Scicomm & Science writing

How YOU can read a scientific paper. Part Two.

I’ll start with a question to YOU the public:

How can scientists improve how they communicate their research with you?

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From Part One of ‘How YOU can read a scientific paper’, you should now know what a scientific paper is, why they exist and what parts they are made up of! I also set you a challenge to try reading your first scientific paper. Did you give it a go?

I am all too aware myself of the time and effort it takes someone to read a scientific paper – you have to make sure quite quickly that it is something that you are interested in and will benefit your knowledge because you don’t want to be wasting time on something that is going to be no good for you, plus you need to check out any words or phrases you don’t understand, plus you need to actually think about what the results are showing you to see if you agree with what the author thinks plus much more. And that is for a scientist who supposedly reads these things all the time! But with the majority of science funding coming from the public we should be showing off our results to them don’t you think?

A scientific paper is something that all research scientists want to get and something we should be proud of and be able to share with the entire world and not just the entire scientific world. But I am sure you will all agree, that no matter how much advice and tips I share about how to read and understand a scientific paper, a non-scientist is going to struggle and not going to want to spend all that time for the gain of some very specific information, albeit it being new exciting data. So, I feel that we as scientists have a duty to share our research with the public and make them care and understand what we have achieved and what we want to achieve. Just sharing the  link to your latest paper though is not going to suffice! So what can we as scientists do?

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Throughout the year, there are hundreds of different science festivals that you can go along to and talk about science with the public. You can even go to music festivals like Glastonbury to talk about science. The problem I find with these opportunities is that they have limited spaces so the chances to go along are hard to come by and sometimes you are going along as part of a team and you are talking about science in a more general capacity – which is great to get people interested – but it isn’t showing the research that you have done and published in your high impact journal – most of the time!

Some scientists like to write science blogs about different science news headlines, what it is like to be a scientist and advice for wannabe  and current PhD students, but some also do ‘journal clubs’ where they do the hard work for you and break down a scientific paper and give you the information you need like these for example by Biomech_Dave. This is an idea I LOVE – and it gave me an idea so you can use your new found skills from Part One and use them as part of Soph’s Science Club – my upcoming new blog feature, or perhaps YouTube feature, where I break down new scientific papers for you so stay tuned for that! Anyway, the problem with these ideas is getting your science blog out there to the public. I can honestly say the hardest bit of writing a science blog is making sure people read it and more importantly, people come back to reading it. In my 11 months of being a committed science blogger, I have grown a small following through social media platforms which I will be forever grateful for, but currently I’m not speaking to the masses – yet! So, if there’s a super cool headline in the news recently like this one about ‘space sperm’ and you wanted to share the original paper in a fun and engaging blog post, the likelihood is not many people will see it and understand where the headline came from.

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So, I seem to be putting every idea out there and then finding a problem with it – sorry that’s just my scientist brain! But there must be a way that a non scientist can get the information they want quickly and it being from the original source rather than risk the media reporting of it being slightly skewed! And I think I came across the answer a few weeks ago….

Video abstracts.

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We know from Part One what an abstract is. It is the summary of the scientific paper and tells you what the authors did and what they found out amongst some other information. But it is just reading words on a screen or a piece of paper. What if we could make those words come to life and be more engaging? I think the video abstract is the way forward.

Now I have been reading scientific papers for about 7 years or so now and never before had I seen a video abstract until a few weeks ago when someone shared it on Twitter and it came up in my feed. I got ridiculously excited thinking it was this new craze for sharing your research with the scientist and non scientist community. But upon further investigation, it seems like this has been around for a few years and I have just missed it! Especially when one of those high impact journals I mentioned before, Cell, have a whole YouTube channel dedicated to these abstracts that was launched in 2009! But it has made me question why we as scientists haven’t been making more of this great way of communicating your research!

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It is probably because scientists don’t have the time to be making videos amongst everything else and generally speaking probably don’t have the best video making and editing skills. And then there are only a handful of journals that accept video abstracts so why should we spend time making one if it is not widely accepted! Plus how many non scientists actually read abstracts of scientific papers if that is who we are targeting with these videos? Perhaps I am fighting a losing battle.

It might become a passing fad and trend but I for one am going to try and make video abstracts to share with the public, even if it is just going to be on my own YouTube channel. There is a way of conveying your results that can be done in a video that is far easier to understand than trying to write about it in a normal abstract. That’s got to be a plus right? And I really think we need to target the public more and there is no better way of doing that than through the media.

I open the floor to you. I want to know whether you’re a scientist or not and what your thoughts on video abstracts would be! Let me know in the comments!

But I also have another challenge for you to see how you feel about video abstracts. Follow this link and read the title of the article and then read the written abstract. Google the few words you are not familiar with and then come back to me after you have read it.

How much did you really understand??

Now follow this link and watch their video abstract.

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Yes there are probably still words and phrases that you’re not sure about as I’m not expecting all of you to be epigenetic experts. But is the overall picture a bit clearer than when you just read their written abstract? It definitely was for me.

If we want to make scientific research more accessible to all, then maybe video abstracts is the next logical step and it needs to be made more of when submitting a paper to a journal.

