Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Natalie Lamb and The Brilliant Club- What to Expect on a Training Weekend

I am now going into my second term being a Brilliant Club Tutor. I am officially what is known as a "returner" and so have been looking back on my training weekends so far and doing a bit of reflection. One thing I would have liked to know more about before attending my first training weekend was what a rough timetable may look like. The below are my timetables from the two previous weekends that I have attended. But first, some tips!

  • Prepare to be tired! Try not to book much work in the Monday after the weekend. It is jam-packed, you will learn a lot and you should try and get a bit of rest, if you can
  • The Brilliant Club may pay for you to have a hotel for the night if you live far from the location of the weekend. Keep an eye on your emails and reply asap, filling out the form
  • When you apply for accommodation, do not expect to hear back right away. You may need to wait to book your transport until you hear back about having a hotel. If you are getting concerned and have not heard anything, email someone
  • If you do have a hotel, for me so far, it has been a double bed in a Travelodge/Premier Inn. There has been no room sharing with me. There is sometimes confusion on check in though! Also, pay attention to your emails because tutors are put in different hotels- you are unlikely to be in the same one as everyone
  • Travel is refunded from The Brilliant Club but travel within that specific city is not e.g. tube, tram etc. Sometimes the location of the course, the social and the accommodation is quite far away  
  • Speak to people, make the most of it, share Facebooks with each other, tweet about the event and enjoy it!


Saturday 6th May 2017 at Birley Community College (Sheffield)

New PhD Tutors
9:45-10:15 Registration
10:15-10:35 Cluster Welcome- Meet your Programme Officer
11:35-11:50 Break
11:50-12:10 Child Protection Training
12:10-1:15 Core Pedagogy- Concept Mapping
1:15-2:15 Lunch
2:15-3:15 Welcome and Keynote
3:15-4:45 Core Pedagogy- Designing my Assessment (KS4/5) or Key Stage Assessment (KS2/3)
4:45-5 Break
5-5:30 Plenary- Cluster Groups
5:30 Close and Social (Old Queen's Head, S12BG)

Returning PhD Tutors (who have not designed their own course before)
1:15-2:15 Lunch
2:15-3:15 Welcome and Keynote
3:15-4:45 Core Pedagogy- Designing my Assessment (KS4/5) or Key Stage Assessment (KS2/3)
4:45-5 Break
5-5:30 Plenary- Cluster Groups
5:30 Close and Social (Old Queen's Head, S12BG)

Returning PhD Tutors (who have designed their own course before)
Did not attend


Sunday 7th May 2017 at Birley Community College (Sheffield)

New Courses
10:15-10:30 Registration
10:30-11 Learning Circles- Clusters
11-12:30 Course Design and Deliberate Practice
12:30-1:15 Lunch
1:15-2 Elective 1
2:10-2:55 Elective 2
3:05-3:35 Plenary- Cluster Groups
3:35-4:15 Group Photo and Goodbye Presentation

Predesigned Courses
10:15-10:30 Registration
10:30-11 Learning Circles- Clusters
11-12:30 Delivering a Predesigned Programme
12:30-1:15 Lunch
1:15-2 Elective 1
2:10-2:55 Elective 2
3:05-3:35 Plenary- Cluster Groups
3:35-4:15 Group Photo and Goodbye Presentation

Returning Tutors
10:15-10:30 Registration
10:30-11 Learning Circles- Clusters
11-12:30 AST Strand
12:30-1:15 Lunch
1:15-2 Elective 1
2:10-2:55 Elective 2
3:05-3:35 Plenary- Cluster Groups
3:35-4:15 Group Photo and Goodbye Presentation



Saturday 9th September 2017 at Hammersmith Academy (London)

New PhD Tutors
9:45-10:15 Registration
10:15-10:35 Cluster Welcome- Meet your Programme Officer
11:35-11:50 Break
11:50-12:10 Child Protection Training
12:10-1:15 Core Pedagogy- Tutorial Planning
1:15-2:15 Lunch
2:15-3:15 Welcome and Keynote
3:15-4:45 Core Pedagogy- Key Stage Assessment
4:45-5 Break
5-5:30 Plenary- Cluster Groups
5:30 Close and Social (Askew Pub and Kitchen, W129DS)

Returning PhD Tutors (who have not designed their own course before)
1:15-2:15 Lunch
2:15-3:15 Welcome and Keynote
3:15-4:45 Core Pedagogy- Key Stage Assessment
4:45-5 Break
5-5:30 Plenary- Cluster Groups
5:30 Close and Social (Askew Pub and Kitchen, W129DS)

Returning PhD Tutors (who have designed their own course before)
Did not attend


Sunday 10th September 2017 at Hammersmith Academy (London)

New Courses
10:15-10:30 Registration
10:30-11 Learning Circles- Clusters
11-12:30 Giving Feedback and Deliberate Practice
12:30-1:15 Lunch
1:15-2 Elective 1
2:10-2:55 Elective 2
3:05-3:40 Plenary- Cluster Groups
3:45-4 Group Photo and Goodbye Presentation

Repeated Courses
10:15-10:30 Registration
10:30-11 Learning Circles- Clusters
11-12:30 Feedback and Programme Developments
12:30-1:15 Lunch
1:15-2 Elective 1
2:10-2:55 Elective 2
3:05-3:40 Plenary- Cluster Groups
3:45-4 Group Photo and Goodbye Presentation

Monday, 21 August 2017

Natalie Lamb and The Role of Entrepreneurialism in a PhD: Enterprising Summer School Day 1

I am currently completing a two day online course, Enterprising Summer School, which is being ran by The University of Sheffield Enterprise, to develop my skills and my understanding of what enterprise is. Before this course, I thought I was not an entrepreneur because I have no interest in building a business. But I recognised that successful entrepreneurs have many skills that would be of value during a PhD. So I decided to take this course in an attempt to build on those skills. On the first page of the course, I very quickly learnt that being an entrepreneur is a lot more than having your own business! 

So what actually is enterprise? The course defines enterprise as “having ideas and doing something about them”. I completed a quiz to determine how enterprising I am. I was identified as being an enterprising individual but further understanding and knowledge would be required before I am able to become an entrepreneur. I think this analysis is correct. As a PhD student, it is important to be able to generate ideas and see them through to fruition, although they are in a less traditional sense (e.g. setting up a successful lab experiment, rather than a successful business).

The first day consisted of: what is enterprise, so how enterprising am I, what is an entrepreneur, entrepreneurialism with an organisation, social entrepreneurs, why is enterprise so important and enterprise at Sheffield University. There were also two tasks, to produce a creative piece that answers the question “What do you think enterprise is?” and to produce a 500 word reflective statement or blog. I think the tasks completed during day one, in particular, really helped improve several of my skills: creativity, reflection and adaptability to different ways of expressing myself. Producing a creative piece about entrepreneurship was an especially useful part of the course, as it demonstrates your creative and ability to think outside the box.

One thing I learnt during day one is about entrepreneurialism within an organisation- I had never heard of the term intrapreneur before. Intraprenurship.com defined an intrapreneur as being “a person within a large corporation who takes direct responsibility for turning an idea into a profitable finished product through assertive risk taking and innovation”. To me, this definition seems a little direct and assertive. It is difficult for me to apply this definition to myself. I much prefer part of Gifford Pinchott’s definition, “Do any job needed to make your project work regardless of your job description”. My own definition would combine the two. An intrapreneur is someone who shows entrepreneurialism within an organisation by taking responsibility of an objective, using their initiative and going above and beyond their job description to complete it.

This course seems very relevant to my PhD and I am looking forwards to continuing with it. The thing I most want to get out of this course, currently, is some ideas about small changes I can complete every day to help build on these entrepreneurial skills. I hope day two will build on this.

This is what I think enterprise is. 



Thursday, 17 August 2017

Natalie Lamb and the World of Graphic Design: Infohackit 2017


I have never been arty. I like to think I am quite a creative person but I completely lack the ability to produce something visually appealing. So I jumped at the opportunity to be a part of the Anglian  Centre for Water Studies Infohackit 2017 and I am so glad I did.

Day One

The day started with a presentation and explanation about what Infographics are, a visual representation of data. One thing I think that was really helpful was an explanation of the difference between rasters and vectors. Rasters are like photographs so they get pixelated when you zoom in or increase their size. I had heard of vectors, both the line on a graph type and in terms of disease transmission but never to refer to images. In this sense, they are images formed of calculations so when you re-size them they do not get pixelated. This means you can change the size of an infographic and the content will stay the same, unlike posters produced in PowerPoint. This very small snippet of information was revolutionary to me!

