professional.

I have reached out to Nicol after the talk, and she got back to me with a few more tips, putting some of my worries to rest. When starting a degree, especially through a Foundation Year, the prospect of completing it seems dauntingly distant. Nicol reassured me by saying that she herself began her studies with Foundation Year, and similarly to myself, was first in her family to access Higher Education. Being proactive and searching for opportunities throughout the whole studying period will likely yield benefits to those who invest their time and energy.

Photo by Greg Rakozy from unsplash.

Final Thoughts

Considering that astrobiology is so broad, getting experience in many areas will allow you to later put the transferable skills you have gained to your advantage and improve your standings in recruiters’ eyes. Even if you do something that seems unrelated to astrobiology itself, like joining carting or poetry club, or a blogging team, you may still gain skills that could be translated into future roles, such as team working, team management, writing and presentation skills, etc. There are also societies and clubs outside of university that may align with your interests and which you may wish to join, and they are all but an online search away.

If you find yourself not knowing much about astrobiology, or you know someone who is eager to know more, have a look at the following astrobiology primer from NASA: https://astrobiology.nasa.gov/education/primer/ . It outlines current pursuits within the field and is directed at a young scientist who may be interested in this fascinating aspect of science.

Thank you for reading.

Written by Piotr Sordyl

Hello, my name is Piotr (I can assure you it is not as difficult to pronounce as it may seem) and I am a mature, international student on Foundation Year Biological Sciences course. I am originally from Poland, however, Bristol has been my home for over 7 years now (which sometimes makes me stagger when asked where I am from).


I take great pleasure in weaving tales, and so I have been writing and working on ideas for novels. I am interested in neuroscience, zoology, astrobiology, planetary science, to name a few and I intend to use the knowledge gained through my studies to write books, popularizing it to a wider audience.


I run roleplay games sessions for my friends, collaboratively telling stories that become alive in our shared imagination. I am also an aspiring violinist, learning how to take my first steps.

From the editors: Thank your taking the time to read this excellent article from Piotr, a great summary of one of the DAS Monthly Employability seminars. We hope this has piqued your curiosity and expanded your awareness of how much you can do in the sciences.

Please do share with those you think need some inspiration and reach out to us if you would like to share one of your interest on this blog platform. You can get in touch with us via email – ScienceFutures@uwe.ac.uk and also connect with us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Enjoy your Easter holiday and see you next time!

Reaching Out – Career in Science Communication

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Piotr Sordyl wrote this article as a summary of the importance of science communication. If you’re looking for an exciting communication career and are passionate about science – reading this article could spark the next step for you! Enjoy the read.

Encountering Science Communication

The first time I encountered the idea of Science Communication was through wonderful books authored by Carl Sagan, an American scientist in the field of astronomy, an author, and a great science communicator. Through the explorations of tantalising topics and fascinating presentation of many reflection-inducing thoughts, his books sparked my interest in science and pursuit of the unknown. They also allowed me to realise how much the popularisation of science is needed in our world. By doing this, society—or more specifically, every person— would have access to and a better understanding of the vast pool of knowledge that discipline of thought unlocks for humankind, influencing and altering every aspect of our lives.

Science Communication is one of the non-traditional career paths open to an individual interested and passionate about science. Last year December, Andy Ridgway, who worked as a science journalist (and still writes) and is currently a Senior lecturer for MSc Science Communication/PgDip at the University of the West of England (UWE) Bristol, hosted one of the DAS monthly employability seminars ‘Careers in science communication’ with guest Sophie Pavelle, a Campaign and Communications Coordinator for the Beaver Trust, Freelance Science Communicator and UWE alumni (graduate of MSc Science Communication). They both spoke about their experiences, the nature of Science Communication and steps worth taking in the pursuit of such a career.

Photo by Galen Crout from unslpash.

What it’s all about

What does Science Communication entail? As the name suggests, it focuses on communicating the science to the general public that are not experts themselves and have varied levels of understanding, helping make science approachable and comprehensible. Andy broadly summarized it as a science that is not published in scientific journals, but instead in magazines (e.g. New Scientist), or presented in shows, festivals, television, podcasts (e.g. SETI Institute’s Big Picture Science, or for the promotion of STEM). He also spoke of the important shift in paradigm in recent decades from simply reporting research to society to an increased engagement and dialog between the two – producing an exchange of knowledge and ideas.

A more open attitude in communication between science and society can lead to more people experiencing science and have a more informed view on it. Misinformation and misrepresentation of facts often lead to confusion, fear, and rejection of what is unknown or poorly understood. As science technology evolves, a reliable communication platform between science and society needs to be well established now more than ever. It is important that the ethical issues of how to best implement current and future discoveries, and if at all, is discussed on a societal level aswell.

Photo by Shahadat Rahman from unsplash.

What to expect

What can you do to become a Science Communicator? There is no one, simple answer to such a question, however, there are certain steps that you may wish to consider. The simplest would be to read a lot, as it will potentially lead to new discoveries and improve your vocabulary, style, and intuition of your own writing. Another step (suggested by Andy), is creating your own blog, allowing you to practice and develop your own skill whilst making your work available for others to read. Even if the blog is not on the matter of science, it allows you to show off your passion for a given topic and your writing capability.

You may also consider joining one of the many UWE blogs, such as this one, and write content for them. Alternatively, if you would like to author an article for a magazine, there is an opportunity to write for the departmental publication called Science Matters. If you are interested in this, email Andy (contact details below) and he will add your name to the writers list – you will be assigned a topic, which involves interviewing a researcher (a staff member or postgraduate student) and writing about it.

Photo by Headway from unsplash.

The Journey

Sophie shared her experiences of uncertainty along her own journey to where she is now. Her words can bring a little bit of solace to those who are worried about not having a set path yet: “There is beauty in not having a plan.”. I share that sentiment, and I wholeheartedly recommend you seek, explore and gain experiences, as all of them can lead you to discovering your life’s greatest passions, and discovering what makes you happy.

Nowadays, it is an advantage, often even a requirement, to have work experience — which can be daunting someone new to the job market. Sophie helpfully shared a few tips regarding how to search for a placement opportunity: make a list of your interests; google it; speak to people you know and including those who are (or might) be doing a placement and compare your experiences; keep your CV clear to read with highlights of what you have accomplished; and reach out to the organizations you are interested in working for by sending confident yet concise emails.

Another value in work experience pointed out by Sophie is that you can take that opportunity to see what you are good at, what you might like to do as a job, and what you might not. It is as valuable to quit something after five minutes, as it is to have a completed work experience—some places are right for us and some are not, and we can only benefit from paying attention to how they make us feel.

Photo by Felipe Furtado from unsplah.

Moving Forward

Yet another step you can take towards a career in Science Communication are further studies, such as MSc in Science Communication. Sophie (graduate) spoke highly of the course, emphasizing it as practical, non-lab based and highly creative.

Andy pointed out that UWE is one of the few universities in the UK that has a dedicated group of academics who research into Science Communication but also practice it as well, for example the Science for Environment Policy newsletter that goes across Europe (aimed at policy makers). The Science Communication unit at UWE is also involved in the RETHINK Project, which considers how science is communicated online, who does it, in what way, and how the information provided is perceived by its readers.

Photo by Wonderlane from unsplash.

Final Thoughts

Science Communication is an important part of science, especially since it serves as a spokesperson for the sciences in its interactions with the public. It also very importantly fulfils the role of a trusted friend and confidant — it listens to the worries and hesitations of the public and is responsible for relaying truthful and reliable information.

In the times like ours, when we face issues globally, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, climate and biodiversity crisis; Science Communication is essential to enable informed action and positive change in the right direction, to create a strong link between science and society (conversing as two respectful partners, without condescension, or fear), and to emphasize dependencies between the state of the natural world and condition of humankind. These are all great challenges for the new generation of Science Communicators to tackle.

To write for Science Matters, contact Andy Ridgway: Andy.Ridgway@uwe.ac.uk

Thank you for reading.

Written by Piotr Sordyl

Hello, my name is Piotr (I can assure you it is not as difficult to pronounce as it may seem) and I am a mature, international student on Foundation Year Biological Sciences course. I am originally from Poland, however, Bristol has been my home for over 7 years now (which sometimes makes me stagger when asked where I am from).


I take great pleasure in weaving tales, and so I have been writing and working on ideas for novels. I am interested in neuroscience, zoology, astrobiology, planetary science, to name a few and I intend to use the knowledge gained through my studies to write books, popularizing it to a wider audience.


I run roleplay games sessions for my friends, collaboratively telling stories that become alive in our shared imagination. I am also an aspiring violinist, learning how to take my first steps.

From the editors: Wow. We hope you are as inspired about the reach and potential of science communication as you are! Piotr shared so many nuggets from the DAS Monthly Employability seminar and we hope that you take this on in your pursuit of curiosity into the sciences.

As always, we welcome articles and contributions from everyone who has a story to tell and a question they would like to be answered through this blog platform. Please get in touch via email – ScienceFutures@uwe.ac.uk. Also connect with us on LinkedIn and Twitter

Meet our ever-growing blog team!

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In this article, we are showcasing our blog team. Run by Dr. Emmanuel Adukwu (Editor) and Jessica Griffith (Associate Editor), we formally introduce the members of the DAS Employability blog team. You may have seen or read articles from some of our writers previously, this time, you get to find out more about the writers. Be inspired! We all are inspired by each other and we hope you are too!

Our Writers

Joseph Myatt

Biomedical Science Undergraduate at UWE; Founder and Entrepreneur at WRENT

Hi readers of the DAS Blog, in what has been a rather interesting past two years, it has never been more important to focus on the future. I believe it is our responsibility to push our collective and individual envelopes of knowledge. Therefore, I foresee my future scribblings focusing on self-development in relation to employability within the sciences.

I am first and foremost a biological sciences student, however, my entrepreneurial journey actively exposes me to experiences I believe are worth sharing on this platform; lessons from business are highly relevant to the sciences. I hope you all continue to tune in to this Blog and find the content stirs your own interests, curiosities and provides meaningful advice that resonates with you.

Piotr Sordyl

International student on Foundation Year Biological Sciences at UWE Bristol

Hello, my name is Piotr (I can assure you it is not as difficult to pronounce as it may seem) and I am a mature, international student on Foundation Year Biological Sciences course. I am originally from Poland, however, Bristol has been my home for over 7 years now (which sometimes makes me stagger when asked where I am from).


I take great pleasure in weaving tales, and so I have been writing and working on ideas for novels. I am interested in neuroscience, zoology, astrobiology, planetary science, to name a few and I intend to use the knowledge gained through my studies to write books, popularizing it to a wider audience.


I run roleplay games sessions for my friends, collaboratively telling stories that become alive in our shared imagination. I am also an aspiring violinist, learning how to take my first steps.

Sophie Harris

Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Science degree, Creator and President of the Wildlife & Environment Society at UWE Bristol

Sophie is in her third and final year at the University of the West of England studying Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Science. She is the creator of Peculiar Pangolins, a blog dedicated to all things pangolins related as well as running a wildlife dedicate Instagram page.

Whilst on a six-month internship monitoring wildlife on a game reserve in South Africa, she fell in love with the world’s most trafficked mammal, the pangolin. After being fortunate enough to see one in the wild, she decided to apply to university, to help these illusive creatures. She was also the creator and President of the Wildlife & Environment Society in her my first and second years.


In Sophie’s spare time she can be found in nature reserves, mostly looking for birds to add to her list, or climbing, either indoors or out, depending on the weather.

Isabela Rodrgiuez

Biomedical Science at UWE Bristol; Online nutrition coach at Happyhealthyizzy

Hi, my name is Isabela (Izzy) and I am currently in my 3rd year at UWE Bristol studying Biomedical Science. I intend to study post-graduate medicine after my degree to eventually become a doctor. Because of this, I have been going through the application process and I think it would be great to share this experience to any wannabe med-students.


Last year, I set up an online nutrition coaching business which has become very rewarding; I also love the perks of being self-employed as it fits around university life very easily. I would like to share my story of setting up a business during the pandemic and try to inspire others to do so as a result. I’m a big believer in being ambitious and that you can do anything you put your mind to. In my free time, I enjoy triathlon training and I’m part of the UWE athletics and cross-country club, and the cycling club which I find is a great stress reliever.

The DAS Editorial Team

Jessica Griffith

Health Protection Practitioner at Public Health England South West; Associate Editor for the DAS Employability Blog at UWE Bristol

Hi all! As Associate Editor for this blog platform, I have thoroughly enjoyed writing and editing blog articles for this platform alongside Dr Emmanuel and other writers for over a year now. I am a recent master’s graduate of MSc Public Health and work as a Health Protection Practitioner for Public Health England and as an Associate Editor for the DAS Employability Blog.

I have been involved in many extra-curricular activities during my years at university including Africa Week, Fashion and Health Conference, radio guest appearances and my very own event which I co-organized and co-hosted: ‘My Fro and Me’, a Black History Month Event with the Student’s Union at UWE.
Over the years, I have developed various skills from having undertaken leadership (co-organizer, panel chair and PAL leader) and voluntary (student ambassador, panellist, mentorship) roles. My interests are in health improvement and the arts.

I hope you enjoy reading our articles and are inspired by what you see!

Emmanuel Adukwu

Interim Deputy Head of Department; Trustee (SFAM); Co-Founder, Blogger & Editor, Aspiring Professionals Hub (APH)

Starting a blog platform is not the most difficult part. Creating ideas, producing content and maintaining the platform is where the challenge is. As the Editor of the Applied Sciences Employability Blog, I am incredibly proud to see the development of the blog and the new path we are taking with a new team of fantastic student writers and of course our Associate Editor, Jessica Griffith.

This blog showcases some of the amazing work staff within the Department of Applied Sciences are undertaking to enable career successes for our students. Our programme and module teams supported by the employability coordinator and programme champions are constantly looking at innovative ways to prepare students for life beyond the degree. Our colleagues in the careers service are constantly creating opportunities that get our students noticed and hired.

I am also the co-creator of a widely read blog platform Aspiring Professionals Hub (APH) with readership in >180 countries. We have been active for many years and have writers from across the globe and we are on different social media platforms. In my day time, I am an academic and researcher in the department (DAS) where I lead my own research group addressing important scientific questions around antimicrobial resistance, novel antimicrobial compounds and preventing infections caused by pathogenic and infectious microorganisms. When I get some down time, I enjoy reading all sorts and I transcend into a creative writing space where I produce writing that gives me life.

Written by Dr. Emmanuel Adukwu, Jessica Griffith, Joseph Myatt, Piotr Sordyl, Sophie Harris and Isabela Rodrgiuez

Edited by Jessica Griffith and Dr. Emmanuel Adukwu

Note from the editors: The DAS Employability blog is an inclusive platform. We welcome articles and contributions from everyone who has a story to tell and a question they would like to be answered.

All we need you to do, is engage with us, send us articles and help us grow this platform. We look forward to enabling the development of our students, staff, alumni and a much wider community of readers. Do get in touch via email – ScienceFutures@uwe.ac.uk. Also connect with us on LinkedIn and Twitter

Thank you for reading!!

Onward and Upward – Making Progress Through COVID-19 Confinement

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Grace Russell, an alumni at UWE Bristol, has written an inspiring, motivating blog article. This article endeavours to spark you into getting your own career life on track and achieving what you want by making the most out of what you have and taking new opportunities as they come! Enjoy the read. 

An introduction  

Hi, I’m Grace, a recent graduate from the Biomedical Science Master’s (MSci) programme at UWE. I’m writing this blog as I have taken an unconventional path into my career as an academic.  

During the 4-year programme, I adapted to university life by becoming involved with my subject, the tutors, the technicians and administration staff alike, and poured a lot of energy into it. I became a student representative, founder of an academic society, landed two Summer internships, and produced a series of magazines. Sounds like a lot, looking back on it I can only admit that I am an ambitious person. I like to be busy, and I’m curious, not a ‘whodunnit’, but a ‘what does this do, and what does that do’ kind of person. 

Photo by Ian Schneider from unsplash

The process 

I was fortunate to find a great supervisor in Professor John Hancock, who mentored me through my undergraduate projects and instinctively knew how to tap into my potential and reveal the budding scientist within me. The great working rapport led to my first publication in the journal ‘Reactive Oxygen Species’. To my surprise, we made the front cover! To put this into context, I didn’t just ‘off-the-cuff’ write an article. I was taught how.  

The first Summer internship programme I did involved an 8-week investigation into biologically-active turmeric metabolites. It truly was an insight into how research is applied to business and commerce that we see in everyday life (FYI – I was a second-year undergrad and I had no idea what a career in research could look like). But, possibly the more valuable lesson I learned was how to conduct a professional and systematic review. This skill directly led to my first publication, which coincidentally was achieved through my second internship, directly funded and supported by the university and its staff. 

As you can imagine, I was chuffed at having my article accepted for publication; I wanted the world to see it. I recalled a seminar by Dr. Emmanuel Adukwu in my first year, who described how important it was to promote yourself and your work when building your career. The platform that stuck in my mind and seemed perfect for this purpose was ResearchGate. And so, I uploaded my paper onto here. 

Photo by Markus Winkler from unsplash

Making the most of everything 

Time went on and I completed the laboratory projects required for my qualifications. Then COVID-19 struck. I was nearing the end of the MSci course and thankfully had uploaded the work that was needed to complete the degree. Nevertheless, it was still an unnerving time – with COVID, everything was delayed. It was during this unstable time, that Prof. Hancock asked whether I’d like to write a review focussed on the potential benefits of hydrogen therapy for people suffering with COVID-19 symptoms. It was an extension to the project work; it was timely and interesting – and I said yes.

After 8-weeks of intensive study, meticulous planning and wide-reaching collaboration between colleagues in Pakistan, the UK and the US, our review on the effects of molecular hydrogen and how it could be implemented as a treatment for COVID-19 was accepted for publication – note: use the folks you have at your disposal – they genuinely want to help. 

Photo by Angela Compagnone from unsplash

Moving forward 

The third paper is a bit of a blur to be honest. As I had been working on the effect of hydrogen on the activity dehydrogenase enzymes in nematodes, my supervisor asked if I would like to contribute to an article, he and a colleague were putting together for a journal called ‘Plants’. I had little to do at this point as we were all in lockdown, so I said yes. My supervisor (Professor Hancock) had the idea and the contacts in the realm of publishing, whilst I and the other authors all contributed to the writing and editing of the piece. I now have access to the editorial teams of two international journals and can confidently approach them, developing my professional network and building my profile as a respected academic in my chosen field of study. 

Once each article had been accepted for publication, I again uploaded them onto ResearchGate; this proved to be a great decision. Not only have thousands of people worldwide read our work, but it inspired a company director to contact me and ask whether I would be willing to work alongside their team with a view to carrying out the research they needed to validate their device as a medical product.  After a few online meetings, we agreed on a plan of action that included PhD funding. Letters of intent have been sent, and I’m working on extra funding applications. It’s a busy time. Throughout the current restrictions, I am keeping myself engaged with research by working evenings and weekends, and I now have two further papers in the final stages of editing. The next step is to submit the final manuscripts for peer-review.  

Photo by Susan Yin from unsplash

Onward and upward! 

It’s now a year since COVID-19 first hit the news. What a difficult time it has been for us all. Having secured a part-time position in retail before lockdown two, I have been able to continue my research whilst also maintaining a modicum of financial security through these testing times. By purposefully staying at home, I have had the opportunity to focus on academic study and the emerging role of molecular hydrogen in cellular systems. I have continued to liaise with a company who would like to sponsor further research in this area, and we are at the final editing stage of our first collaborative review (link below). This is really exciting as this field of research is in its infancy, with only a handful of researchers working on this subject globally, and thus our efforts are genuinely contributing to the advancement of medical science. 

I’ve also been accredited by the Molecular Hydrogen Institute as an advisor, and hope to complete the consultancy exam in the near future. And, as I’ve had an awful lot of time being at home, I have authored two more articles recently that are in the final stages of editing and due to be submitted this month. Whilst continued collaboration with both international and business colleagues has allowed me to co-author two more publications, I am currently undergoing the peer-review process.  

Finally, what does the future look like? Lambert Academic Publishing have offered to publish my first book, and I have been asked to present on stage at the Med-Tech International Conference in September. Here’s to better and brighter times ahead!

Photo by Damian Park Kim from unsplash

Final note 

The future is yours and you have the power to shape it.

For me, an important part of growing as an academic, a business woman and a scientist, is to find a subject that makes you ask questions. Connect with people who inspire you, ask them if they have the answers to your questions, be inquisitive, and be bold. In my experience, this opens doors.

Continue believing in your dreams and give them strength in a world that was built to challenge you.  

Thanks for reading.  

Please find the links to our journal articles below. 

First author:

Is glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase a central redox mediator? By Russell, Grace; Veal, David; Hancock, John T.

An overview of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) infection and the importance of molecular hydrogen as an adjunctive therapy By Russell, G., Rehman, M., LeBaron, T. W., Veal, D., Adukwu, E., & Hancock, J. (2020).

Hydrogenases and the Role of Molecular Hydrogen in Plants By Grace Russell, Faisal Zulfiqar and John T. Hancock.

Collaborative: 

Herbal Teas and their Health Benefits: A Scoping Review By Fatima S Poswal, Grace Russell, Marion Mackonochie, Euan MacLennan, Emmanuel C Adukwu, Vivien Rolfe.

You can keep up with my research or contact me on here

Written by Grace Russell 

Grace graduated from UWE in 2020 with distinction after studying Biomedical Science (Msci) for a total of four years. She lives and works in Somerset, UK, where she has set up her own company – Avalon Research Consultancy Ltd, providing editing, manuscript formatting and proofreading and publication services. 

Grace’s research interests include natural and sustainable healthcare products, including the new and emerging medical gases, molecular and oxy-hydrogen. Much of her academic focus has involved investigating the molecular mechanisms and downstream cellular effects associated both culinary herbs and the aforementioned gaseous compounds. 

Currently, like most people, Grace is waiting for the world to open up again, before she can fulfil her next goal, gaining a PhD. 

From the editors: Wow. What a great read! It is so inspiring and challenging (in a positive way, of course) to see someone doing so well, especially during such difficult times! It is a real testament to the fact that persistence and passion will take you a long way and it’s great to hear Grace’s journey since graduating from UWE. We hope you are also bursting to get your career rolling and your dreams fulfilled as the only one you need to get on board is yourself. 

We are eager to have more contributors so please do get in touch if you have an article you would like to release (like Grace has) or join our team of writers. Interested? Please get in touch via email – ScienceFutures@uwe.ac.uk. Also connect with us on LinkedIn and Twitter

Enjoy the new month of February!  

Until next time, keep well and stay safe. 

How to Grow During Difficult Circumstances part 2: Career Chasers

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Sophie Harris, one of our writers, wrote this article as a great reminder to realign ourselves with our desire to have a career we love by seeking continuous growth, even during difficult circumstances. We hope that as you read this article you begin to see that opportunities are still accessible to you, all you have to do is take the first step and be persistent and committed to your growth. By actively growing yourself in whatever field you desire to be in, you will surely achieve the career of your dreams.

Backdrop

There is no doubt that for the majority of people, 2020 was a tough year. For students, many have had their summer plans scuppered, placements cancelled, and have had to make tough decisions about whether to start or return to courses that are almost completely virtual or defer a year. However, through the doom and gloom, there is one way to keep yourselves progressing that has been made easier by the pandemic.

Photo by Jeremy Bishop from unsplah

A changing world?

Many organisations have switched to virtual events such as webinars, conferences, and courses. These courses tend to be free or subsidised and are broadcasting across the world. This global pandemic appears to have made science a lot more accessible to professionals and enthusiasts, no matter their location. This is being driven by a common understanding – money is tight right now and so, many of these events simply ask for a ‘pay what you can’ situation, which is perfect for students or those on a tight budget. Not only are people paying less (or nothing) to attend these events, but the other costs associated with them are eliminated as well. For example, you do not have to pay for transport, food, or accommodation, allowing you to save those precious pennies for when you can physically attend.

