Scientists should think like designers – Design thinking and the sciences

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Joseph, one of our team writers, has delivered yet another thought-provoking, inspiring article to help scientists elevate their thinking by thinking like designers. We hope you enjoy the read and challenge your thinking because of it!

Design thinking

I see design all around us, whether it be intentional or accidental, natural or human-made. Design is not limited to gizmos and gadgets, but also systems of organisation and interactions between them, the power structure when you envisage a countries parliament or a CEOs boardroom. None of these are free from the influence of design and this is shown in the Westminster system – a widely exported version of the UKs Parliament and is essentially a process for managing democracy.  

Communication unconsciously utilises design: we highly regard individuals who have the ability to create patterns of language which communicates technical, emotional and spatial information. The formation, structure and material content of communication and also its quality is subject to the influence of design; therefore, in our own way, we have a major influence over the language we create. This is because everything from your laptop screen (or any other device you are reading this on), to the experiments conducted in the worlds research institutions, and the words typed on this page is the subject of, at one point or another, a design methodology.

Photo by Leon from unsplash.

Personal

Focusing in on academia, the processes of curiosity demand the highest quality of design as it is essential in order to create data outcomes which can withstand criticism. Therefore, the ways we create experiments, communicate visions and translate data into the real world is influenced by the ability for academics to use good design techniques at every point in the process.

As a second-year biomedical science student, I have learnt to criticise papers that haven’t been kind to the readers or left room for doubt. For me this raised the question: where does poor experimental/ paper design end and bad science begin? Was it the language, experiment, graphical abstract, spelling, use of overly technical language? – these are all things we pick out of each other’s work and rightly so – but could the creators of the science improve their work by employing a form of design methodology? I think they probably could!

Photo by Christa Dodoo from unsplash.

Definitions and uses

I recently discovered the term design thinking. This is the process by which problems are solved by prioritizing the users of the systems needs above all else. It relies on observing, with empathy, how people interact with their environments, and employs an iterative, hands-on approach to creating innovative solutions (Graham Tuttle, 2021). As you can see, from the reference, I borrowed this definition from the WeWork website and modified it to give a more universal definition.

Now design thinking is cool because not only is it applicable to designing products, but also systems of government and everything in between. Therefore, it could, in theory, also be used to design good science and inform good practices within academic communities.

Fundamentally, design thinking is a way of designing around the human experience. There are some great books out there such as Tim Browns ‘Change By Design’ which I highly recommend keeping on hand for reference. This methodology is applicable to academics because it sets out a creative framework with certain guidelines to assure quality communication and quality development, which gives room for experimenting with ideas – all contributing to a quality end product. The obvious application of this in the sciences is in an idea that results in a human interacting product or service. More interestingly, design thinking can be applied within institutions and between scientific peers. This is because it promotes the use of prototypes, rough drawings, mimes and roleplay with a specific focus on quality communication and quality of understanding within the team – and this is a critical precursor to spectacular innovation.

Photo by Daniele Franchi from unsplash.

A new way to think

Thinking like a designer encourages a process called ‘Blue sky thinking’ – where members of the group innovate without the limitations of existing technology or the stiflings of ones own thoughts. This enables free reign when tackling novel problems. Design thinking is powerful because in the ideation stages, before the processes of creation has begun, we are provided with a framework that increases the potency of a group of scientists and their highly reactive mixture of energetic ideas.

Final thoughts

I believe a take-home message of how to apply what is such a broad methodology into each of our behaviours starts with the two following questions:

  • Have I thought about the users and those who will interact with the idea, with regards to what I have planned or will create?
  • Have I collaborated, communicated, innovated and iterated to the best of my ability and used as many mediums as possible to communicate and plan?

Try to think about how colleagues and peers would engage with your ideas – are they accessible? Do they promote innovation and creativity? By asking yourself these two questions throughout the lifetime of a project, I hope you will reap some of the benefits of thinking like a designer.

Please comment some of your thoughts below – do you already employ these ideas? Let us know in the box or by sending us an email.

Thank you for reading.

