Thursday, 25 May 2017

ISTM students participate in cross faculty conference

The Institute of Liberal arts and Sciences (ILAS) recently held its “Crossing Paths” Postgraduate Conference 2017, an opportunity which allowed postgraduate students to showcase their work to other disciplines. Unlike most conferences, in which people from a similar scientific field meet together to discuss the “nitty gritty” of their research, this conference required students to discuss the wider impact of their research and present it in a format that was accessible to people not familiar with their subject area. Along with poster presentations, another way in which students got to share their research was a challenge known as the Three minute thesis competition (3MT). The competition required PhD students to present a compelling spoken presentation on their research topic and its significance in just three minutes to a non-specialist audience. Whilst this may sound easy, an 80,000 word thesis would take 9 hours to present!

Students from ISTM attending the ILAS Crossing Paths PG Conference

We caught up with two of our prize winners to see what they had to say about the conference…

Fraser Philp (ISTM PhD Student) - Judges and Peoples prizes for best presentation

The conference was well supported by students from the Institute of Science and Technology in Medicine (ISTM) and the School of Health and Rehabilitation (SHAR) through attendance, posters and entries into the Three minute thesis competition. Myself and Shaima Jabbar, entered the 3 Minute Thesis (3MT) competition heats, and I was lucky enough to win the Judges and Peoples prizes for best presentation for my presentation entitled “Validating the methods that underpin the modelling of injury risk factors in football.” The presentation discussed the importance of evaluating the current methods used to identify injury and how the clinical decision making processes could potentially be improved through the use of computer modelling (mathematical and statistical equations).

Fraser Philp won the 3 Minute Thesis competition

I thoroughly enjoyed the day; it was a great opportunity to see other people’s research and engage in conversations outside of your discipline. The three minute thesis was a great opportunity; the biggest challenge was trying to get people who usually aren’t interested in your research area, not only interested, but also able to see the impact of what you’re doing in just three minutes. The next stages of the 3MT competition are on the 20th of June 2017.

Homa Weli (ISTM PhD student) - People's prize for best poster

"Variety is said to be the spice of life". This statement, I believe, beautifully illustrates the meeting point between the arts and science. On 28th of April, the Institute of Liberal Arts and Science (ILAS) hosted a multidisciplinary conference which gave effect to the quote.

I arrived at the conference hall slightly jet-lagged from a brief trip to the United States yet I was still keen to participate. It promised to be varied by cutting across various fields in the arts and science and by the end of the conference, I could confidently say: "promise kept".

Homa Weli won the People's prize for best poster

I applied to present at the ILAS conference upon the suggestion of my lead supervisor, Professor Ying Yang. Being a multidisciplinary conference, this meant that I had to prepare my presentation with focus and clarity in mind. I was determined to communicate my research clearly and to appeal to a non-specialist audience. My PhD work, amongst other things, investigates an ageing compound in a disease that only affects women - Pelvic Organ Prolapse. There is poor awareness of the disease's burden and significance amongst the general public. Furthermore, in the process of studying pelvic organ Prolapse, I had used 3 specialised mechanical tests. Therefore explaining these to a non-specialist audience was not an easy task, nonetheless, but I was determined to take on the challenge. To capture the study in simplicity, my poster was titled: "Understanding how pelvic organ prolapse Happens: insights from vaginal tissue collagen age, structure and mechanical strength". The use of scientific jargons and clinical terms can be reflex habits for scientists and clinicians. So, I paid attention to how I used these and explained them where necessary.

There were 46 posters displayed at the conference. These included work from the fields of Geography, Politics, Law, Life Sciences, Medicine and Physiotherapy. I learned about some brilliant research going on at the university, but I was particularly thrilled to explain my research to both staff and students from the arts and humanities field. I found it exciting that they could both relate to and understand my research. They demonstrated an understanding of even of the methods used. It was a rewarding experience which received positive feedback . At the end of the event, I was both honoured and pleased to have been awarded the Audience Choice (People's) poster prize which is a prize for communication.

Notes from the audience 

ISTM would like to thank all of its students that took part in the cross faculty conference and to congratulate both Fraser Philp and Homa Weli on the winning presentations, as well as Emma Green (ISTM PhD student) for winning the runner up prize for the Judge’s prize for best poster!

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