Hello all 🙂
The past two months have involved a presentation, disappointing data analysis, and an interesting public engagement opportunity.
In a previous post I mentioned that every year students in the school give a presentation which they call a ‘psycholoquia’. Mine was in early May and went well! I ran a little over time so had to speed up at the end (note to self: keep an eye on the clock next time!) but in general it was well received and there were good questions and comments. I enjoyed the experience but the most nerve-racking part was that my supervisor was part of the audience! I’m not sure why…perhaps a ‘mentor-student’ kind of thing where she is the bar I have to pass…who knows. Either way, it’s done for the year and I’m looking forward to the next one! Tips for anyone preparing a talk: few points per slide, BIG figures with little text, and just enough to attract the audience whilst prompting yourself with minimal use of notes!
Year one hasn’t been the best for me in terms of data. After analysing 3/5 variables taken from my pilot experiment it turned out there was nothing interesting going on. Nothing at all. Nothing to explain the behaviour we were seeing. This was disappointing as I’m sure you can imagine! This has meant that I’ve missed out on a few conference opportunities. However, the work and results still form a chapter in my thesis (whoop!), there are still 2/5 variables to analyse so something may come (whoop whoop!), and it’s all informative experience for my next, longer experiment. Overall if you’re struggling in your first year with data don’t be too disheartened. From talking to supervisors and fellow first years it seems getting good data takes time no matter what your topic. There is such a learning curve moving into PhD that you spend a decent amount of time just finding your feet and there’s nothing wrong with that!
Every year a few schools in the university take part in space school! This involves groups of 10-11 year olds visiting a different school on consecutive Saturdays where they learn about that subject and its relationship to space science. In my school we had three sessions run by PhD students followed by a big group exercise with the organiser of the event. My session was themed ‘what does it take to be an astronaut, behaviourally’. By that I wanted the students to think about what behaviours and mental abilities you would need to be strong at to work well in space. First I got them to think about this in groups and then they reported back to me what they thought were the most important strengths. Good answers came back such as team work, intelligence (which I asked them to explain), and surprisingly insightful ones such as not being claustrophobic! I then told them what NASA ask for which emphasises team work before giving them a team-building exercise: spaghetti towers! This went down really well and we had some great towers (and a few piles of broken pasta!). Overall the day was a great experience and I hope they’ll let me back next year!
The next two months will be analysing the last two variables from my pilot experiment, planning my next experiment, and drafting my first year report!
Thanks for reading 🙂