By Joseph Myatt

Edited by Jessica Griffith

Joseph Myatt

Joseph Myatt, one of our writers, is a 2nd year Biomedical Sciences student at UWE, Founder and entrepreneur at WRENt.

His main field of interest/ research through university and into masters/ PhD is in relation to torpor and improving our understanding of inducing, maintaining and managing torpor and its applications within space flight and medicinal benefits.

From the editor: We love articles that challenge us, especially how we think and Joes article has done just that. Thank you for taking the time to read this and we hope you find ways to employ the nuggets you have just been given to elevate your own scientific practice (this is for students and professionals!).

We always welcome new articles and so hope you will also consider either joining our team or writing an article for us to be featured on our blog. If so and/ or you have any other queries, please get in touch via and also be sure to follow us on social media!

Enjoy the lovely summer weather (for the most part) and see you next time!

References

Featured image: Photo by Daria Nepriakhina from unsplash.

DAS Monthly Employability Seminar: Finding Funding in STEM

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Following the March Department of Applied Sciences Monthly Employability seminar, Sophie, one of our writers, has excellently summarised and captured the essence of the talk delivered. If you are in search for or are suspecting you may need funding in the future, this article is definitely for you. Enjoy and be enriched as you read.

An essential part

Funding. The dreaded F word in the world of science and the topic of the March Monthly Employability Seminar. This talk was hosted by Dr David Fernandez – a primatologist and conservation biologist, and Dr Alex Greenhough – a cancer biologist and principal investigator on projects funded by a number of institutions, as well as being a frequent grant reviewer himself. Both lecturers were well versed in what it takes to be awarded funding, having both received grants from a vast number of various sources.

Places to start

Dr Fernandez started off the talk by explaining the different types of funding available from charities, government bodies and international organisations having various money pots. He then listed the steps for a successful proposal, which, as someone who loves writing lists, is very useful for, and of which I will keep for, any future applications (so that I can satisfyingly tick each section off one-by-one).

Writing a funding bid is all about selling your story. You are probably, and hopefully, extremely passionate about your research proposal and this is more than likely the biggest setback you are facing in launching your project. Use your passion to convince the organisation that this project is exciting, innovative and needed.

Photo by Shane from unsplash.

Things you need

You must have a clearly defined goal that is achievable so funders can easily understand what you intend for this project to accomplish. In addition to this, there needs to be a consistent message throughout; keep your idea simple and strong – don’t let them forget what the project is about.

You also need to demonstrate your ability to prove you can actually conduct the work. Do you have experience on this topic or will you be bringing in collaborators who do? Having experts involved reassures funders that you will be able to achieve what you set out to do. Therefore, if you are just starting out in the research world, using someone who already has a name for themselves will most likely provide you with an advantage. Your budget also needs to be feasible and realistic; make sure to check what can and can’t be covered by the funding and that you can justify every expense you deem as being necessary (you may want to get some insight on this from those who have had experience with funding before).

The final few stages bring the whole bid together by making sure your writing is clear, can be understood by non-experts of this topic, and ensure that you have adhered to the grant application guidelines. This applies even to things that may seem trivial, such as using a specific font size, layout etc. Funding is almost always highly competitive and if you can’t follow instructions, you probably won’t get the funding (first impressions of your application really do matter!). Finally, linking back to the first point, be convincing. You understand why your project is one of the most incredible things in the world, but they don’t, so tell them.

Photo by Clay Banks from unsplash.

A smart approach

Both Dr Fernandez and Dr Greenhough expressed other important factors that are required for a successful funding campaign. One examples of this is finding the right funding body. This may seem obvious, but often projects do not meet all of the funding requirements and so this will waste yours, and the reviewer’s time.

The second top tip was about writing the proposal. These things, like everything in science, take a lot of time. Everything mentioned in your bid has to have a purpose and be completely accurate. There are questions you need to ask yourself: have you met their criteria? Are there any spelling or grammatical errors? Is your proposal reasonable, realistic, and correct? Dr Greenhough reiterated all of these points in his top tips for getting funding and provided us with an insight into how the grants are assessed and why they fail. These were simple, yet crucial, things such as checking if the project has already been done or assessing whether it is unrealistic – such as when someone asked for too little money for their project!