Another positive of having virtual events is that you aren’t limited by location; you can access talks from all over the world. For many people, especially students, travelling to events in your own country, let alone across the globe can prove to be a huge challenge with regards to time and money. Instead of having to take a day off work or miss something else important, virtual events allow you to access proceedings that you have always wanted to attend, from the comfort of your own home. Furthermore, most events are being recorded; this means you do not have to miss out on events that might otherwise clash with your schedule. This is especially useful when it comes to time zones, as you would not, for example, have to miss out on precious sleep to watch a talk in New Zealand! Instead, you can press play whenever it is convenient for you.

Photo by Jing Xi Lau from unsplash

Opportunities in a crisis

Although having virtual events will never feel the same as being there in person, it should not hinder your networking ability. There are often Q&As after sessions where you can ask your burning questions. Furthermore, you can always reach out to people of interest via emails or connect with them on social media platforms (Twitter and LinkedIn to name a few). This could actually expand your network as it is easy to connect with experts from around the globe. There is no pressure to get a word in edgeways at a conference when everyone is swarming guest speakers with questions – asking for advice, or explaining their work to them. Instead, you have time to think about what you are going to say and construct it carefully, making sure you can get your point across in a professional way.

Photo by Pope Moysuh from unsplash

Final thoughts

So, while the pandemic has brought a lot of isolation and misery, especially during winter, there is still hope for your professional growth. Don’t forget there are still opportunities to get extra qualifications/ certificates on your CV, meet new people, and quench your thirst for knowledge. If you need motivation, attending virtual events may be the perfect place to reinvigorate yourself on a cold January evening. Use these events to progress your CV and yourself, grow your network and your knowledge, and when the world returns back to its busy state, you can look back and know that you used your time to the best of your ability, and took advantage of the nuggets of opportunity the pandemic had to offer.

Photo by Nanxi wei from unsplash

Thank you for reading!

Written by Sophie Harris

Sophie is in her third and final year at the University of the West of England studying Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Science. She is the creator of Peculiar Pangolins, a blog dedicated to all things pangolins related and has been invited to Uganda to see Chester Zoo’s Giant Ground Pangolin project.

Whilst on a six-month internship monitoring wildlife on a game reserve in South Africa, she fell in love with the world’s most trafficked mammal, the pangolin. After being fortunate enough to see one in the wild, she decided to apply to university, to help these illusive creatures. She was also the creator and President of the Wildlife & Environment Society in my first and second years.

In Sophie’s spare time she can be found in nature reserves, mostly looking for birds to add to her list, or climbing, either indoors or out, depending on the weather.

From the editors: It’s a new year and one of the perfect times to realign yourself, get yourself and your career stirred up again and this blog article is a great reminder of that. We hope you enjoyed the read as much as we did!

We are keen to have more contributions to the blog about careers in the Sciences and STEM. If you are interested, please do get in touch via email – ScienceFutures@uwe.ac.uk. Also connect with us on LinkedIn and Twitter!

Take care and stay safe.

How to Grow During Difficult Circumstances part 1: Health and Wellbeing

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This blog article has been written by Jessica Griffith, encouraging us to seek continuous growth, even during difficult circumstances. 2020 definitely threw a number of curveballs at us and we did well to make it through! However, if we are to keep pressing forward in this new year, we need to make sure we are growing in all aspects of our lives, health and wellbeing in particular. The first part of this article therefore will explore your health and wellbeing, focusing on good physical and mental health practices. Enjoy and put the following tips into practice so that you can enjoy this year to the fullest.

‘Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.’

World Health Organization

Physical health

Staying healthy is a good thing, it helps us to be our best, most productive selves and is something we can all strive towards and achieve.

Image rom Healthy Mind In A Healthy Body by Maria Urban

1) Eat right

We all know that we should eat right (and exercise) but sometimes we don’t for various reasons; whether we don’t feel like it, regard it as being important or believe that it actually helps us.

But, here are some things you should consider:

  • Remember why. Healthy eating is an important aspect of taking care of yourself and can help you feel happier and have a clearer mind
  • Now is a good time to start. With the extra time you have found you can explore the internet for advice on how to obtain a healthy, delicious balanced diet
  • It’s achievable. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be stressful. Simple start by getting some advice (especially from people and free online resources) that can guide you through this process so you can start to start and maintain healthy eating

Finally, don’t forget to drink water AND other healthy drinks for hydration in all seasons 😉

2) Stay fit!

Just as important as healthy eating is exercise! This will help you keep fit, feeling good and it is a great way to be productive.

The benefits of staying fit:

  • It can be fun! Be creative in the exercise you do, making sure to do the ones you enjoy the most and make your body feel its best so you are more likely to stick to it
  • It’s flexible. Exercise comes in all forms, shapes and sizes – from indoor workouts in your living room to going for a run or walk in nature. Going outdoors is a great one as we all need fresh air regularly (social distancing of course!)
  • Every little helps. Busy or not, doing just some exercise regularly will help you feel better. If you haven’t worked out for a long time, it is recommended that you start at beginner level and then gradually increase the intensity and frequency of your workouts over time.

By starting with what works for you, over-time you will see yourself improve. As you stay fit (and fresh from having good hygiene practices) it will help keep your spirits up during this time.

Mental health

This by far is one of the most important parts of having good health and wellbeing, and I’m sure you can agree on this based on what you may have seen or experienced during this lockdown. Taking care of your mind will help you to have better days and enjoy life even times get tough.

Image from AI’s Potential to Diagnose and Treat Mental Illness by Parie Garg and Sam Glick

1) Stay connected

Many companies have been advertising and posting on social media about ‘staying connected’ to help you stay mentally healthy. We all need each other and so let’s all make an effort by reaching out, being there for people (friends, family, colleagues) through messages, phone and video calls. Even though we are emerging from lockdown, is can still be useful to stay in constant communication, especially with those that are further away from us. In doing so, we are building and strengthening our support networks and improving our own mental health in the process; it’s a win-win situation!

2) Take out time for your self

In all that you are currently and planning to do, make sure you carve out some time for yourself. Some of us have been, doing university work, starting online courses, working on projects and other things that have been keeping us productive during this time. But, alongside all of this, I encourage you to give yourself some ‘me time’. Loving yourself in this way will help you to keep helping others; afterall, you can only take care of others as well as you take care of yourself.

“Loving yourself isn’t vanity. It’s sanity.”

Katrina Mayer

The importance of ‘Me-time’:

  • It’s unique to you. Your ‘me time’ will look different to that of others, but the key is to do something for yourself during the week. This time could be enjoying a movie, tv series, book, or sitting in the garden – just something (or a combination of things) that helps you to relax
  • It gives you time to recharge. This self-treatment should be done regularly – the best practice is every evening and weekly as a day-off

It is also important to highlight that whilst you need to stay up to date with the news on the pandemic and justice movements happening, don’t overwhelm yourself. Always balance your day with positive and negative content that is relevant to you.

The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word “crisis”. One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger – but recognize the opportunity.

John F. Kennedy

Final thoughts

For many, these things will be like having a fresh start. Whilst the storms of the world continue whirling all around us, it is important to keep yourself grounded so you don’t get lost in everything that’s happening. Making time to break from old bad habits by making new ones can help you to keep striving forward to a better future that we all look towards. We believe that as you take the time to make these changes, you will cultivate a better, more balanced life.

Always take care of yourself and stay connected; this is not just for lockdown (or whatever restrictions we are currently facing) but for you to keep doing throughout your lifetime. Choose to see the good in all circumstances. Doing these things will help you to endure life’s tough storms, especially these current ones. Let’s all strive to feel and be better!

Image from 5 Ways to Wellbeing MK by Milton Keynes Council

Thank you for reading! If you have any tips on how you have been trying to stay well during quarantine, please share them in the comments below so we can all benefit. Also, stay tuned for pt. 2 as we explore the topic of self-development and career goals – let’s be ready for it.

Written by Jessica Griffith

Jessica is a recent master’s graduate of MSc Public Health and works as a Health Protection Practitioner for Public Health England and as an Associate Editor for the DAS Employability Blog. She has been involved in many extra-curricular activities during her years at university including Africa Week, Fashion and Health Conference, radio guest appearances and her very own event which she co-organized and co-hosted: ‘My Fro and Me’, a Black History Month Event with the Student’s Union at UWE. Over the years she has developed various skills from having undertaken leadership (co-organizer, panel chair and PAL leader) and voluntary (student ambassador, panellist, mentorship) roles. Her interests are in health improvement and beauty.

Edited by Emmanuel Adukwu and Jessica Griffith

From the editors: Growth will help us achieve our goals and taking care of our health and wellbeing is a key part of it. These aren’t just 2021 goals; they’re lifestyle goals. We hope this article reminds you of the importance of taking care of yourself, especially during such challenging times, and nudges you into action as you begin to cultivate a balanced life that you enjoy. Remember: “Loving yourself isn’t vanity. It’s sanity.” – Katrina Mayer

We welcome contributions from staff, students and anyone who would like to contribute to our content about careers in the Sciences and STEM. If you are interested, get in touch via email – ScienceFutures@uwe.ac.uk. Do also connect with us on LinkedIn and Twitter! We hope you enjoyed this read and look forward to seeing you in the New Year.

Rest, Reflect and Grow

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As the Christmas season is upon us, Jessica Griffith wrote this article to encourage and inspire you to not only enjoy this season but to reflect, grow and prepare for the next as we enter the New Year, 2021. This year has been a rollercoaster (with many unexpected dips) but nonetheless, the decision to make the most out of everything we have and achieve our dreams is always down to us. I hope you pick up some pointers that will not only help you during this season but also help carry you through this upcoming year.

Rest

“A car cannot last without fuel. Neither can we without rest.”

Jessica Griffith

Christmas is the time of year where everything in our lives can get quiet. With this, it brings the opportunity to sing about the things that matter the most to us at the top of our lungs as doors are closed, work pauses and we can enjoy some peace and quiet (for the most part). It is a time where, when done intentionally and properly, we can rest and enjoy the fruits of our labour. Considering the year we have just had, this is especially appropriate. I don’t know about you but I could definitely do with some down time!

Rest is something we don’t often get enough of – usually because we don’t think we need it or don’t value its importance. But I’m here to gently nugde you in the direction of slowing everything down, to sit back and relax. Whatever this looks like for you – sleeping, catching up with loved ones, going for a long walk round the block to see Christmas lights, watching your favourite Christmas movies or reading a classic (non work related) book – or a combination of these things – make sure you do it! Let (or make) everything quieten down so you can truly enjoy a time of rest – whatever you have done this year – you deserve it and need it.

Photo by Sincerely Media from unsplash.

Reflect

“The more reflective you are, the more effective you are.”

Pete Hall & Alisa Simoral

Where are you now?

2020 has been full of (often unwelcomed) surprises. But, instead of ignoring this or trying to forget some of the hardships that came with it, I encourage all of us to reflect upon all that has happened and what this means for our lives. We can argue that many things are out of our control and this often leaves us feeling overwhelmed and discouraged to do anything at all. Rather than leaving these emotions in the background of our minds/ lives and running with them into 2021, let’s endeavour to look reflect. It is through this process that we can get a good look at all of it, identify what has and hasn’t gone well, what we can and can’t control and thus what we can do to look forward to a brighter 2021 for our own lives and those around us.

Where do you want to be?

Many of us know about GOAL setting and if you haven’t already, now is a good time to start doing that! Whether you need a word document, vision board or accountability partner, do all you can to make sure that you plan what you want your 2021 year to look like and start putting that plan into action now.

As we know, it is those who plan and act who succeed. Now, this doesn’t mean there won’t be some bumps in the road (we are still in a pandemic afterall) and some things are out of or control, but trying is always better than nothing at all (nothing = nothing as we know!). Plan, take action, reflect continously, adjust and you will find yourself stepping closer and closer to achieving your goals.

Photo by Marc-Olivier Jodoin from unsplash.

Grow

“Flowers grow out of dark moments.”

Corita Kent

A key part of growth is reflection. Once you have done this, you have now given yourself the opportunity to improve your life (and others) by taking action on the lessons you have learnt. As I mentioned, there are many things we cannot control (especially in a pandemic) but let us not forget or undermine the things we can change.

