PubhD arrives in London!

It’s taken a few years for it happen, but PubhD London starts next week with their first event on 27 October 2016.

At each PubhD event, three researchers, from any subject area, explain their work to an audience in a pub in exchange for a drink or two. The talks are at a “pub level” – the idea is that you don’t have to be an academic to understand the talks.

Robyn Waite and friends launch PubhD London with the following speakers:

  • Cerys Bradley, a PhD student at UCL studying Crime and Security Science, who’ll be exploring what privacy is and how we preserve it.
  • Jessica Simpson, a PhD student studying sociology at City University. Her research explores student sex workers.
  • Sahra Rae Taylor, a PhD student at City University in International Politics. Her research explores ‘Cosmopolitanism’ and how this is linked to education.

The event is at Topolski, Waterloo.

More details: https://www.facebook.com/events/200414003714924/

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PubhD Évora’s first event: 16 June 2016

Portugal has another city hosting PubhD events!

Évora joins the other Portuguese PubhD locations of Lisbon, Guimarães and Braga. Their first event details can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1731977603745258/

At each PubhD event, three researchers from any subject area explain their work to an audience in a pub in exchange for a drink or two. The talks are at a “pub level” – the idea is that you don’t have to be an academic to understand the talks.

More information can be found at the PubhD Évora Facebook page, or you can follow their Twitter account, @PubhDEvora.

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PubhD Bristol’s first event: 1 June 2016

Another city gets to host a PubhD event: PubhD Bristol launches with their first event on Wednesday 1 June 2016. It will take place at The Robin Hood pub on St Michael’s Hill.

PubhD Bristol is being organised by Travis Bacon and Arne Scott.

At each PubhD event, three researchers from any subject area explain their work to an audience in a pub in exchange for a drink or two. The talks are at a “pub level” – the idea is that you don’t have to be an academic to understand the talks.

The first line up is:

  • Pam Lock: PhD student at the University of Bristol: “Drinking & Drunkenness in Victorian Fiction”.
  • Helena Quilter, PhD student in Sustainable Plastics at the University of Bath: “Pining for Plastics”.
  • Jake Barber, MRes Health Sciences at the University of Bristol: “Little Pricks: Improving the Efficiency of Nanospikes Against Bacteria”.

More information can be found at their Facebook group, their website or on Twitter.

Full details about the first event can be found here.

Next week: PubhD Liverpool’s first event

We’re writing quite a few posts like this at the moment.

So far in 2016, four PubhDs have started up: Norwich, BirminghamPubhD UMinho and Newcastle.

Now it’s Liverpool’s turn to get a shiny new PubhD.

It’s being started up by Kat Ford and their first event is on Thursday 10 March 2016, at The Vines pub.

At each PubhD event, three researchers from any subject area explain their work to an audience in a pub in exchange for a drink or two. The talks are at a “pub level” – the idea is that you don’t have to be an academic to understand the talks.

The first three speakers at PubhD Liverpool are:

  • Benjamin Mummery (Astrophysics)
  • Sophie Irwin (Cell Biology)
  • Martin Grunnill (Epidemiology)

More information can be found at the PubhD Liverpool Facebook group, or you can follow their Twitter account, @PubhD_Liverpool.

Full details about the first event can be found here.

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Starting this month: PubhD Newcastle

Last month we saw Norwich, Birmingham and PubhD UMinho host their first events. On 25 February 2016, PubhD Newcastle hosts their first event.

PubhD Newcastle's first event

PubhD Newcastle’s first event

At each PubhD event, three researchers from any subject area explain their work to an audience in a pub in exchange for a drink or two. The talks are at a “pub level” – the idea is that you don’t have to be an academic to understand the talks.

For Newcastle’s first event, the research topics are:

  • Should adolescent children should have their own distinct set of rights? – Tracy Kirk
  • Entrepreneurship, Education, Learning and Threshold Concepts – Lucy Hatt
  • The provision of free legal advice within communities and where there are gaps in provision following cuts to legal aid and changes to the legal system due to government austerity measures – Chris Simmonds

PubhD Newcastle is being run by by Elaine Campbell, a Senior Lecturer at Northumbria Law School, and Rebecca Prescott who is currently undertaking her doctoral research in urban regeneration and artistic place-making.

More information can be found at the PubhD Newcastle website, or follow their Twitter account @PubhDNewcastle.

PubhD Norwich: Pints and PhDs

A guest post from The Genome Analysis Centre (TGAC)

On Tuesday 26 January, three scientists from The Genome Analysis Centre (TGAC) helped kick-off the first instalment of ‘PubhD’ at the Cellar House in Eaton, Norwich.

A varied local audience, joined two TGAC PhD students, Thomas Bradley and Maxwell Rogers, to learn about the breadth of TGAC’s research through a series of talk. Facilitated by TGAC Public Engagement and Society Officer Peter Bickerton, the session showcased topics from fascinating fish, and the orchestra of life to the wonders of microalgae, followed by some in-depth questions, answers and dialogue.

A national campaign, PubhD aims to help PhD students explain their research to a lay audience using just a whiteboard and marker pens. The idea is to get across the main focus of their research in terms that anyone can understand before members of the public get the chance to quiz them and discuss over a drink or two.

Considering the importance that PhD research has on the bulk of published science, as well as the famous discoveries that have occurred over a pint in the pub (the structure of DNA for one), where events such as this are an extremely valuable experience.

Thomas Bradley from the Swarbreck Group at TGAC gave a fascinating talk, entitled “The crafty mechanism of life”, using impressive analogies. He had the audience imagine that genes are all part of an orchestra, each one representing a different section – be it horns, violins or percussion. In our different tissues, we have the same genes, yet each section of the orchestra plays louder or more softly; and so our brains might play Mozart while our lungs are playing Beethoven. He then explained his research in terms of the orchestra’s ‘conductor’ – microRNA – using machine learning algorithms not dissimilar to those used by the internet. His analogies resonated with the crowd, where his talk was described by one audience member as “music to my ears.”

Maxwell Rogers, from the Di Palma Group at TGAC, spoke about “Why cichlid fish are awesome” which was equally well received and gave the participants a great insight into the evolution of one of the most wonderfully diverse groups of species on the planet.  He carried on with Thomas’s analogy, linking the orchestra of genes to describe how we come to a phenotype – how genes make proteins and all of the different forms that cichlid fish can take. One audience member simply said, “I want to know more,” while another commented that the talk was “really well explained and a very promising experiment, the speaker was very knowledgeable.”

Finally, Dr Peter Bickerton gave a lively talk on his PhD project entitled “Stressing algae.” Peter spoke about how green algae are a good model to better understand how animals and plants evolved, as well as some of the complex processes that arose in much more ancient life forms. He explained how algae use calcium as a signal and for a variety of other functions – even to detect light through primitive eyes. One audience member said, “It’s amazing how interesting he can make calcium and algae – not an easy job.”

The audience of thirty people left feeling both engaged and informed, describing TGAC as “worthwhile” and “very far-reaching; looking forward to all the benefits in the future.” Various people also expressed their interest in hearing more and signed-up to hear about future TGAC events.

Dr Bickerton, Public Engagement and Society Officer at TGAC, said: “The first Norwich PubhD at the Cellar House was a fantastic success, and many thanks to Victoria for conceiving and hosting the event. We managed to foster a very effective dialogue between our PhD students and the audience, inspiring the audience about the varied and important research undertaken at TGAC.  We look forward to bringing more of our postgraduate students along in the near future.”

Cellar House Landlady Victoria MacDonald, said: “A great fun and inspirational evening with huge support and some lovely feedback! It was brilliant to see the science ‘coming alive’ in a social and informal setting. Looking forward to the next one.”

TGAC is strategically funded by BBSRC and operates a National Capability to promote the application of genomics and bioinformatics to advance bioscience research and innovation.

PubhD Norwich‘s next event is on Tuesday 23 February 2016 and features speakers from the Institute of Food Research.

Another PubhD starting up in Portugal: PubhD UMinho

In October 2015, PubhD Lisboa started.

Later this month, another PubhD is starting up in Portugal.

It is called PubhD UMinho (i.e. Universidade do Minho) and will run monthly across two cities in the north of Portugal: Braga and Guimarães.

At each PubhD event, three researchers from any subject area explain their work to an audience in a pub in exchange for a drink or two. The talks are at a “pub level” – the idea is that you don’t have to be an academic to understand the talks.

PubhD UMinho’s first event is in Guimarães on 28 January 2016.

PubhD UMinho's first event

PubhD UMinho’s first event

More details can be found here: