Here we celebrate the diverse activities and achievements of our student cohort – in and out of the lab! If you are a current student and have done something interesting or noteworthy, please get in touch with the comms team.
Congratulations to 2nd and 3rd year York PhD students Ethan Redmond and Harry Pink, who presented findings from their latest research at the International Conference on Arabidopsis Research (ICAR) conference in Belfast.
The conference gathers up to 1000 plant scientists from around the world, whose primary research organism is the model plant, Arabidopsis thaliana.
Following his K.M. Scott Prize for research excellence during a recent event at the University of York, Ethan took his latest findings across the Irish Sea and explained how he his using RNA sequencing on a large Arabidopsis population to understand why genetically identical plants flower at different times.
Harry, meanwhile, presented findings from his recent first-author publication where he identified genetic variation underpinning resistance in lettuce to two fungal pathogens which are becoming increasingly resistant to agricultural treatments, such as fungicides. The work does not stop there for Harry, as he now plans to identify which genes are the key players in controlling this disease resistance!
White Rose DTP PhD student, Alex Holmes, developed and hosted an interactive gameshow at this year’s Be Curious Festival in Leeds! We spoke to the superstar science communicator about the festival, how she came to be involved, and what she loves most about public engagement and making science accessible.
The Be Curious festival is an annual research event held at the University of Leeds, which aims to engage local people with research happening within the University and show how this work is making a difference to the lives of the public. White Rose DTP PhD student Alex Holmes, a keen science communicator with over 2000 Twitter followers engaging with her posts on all things science, played a key role in this year’s festival.
“In previous years I’ve led stalls at festivals around protein structure and biology”, says Alex, “but this year seemed like the perfect opportunity to do a science show I developed called Big and Small”. In the show, Alex, who studies membrane protein structure and function as part of her PhD project, went head-to-head against a fellow PhD student in an attempt to convince the audience that proteins (a.k.a. small things) are better than the planet Jupiter (a.k.a. big things).
“I’m a pretty strong believer that science communication covers almost every conversation we have about science”
Something Alex loves about effective science communication is “seeing that lightbulb go off in the person you’re talking to”. However, working with proteins and structural biology meant she needed to get creative to ensure more and more people in the audience would have these lightbulb moments: “most people think of food when you say ‘protein’, so it can be a bit of a struggle if you’re not prepared to go ‘yes, but also…’”.
A top-tip Alex has for her fellow PhD students looking to communicate their own research in an accessible way is to remove nouns from your research topic title. For example, ‘understanding the structure and mechanism of membrane-integral pyrophosphatases and a mechanosensitive ion channel using biophysical and biochemical techniques‘ is pretty impenetrable, even if you’re in the field! Rewriting this title without the nouns and jargon leaves something more accessible, such as ‘understanding how the tools cells use to do their jobs look and work using computer- and lab-based experiments‘. Something Alex also recommends is using analogies to explain scientific topics, such as: “proteins are tools cells use; blood vessels are the motorways of the body; vesicles are like lunch boxes, and cells are like houses”.
“Most people think of food when you say ‘protein’, so it can be a bit of a struggle if you’re not prepared to go ‘yes, but also…’”
Although Alex has had great success in the fields of science communication and public engagement, hosting shows at Be Curious Festivals, Pint of Science events and even at the Royal Institute, she doesn’t plan to pursue a career solely in these specialities after she completes her PhD. Instead, she plans to take up a career in Higher Education teaching, but is keen to carry her science communication skills with her down this path: “I’m a pretty strong believer that science communication covers almost every conversation we have about science. Teaching has elements of science communication, from lecturing, practical demonstrations, thinking up activities and creative ways of explaining topics, as well as evaluating how well you’ve achieved those things”.
A group of BBSRC White Rose DTP students from the University of York have teamed up to organize this year’s Pint of Science event in York – bringing cutting-edge research to a boozer near you. We spoke to event co-ordinator, and 3rd Year PhD student, Conor Scott to learn more about the event and what he hopes it will achieve.
Biology PhD researcher Theo Issitt, from the University of York, heads to Berlin in November after beating off strong competition to win a place in the final of the international Falling Walls ‘Emerging Talent’ competition.
Cara Wheeldon of The University of Leeds has won the 2021 Monogram Early Career Excellence Award (MECEA)! Her work on barley, pea, and Arabidopsis plant sensing genes could potentially increase our growing understanding of how plant roots interact with each other and their environment. Identifying and understanding these genetic functions could potentially improve crop health and productivity. Obviously both Cara Wheeldon and the potential of her research greatly impressed the Monogram and Rank Prize Fund’s. As part of the DTP she has done us proud and we hope to continue to see her and others succeed!
Some good news from the DTP! the team Mycrobio funded by the White Rose DTP won the prize for “Best IP strategy” sponsored by Potter Clarkson at the YES20 competition. After a long delay due to COVID the competition finally took place on April 23rd, with the team submitting an IP strategy to use microbiome sequencing to create bespoke skincare products with the aim of restoring and maintaining a healthy skin microbiome.
The team consisted of a group of students comprising all our partner institutions including the Universities of Sheffield, York, and Leeds. This group has been a great example of the benefits of inter cohort participation!
And without further adieu the particpating members were
Alice Seleiro “Team Leader” (Sheffield)
Orlagh Anderson (York)
Laurence De Lussy-Kubisa (Sheffield)
Maia Harvey (Leeds)
Jack Wright (Leeds)
Great job to all those above and hopefully we can do some more articles on you all again soon!
Dorothy Hawkins is a third year DTP student. She featured on the BBC Look North (Yorkshire) news on 20th April 2020. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dorothy and her colleagues at The University of York have stepped up to the challenge. They are working at top speed to try and better understand the new coronavirus.
Our second year students worked together in cross-institutional teams to develop business ideas, which they presented to a panel of expert innovation and industry ‘Dragons’ at the Fera Training Day. There were moments of sheer brilliance, fun and a little bit of terror when faced with the Dragon’s questions. The Dragons were impressed with the students’ research into the commercial aspects of their business idea and it was difficult to choose a winner but after much discussion the Dragons were able to select the winning and runner-up teams.
Here are the teams receiving their prize from our External Advisory Board member Rose Maciewicz, VP Strategy Respiratory and Inflammation iMed at AstraZeneca:
The White Rose BBSRC DTP Research Symposium was held at the University of York on 15th Dec 2017 and showcased the work of our third year and final year students. This was organised by a committee of our DTP students, led by York student Lewis White, and was a great success.
We would like to congratulate all the students for their high quality presentations and posters, which were very well received by the symposium delegates. The winners of the presentation and poster competitions were very well deserved and had to fight off stiff competition from their fellow students.
Here are all the winners receiving their prize from our External Advisory Board member Rose Maciewicz, VP Strategy Respiratory and Inflammation iMed at AstraZeneca:
The White Rose BBSRC DTP Research Symposium was held at the University of Leeds on 15th Dec 2015 and showcased the work of our final year students.
We would like to congratulate all the students for their high quality 3 min thesis presentations and posters. The winners of the 3MT and poster competitions were very well deserved and had to fight off stiff competition from their fellow students. Here are all the winners receiving their prize from Robert Hardwick, BBSRC: