Women in Psychological Sciences Lecture Series

Prof Clare Elwell
From PhD Student to Professor – Part Time

4pm 12th June 2018
B01 Clore Management Centre
Torrington Square
Birkbeck, University of London
WC1E 7JL

Drinks Reception to Follow

Clare Elwell is a Professor of Medical Physics in the Department of Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering at UCL, and Visiting Professor at the Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development, Birkbeck, University of London. She is Director of the Near Infrared Spectroscopy Research Group in the Biomedical Optics Research Laboratory at UCL and develops novel optical systems for monitoring and imaging the human body. Her research projects include studies of acute brain injury in adults, children and infants, autism, migraine, malaria and sports performance.

Her most recent project is the use of near infrared spectroscopy to investigate malnutrition related brain development in rural Gambia, resulting in the first functional brain imaging of infants in Africa. She started the Globalfnirs Initiative (www.globalfnirs.org) to support the application of NIRS in global health projects. She currently leads the Brain Imaging for Global Health (BRIGHT) project which is developing brain function for age curves for Gambian and UK infants from birth to 24 months of age with the aim of informing targeted interventions to improve long term neurocognitive outcome. She is a founder member and President of the Society for Functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy, and President of the London International Youth Science Forum.

Clare has won the UCL Provost’s Public Engagement Award, Medical Research Council Science Suffrage Award, Inspirational Teacher Award at the UK Inspirational Awards for Women, and the Women in Science and Engineering Research Award. Most recently she was awarded the UCL Engineering Engagement Outstanding Contribution Award and a British Science Association Media Fellowship. She is Founder and Trustee of the charity Young Scientists for Africa (YoSA, www.yosa.org.uk).

She has two children and has worked part time for a total of 18 years. Clare is a keen advocate for supporting women in STEM.

Free open basic introduction to critical realism with Priscilla Alderson

On Wednesday 27 June (11.00 am – 5.00 pm) and Thursday 28 June (9.00 am – 12.30 pm) Priscilla Alderson PhD will be delivering a basic introductory course to critical realism based on the books and doctoral seminars of Professor Roy Bhaskar (the founder of critical realism) at the Institute of Education UCL main building.

Free and open to all, the course will include: problems and contradictions in social science; how basic CR concepts help to resolve them; structure and agency; connecting macro and micro, qualitative and quantitative, local and global research; researching transformative change over time.

Critical realism can be applied to any methods and topics of social research. There will be time for students to discuss their own work during the programme.

To register for this exciting course please contact Bob: r.gist@ucl.ac.uk

 

Winner Keith Jarrett on Three Minute Thesis Competition 2018

There is one question in particular I dread: What’s your PhD on? It usually follows the other eye-rolling what do you do? I know it should be simpler, much simpler; I know the person asking doesn’t want my life story; I know why colleagues make up answers at random, and I nearly always regret not making something up too, or at least having a more straightforward project.

I’m what’s called an interdisciplinarian, that rare species who doesn’t feel fully at home in one department or another, who can’t remember if he should be using MHRA or Harvard referencing – the two departments are at odds with each other over this – and, worse still, whose practice-led research provokes shouts of You get to write a NOVEL for your PhD?! (Two other impossible questions follow: What’s your novel about? How many words have you written?)

I sign up to the Three Minute Thesis competition mostly because I’ve been challenging myself do things I’m not comfortable with. Explaining Oneness Pentecostalism and its migratory journey from the US via the Caribbean into London, and the subsequent effect on cultural and religious identity in the capital is one such thing. There’s jargon to unpick and I struggle to get to the point.

The point I’m trying to get to now is that it takes effort to communicate succinctly, especially when you’re in the middle of a PhD that completely takes over your life.

In the workshop, all participants are told to create a three-point story of our research. I listen to the fascinating work my colleagues are doing, colleagues who are also passionate, who also want to be able to share their world with wider audiences. I feel proud to be part of this community of student researchers. There are three whose work is so compelling to me – and completely unrelated to mine – that I read further about it. Later, at the competition, I see how they’d developed their stories into presentations, engaging with an audience who want to hear what they do, as much as I do. I was surprised to win, elated.