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I started with a question, so I’ll finish with another for YOU the public:

Would you be more likely to read scientific papers if there was a video abstract?

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Let me know your thoughts on video abstracts whether you are a scientist or a non scientist or if you have any other bright ideas about getting more scientific papers into the eyes of the public!

Science love.

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Please don’t forget to keep up to date on all my new blog posts, all the latest news and more! Find me and Soph talks Science on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Scicomm & Science writing

How YOU can read a scientific paper. Part One.

Every so often on the news, you will read or hear the words ‘Scientists have discovered…’ or ‘a group from [insert country here] have reported this effect with their new cancer drug’ for example.

But have you ever thought – where do all these science headlines come from?

The answer.

The scientific paper.

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Now I want my blog to be for everyone – that includes tips and advice for my fellow PhD students and science news and insights into a scientific life and much more for YOU the general public too! I want everyone to learn something when they visit my blog, but most of all I want to help make scientific research more accessible to non-scientists – even if it is only a little bit. So other than introducing you to different techniques and things I get up to in the lab from time to time as well as showcasing many awesome scientists from around the world to break down the associated stereotype – I thought that maybe I could introduce you to different aspects of the scientific world. So there is no better place to start than with something that all scientists aspire to achieve – the publication!

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To a lot of you who are reading this article, the thought of a scientific paper is perhaps a little bit alien to you or even slightly terrifying, but I hope that by the end of Part One of this guide you will know what a scientific paper is, where you can find them and how you can read them – even with non scientific background!

Plus I’m in the process of writing my very first scientific paper and I think it would be super cool if you could all read it if and when it gets accepted so I can actually talk about my research in more detail with you guys then 😛 !

So let’s get stuck in!

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First of all, what is a scientific paper?

The world of scientific research is a competition. A race to the finish line where you have to be the winner – as there are no prizes for being the second one to have this new idea or prove some new mechanism! So most of your research careers, you are sworn to secrecy about the details of what you are actually doing  in the lab until your scientific paper is accepted and you can share your research with the rest of the scientific world!

Scientific papers are the heart of the science community; they’re one of the major ways scientists communicate their results and ideas to one another, and contain the most up to date information about a field – obviously depending on the date of publication!

So, a scientific paper is an article that is bringing together all those experiments you have been doing in the lab for the past 2 or 3, or even for the past 10 years to so, and making one complete story, and the proof that you have shown what you said you have!

There are two main types of scientific paper; the primary research article, which is a report of new research about a specific question and the one I’m going to talk about in more detail in this post, and the review article, which don’t present new information but are a summary of multiply primary research papers to give a sense of consensus and unanswered questions within a particular topic at that time.

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Where will I find scientific papers?

These manuscripts get published in scientific journals, and there are hundreds and hundreds of these out there! Some are  very specific in the articles they publish like the Journal of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Research is only going to publish articles about that topic for example, whereas others are for a more broad audience. Each journal also has what we call an impact factor – which is based upon how many times the articles published in that journal get quoted or cited elsewhere and of course, more people will see it – hence the ‘impact’! So for example, the more specific journals out there are going to have lower impact factors generally speaking compared to the broader ones as there are going to be fewer people interested in a smaller niche. As a scientist you want to get your paper published in a journal with the highest impact factor you can, so for me in the field of biology I am aiming for the likes of Cell and Nature.

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Why bother reading scientific papers?

So before I venture much further into this, I feel I need to try and make you care a little bit about why you should even bother reading these in the first place – except that you all obviously want to read my upcoming paper hah!

I started off this blog post by introducing media headlines that you heard as a result of these papers. However, there is a lot of controversy surrounding how accurately the media reports science and scientific discoveries. Now I am not saying that what you hear as you watch the evening news is wrong – it just might not be the complete truth sometimes! So I am a huge advocate for teaching everyone how to find the original source of these headlines and understanding them so you, the general public, can make your own informed opinions about science 🙂

Also, a huge amount of scientific research is funded by the public so surely it is only right to show you what we have done with that money right?

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What will you find in a scientific paper?

Each scientific paper is split into 6 sections which each have a unique purpose. They are the abstract, the introduction, the materials and methods section, the results, the discussion and the references.

Abstract

The abstract is a summary of the entire paper. It usually highlights the main question or questions the authors investigated, provides the key results of their experiments, and gives an overview of the authors’ conclusions. Reading the abstract will help you decide if the article was what you were looking for, or not, without spending a long time reading the whole paper. Abstracts are usually accessible for free either online at journals’ websites or in scientific literature databases.

Introduction

As the name suggests, the introduction gives background information about the topic of the paper, but also sets out the specific questions to be addressed by the authors. The quantity and thoroughness of the background information will depend on both the author and the guidelines for that specific journal.

Reading the introduction is a test of whether or not you are ready to read the rest of the paper; if the introduction doesn’t make sense to you, then the rest of the paper won’t either as the paper is bringing new information to build on what you have read in the introduction. If you find yourself baffled by the introduction, try going to other sources for information about the topic before you tackle the rest of the paper. Good sources can include a textbook; online tutorials, reviews, or explanations; or one of those review articles I mentioned earlier.

