On April 3rd I attended Edinburgh Napier’s Faculty of Health, Life & Social Sciences Postgraduate Research Conference at the beautiful Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh. This day was almost as long as last month’s BPS Conference but it was well worth it and highly interesting.
After Dr Gary Hutchison’s opening address I went to the first parallel session. With a focus on social sciences, psychology, and sport this session included my PhD student, Kai Li Chung, who spoke enthusiastically about her research on aversive personalities. Kai Li focussed her presentation on toxic leaders and the followers who enable them. Although she was limited to just five minutes, Kai Li gave an interesting glimpse into what her PhD will cover over the next two and half years and she dealt really well with numerous questions posed at the end of her talk. We were both delighted when she was later awarded a prize for one of the best presentations.
Also in the first session was Hannah Carver talking about how ‘at risk’ young people communicate about alcohol and drugs, Elumaro Adeboye Israel discussing the development of sport in Nigeria, and Chrissi Nerantzi who shared her presentation on collaborative learning using a handy flyer. It was a diverse and interesting session showing some promising ideas.
The second parallel session offered a similar diversity of speakers beginning with a thought-provoking and detailed piece of research by Anna Sierka. Anna’s research explored the mechanisms underpinning the relationships between trauma, substance misuse, and offending in the lives of Scottish female prisoners. Anna had an excellent presentational style and dealt very competently with the many questions she was asked at the end of her talk. Using a qualitative approach to her research, Anna had interviewed eight female prisoners and presented her analysis using quotations from her participants and life history calenders to show how and when alcohol, drugs, and trauma had entered the women’s lives. Anna was also awarded a prize for her presentation.
The second session also contained interesting work from Janyne Afseth on developing a holistic needs assessment tool for brain cancer patients, Susan Watt’s research on angina patients’ self-management of coronary heart disease, and Geraldine Finnan’s ethnographic approach to nurses’ experience of death in palliative care. The session concluded with a perfectly timed presentation from Barbara Piotrowska outlining her early findings and planned research on the development of a novel screening tool for dyslexia. This was another topic which generated many questions all of which Barbara answered deftly.
After lunch I had the pleasure of chairing a parallel session in the Great Hall. This session focussed on psychology but from many different perspectives. Lindsey Carruthers spoke first on her research covering incubation and creative problem solving. Lindsey’s interesting talk using a quantitative, experimental approach received an encouraging tweet from our Head of School as well as earning Lindsey a prize for one of the best presentations.
Alexandra Todoran followed Lindsey with a five minute outline of her work using Lacanian discourse analysis to understand perspectives on Romanian national identity. Alexandra has a wonderfully calm and clear presentational style and it was a pity her time was limited to five minutes as there were many questions on her research – all of which she gave thoughtful and engaging answers to. Margaret McGowan and Gillian Matthews provided the final two talks. Margaret’s presentation also featured discourse analysis as a methodology for examining how science is used to evaluate and often criticise complementary and alternative medicine. Gillian presented an interesting analysis of a one year study exploring mindfulness as experienced by people living with long term conditions. This was another topic which generated a lot of questions and Gillian’s exploration of how participants developed their mindfulness skills was very enlightening.
The day concluded with two guest speakers. Edinburgh Napier’s Dr Clare Taylor, and public engagement officer Jamie Gallagher from the University of Glasgow. Clare’s talk addressed observed gender differences in academia – specifically within certain scientific disciplines – when it comes to PhD students, lecturers, and professors. Gender differences observed in the numbers of male/female students studying at undergraduate level become increasing pronounced at each level of career progression. Typically the percentage of males increases at each level. Her graph made female chemistry professors look like an endangered species! Clare also promoted the efforts of Athena Swan and Science Grrl in raising awareness of, and tackling, these issues.
Jamie Gallagher gave a humorous and colourful presentation outlining his work in science public engagement. Jamie’s extensive experience of public engagement and entertainment provided a lot to think about and it was good to finish the day with such an upbeat and motivated account of science engagement across many different levels. Jamie’s upcoming activities can be seen here.
Thanks for reading, thanks to all the student presenters, and thanks to Margarida Dias for putting so much work into organising the event.