As an undergraduate looking for a Master’s degree, information like this is invaluable. Unfortunately, from personal experience I have found it to be near impossible to obtain funding for a Master’s project. Despite this, I know there will be many times in my life where I will have to spend my evenings calculating costs and filling out forms, trying to persuade people that my project is a worthy investment.

Photo by Andrew Neel from unsplash.

Final thoughts

Finding funding is a long, tedious and potentially frustrating experience. Dr Greenhough touched on the fact that you will get rejections, everyone does, but with everything in life, you have to keep persevering. This is the most important lesson I took away from the talk. Having the structure to write a funding bid is extremely important, but being prepared for reality and rejection is not only necessary, but reassuring to know it’s just an extra hurdle you have to face.

Finally, thank you to David and Alex for taking the time to share their insider knowledge, and to the Department of Applied Sciences for organising such a useful talk.

Thank you for reading.

Written by Sophie Harris

Edited by Jessica Griffith

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.

Note from the editor: Thank you for taking the time to read this article. We hope you feel more informed and assured that whilst the journey to obtaining funding in launch of your project can often take some time, with perseverance, you can successfully secure funding and lift your project off the ground.

As always, we welcome new contributions to our blog, whether it’s by sending us an article or joining our team of writers. If you are interested, please do get in touch with us by emailing ScienceFutures@uwe.ac.uk. You can also connect with us on LinkedIn and Twitter

Until next time, take care and enjoy your summer!

Breaking the Stereotype of an Entrepreneur

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If you’ve ever been curious about entrepreneurship or even wondered how to get started, this is the article for you! Izzy Rodriguez, one of our writers, has written an excellent summary of the key ingredients she needed and the steps she took to running her own business as an entrepreneur. We hope you enjoy the read!

Introduction

To me, a year ago, becoming an entrepreneur sounded like something you would do later in life, with considerable investments and a lot of knowledge on how to run a business. Little did I know that, one year later, I would be running my own business during university – “winging it” and learning as I go. Despite the stereotypes, business, for example, does not require middle-aged men in suits with a company car to be working ‘9-5’ in an office, but creating a profit from a single ‘side hustle’ – that’s it.

Drive and passion

Drive and passion are the two ingredients, in my opinion, required to ensure a business is successful. In my case, I wanted to educate people, young women in particular, on good nutrition and how to lose body fat sustainably.

With the rise of social media, misinformation spreads like wildfire. This happens especially in diet culture, alongside trends recommending new supplements, “detoxes”, and fitness regimes almost every second. Having become a victim of such trends throughout my teens, I felt resentment towards diet culture, which heavily impacts people’s lives and health who don’t possess the knowledge to know what is true and what is not. I decided I wanted to make a positive change and start producing educational content to try and curb the hidden epidemic of eating disorders.

Knowledge

Firstly, I needed a credible qualification and to be educated on evidence-based nutrition. Fortunately, I still had a job during lockdown and was able to save up enough money to pay for an online course.

With the extra time that resulted from the pandemic, I completed an accredited level 4 diploma in nutrition and weight-loss management and became an online nutrition coach. Whilst completing this course, I built up a social media following by posting nutrition facts, recipes and workouts on Instagram. This is where I learnt how powerful social media really was – with its algorithms favouring misinformation and diet trends, gaining followers was a slow, but steady process. 

Learning and adapting

Understanding what does and doesn’t work and why is crucial for any business. In my case, I had to learn how people liked information to be presented, what content was popular and what was not. Followers tended to love my recipes but not my workouts, so I stopped posting workouts. Controversial nutrition videos tended to be more popular than food pictures, so I stopped posting food pictures. The cycle is a never-ending process and the ability to adapt, accept failures and create solutions is not easy, but incredibly important for progress.

Asking favours 

During this process, the biggest thing I’ve learned is not being afraid of asking for help or favours when you need it. Having contacts skilled in areas you are not will help you in building a business.

I was lucky enough to have a friend who designed my logo for free – so I gave him some nutrition advice and recipes in return. I also had a friend whose parents own a gym; I asked them if I could set up an online nutrition course for beginners in cooperation with them. They warmly welcomed the idea (still being developed) and also gave me some valuable business advice. If you ask nicely, most people are willing to help!

Profit


The great thing about this kind of online business is that the costs are low. I also learnt that I didn’t need hundreds of thousands of followers to monetize my business, but just a few who trusted me. Afterall, I can only balance university with a maximum of four clients at a time; no number of followers would change this.

I started to think about how I could make my knowledge and services accessible to more people without giving up more of my time and decided to set up an engaging online course where multiple people could learn about nutrition and ask questions simultaneously. By doing this, I could still dedicate the same number of hours a month, but reach more people and subsequently yield a larger profit. ‘Work smarter, not harder’. 

Time

The phrase “little and often” resonates with me. It’s very easy to dedicate a lot of time to your business in a rush of excitement, but to then burn out a few weeks later.

Try assigning yourself short but regular slots a week to focus on your business idea. With time, it will build up into something far more robust than you could have imagined originally. Additionally, remember you can work when it suits you best. If you work better in the evening, then do it as you no longer need to conform to the regular 9-5 system, allowing it to coincide with university or your other commitments.

Final thoughts

If you have an idea that you’re passionate about and can dedicate some time towards it, this is your sign to do it. Being an entrepreneur doesn’t have to be about making millions, but just generating an income from doing something you love. It might not be easy, but if it has the potential to improve people’s quality of life – including yours, then, in my opinion, it’s worth it.

Thank you for reading.

Written by Izzy Rodriguez

Edited by Jessica Griffith

Izzy Rodriguez

Isabela (Izzy) Rodriguez is currently in her 3rd year at UWE Bristol studying Biomedical Science. She intends to study post-graduate medicine after her degree to eventually become a doctor.

Last year, she set up an online nutrition coaching business which has become very rewarding; she also loves the perks of being self-employed as it fits around university life very easily. Izzy hopes her story of setting up a business during the pandemic will inspire others to do so aswell as a result. She is a big believer in being ambitious and that you can do anything you put your mind to.

In her free time, she enjoys triathlon training and is part of the UWE athletics and cross-country club, and the cycling club which she finds to be a great stress reliever.

From the editor: Wow! It’s really refreshing to hear another person’s perspective on entrepreneurship. It’s also great to see how productive some people have been during lockdown and encouraging that you can still accomplish things, even during a global pandemic. We hope you enjoyed the read as much as we did!

We always welcome new contributions and look forward to new additions to our team, so please do get in touch if you’re interested. To reach us, please email ScienceFutures@uwe.ac.uk. You can also connect with us on LinkedIn and Twitter

Until next time, keep well and safe.

References:

Photo of ‘profit’: https://www.callcentrehelper.com/cost-to-profit-centre-126838.htm

Photo of with ‘clock’: https://www.freepik.com/premium-vector/flexible-working-hours-work-life-balance-focus-time-management_11412207.htm

Living through Lockdown – A Graduate Tale

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This article has been written by Grace Russell, an inspirational woman who has shown us in this article just how achievable things can be if you stay resilient in spite of obstacles that come our way. We hope you enjoy the read and that it gets you thinking about how you can progress in your own life.

Interruptions and Resilience

Eighteen months ago, I was embarking on my final year project, completing the MSci programme in Biomedical Science. I had a vision of the future. Both the future and my vision were interrupted by the Covid crisis – “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry”, to paraphrase the late, great Scottish poet, Robert Burns (1759-1796). Thankfully, the project was finished before the lockdown in March 2020. However, myself and the student cohort still had to finalise and hand in several pieces of work.


It was strange not being able to meet up with my contemporaries, we usually got together every Friday, discussing our progress and intentions. We also missed out on our Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) certification, as this was a physical hand-in, which we had arranged for the end of March – a week after the first lockdown began. On top of this, our tutor also caught the infection and became terribly ill; this showed me early on that this virus could have serious implications for us all. And so, the knocks came early on in this pandemic.