Materials and Methods

The ‘How to’ manual of the scientific paper. The materials and methods section gives the technical details of how the experiments were carried out, including the types of controls used, how long each experiment took and where unusual resources (like a bacterial strain or a publicly available data set) were obtained. Reading the methods section is helpful in understanding exactly what the authors did.

You might recognise a few experiments like Western blotting or Immunocytochemistry when you read your first paper and if you have read my blog posts before, so it might not be as scary as you think!

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Results

The results section is the real meat of a primary research article; it contains all the data from the experiments. The figures, or pictures, contain the majority of the data. The accompanying text contains verbal descriptions of the pieces of data the authors feel were most critical. The writing may also explain how the new data fits in with the previous findings you read about in the introduction. So, to get the most out of the results section, make sure to spend ample time thoroughly looking at all the graphs, pictures, and tables, and reading their accompanying description underneath the figure telling you what all the graphs and numbers mean called a legend!

Discussion

The discussion section is the authors’ opportunity to give you their opinions. It is where they draw conclusions about the results. They may choose to put their results in the context of previous findings and offer theories or new hypotheses that explain the body of knowledge in the field. Or the authors may comment on new questions and avenues of exploration that their results give rise to. The purpose of discussion sections in papers is to allow the exchange of ideas between scientists. As such, it is critical to remember that the discussions are the authors’ interpretations and not necessarily facts. However, this section is often a good place to get ideas about what kind of research questions are still unanswered in the field.

References

Throughout the article, the authors will refer to information from other papers. These citations – which I mentioned earlier when talking about impact factor – are all listed in the references section, sometimes referred to as the bibliography. Both review articles and primary research articles, as well as books or other relevant sources, can be found in the references section. Regardless of the type of source, there will always be enough information (authors, title, journal name, publication date, etc.) for you to find the source at a library or online. This makes the reference section incredibly useful for broadening your own reading. If you’re reading a paragraph in the current paper and want more information on the content, you should always try to find and read the articles cited in that paragraph.

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How do I read a scientific paper?

Anyone can read a scientific paper, you just have to know how!

Reading a scientific paper is a completely different process than reading an article about science in a blog or newspaper. Not only do you read the sections in a different order than they’re presented, but you should also probably take notes, read it multiple times, and probably go look up other papers from the citations for some of the details. Reading a single paper may take you a very long time at first, especially if you’re not a scientist. But be patient with yourself. The process will go much faster as you gain experience – that’s if you want to try it again after the first experience!

You should definitely give reading a scientific paper a go, but reading these things is a bit of a chore even for an experienced eye, so watch out for Part Two where I want to discuss new ways of making them more understandable to everyone! But for now, please stick with me when I introduce a step by step guide of how to read a scientific paper if you are a non-scientist, or perhaps even if you are!

Step 1: Identify vocabulary you don’t understand!

Scientific papers are full of jargon so you are probably going to have to write down every single word that you don’t understand and then you’re going to have to look them all up! Yes, I know it is a huge pain but you won’t understand the paper if you don’t understand the vocabulary! Books or obviously Google would be a good place to start or even YouTube as there are hundreds of really cool videos out there explaining different scientific concepts!

Step 2: Read the Introduction before anything else!

This is going to give you the background of the topic. If this part doesn’t interest you then, the new data that is part of this paper is not going to interest you either. It will also help you identify the BIG question that the scientists are answering. Again, if that doesn’t take your fancy then it is not worth your time and effort understanding and reading the paper!

Step 3: Tackle the results section!

Only once you are comfortable with the background information are you ready to give reading the results a try! Again there are going to be units and numbers you are not familiar with but you can look at the graphs and see if levels have gone up or down in response to certain conditions and get a feel for this new exciting research! Try to draw your own conclusions from what you saw and think about what it means when you compared it to everything you read in the introduction.

Step 4: Time to read the discussion.

You have made your own conclusions now! Do they match up with the authors’? Take a read to see what they make of their results. But for people just entering the field, discussions are a good place to get a glimpse of what the current competing theories and hypotheses are.

These are truly some very basic steps for absolute beginners in reading scientific papers! There is going to be a lot of other jargon like stats and p values and asterisks across the graphs and the words ‘statistically significant’ that probably won’t mean a lot to you either. But in truth, they probably don’t matter for a non scientist trying to get to grips with just reading about some research.

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Now I’m not going to lie – reading a scientific paper is quite overwhelming even for the most experienced of researchers but this is where we need to change that so the public can find the information they want to as well because lets face it not everyone will understand the jargon. So I’ve recently stumbled across a different idea for these online papers – not sure how long it has been going on but it was the first I saw of it a few weeks ago. And I thought it was a great idea and can definitely make the scientific paper more comprehensible for the general public – especially when I believe it is a scientists duty to be able to explain what they have done and why they have done it to anyone they meet on the street! So, stick around for part 2 of How YOU can read a scientific paper to learn about new ways of digesting these manuscripts without all the jargon!

If you are a non-scientist reading my blog, I have a challenge for you! Please just have a go at reading a scientific paper – or maybe just try a review article first like this one or simply the introduction of a paper like this one! You don’t need to understand it completely and I don’t want you doing it for hours and hours. But just have a look at one or two and get a feel for it! Please let me know in the comments how you found it or contact me on my various social media channels! Let me know what it is that was daunting or what it is that you didn’t understand so we as scientists can think of new ways to make it easier for the public to understand what we are doing! One exciting way I’ve spotted recently will be discussed in Part Two of ‘How YOU can read a scientific paper‘!

Science love.

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Please don’t forget to keep up to date on all my new blog posts, all the latest news and more! Find me and Soph talks Science on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

Scicomm & Science writing, Science & me

#Pint17 preview – Tech Me Out

Today is the last #pint17 preview post celebrating British Science Week! And today we are finishing with more of a futuristic theme than most with the turn of the Tech Me Out team.

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As the theme suggests we are talking all things technology and the research behind these futuristic advances. With the era of the machine well underway in our world, will it ever stop? Or do we even want it to stop? What are the benefits of these advancing technologies in so many different fields? All these are questions that the Tech Me Out events are going to answer for you. With so much incredibly cool research going on that fits under this team’s bracket happening right here in Southampton, to only pick a few different scientists for you at this years festival is a really hard job for for our team.

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Who are the Tech Me Out team?

Today I want to introduce you to Aaron, Elisabetta, Catarina, Jack, Nikolaos and Pete.

This is your Tech Me Out team for #pint17 #soton. These tech-savvy guys and girls have a host of different expertise. So, it is the responsibility of this team to make you excited for what our future holds for every aspect of our lives thanks to the research happening now!

Team techmeout

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Where will the Tech Me Out events be?

The Tech Me Out team have secured the super cool Belgium and Blues for their events in May. Beer, blues, steak & mussels with a side order of science – what more can you want?

Details of start and finish times and any more info you might need to know will be made available in the coming weeks with the official Pint of Science 2017 launch just around the corner!

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What will I learn at the Tech Me Out events?

Now for the best bit of the blog post – what are the events going to be about? Well, the Tech Me Out team have nearly sorted their events details so I can give you details for ALL THREE EVENTS!

Night 1 – One of the Tech Me Out nights is called Technology in the Wild. Now when I say the word technology to you – you probably think of big machines, computers and robots and that sort of thing right? Well, the Tech Me Out team want to show you the research behind some new technology that uses nature or its design is inspired by the things that are surrounding us in the wonderful world we live in. The speakers are going to talk about cryogenics and freezing the natural world to preserve it for future generations. Another speaker will focus on how we can use technology to try and solve the global food and hunger issues we are being faced with, and the final speaker is going to look at marine robotics. We have explored less than 5% of our oceans and despite our best efforts to design small robotic submarines to send down into the deep depths of the ocean, it is still restricted by the immense pressure and lack of light. But we do know that there are several species that live on those deep seabeds so this talk is going to give you an insight into how those animals are inspiring the next generation of marine exploration.

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Night 2 – Another night at the Tech Me Out events is called Good Vibrations and is going to feature some seriously cool research on sound and virtual reality. One speaker is going to talk about tricking your brain with sound. I am sure most of us enjoy going to the cinema and getting immersed in the moment with the sound effects that feel like they are all around us! Any movie buff would love to replicate this at home with a series of speakers dispersed around your lounge. But this speaker is going to show  you an easier way to get that experience with a new prototype device that they have! Would you really want to miss out on a chance to be one of the first people to see this new device? The second speaker is going to talk about virtual reality! The gamer’s dream! But is it just computer games that this technology is being used for? The answer is quite simply no! This speaker invites you to learn about how the stunning visuals and sounds are created in this technology and how it recreates the perception of these events in the brain! Virtual reality is rapidly changing the way we interact with every day life – so come and see how this technology could be a part of your world! The final speaker is perfectly suited for the Pint of Science festival and is going to talk about pub acoustics! I am sure you have all been in noisy pubs and you have probably been in very quiet pubs, but do you really think the noise in the pub can affect your mood? What about the way your beer tastes? These are all questions that this speaker is going to  answer for you amongst many more to explain to you how sound affects your pub experience!

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Night 3 – The final Tech Me Out night is probably the one I am most interested in due to the nature of my own PhD research. It is called Hardwired for Health and is going to explore how current technology is going to produce our future medicine! We have all heard of ultrasound yes? It is routinely used to check up on pregnancies and other medical applications, but one of the speakers this night is going to show you how it can be used to make cartilage for damaged knees or even build model lungs to see how we can treat asthma.  Our second speaker is going to talk about the new technologies that could replace animal testing in the medical world. Whether you are for or against animal testing, you are going to be all for this new technology that is going to be an ‘organ on a chip’. Find out what these chips will be used for, how they work and how they are going to change the face of clinical trials and testing as we know it. Our final speaker is going to be talking about growing replacement body parts in the lab. We are all aware that there are not enough organ donors to match the number of people on the transplant list. This final speaker is going to talk about one way research is currently trying to tackle this problem using stem cells amongst much more.

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So, I’ve managed to give you an insight into all the talks and speakers that will feature at the Tech Me Out events. There is so much exciting research going on that I’m sure you are going to struggle to choose which events to attend – I know I am! But I guarantee that you will learn something new and you will be excited about what our technological future holds.

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Why should I attend the Tech Me Out events at #pint17?

I think I have given you ALL the reasons you should attend the Tech Me Out events in May but if you still need convincing the team have got this message for you:

‘Peer into our crystal ball and see what our technological future has in store! You won’t want to miss out on learning about the research that is happening now that WILL affect your future’

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The Tech Me Out team are still working on finalising their program and activities for #pint17 #soton. But if you want to stay up to date with all the latest news and updates by join our Pint of Science – Southampton Facebook event. Or if Twitter is more your thing, then follow the accounts shown below 🙂

If you’ve missed the other #pint17 preview posts, click here to see what our Atoms to Galaxies team might have in store for you or click here if you want to learn about the brain with the Beautiful Mind team. Click here to discover the research happening right now that will affect your body or here to find out how you could help save our planet! Or  click here to see how science is affecting the society we live in!

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We hope to see you in May learning about the amazing science research going on in Southampton in one of your local pubs!

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Please don’t forget to keep up to date on all my new blog posts, all the latest news and more! Find me and Soph talks Science on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Scicomm & Science writing, Science & me

#Pint17 preview – Our Society

Happy Friday everyone! I’m going to celebrate by publishing the penultimate #pint17 preview, so today we get a sneaky peak into what the Our Society team are brewing for our festival this summer.

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Right now you might be wondering what has the Our Society theme got to do with science? Initially I had exactly the same thought. But let me tell you why learning about more then just the super cool research is important for science. The Our Society theme of the Pint of Science festival covers things like law and politics to history and policy – so as well as knowing what science is doing right now, we need to understand how far science has come and what might be holding it back. There are also so many aspects of your normal day to day life that you probably don’t even realise have a scientific basis or scientifically will affect you. And it’s the job of the Our Society team to bring you all these different aspects.

But first of all..

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Who are the Our Society team?

Let me introduce you to Claire, Grace, Tsiloon, Lyndsy and Chloe! Your Our Society team for #pint17 #soton!

These are the people that are bringing you the science behind your everyday lives.

Team oursociety

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Where will the Our Society events be?

The View Bar will be the home of the Our Society for #pint17 #soton.

Details of start and finish times and any more info you might need to know will be made available in the coming weeks with the official Pint of Science 2017 launch just around the corner!

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What will I learn at the Our Society events?

Now for the best bit – what will the Our Society events involve? The Team are still working behind the scenes to round their three events up, but I have got the details of two interesting speakers that I can share with you.

So – the Our Society team also have a climate change night but a very different take on it. I won’t go into why attending this event is going to benefit you as we are all aware of the problems that climate change is causing. One speaker at the Our Society events is going to use comedians, musicians and artists to highlight and study some of these changes that climate change is having particularly focusing on how the Arctic is being affected.

But there is a different theme I want to focus this preview post on and this Our Society event looks at nutrition in society.

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This is just a supermarket aisle right? Technically yes! But did you know there is some science behind your basic supermarket aisle?

I’ll ask you another question – do you think you are in complete control of what you eat, or do you think your local supermarket plays a part in that? Well – one of the speakers at this evening is going to tell you how your weekly food shop is being influenced by your supermarket and affecting your dietary choices and all the related current research.

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Why should I attend the Our Society events?

This theme might not be covering ‘conventional’ science research that you might naturally and instinctively think of, but it is going to make you more aware of how a variety of different scientific topics and research will affect you in society. So, if it affects you, it is surely something worth learning about, right?

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The Our Society team are still working on finalising their program for #pint17 #soton. But if you want to stay up to date with all the latest news and updates by join our Pint of Science – Southampton Facebook event. Or if Twitter is more your thing, then follow the accounts shown below 🙂

If you’ve missed the other #pint17 preview posts, click here to see what our Atoms to Galaxies team might have in store for you or click here if you want to learn about the brain with the Beautiful Mind team. Click here to discover the research happening right now that will affect your body or here to find out how you could help save our planet!

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We hope to see you in May learning about the amazing science research going on in Southampton in one of your local pubs!

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Please don’t forget to keep up to date on all my new blog posts, all the latest news and more! Find me and Soph talks Science on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Scicomm & Science writing, Science & me

#Pint17 preview – Planet Earth

Day 4 of celebrating British Science Week and it’s also Day 4 of of my #Pint17 preview blog posts. Thursday is the turn of the Planet Earth team and your first chance to see what they are brewing for this year’s Pint of Science festival in Southampton.

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Much like the Our Body theme yesterday – there are no excuses why you shouldn’t be interested in an event that is going to teach you more about the big and beautiful planet that we live on. The topics that the team are putting together are issues that we ALL should be interested in as they are going to affect every single one of us – more to be revealed later in the blog post. But there is so much beauty in this world that we live in and most of it we have yet to discover. But unfortunately we are slowly destroying our planet bit by bit and creating even more problems for ourselves to solve. The Planet Earth team have chosen just a couple of these burning issues related to our planet to tackle at this year’s Pint of Science events in Southampton but sharing some of the science and research behind dealing with these problems. And maybe you can find out how you can help too 🙂

But before I get stuck into the themes, I need to introduce you to the people working behind the scenes to bring them to you.