Many of us have maybe given up on GOALs or are waiting until certain things happen to enjoy our lives (such as COVD-19 and every strain it brings disappearing off the face of the earth – we can all agree this would be a great start!). But, I encourage you to take up your pens, open up your laptops and try again. Why? Because we never get the time back that we have now. When time goes, its gone, and we are painfully reminded of this every year when we reflect on what we did or did not accomplish that year. Some things didn’t happen this year that you couldn’t help and that’s okay. What isn’t okay (in terms of moving forward in your life), is stopping there, not doing anything to try and make the most of our lives whilst we still have it. Am I happy with my life right now? How can I enjoy the rest of the year? What can I do now to prepare for 2021? These are some key questions to get you onto and continuing down the road to achieving your dreams, whatever they are for you.

Photo by Andrew Seaman from unsplash.

Final thoughts

“You never fail until you give up.”

Jackie Law

As this year comes to a close, I don’t want to remain the level I am at and I’m sure you don’t either. I hope this article has encouraged you to move forward as best as you can, to take each challenge as it comes and keep pressing forward. I believe this is how we will truly enjoy our lives, no matter what the circumstances and season we are in. So go on, rest, reflect and grow. When you look back at the end of 2021, you will be happy that you kept on going and what you accomplished because of it.

Photo by Mohamed Nohassi from unsplah.

Written by Jessica Griffith

Jessica is a recent master’s graduate of MSc Public Health and works as a Health Protection Practitioner for Public Health England and as an Associate Editor for the DAS Employability Blog. She has been involved in many extra-curricular activities during her years at university including Africa Week, Fashion and Health Conference, radio guest appearances and her very own event which she co-organized and co-hosted: ‘My Fro and Me’, a Black History Month Event with the Student’s Union at UWE. Over the years she has developed various skills from having undertaken leadership (co-organizer, panel chair and PAL leader) and voluntary (student ambassador, panellist, mentorship) roles. Her interests are in health improvement and beauty.

Thank you for reading!

From the editors: Now is the perfect time for a restart and this blog article is a great reminder or that. No matter how you feel about 2020 or how you are thinking towards 2021, don’t forget that there are many decisions you can make and going after your dreams and not giving up should be the ones you should be making. Stir up your resolve and start again! As always, we welcome contributions from staff, students and anyone who would like to contribute to our content about careers in the Sciences and STEM. If you are interested, get in touch via email – ScienceFutures@uwe.ac.uk. Do also connect with us on LinkedIn and Twitter! We hope you enjoyed this read and look forward to seeing you in the New Year.

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! 2021 is just up ahead 😀

Be a Leader in Your Own Life

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Piotr Sordyl has written an excellent summary of the Equity programme launch event. Beyond being a great summary, Piotr has highlighted the key things that we all need to know to thrive as a leader, be it personal or business. We hope you enjoy this read and are inspired by the excellent, diverse role models in our community. From this thought-provoking article, we encourage you to aspire to make your own difference in your own community and field of choice.

The Launch

I spent my Thursday evening (22.10.20) attending an Equity Programme 2020 launch event ‘Owning Your Leadership Journey’. I was led by curiosity, wanting to discover what it was about, and little did I know I would become so inspired to write the blog entry you are reading now.

Equity is a positive action programme run at University of the West of England (UWE) and it provides support to assist in facing and overcoming challenges stemming from disadvantages and obstacles, providing both personal and professional development opportunities for Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) students.

Dr Joanna Abeyie MBE,Founder of Blue Moon consultancy, opened the event by sharing reflections on her personal journey so far. She emphasized the importance of being proactive and how sizing the initiative enabled her to overcome challenges related to family difficulties, socio-economic background and gaining work experience. In effect, she created many initiatives, such as a mentoring programme ‘Magnet,’ ‘Hyden’ brand, and finally, her current consultancy ‘Blue Moon,’ which overall have helped over 3,000 to find employment.

Photo by Tobias Tullius from unsplash

The Panel

Soon after, Professor Paul Olomolaiye invited the panel of four speakers to the conversation by echoing quintessence of Joanna’s words, which could be considered fundamental qualities of sound leadership: trust yourself, create your own opportunities, acknowledge that you are not meant to be perfect, and, most of all, be kind.

Another speaker, Cllr Asher Craig, Deputy Mayor at Bristol City Council, began the story of her journey reflecting on the necessity to step up to help at home after her mother had died during her childhood. She engaged in community activism early on, and before she became an ‘accidental politician’—as Cllr Asher herself referred to — she partook and gave birth to many projects, a number of which developed into organizations, such as Bristol Black Careers, and was the Head of Black Development Agency for 11 years.

Also present on the panel were Roger Griffith MBE, UWE Associate Lecturer and Diversity & Community Projects, and Xavier Baker, Assistant Support Lecturer at UWE Bristol. The rest of the night was hosted by Precious Onyenekwu Tatah, Former and First Black President at UWE and Former UWE Equity Project Coordinator.

Photo by Product School from unsplash

Leadership

When we think about ‘leadership’, our thoughts stray towards leaders in politics, corporations, religious congregations, or communities; we tend to associate it with status, power, and wealth. However, leadership can be also perceived as being proactive in our own life, taking initiative to innovate and implement change to advance our goals and plans and to lead others towards fulfilling their dreams. Therefore, we can be leaders in our families, friendships, or in enterprises and initiatives we create ourselves.

The conversation touched upon what characteristics are important to be a leader and, given a thought, how one could produce a plethora of such, as it seems that there is never a shortage of qualities that a person in a leadership position, whether in a business or personal setting, can benefit from and should strive towards. Authenticity, honesty, confidence, and dedication to a given cause, are a few to name.

To paraphrase the words spoken by Xavier, we are unable to do all nor know it all, just as we are unable to become an expert in everything; however, not all hope is lost. There are specialists and experienced people who we can ask for help. Taking that thought further, we too can offer guidance to others within our own fields of expertise. This is an important observation, something that is easily forgotten when we speak about or think of leaders – again, they are neither omnipresent nor omnipotent, and neither are we on our leadership journey through life. Being a leader does not mean you cannot nor that you should not listen to and learn from others. Acknowledge when you are wrong and remember that we learn throughout our whole life, especially from our mistakes and failures.