Nevertheless, showing resilience in the face of adversity, under the great guidance of my mentor and supervisor, I was encouraged to continue writing and, what better subject than the focus of our previous project: molecular hydrogen and how this could benefit communities facing this unprecedented pandemic (for access to these publications please click here).

Photo by Daria Nepriakhina from unsplash.

Progression


The first few months of lockdown passed quickly. I emersed myself in work, writing academic papers, job applications, and applying for research funding. Then, around the end of July, the wheels fell off, just like a clown car! I had hit the proverbial wall. My student finance had depleted weeks ago and I’d had no success applying for a position that suited my qualifications. Time to adapt.
I felt my career status was in limbo. I’d applied for a PhD, using an awkward route, involving part-funding, match-funding and an awful lot of paperwork! Whilst tentatively waiting to see whether my application was accepted, I secured a part-time position in retail and am lucky enough to have worked with a great team here; friendly, supportive. On top of this, having the extra time at home gives me the freedom to survey the landscape, both literally and figuratively.

Photo by Lindsay Henwood from unsplash.

Productivity – Creativity

Next came the second lockdown, more time on my hands. It’s difficult not interacting with people on a daily basis and I came to realise that my motivation is inextricably linked with the social aspect of humanity.
As company and sharing was limited in a George Orwell-esque fashion, I thought I should perhaps reconnect with some old hobbies. Collage was always something I have enjoyed, so I gave it a shot, but nothing ventured…! I now find collaging time consuming, messy and wholly unsuccessful, (see left). Although it was a catastrophic attempt at art and one destined for the fire pit, it did inspire me to try a different medium, paint. Painting, as a pastime, is not something I have indulged in since I was a young mum in the 90’s.

As I didn’t feel experienced enough to freestyle a landscape painting, I thought I’d look for an online class. This is where I came across the wonderful Bob Ross, a renowned landscape artist and 70’s icon famed for his “happy trees and happy clouds.” And in just one evening, I managed to produce my first landscape painting (right). Admittedly, it looks nothing like the example the YouTube tutor created, but I’m proud of it and wouldn’t turn down a holiday to my fictitious location; I could see myself camping here!


A week or two later, I thought I’d pick up the paintbrushes once again; I’d stocked up on supplies after all. I began to channel my inner bohemian and tuned in to the dulcet tones of Bob once again (see left). Another snowy mountain scene was emerging; I like to think of it as the approach to the allegorical camping ground. However, I’m not naturally one to tackle the same task twice, so after following my mild-mannered mentor for most of the picture, I decided to freestyle the last part of the painting; this involved using the mantra ‘depth, perception, darkness and light’. I managed to form a boat, a means to escape the wilderness, should the weather take a turn for the worse!

With two relatively decent paintings done, I thought I would challenge myself further and try to create a self-portrait – possibly one of the most difficult undertakings of any foundling artist (see development below!). This small project has developed into a longer-term study of human form: lighting, angles, skin tones, textures, all need to be considered. Although there is still a long way to go before the portrait is complete, it does at least bare some resemblance to myself.

Final words


In other news, I have now secured both the funding and the PhD, and another publication, in the European Medical Journal.
Oxy-hydrogen Gas: The Rationale Behind Its Use as a Novel and Sustainable Treatment for COVID-19 and Other Respiratory Diseases – European Medical Journal (emjreviews.com.)
So, for now it’s time to put down the paintbrushes and pick up the pipette.
I hope you have enjoyed this little snippet into my world. Keep safe, well and sane, and don’t forget to let wonderful things happen!

Grace Russell
Msci Biomedical Sciences, PhD Researcher, Department of Applied Science (UWE)

Edited by Jessica Griffith

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.

Grace is still waiting for the world to open up (fully), but, she has started her PhD!!

From the editor: Honestly – this is such a good read. It’s always great hearing how others are progressing as, often times, it produces fuel for the things we are also trying to accomplish. Another one from Grace!

It would be great to have more contributors, such as this one from Grace, so please do get in touch if you have an article you would like to release, 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 rest of your weekend!  

Keep well and stay safe. 

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 fulfill 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.