I then opened Adobe Illustrator for the first time. I'm not going to lie- it looked terrifying. But I really enjoyed having a little play with it. I think you can see my progress in  the below images. We had a little play with shapes, we drew around a panda and coloured it in and in the second day, I produced Stonehenge. Using the software was not my strong point but I enjoyed doing something a little different to my normal work.

We then had a go at producing our own infographic. I chose to explain how drinking water is treated because of its relevance to my research. I thought it would be useful with my teaching work with The Brilliant Club. It took me an awfully, embarrassing long time! I was very impressed by the end result, though. I thought in one day, I had progressed a lot from my sad panda! Although saying that, PhD life is definitely more for me than graphic design. I'll stick with the day job.


Day Two

Day two was amazing. I had the opportunity to communicate my research to actual graphic designers who took my work and did amazing things with it. Because my research is on the chemicals used in drinking water, we named our team My Chemical Romance.  The team consisted of Cat Thompson, David Podmore,  Dovile Mikalauskaite and myself. I really appreciated everyone's hard work. We produced a presentation detailing the work we did and the decisions we made, which can be seen in the video below.

video


After a lot of hard work, I think the final infographic that we produced together was really amazing. It is fun, suitable for our audience and communicates a bite-size amount of work in a really useful way. Normally, I would have presented this information in the format of a table and an accompanying paragraph of text. I think the infographic communicates it a lot more easily and in a lot more of a digestible way.



We were even lucky enough to win first prize for our work! What an excellent way to end such a great few days. I really appreciate all the work that went into the organisation of the event and, especially, all the work that my team members did to produce such an excellent output. It is definitely something that I would do again.



Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Natalie Lamb and the Research Hackathon

I attended my first research hackathon earlier this year, along with 17 other researchers and practitioners, the Freshwater and Citizen Science Research Hackathon, at Oxford Brookes University. The event used water quality data from FreshWater Watch, which had been collected by participants/volunteers from around the world. The collected data included: photographs, a description of land use, bank vegetation, water level, water colour, visible pollution sources, turbidity (using a Secchi tube), nitrates and phosphates (using a colour test). The video below explains the data collection and what Earthwatch, the host for the Hackathon, is doing to preserve fresh water.


At first, I was unsure whether to attend or not because of the amount of time that would be dedicated to work that was not part of my PhD. In the end, I decided to go because I thought I would get quite a bit out of it. I was interested in looking at the catchment side of waters, something which is not my usual field (I normally deal with treated water), because I know it is a vital part of the drinking water treatment process but it is not something I have explored before. I was also interested in the hackathon process, how a fully formed research investigation could start and finish in a few days, something unheard of in PhD research question formation. But I was also interested in how the other participants, some of whom I knew would be more experienced with this process, formed research questions, justified them and then used data to answer them. I thought this would help my PhD the most, to learn from those who are used to doing this.

Some things I learned from the experience:

  1. Citizen science can produce so much data! I was surprised by the shear amount of data and all of the people who had dedicated their time to the project. In short, I was very impressed.
  2. The data needed much more cleaning than the normal data sets I work with. I should have known this and expected it but I didn't. But, it will make me appreciate my own data sets more in future.
  3. I need to learn how to use R. I felt that I wasn't always helpful in my research team because I didn't know the same statistical software as they did. I produced other work but with the limited time-frame for delivering results, very little of my work made the final cut. I think it would have been good for me to know some R. I had expected people to help me learn it but the time pressure meant this was not possible.
  4. It is more useful to spend less time working and more time networking and relaxing with the people you are working with. Yes, there is competition between the groups but you will get more out of the experience (and have a better, more positive experience) if you take the time to go to the pub, instead of spending a few extra hours working with the data set.
Would I do it again? Definitely. I would still factor in how much time the hackathon would take up but I honestly think it was a worthwhile experience that I would do again.



Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Natalie Lamb and the Pipeline Industry Guild Paper Competition

You may be reading this because you have heard about the Pipeline Industry Guild paper competition. You might be thinking of entering but are unsure what it will involve, what it will be like or if you will be good enough. I certainly was thinking the same things last year when I was emailed a link to the leaflet for the Pipeline Industry Guild Eastern Branch Young Professionals Network Paper Competition 2016. At first, I wasn't too sure about it because I thought I had to write a paper, similar to ones in journals and I had only just started my PhD. I definitely didn't feel prepared to write a full academic paper on my work. But curiosity got the better of me and I opened the link- I am very glad I did! It was actually a presentation competition, with a 250 word synopses to enter. I decided to give it a go but I really didn't set my hopes high. A prize of £500!? Surely other entrants would be far out of my league. Also, I hadn't heard of the Pipeline Industry Guild before so I was worried that might be a barrier too. Imagine my surprise when I won first prize!

I didn't know what to do my presentation on but one of the things that I had been meaning to write a report on was biofilm growth in distribution systems. I just needed to learn more about this for the progression of my PhD but I thought if I wrote my synopses on it, it would encourage me to start this research. I was incredibly surprised when it was accepted to present at the competition and had to start my research straight away.

On the day of the presentation, I felt OK. The competition was being held where I work so I didn't have to go out of my way or do any travelling. It just felt like a normal day of work. But when 4:45pm came around, I was sat in reception with the other presenters feeling a little nervous. It was great to meet them though and discuss our work and what we would be talking about. There was a buffet dinner and more opportunities to network. I was surprised by the number of people from Anglian Water who I had never met before.

When the presentations began, I grew much more nervous. I was having computer problems because I did my presentation using Prezi, thinking it would look dynamic and different to PowerPoint, and downloaded it to my laptop. But I did not bring a HDMI adapter so my laptop couldn't play it on the projector. I was trying my best to re-download it onto a USB stick, which is quite a normal task but is very difficult when you are nervous! The others had really good presentations, adding to my nerves. But I told myself that at the end of the day, all I was doing was sharing the research I had done. It wasn't about winning or losing. I tried my best and delivered my presentation. Overall, I really enjoyed the event and intend to go again to listen to the presentations in future. It was a great chance to hear what people are working on and give young people an opportunity to give a formal presentation.

On 27/01/17 I was invited to attend the Annual Dinner of the Eastern Branch of the Pipeline Industry Guild, for free. This in itself was worth delivering the presentation. It was a very fancy meal definitely worth attending. Unfortunately, you were not able to bring a guest but this just helped the presenters chat with each other. It was not the kind of event that I would normally attend (or afford to attend!) so I really appreciated the invite. At the end of the meal, it came to announcing the prizes. When they said my name, my first thought was "who, me?". I could feel my face growing bright red as I shuffled across the room. I honestly could not believe that I had been lucky enough to win first prize!  

I enjoyed my experiences with the Pipeline Industry Guild so much
that I decided to be a member. I was surprised to find it is free for people under the age of 25. Since the events, I have attended numerous events with PIG and even had the opportunity to give another presentation at one of their events, The Pipeline Showcase on 16/05/17. Overall, an excellent opportunity. So, for anyone who is uncertain about entering, I would definitely recommend you give it a go! What's the worst that can happen? I also have some tips if you do want to enter.

Tips

  • Test your presentation beforehand and bring spares e.g.. bring it on a spare USB, email it to the organiser, have it on your laptop and bring a HDMI converter
  • Bring a slide changer- they have an added touch of professionalism  
  • Keep in contact with the other presenters
  • Attend the annual dinner- it is definitely worth it!
  • Join PIG- it might be free for you


Monday, 24 July 2017

Natalie Lamb and the 5 Employment Tips


5 Quick Tips for Employment: What do you know?

1. Do you know when all the application deadlines are?

2. Do you know what the recruiters want? 
Try to search their website and the job description for key terms such as: communication, teamwork, motivation, problem solving, organisational skills, leadership potential. Make sure you have an example lined up for times you have demonstrated each one of those skills.

3. Do you know the industry/company?
What is their most interesting or biggest project? Who are their competitors? 

4. Do you know what a good application form looks like?
Make sure you tailor the application form to the company and that specific application. Demonstrate their key competencies in your answers. Make sure you follow the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) format.
One thing I always do us save the information from my application forms. If you get through to the interview stage, it will be important to remember what you said or you may have to redo all of your research.

5. Prove you know what it takes to make an employee at interview
You have done your homework so do your best to make the most of it. Think, even if you do not get the position, it might be just the interview practice you needed to land your dream job in future. 


Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Natalie Lamb and the Tackling of Poster Competitions

My Experience with Poster Competitions

I have now attended three poster competitions, one of which I won a prize for. The first competition that I attended was STEM for Britain 2017. I delivered my work to MPs. I was so excited but also incredibly nervous. I sent my poster to my supervisor for re-draft after re-draft and got everyone I could to look at the poster, until they were sick of the site of it! It was an excellent competition and a great experience
but I did feel very much out of comfort zone. I felt quite proud of myself by the time it was over- as though I had done well and really achieved something.

The second was The RSB East Midlands Postgraduate Poster Competition 2017. There was a lot of waiting at this one, it was not as strict for time as STEM for Britain has been. But I really enjoyed the waiting time, just to talk to the other presenters and find out they were actually as nervous as I was. It was a lot easier to network with presenters, rather than people who had come to the event to view the posters. I felt more confident going into it and even more so by the end, when I realised that all of the postgrads were in the same boat.

My most recent poster competition was at The University of Sheffield Engineering Researcher Symposium 2017. I felt very comfortable in this sort of environment now and saw it as an opportunity to talk to people, rather than feeling as though I was being examined, interviewed, almost. I won second prize and felt very proud that I had gone from a complete beginner to feeling comfortable enough to talk about how to produce a poster and how to tackle the competition itself, in just a few months.



How to Produce an Academic Poster

  1. Firstly, read the competition guidelines. Do you have to submit it in a template? In a certain format? With a particular logo?
  2. Open PowerPoint and set it up in the right format/ size /orientation required by the competition poster e.g. A1, A2. Make sure that this is right because it is a nightmare to change it afterwards.
  3. Add Guidelines in View---Show---Guidelines, if you think they might help you line everything up better.
  4. Add some boxes which will form the basic structure of your poster.  
  5. Not using PowerPoint but using a plain peace of paper, decide what you need to include in your poster. Think of it as a summary of your work to date for people who do not know what you are researching. It could cover: why you are doing the research, what research you are doing, how you are completing the research, what results you have found so far and what you plan to do in future. To properly know what you needs to be included, make sure you know who your audience will be. Make sure you know what you want to say and then fill out your piece of paper with what you wish to cover in each section.
  6. Write all your information that needs to be included onto the poster. Then try to replace each paragraph or set of bullet points that you have used, with images. So, for example, I did the below.
  7. When all of your information is in place, print out your poster to see how it looks and then improve it e.g. make sure there is plenty of white space, the font is big enough to read, it uses a specific colour scheme, no images have poor resolution, add effects to titles to make them stand out. 
  8. Make sure your contact details stand out. Add your name, university, supervisors (if you wish to), email address and then less common contact details e..g. a QR code to your website or your Twitter name (assuming it is a professional Twitter account).
  9. Get it printed! I have used paper and cloth recently. I preferred the cloth because it was a lot easier to store in my home after the competition (also you can use it as a cape if you win or a comforting blanket if not).
  10. Prepare for the day by ensuring you have smaller copies of your poster with additional information on the back and business cards. It may also be useful to being something with you to attach these extra items to your poster board. I saw this great example of additional poster material presentation at a poster competition at the IWA Young Water Professionals Conference 2017. 


Attendance at the Poster Competition

A few final tips:
  • Firstly, congratulate yourself, you have finally made it!
  • Try to not spend too much time away from your poster because you might be unlucky and miss a judge
  • Look presentable and try to look welcoming
  • Talk to your neighboring poster entrants. You may think they might be competition but it is an excellent networking opportunity
  • Don't be afraid to give people your business cards and handouts. That might be the reason why they are there
  • Have an elevator pitch prepared. Think of yourself as selling your work in a few minutes. Try not to talk in a monotone. Just be honest and explain why you are interested in your work
  • My final tip is that if you win any prize money, use it to celebrate, otherwise it will just get lost in your normal money. Treat yourself, even if it is something small and think to yourself that you earned it by spending the day at that competition.