What I’m missing about Sheffield

Having lived in Sheffield for the past five years, I had come to think of it as home. I moved to the Steel City in 2013 to start a research PhD in the Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, studying parasitic weeds. But this chapter of my life is drawing to a close and, with my funding running out, it made economic sense to move back to my parents in the West Midlands to write up my thesis. One month later, here are the things I find myself missing the most.

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Enter the FutureCade! Review of Festival of the Mind 2018

One of the things I love best about living in Sheffield is that there is nearly always an exciting city-wide festival going on. The latest to take over the Steel City was Festival of the Mind 2018 (20-30th September), an event that always captures the imagination because you never know quite what to expect. Described as a “celebration of ideas, culture and collaboration” the 2018 program included “music, art, lectures, heritage, local history, international stories, performance and dance” – all free and open to all. I popped along to the FutureCade, a collection of bizarre and unique installations exhibited in the Millennium Galleries throughout the duration of the festival. This year, under the theme ‘Utopia/Dystopia’, researchers from the University of Sheffield had teamed up with animators, artists, musicians and craft workers to present visions of how technology could potentially be used to shape future societies. Continue reading

Is it possible to shop plastic-free as a Sheffield Student?

Even if you didn’t watch Blue Planet 2, you almost certainly know we have a ‘Plastic Problem’: all the packaging we throw away is literally chocking the world to death. The realisation of the environmental costs of our throw-away culture has prompted leaders across the globe to make bold pledges to reduce the use of disposable plastics, but these are so engrained in our society that it seems a very far-off reality. Practically every time we shop we inevitably contribute to the problem. Imagine if all the plastic packaging you used in a year was piled up in one big heap…I’m embarrassed to even imagine how much it would be for me. But I’m not here to make you feel guilty. As students we have tremendous power to drive social change. Currently it is simply much more convenient and easier to buy things wrapped in plastic – and that won’t change unless we demand it. Competition between big businesses is fierce so they have to be attentive to our wants if they hope to benefit from our purchasing power. The way you shop sends them a message and can help to make real change happen. Continue reading

Staying in Sheffield over summer? Don’t despair…

As a PhD Research Student, summer is the time when the office and labs suddenly empty as all my colleagues depart for exciting international conferences or the holiday they have been dreaming of all through the long dark winter. Sadly, I won’t be joining them this year. With only a few months left to finish all my lab work before my funding ends, I simply can’t afford to take any extended time away from the department. If I was a computational scientist and could take my work with me, things might be different but as a plant scientist, I have to be around to look after my ‘babies’. Continue reading

The Graduate Science Showcase – what’s it all about?

It seems only yesterday that I was diligently attending my PhD induction lectures. And now here I am in my third year, being prompted to prepare a poster for the Graduate Science Showcase. This is an annual event at the University of Sheffield that brings together PhD Research students from across the whole Faculty of Science.  Even though it is meant to be an informal celebration of our diverse research project, I feel the pressure to perform well. With cash prizes on offer for the best posters, the standard is sure to be red hot!

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Ready, get set – code!

In all areas of modern society, new technology is being developed at breakneck speed. Much of this depends on coding, which is now seen as such a fundamental skill that it was introduced into the National Curriculum in September 2014. Now, children as young as five years old are learning how to ‘talk’ to computers.

Code First: Girls class of 2017 – photo credit: Pauline Narvas

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Sweden – an unexpected discovery

One of the best things about doing a science-related PhD is that travelling abroad to attend international conferences is positively encouraged. These meetings are invaluable opportunities to gain experience in presenting work in front of academic audiences; network with colleagues from around the world; pick up new ideas for future experiments and to scout out future jobs. And of course, it’s a great excuse to visit somewhere new!

A VERY busy, bustling conference!

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Ready to be inspired? Pint of Science is back!

What do dark matter, synthetic organs, landslides, artificial intelligence, mindfulness and football shirts have in common? They all feature in this years’ Pint of Science Festival in Sheffield, taking place 15-17 May! In this unique 3-day science festival, University of Sheffield researchers and the public will come together in pubs to discuss the latest cutting-edge research being done in our city. Pint of Science originally started off as an idea by a small group of UK researchers who wanted to bring back the personal touch to science and give everyone the chance to meet the real people behind the research. Since the first event in 2012, Pint of Science has grown into an international festival, and this year over 100 cities in 12 different countries will be staging events simultaneously.

Pint of Science will stage talks about amazing science in pubs across Sheffield

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Lincoln – the perfect student getaway!

Whilst Sheffield is a brilliant place to live and study, we can all benefit from an escape once in a while. But if you have done the obvious options – Chatsworth, Bakewell, Castleton, maybe even a foray to York- where else makes a good value, student-friendly day out? For somewhere that ticks all the boxes and absolutely brims with art, history, culture and quirky shops – look to Lincoln! Continue reading