A guest blog from our work experience student, Daisy…
This week, I’ve been on work experience week with the Evidence Synthesis Team. On Tuesday we travelled down to Falmouth for the College of Medicine and Health Annual Research Event at the Penryn Campus.
The first day of the conference started at 9am and ended at 6.20pm with a barbeque outside with games, burgers and salad. There were 48 talks and 23 posters and I saw 14 talks and 12 posters, making notes on each one. The talks were given by PhD students in their 2nd and 3rd years talking about their projects and their findings so far. Interestingly almost all the talks at the conference were given by women, but the poster sessions were more equally matched.
My favourite talks of the day were by Antoinette Davey and Anastasia Voronkova. Antoinette was in her 3rd year of her PhD and her presentation was on how the different time of day can change the symptoms of any disease or condition. She showed us a diagram of a 24 hour clock which showed the different times of day that a condition is likely to affect someone which I found simple and easy to understand. She did a thematic analysis and interviews with the patients, I thought her talk was clear and interesting.
On the second day, we had breakfast at 08:00 and went to sit in the garden looking at the fish in the pond. The conference started again at 09:15, and there was only 9 talks and 21 posters. I only went to three talks and then we left to go and see the sea and eat ice cream and then we came back for the poster session.
Throughout the conference I took notes on each talk looking specifically for words I didn’t understand, the method that they used, their year of study and the main ideas in their PhD.
We were invited to be part of the judging panel alongside the Institute Directors and other key members of the academic staff. At lunchtime on the second day, we met with the other judges and discussed each session in turn and reflected on feedback provided by the session chairs. There were prizes for the best presentations and we decided on winners from both the Institute of Health Research (IHR) and the Institute of Biomedical and Clinical Science. For the IHR winners we chose Anastasia Voronkova for the winning prize and Viktorija Kesaite for the runner up.
Anastasia is in the 2nd year of her PhD, based on the environment. She focused her work on villagers in Seruat Dua in Indonesia, carrying out Focus Groups to learn about family planning in that area. She learnt that laws in Indonesia massively impact the villagers and their income e.g. the Burning Ban which stops the villagers from burning the land to clear it for farming puporses with punishments such as fines and imprisonment. In response to the ban villagers have taken to lighting fire to their neighbours land in the hope that it catches on to their own as the owner of the original burning land is always responsible and punished. In the village, most families have a higher than average number of children although the government are now encouraging parents to have children at specific times to make it easier to care for them. To do this, governments encouraged a number of contraceptive methods but each had a new reason for rejection and Anastasia concluded that not enough doctors were available to support the villagers.
We also discussed the posters; we agreed on Laura Hollands for the ‘Best IHR Poster award and Alex Smalley for ‘Most Innovative Poster’.
Alex’s poster was about his PhD subject of Exploring How Digital Experiences of the Natural World can Impact Health and Wellbeing. When he started his presentation he made everyone turn around and look out of the window at the nature outside and he asked “what is missing?” As he went through his talk he explained and the audience understood that the missing element was sound and that through his study he wants to work out how to virtually bring natural sounds such as birdsong and wind into the lives of people who can’t experience it for real. I found his presentation very easy to understand and he had a clear concept for his work. I liked how his poster mirrored the simplicity of his explanation as it was simply set up and eye-catching.
During each talk I made a tally of the number of times a word or acronym was used which I didn’t understand and I also made a list of a few of these and looked up their meaning when I was back in the office:
Longitudinal Data: making the observations of the same thing over short or long time periods
Socio-demographics: a combination of social and demographic factors
Empirical: based on observation or experience rather than theory or logic
Grey Literature: information produced by people who aren’t in the traditional commercial or academic professions e.g. reports, working papers, government documents
Heterogeneity: being diverse in character or content
Overall, I really enjoyed this insight into post graduate research in the College of Medicine and Health. It gave me a really good understanding of the variety of different projects that students are doing and the methods that they use. The word cloud below is made up of all the titles of the talks and posters over the two days of the conference. I liked the way that the students were responsible for chairing the sessions. I also enjoyed listening to the discussion after each talk and hearing different views of the audience on the presentations.