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Who are the Planet Earth team?

Meet Gwen, Max, Emily, Mairin, Ally, Amy, Elena and Caitlin!

This awesome and down-to-earth bunch are made up of undergraduates & postgraduates studying a heap of different fields that involve the wonderful world we live in – from marine biology and oceanography, to geology and plants. So they literally are covering every aspect of our globe from the depths of the oceans to the tops of those mountains and all between. With such an array of knowledge – the team have had a tough job just choosing three themes for #pint17 this May – but they have done it, and they have done it brilliantly. So – it is time to fall in love with our planet again!

Team planetearth

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Where will the Planet Earth events be?

So, where should you be spending 3 nights in May? These environmentally friendly events will be held at another awesome venue in Southampton – Mettricks Guildhall.

Details of start and finish times and any more info you might need to know will be made available in the coming weeks with the official Pint of Science 2017 launch just around the corner!

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What will I learn about at the Planet Earth events?

So, I keep mentioning that the themes that the Planet Earth team have chosen for you will affect all of us – but what are they? Well – I can exclusively reveal some details for ALL THREE Planet Earth themed nights and the questions they will discuss at #pint17 will cover climate change, over-fishing and biodiversity!

Now – when I say climate change, you might be thinking to yourself ‘What else could I possibly need to know?’ – the ice caps are melting, the water levels are rising and the temperatures are soaring! What else is there? Well our climate change night at the Planet Earth events is taking a different spin on just ‘boring old climate change’ – instead one of the questions to be tackled asks ‘Are our climate change models wrong?’.

Now I am not saying that climate change isn’t happening, there is undeniable evidence that shows that it is! But the group of people out there that didn’t believe in climate change are altering their views and instead are now questioning the scientific models researchers are using to predict the potentially devastating effects it will have. So come along and find out how scientists are fighting back.

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This themed night also has a fantastic activity attached to it – you get a stand up comic too! One ticket for a science festival and a comedy gig all in one – what more could you want? But this is not your ordinary stand up comic – this stand up comic is also a scientist! So get ready to learn about their research in the form of jokes and laughter 🙂

The second Planet Earth theme is marine night and one of the questions being tackled is over-fishing.

There are fewer fish in our oceans that EVER before – and once again it is all our fault! This is not only going to affect what fish available to us for food as well as the price of fish, but it is also going to affect the food available to the wider marine populations amongst many other reasons. I think we are all aware of conservation projects to save the population of different animals we find on land – but we must not forget those that live in the deep blue sea! This night will also feature two marine conservation charities: Surfers Against Sewage and The Black Fish. Find out what work they do and how you can get involved to save our fish! And also get your questions ready for all our scientists!

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The Planet Earth biodiversity night is going to ask the question – can we put a price on nature? There are so many undercover operations that different species do indirectly for us! For example, bees! They help to pollinate the majority of our crops and you might have heard that the bee population is in decline. If this becomes a serious problem and we don’t help to save the bees, as well as all the other incredible creatures on our planet, we risk losing so much food! This is just one topic to discuss at the third event – the team have recruited some other fantastic speakers to also talk about our forests and more! So the third Planet Earth night is going to put you back in touch with nature – as I think as a whole – the human race has definitely lost our green fingers!

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Why should I attend the Planet Earth events at #pint17?

The Planet Earth team have left  a really simple message for you saying why you should be buying those tickets for their events at #pint17 #soton in just over 2 weeks!

‘We need to take care of our planet, before the state of our planet takes care of us!’

Simple.

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The Planet Earth team are still working on finalising their program for #pint17 #soton. But if you want to stay up to date with all the latest news and updates by join our Pint of Science – Southampton Facebook event. Or if Twitter is more your thing, then follow the accounts shown below 🙂

If you’ve missed the other #pint17 preview posts, click here to see what our Atoms to Galaxies team might have  in store for you, click here if you want to learn about the brain with the Beautiful Mind team or here to discover the research happening right now that will affect your body!

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We hope to see you in May learning about the amazing science research going on in Southampton in one of your local pubs!

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Please don’t forget to keep up to date on all my new blog posts, all the latest news and more! Find me and Soph talks Science on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Scicomm & Science writing, Science & me

#Pint17 preview – Our Body

We have reached the half way stage of my British Science Week #Pint17 preview blog posts! But before we get too sad that this mini feature on my blog is nearly over – we have another theme to introduce to you today. So, let’s take a look around the Our Body team brewery and see what plans they have for #pint17 #soton.

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Now we all have bodies so you have NO excuses to not want to learn more about our bodies and the research going on in Southampton that affects our bodies at this years #pint17 festival in #soton. There are so many different organs, cell types and other aspects of our bodies to learn about and for scientists to explore so once again the Our Body team have a really tough job choosing just three themes for their events. But instead of talking about the heart, your lungs or your stomach for example – the Our Body team have some bigger issues that our bodies face which I will delve into a little deeper later in this blog post.