I hope even more PhD students get involved in the competition next year. I recommend it for everyone, as we all need to be able to present in from of mixed audiences. I’m also looking forward to following the competition, looking at more of the other videos from participants around the world.

 

Keith (Department of English and Humanities) was named overall winner for his entry, “The migration of meaning: writing a new London Caribbean culture”.

You can watch the full video for his talk here.

Interdisciplinary Graduate Student Conference: ‘Age of Distraction’

Age of Distraction

Graduate Conference

8 + 9 June 2018

This conference explores distraction and all its meanings and implications. Distraction is commonly thought of as a growing concern or even a sickness of modern society and digital culture. From mindless scrolling to heavy consumerism, the pursuit for entertainment and satisfaction is insatiable, leaving us vulnerable to ruling corporations. Does our lack of control transform us into a conformed mass that is susceptible to tabloid media and the rise of populism? On the other hand, distraction is not necessarily steeped in negativity. In fact, it has had a long and fascinating history. Its German equivalent, ‘Zerstreuung’, comes from the idea of dispersion. At the start of the twentieth-century, Walter Benjamin defined the term as ‘floating attention’, where experience is caused by chance rather than concentration. Does lack of focus in fact allow a sense of freedom and inspiration?

Confirmed speakers include:

Food and refreshments will be available.

Call for papers (extended deadline 7 May)

Please send a 200 word abstract for papers of 15 minutes and a 50 word biography to bisr@bbk.ac.uk

Topics may include:

  • History of distraction
  • Distraction and its oppositions
  • Distraction and/in Education
  • Distraction and madness
  • Modes of Extremism: online or in reality?
  • Democracy, populism, and online social networking
  • Freedom of speech v. government and/or regulatory control
  • Misinformation and fake news
  • Dystopia/ an Orwellian society
  • Distraction and creativity
  • Escapism, dream and day-dream
  • Feigned ignorance or ‘Turning a blind eye’
  • Emotional responses
  • Procrastination, boredom and solitude
  • Wandering and ‘killing time’
  • Inspiration, chance and serendipity

Free tickets for Birkbeck Arts and Humanities PhD students: Frames of Representation 2018 @ The ICA, 20-28th April

F

CHASE is delighted to be academic partner with The ICA for Frames of Representation 2018, a global documentary cinema festival. As part of this partnership, we have arranged two exciting seminars featuring CHASE academics in conversation with film-makers whose work is showing at the festival.

We also have tickets for a one day symposium on April 28th featuring, amongst others, Oscar winning sound editor Walter Murch (Apocalypse Now).

CHASE has been given a number of free tickets for the week of events and screenings. These tickets are open to all arts and humanities PhD students at CHASE institutions and will allocated on a first come, first served basis. Have a look at the programme here and request your free tickets here.

Now in its third year, FoR is a global documentary cinema festival. The theme this year is landscape and the festival features a number of UK and European premieres, as well as masterclasses with film-makers. We have also arranged two CHASE seminars that will feature CHASE academics in conversation with film-makers whose work is screening at the festival.

Free tickets are available for ALL film screenings and masterclasses throughout the festival as well, of course, as the CHASE seminars and a half day symposium on the theme of landscape on the closing weekend of the festival. Regardless of your research interests, you are bound to find something, if not many things, of interest.

Any queries, please email enquiries@chase.ac.uk

Astrobiology and Planetary Exploration (APEX) Meeting Programme

Astrobiology and Planetary Exploration (APEX) Meeting Programme

All research students are welcome to attend the Interdisciplinary Astrobiology and Planetary Exploration (APEX) seminars, held on Thursdays during the Spring Term.

These events begin at 13:00 in the Garwood Lecture Theatre (1st floor, UCL South Wing).

