Tag Archives: conference

Bringing research to life

I was recently awarded funding to attend a European conference exploring the experiences of teenagers and young adults with cancer. The conference took place at the world famous Curie Institute in Paris which was an added bonus (and it was so much warmer than the UK!). The event was organised by the European Network for Teenage and Young Adult Cancer (ENTYAC) and included a wide range of speakers and delegates from countries including: Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Denmark, France and the UK.

The subject matter for the conference was diverse with attention given too many different perspectives of the cancer journey. The first day was focused on the organisation of cancer services around Europe and how practitioners worked within organisations. The second day was a mixture of clinical management and the experiences of teenagers and young adults with cancer, and the final day explored some of the key issues for this age group both during and after treatment. These sessions highlighted areas such as fertility preservation, consent and ethical dilemmas.

The conference gave me the perfect oJane Paris editpportunity to meet and network with people from a number of disciplines who are leaders in this emerging field. I had discussions with philosophers, specialist and consultant nurses, haematologists, oncologists and most notably teenagers and young adults who had experienced cancer treatment. Indeed a workshop held on the second day consisted of a panel involving a patient group which revealed a great deal of information, particularly relating to my own area of research interest, decision making. The young people talked about the different types of decisions that they had to make, how this was sometimes difficult and how at times they felt either isolated or over protected by their families when making decisions. I was also struck by one young person’s account of the secrecy that surrounded her initial diagnosis, with her parents not wanting to reveal what was happening in the very early stages as she arrived at the hospital for a discussion with the medical team.

My other notable memory is of how keen people were to help me develop my research. They happily gave me their contact numbers and one of the young adults offered to help me develop my interview questions which was, I felt, really really encouraging. I plan to work with him in the near future as I develop the study and am really looking forward to spending some time talking with him about his experience.

I would really recommend that students apply for funding to attend such events. It is beneficial in terms of learning new knowledge, networking and helping further refine your own study. I also got half a day free due to flight times and went along to the Louvre for a look around which is where the picture was taken!

Jane Davies


“Gatecrashing” a conference

It’s not often that I have to explain my presence at a conference. For most postgraduate students conferences are the perfect opportunity to learn about the current research in their field, and to build up useful working contacts. My attendance at this conference, however, was for very different reasons indeed.

Explaining that I came from a Psychology background, and was now based in the School of Nursing and Midwifery studies, I received many a puzzled look from the delegates at the Tyndall Centre “Climate Transitions” Conference. The conference was hosted and organised by members of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and postgraduate students from Cardiff University. I soon realised that I was the only individual attending who was not professionally linked to Climate Change, and this made me somewhat of a novelty. Many of the postgraduates attending the event were extremely interested in my own research, and I spent a lot of time talking to people about maternity care and midwifery (something I had expected to escape from for the week!).

My personal interest in climate change arose from a relatively “green” upbringing. Tips handed out from the government such as turning the tap off whilst brushing your teeth, using hot water bottles instead of the heating, and only filling the kettle with as much water as you need, have always been second nature to me. Showers had to be turned off whilst putting shampoo in, dishwashers and tumble-driers were devilish creations, and there would certainly be no central heating until you had 5 layers of clothes and a hot water bottle strapped to your chest. Being aware of the human impact on our planet became a part of my identity as I grew older; my housemates still suffer persistent nagging regarding correct recycling and minimising food waste. Added to a module on “Environmental Psychology” during my undergraduate years, my “climate curiosity” led me to this widely acclaimed “Climate Transitions” Conference, and they kindly accepted my request to attend despite being professionally unconnected.

The Keynote talk, given by Professor James Scourse, gave the perfect introduction for anyone interested (but not necessarily involved in) climate change research. The talk outlined the evidence for a climate transition over the last 5 years; including findings from research focusing on changes in CO2 emissions, temperature, sea level, and sea ice. The objective stance taken by Professor Scourse was extremely refreshing, and furthered my confidence that the conference would be an extremely interesting and insightful “catch-up” with the climate change evidence.

Throughout the course of the next three days, I was treated to speed talks and presentations regarding research encompassed by the themes “Land and Water”, “Energy and Emissions”, “Cities and Coasts”, and “Governance and Behaviour”. Although the seriousness of the evidence for climate transition remained clear throughout I was able to take a few amusing quotes and “lessons learnt” from many of the presentations. An interesting talk from Sarah Lee (Cardiff University) on the transformation of Cardiff Bay from estuary to lake taught me not to swim in the estuary during summer (due to high levels of phytoplankton relocated here from the bay). Laurence Smith from Cranfield University encouraged me to eat organically to improve energy efficiency (but not apples- organic apples are less energy efficient than regular ones, apparently!). Jonathan Kershaw’s (Coventry University) presentation on low carbon cars expressed claims from participants that “Going green is not sexy!”; a statement which I am inclined to disagree with – Bradd Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Pierce Brosnan included in the “Top 10 ‘Green’ Celebrities”. My personal favourite, however, was probably from William Lamb’s presentation on human development and carbon emissions; providing evidence that Costa Rica is one of the optimum countries for balancing high life expectancy with low carbon emission. Emigrate to Costa Rica, you say? Well…if it helps the environment then how could I say no?

A dinner debate on the role for shale gas in sustainable energy transition proved exciting as well as informative; strong opinions were assertively expressed with encouragement from a few glasses of wine.

One of the most personally interesting parts of the conference was the debate titled “Do climate researchers have a responsibility to live sustainably?” Ideas such as “Carbon shame”, “lock-in”, and “conference hypocrisy” were introduced and debated over amongst panellists and delegates. As always in these types of events each panellist had an extremely valid and persuasive argument, leaving me with more questions than answers concerning this topic.

As well as a wealth of new knowledge about how I can reduce my human impact on climate change, I came away from this conference with a new enthusiasm for inter-disciplinary research. It became obvious fairly early on that quite a lot of the theories and issues in this field of research were actually the same as those I had (and probably WILL) face in my own work. Psychological principles such as stereotyping and habit formation apply to so many aspects of human behaviour and belief systems, and recognising the parallels between research was extremely interesting. I also made a valuable contact through a delegate who had a friend doing very similar research to mine; proving that networking opportunities extend further than the delegates in the room.

All in all, I would strongly recommend that postgraduates attend the conferences that they have personal interests in, as well as those that apply to their work; you never know what you might learn.

A day of positives

I’m not sure many people actually enjoy speaking in public. As with many things in life, the more you do it, the better you get. But actually enjoying it?? Seems unlikely. So knowing that my name isn’t on that programme list gives me a nice warm feeling inside. I can just sit back, relax, and listen to what other people have to say. However, listen and understand are two very different things, and if I said I understood every part of every presentation during the 2012 PGR symposium I’d be lying. Some of the ideas were far too complex for my tiny, first year PhD brain to comprehend. At times I felt the look of confusion and bewilderment creep across my face that I see so often when one of my friends or family asks me about my ‘course’. Therefore I would never attempt to relay the information from each presentation in this blog entry (which I “volunteered” to write…and which had nothing to do with any coercion applied by Dominic or Katie!).

However, what struck me was the passion and enthusiasm that these people had for their subject. Each of the PGR students spoke with such pride that they had been able to nurture the smallest nugget of an idea into a substantial and original piece of research, regardless of how near (or far) they were to completion. It’s hard to imagine that these people, these researchers, were in the same position as me not that long ago. While I’m still battling with the dreaded ‘imposter syndrome’ and trying to concentrate on what I’m doing, while out of the corner of my eye looking at the door, waiting for security to escort me out of the building because my supervisors have realised they picked the wrong person, these people are well on their way to being called “Doctor”. The realisation that with a lot of hard work and support I can be in their place one day is incredibly reassuring.

Of course those who were not speaking did not get off the hook completely, as many of the attendees had submitted posters describing their research. While it was clear that everyone had put a great deal of work into their posters, a special mention should be given to Laura Goodwin and Abdulrahman (David) Aldawood (oh, and myself) who were chosen by Professor Gareth Williams as the top three. Our reward? An I.O.U. from Katie for an Amazon voucher…which of course we will only use to buy books and other educational materials!

So by any measure, today was a day of positives. The only negative…realising that sooner or later I’ll be one of those up there speaking!

I Won!!!!!

I received information recently from Mina Kerai (who is the research administration support assistant at SONMS) sent on behalf of Dr. Katie Featherstone. She has informed all the second year research students about our Annual PGR Symposium, which will be held on Tuesday 13th November 2012. We are required to attend this event and to give a 25 minute presentation outlining some of our preliminary findings from our data analysis.

Last year, when we celebrated the SONMS Annual PGR Symposium at our University, all research students attended and presented information about their research project in the form of a poster or a presentation. I was so excited at that time, but I was not sure whether I would have enough time to do my research poster due to my busy schedule. But I decided to spend all my free time at the weekend and made a research poster.

This was my first experience of producing a research poster. However, I got some ideas from Jessica and Catherine (my office mates) and from their posters that are placed on our office wall, as well as some ideas from both my supervisors. I designed several sections including the background of the study, study aims, methodology and research impact (outcome continuum and expected outcomes). You can see the results of my work below.

Although making a research poster was a challenging task – presenting my project on a single sheet of paper – in general I found that this task helped me to focus more my ideas about my project. I stood next to my poster during the lunch break on the day of the symposium and answered some questions of each delegate and other visitors. At the end of the symposium day, the Dean and Head of School announced me as the winner of the poster presentation that I had titled “Teaching self-care behaviour to adolescents with type 1 diabetes in Saudi Arabia’’.

Yes! I Did !!  🙂

I won first prize and a voucher for simply presenting my research poster at the SONMS Annual Postgraduate Symposium 2011.  I can hardly believe it. The competition took place as a part of the celebration of SONMS annual post graduate research symposium day. The decision was based on quality of content and design. So, the committee judged my poster as excellent. Incredible!!!  In addition, I was also very happy to talk to people about my research project. I think it can be really inspiring to see that people are really interested in your research. For me it is even more inspiring to see the impact that my research can have on people. After that I also presented my research poster two more times at Graduate School activities in 2012 – Spotlight on Social Sciences and The Voice of Humanities Conference.

I have new good news about my research poster. I had submitted an abstract to the Annual Meeting of the International Society for Paediatric and Adolescent Diabetes (ISPAD). The abstract review committee has informed me that my research poster has been accepted as a poster presentation :))

So soon I’ll be presenting my research poster again at the 38th Annual Meeting of ISPAD, to be held in Istanbul, Turkey from October 10th –13th, 2012. I look forward to it!!!