But first I need to introduce to you the team.

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Who are Team Our Body?

Let me introduce to you Sofia, Camelia, Rachael, Megan, Emily, Ellie and Emily!

This is your Our Body team for #pint17 #soton!

This team is made up of undergrad students, PhD students and a doctor! And they are all working behind the scenes and using their research expertise to bring you some out of the box themes for the Our Body nights 🙂

Team ourbody

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Where will the Our Body events be?

The Our Body team this year have secured the wonderful Art House cafe. Where better to learn about our beautiful bodies than in a relaxing gallery cafe 🙂

As with the other venues, all the details of event times and food/drink details will be launched in the next coming weeks.

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What will I learn about at the Our Body events?

The million dollar question. What knowledge will you gain from these events in May? So, I can exclusively reveal the themes for two nights of the Our Body theme.

The first night asks the question – where do our medicines come from? Now I don’t mean do you get yours from the doctor or do you buy your paracetamol in Tesco. But instead this really interesting themes is going to show you the journey of how a small chemical compound gets into the hands of doctors so they can help you get better and fix your body!

Have you ever wondered how that pill you’ve taken ever became a pill and the work that went into it for years before hand? Well – this Our Body event is going to teach you how we know that the medicine is safe and how we know if the medicine will work and more!

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The speakers our team have got for you are going to walk you through how medicines are developed in the lab, then move onto how they are tested in clinical trials and finally talk about how those new medicines are put into actual clinical practice. Fascinating don’t you think?

The second theme is a topic that is frequently in the news – the problem that is surrounding all of us and our health – superbugs and antibiotic resistance. I am sure you have all heard of this crisis we are facing right? Well the speakers on this night are going to give you an insight into a few different aspects of this dilemma. A scientist to see how research is trying to prevent the spread of infectious disease in the wake of antimicrobial resistance, a doctor for a first hand account of how superbugs are affecting healthcare and finally a health protection consultant to talk about the prevention of spreading an infectious disease in your area. If superbugs do rise up and take over – it is going to affect everyone! So  come and learn about how scientists are trying to prevent that on this Our Body event.

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As for the activities you can get involved with at the Our Body events – they are still top secret. But I do know that there is an activity related to the 100,000 genome project in the works. Perhaps the team are going to ask you whether you would want your genome sequenced? Ill let you have a think about your answer to that ready for the night 🙂

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Why should I attend the Our Body nights at #pint17?

This one is simple. The Our Body team want you to come to their events because:

‘We all have a body – no matter what shape or size. And no matter how healthy or sick we are, at some point we will need medicine to help fix it. So why not learn about it this May at #pint17 #soton’

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The Our Body team are still working on finalising their program for #pint17 #soton. But if you want to stay up to date with all the latest news and updates by join our Pint of Science – Southampton Facebook event. Or if Twitter is more your thing, then follow the accounts shown below 🙂

If you’ve missed the other #pint17 preview post, click here to see what our Atoms to Galaxies team might have  in store for you or here if you want to learn about the brain with the Beautiful Mind team!

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We hope to see you in May learning about the amazing science research going on in Southampton in one of your local pubs!

 

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Please don’t forget to keep up to date on all my new blog posts, all the latest news and more! Find me and Soph talks Science on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Scicomm & Science writing, Science & me

#Pint17 preview – Beautiful Mind

Happy Tuesday! And welcome to the second installment of my #Pint17 previews to get a taste of what we are brewing her in Southampton for our Pint of Science festival in May. And with tickets going on sale in less than 3 weeks, I’m hoping it will help you decide which events you might want to attend. So, today is the turn of the Beautiful Mind theme.

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Now this theme might sound self-explanatory – it is going to be loads of people just talking about the brain! Well, much like neuroscience, there are a lot more layers to it than simply how the brain works, or may stop working! We use our brains in EVERY aspect of our lives – from thinking and walking, to helping us see and talking amongst thousand of other things! They never switch off – even when you are tucked up in bed asleep every night! So even with a theme that upon first look might seem to be straight forward, there is still such a diverse range of research related to our brains or things we use our brains for happening right here in Southampton, and our Beautiful Mind team have got the difficult job of choosing between all that research and bring you the most interesting speakers and activities so you go home having learnt so much about your brain whilst using your brain to watch, listen, ask questions and of course reach out and grab that pint for a refreshing drink every so often!

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Who are Team Beautiful Mind?

Today I want to introduce you to Charlie, Joe, Jessica, Patricia, Katie and Krithika!

This is your Beautiful Mind team for #pint17 #soton! These guys and girls are all scientific researchers at various stages of their research careers. We have 1st year and 2nd year PhD students and even a principal investigator which means they run their own lab! But they all have one thing in common – they all study the brain, but with such a variety of different aspects from dementia, to your own body clock and how your immune system affects your brain.

 

These brainy people are going to make you fall in love with everything brain related and make you want to know more and more about the neuroscience research going on in the city.