Photo by Clark Tibbs from unsplash

Roundup

Near the end of the event, the panellists were asked to share their reflections regarding setbacks they experienced and how they overcame them. Roger spoke of stubbornness in face of challenges, stressing that resilience and perseverance are crucial to progressing and achieving one’s goals. Asher emphasised that one cannot allow failures to hinder one’s undertakings and that everyone’s voice deserves to be heard. Joanna pointed out that many people forget that success is not a straight line.

Indeed, success is quite like the ability to play an instrument, speak another language, paint, or write. It is similar to the process of gaining knowledge or sculpting one’s body. All of those require work and effort, are filled with hardships, elicit elation upon mastering yet another fraction of it, or dispiritedness while facing lack of progress. The path to fulfilling one’s dreams is not always covered with rose petals, but rather than dread the obstacles, try searching for inspirations and focus on solutions.

Being the best leader on your own journey, wherever it may be taking you, becomes easier to achieve through communication, empathy and remembering about the human factor in everything. By realizing that behind every job role and title there is yet another individual, someone just like us, who has his own history and experience, equally valuable to ours, should help us remember to respect and appreciate each other more, especially when we are still strangers only beginning to get to know about one another.

Photo by mauro mora from unsplash

Final Thoughts

To summarise the inspiring essence of the event: in your leadership journey, never take no for an answer, be purposeful and ask questions of people – including those running institutions. Visualize where you are, where you came from, where you are heading to, how to get there and what prevents you from achieving it. Do not hinder your efforts by disqualifying yourself from undertakings and positions, based on the inability to see yourself in such context. Instead of closing doors towards the path that could lead you to becoming fulfilled, remain confident and trust your own worth. When you struggle, remember to talk to other people. You are not alone in what you feel and experience; reach out for support when you need it, offer it whenever you can.

The event has been recorded and is shared through Equity channels. To find out more about Equity, visit their website or twitter. Also connect with the panel members on twitter: Joanna Abeyie, Cllr Asher Craig, Roger Griffith and Xavier Baker.

Written by Piotr Sordyl

Thank you for reading!

Piotr Sordyl is a mature, international student on Foundation Year Biological Sciences course at UWE. Originally from Poland, but Bristol has been his home for over 7 years now. He is interested in neuroscience, zoology, astrobiology, planetary science, (to name a few) and aspires to write books collating all the knowledge he has gained to a wider audience.

Article edited by Jessica Griffith

From the editors: Thank you very much for taking the time to read an article that has been a great inspiration and encouragement to myself. I hope it not only challenges but also pushes you into action as you endeavour to make your own impact as a leader wherever you are.

We welcome contributions from staff, students and anyone who would like to contribute to our content about careers in the Sciences and STEM. If you are interested, get in touch via email – ScienceFutures@uwe.ac.uk. Do also connect with us on LinkedIn and Twitter!

Keep well and enjoy this festive season.

Finding Opportunities in Times of Crisis

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Sophie Harris, a final year Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Student in the Department of Applied Sciences at UWE Bristol attended the British Ecological Society (BES) Undergraduate Summer School this year. Summer school during an ongoing pandemic? Yes! Sophie shares her experience in this article and we hope you are not only inspired but motivated to take similar opportunities when they arise. This is a perfect example of how to make the most of what you have, when you have it and while it’s still in your reach.

Change of tactics

Each year, the BES hosts a summer school course for first and second year students studying an Ecology (or another relevant) degree. After hearing tales about the course from a course mate last year, I decided to apply for 2020.

Now, as if it hadn’t really been spoken about already, just in case you hadn’t heard, unfortunately – there’s a pandemic at the moment. Something about a bat in China. This meant that my trip to the Yorkshire Dales with BES was a little bit different to what I had imagined. I had envisioned being cold and wet and having a fantastic time up North. However, I was still able to gain valuable skills and experiences from the comfort of my very own home.

A wooden bench sitting in the middle of a park

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Photo by Will Paterson from Unsplash

The journey

The school consisted of 4 days over a 5 day period learning about mycology, ornithology, entomology (the ologies go on), as well lectures on various career paths and general networking. We were also tasked with creating a portfolio of our work outside of the lessons. This portfolio included our CV, a blog post, a plant drawing, and anything else extra we wanted to do for the summer school. Why would you do extra work during the summer holidays, you may ask? For the respect? To impress? To get more involved? Of course… But if that doesn’t get you pumped to write an internship application, maybe the insane prizes, such as a bat detector will!

As well as the activities conducted in our own time, we also had active and engaging sessions to look forward to. On the first day we had to go into the real world (scary, I know) and find fungi. Once found we then had to try and identify the species, before creating a powerpoint presentation with our mentor group and presenting to the rest of the school on the Thursday. This may seem daunting, however presentation skills are key for almost any job, so even if you have no clue what you’re on about, act like you do! It might just win you a swanky mycology poster (Insert smug emoji).

Photo by Teemu Paananen from Unsplash

Gains

Although I wasn’t able to attend the summer school physically, the fact that BES still created such a fantastic online version meant so much to me. It came just at the time where I needed a routine and a platform to engage with people who have similar interests and passions (motivating). The staff were just fantastic. They were, and are still so supportive, encouraging students to contact them any time in the future with regards to anything related to their career path or just for general advice; those are contacts that aren’t easy to come across. I would really encourage anyone thinking about a career in ecology, or even any environmental career, to go for the opportunity and apply for next year’s run. It’s invaluable, enjoyable and free! What more could you want!?

Reflection

My final piece of advice once you have applied (and I know you will because my science communication skills are amazing after the summer school!) make sure you fully throw yourself into the programme. You’ll get out what you put in. If you engage, put yourself out of your comfort zone and just absorb everything, even if you don’t think you’re interested, you’ll get so much out of it. There aren’t many opportunities like this out there for undergrads so don’t pass it up.

Finally, make sure you check for application deadlines quite early on in the year and seize the chance while you still have it.

A person taking a selfie in a forest

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Sophie Harris in action

If you have any questions, feel free to drop me a message.

Written by Sophie Harris

Thank you for reading!

Article edited by Jessica Griffith and Dr Emmanuel Adukwu

From the editors: We hope you enjoyed the read as much as we did and have been left feeling motivated and ready to grab opportunities around you. This article is another wonderful reminder to keep pursuing and growing in every season of our lives, even the most difficult ones.

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