Hi all 🙂
What a refreshing two months i’ve had; for once I’m starting to feel productive in what I do. I’m going to tell you about the conference application I’ve put together, the outreach I did in a school, and my first experience of being press at a convention!
I have spent 3.5 years doing this PhD with at times very little (if any) innate reward. I had a short-lived pilot experiment with no resounding findings, a bit of a break from it all, and then a high workload 2 year experiment which ended in December. Now that I’m into the data analysis phase of the experiment, I’m finally at the point where I’ll potentially find some cool and original things and start telling the story of my own tiny part of nature. I’ve had troubles with the data (odd distributions, incomplete data sets etc) but eventually, with the invaluable guidance of my supervisor, I have a good approach to the data. Powering through this last week, as the deadline fast approached, I found a few hits which fit together nicely and I put together a conference application. The conference is Behaviour 2017, an annual gathering of animal behaviour researchers from across the world. This provides the first opportunity for me to not only attend an international conference but also to do so presenting my own data. It’s all very exciting. I am also in the process of applying for funding to cover the various expenses for the trip but all in all it’s going well.
Something I really enjoy is talking to people about nature and science but whilst I’m in experiment and data analysis mode very little of that extends beyond my immediate research project. As such, I have done very little outreach lately so when the opportunity came up I said yes without a moments hesitation. I accompanied Mhairi Stewart, the head of public engagement, and a small team to Kinloch Rannock primary school where were showed 20 children the wonders of extracting DNA from strawberries, the components of colour, and moods. All activities were hands on and very well received by students and teachers alike. The school themselves were incredibly warm and welcoming, made everything from the start very easy, and even put on a wonderful lunch for us all. Overall, a long and tiring but very rewarding day.
A few weeks ago, I had my first experience of not only a convention but also being press at the aforementioned. A good friend of my runs the website Wonky Spanner including co-hosting one of its popular podcasts Nerd Versus World. WS serves as a platform for media reviews and content of all kind. Whether it’s games, TV, films, of conventions they have it and through their reputation have been able to visit events as press as well as interview multiple people on panels etc. I was gifted two press passes for Edinburgh Comic Con which was a wonderful experience. The passes got us in for free and gave us priority seating during panels. I had a great time overall and definitely spent too much money. My review will be up soon on WS with accompanying pics. I am now eagerly looking forward to my next convention (whether attending as press or not!).
So that’s it for now. My next two months will be spent chasing up funding sources for this conference, more data analysis and writing, and starting to consider how the next experiment can improve and expand upon the last one.
Thanks for reading