Team beautmind

So this team have it nearly sussed – three themed nights decided, speakers ever so nearly confirmed, and activities coming together so I am going to give you a flavour of ALL THREE Beautiful Mind nights being brewed currently! But the full details of all the events are going to be kept under wraps until the official Pint of Science launch on 3rd April – DATE FOR YOUR DIARY! – so remember to check back then, plus we also want to keep you guessing a little while longer.

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Where will the Beautiful Mind events be?

A very important question – there would be no point me telling you what you can see at these events if you don’t know where you can find them.

These mind-boggling-ly awesome events will be held at the uber cool Stein Garten Southampton. A Bavarian Beer Keller and brains! What more could you ask for? Again – exact details of start times and any food and drink details will be revealed in the coming weeks.

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What will I learn about at the Beautiful Mind events?

Now for the best part – what are the plans for the Beautiful Mind events? As promised there will be a taster for each night the team has planned, so let’s get stuck in.

Night 1 – This night will ask the question ‘What happens to our brains when our environment changes?’. Hands up if you’ve ever experienced jet lag after a long haul flight? I’m assuming some of you probably have. Well, depending on which direction you’ve flown and how big the time difference is – you can find yourself absolutely exhausted and wanting to go to sleep in the middle of the day, or you are still wide awake with no signs of sleep in the middle of the night! We can blame this on your brain – or specifically your circadian rhythms which is also known as your body clock. This is going to be one of the topics for this night looking at how day turning into night affects what happens in our brains. This night will also look at how are brain responds to visual cues and how we learn from that. Some examples of this spatial learning to get your taste buds tingling are how rats remember the location of the food at the end of a maze, or similarly it’s how you remember you way around a city. But do you know what happens in your brain so you can remember your route? Come along to this night and find out!

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Moving swiftly on to Night 2 – this night is going to focus on your Fight for Sight. If your a big soap fan like me, you might have seen the recent story line in Eastenders with Dot Cotton and her issues with going blind. In the science world, this is called age-related macular degeneration and this is an example of what it will do to your sight:

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1 in 3 over 80 year olds will suffer from this vision loss – but there is some awesome research going on in Southampton to try and tackle this problem. This is going to be one of the topics covered on this night and will also ask how our brains are linked to what we see. Get preparing your questions now and head to this Beautiful Mind night to learn about what research is happening NOW, that might be able to help cure your blindness in the future when you are Dot Cotton’s age!

Night 3 is going to focus on Alzheimer’s disease. This particular night is something that I personally really want to attend as it is a topic that is close to my heart and also one of my biggest fears is losing my memories – so I am keen to learn anything about this disease. I’m sure all of you have heard of Alzheimers and I’m sure a lot of you have had some personal experiences with it but here is your chance to learn more about what is currently being done to tackle dementia. There are going to be two very different speakers on this night – one is an occupational therapist who works with dementia patients and the second is a clinician who is talking about the clinical trials that are ongoing and related to Alzheimers. So, there really is something for everyone on this night.Image result for alzheimer's

I have just touched briefly on some of the topics the Beautiful Mind speakers will cover – and not only that you can ask questions about anything so I’m sure you will learn so much more than just about your body clock, blindness and Alzheimer’s. And please dont be afraid to ask questions – scientists love to talk about their work so make the most of it 🙂

But you wont just be sat listening to speakers all night long. We are going to put your brain through its paces and challenge it to the Stroop test! You’ve all heard of the Stroop test right? No? Well maybe this picture might jog your memory.

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Still not sure what I’m talking about? Well, we are going to try and trick your brain – we are going to show you a series of cards like this one and we want you to say what colour the word is without saying the word itself. For example, with the picture above we want you to say GREEN, not yellow! Get me now?

Does that seem easy to you? I can assure you it is not that easy – but if you’re still confident that you will be able to do it with no mistakes then come down and join us in May and see how quickly you can do it. Can you be the champion of the #Pint17 Stroop test?

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Why should I attend the Beautiful Mind nights at #pint17?

I think I’ve given you all the reasons why you should attend the Beautiful Mind events by sharing so much insider info with you! But the main reason is so you learn more about the big and powerful organ that is our brains!

Despite all the taster info I’ve already given you, the team are going to answer so many more questions related to your brains such as:

Can computer games be used in diagnosing depression and memory loss?

Can your own immune system help treat blindness?

And how does light affect our brains?

Do you really want to miss that opportunity? I didn’t think so! So come to the Beautiful Mind events at #pint17 #soton this May  because ‘Knowledge is power and your brain is power-ful!’

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Obviously the Beautiful Mind team are still working on finalising their program for #pint17 #soton. But if you want to stay up to date with all the latest news and updates by join our Pint of Science – Southampton Facebook event. Or if Twitter is more your thing, then follow the accounts shown below 🙂

If you missed yesterdays post, click here to see what our Atoms to Galaxies team might have  in store for you!

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We hope to see you in May learning about the amazing science research going on in Southampton in one of your local pubs!

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Please don’t forget to keep up to date on all my new blog posts, all the latest news and more! Find me and Soph talks Science on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.