25 Jan 2018

Magnetic measurements of Saturn by Cassini
Prof Nick Achilleos (UCL)

01 Feb 2018

Searching for organic signatures on the Martian south pole
Jacqueline Campbell (MSSL)
Why we should build a Moon Village
Prof Ian Crawford (BBK)

08 Feb 2018

Observing the Solar System with Twinkle
Billy Edwards (UCL)
X-ray explorations of planets and moons
Dr William Dunn (UCL/MSSL/CfA/ESA)

15 Feb 2018

SMILE: A novel and global way to explore solar-terrestrial relationships
Prof Graziella Branduardi Raymont (MSSL)

22 Feb 2018

The first cell membranes
Sean Jordan (UCL)
Black diamond (carbonardo) and the core of a Neptune?
Dr Adrian Jones (UCL)

01 Mar 2018  

Martian oceans: The evidence and issues
Zach Dickeson (NHM)
ExoMars PanCam
Roger Stabbins (MSSL)

08 Mar 2018

The ExoMars Mission
Prof Andrew Coates (MSSL)

15 Mar 2018

The Cosmic Zoo: Complex life on many worlds
Dr William Baines

BGRS Training in Autumn 2017

Review of Autumn term BGRS training opportunities

This brief review highlights BGRS training and development opportunities organised in the 2017/18 Autumn term. These opportunities are part of a wider landscape of training and development resources available to PhD students at Birkbeck and which are summarised on the BGRS Moodle site. Birkbeck is in the process of establishing Training Needs Analysis for PhD researchers to identify their training priorities and navigate their way through the wide range of opportunities which are available at Birkbeck and beyond.

Autumn term highlights

  • PhD students who began recently were invited to attend a workshop titled ‘Making a success of your doctorate’. This all day event led by Professor John Wakeford of the Missenden Centre, provided expert advice and hints covering the organisation and management of PhD research and how best to complete PhD studies.
  • Students who were already underway with their PhDs were able to attend a ‘Surviving your Viva, and Beyond’ workshop led by Dr Jennifer Fraser, formerly from the Centre for Transformative Practice in Learning and Teaching at Birkbeck. This interactive workshop helped prepare students for their PhD viva and decisions about what to do afterwards.
    Several new sessions have been organised for postgraduate research students.
  • Birkbeck’s Equality and Diversity Lead, Ammara Khan, ran the first Unconscious Bias Training session for postgraduate research students exploring the concept of unconscious bias and how it could impact on life as a PhD student.
  • An Introduction to Public Engagement for Research Students, led by Birkbeck Public Engagement Officer Mary-Clare Hallsworth, provided the tools students need to begin engaging the public with their research.
  • In order to supplement existing resources for all Birkbeck researchers a Research Integrity and Ethics Session specifically for PhD students was held by Dr Sarah Lee, Head of Research Strategy Support, in order to provide a better understanding of personal, pragmatic and policy factors and to help attendees apply this in their PhD.
  • The Birkbeck Library ran a new Library Support for Researchers workshop highlighting support available to PhD students throughout their research journey.

Drawing on departmental expertise a range of BGRS events were delivered through the College’s generic skills funding awards including:

  • A series of sessions led by Dr Lily Ford on the theme of Fair Dealing relating to: use of images in research; film; and art history and culminating in a fair dealing conference.
  • Dr Dermot Hodson organised a workshop titled No Trespassing: The Risks and Rewards of Interdisciplinary Research. Antonella Paterri, a Birkbeck MPhil student from the Department of Politics has described some of the benefits of this session on the BGRS blog.
  • Other workshops provided training for: impact and communication skills; for how to make calls for papers at academic conferences; good prose writing for PhD Students; and an historical methodological masterclass with Professor Julian Swann.

The BGRS Moodle site will be used to establish digital objects (e.g. handouts or lecture capture) for those who wish to re-visit course material or who were unable to attend on the day. We have begun to make such resources available and will continue to develop this over the coming year.

Opportunities for Birkbeck PhD students to meet

During the Autumn term there have been two opportunities for the wider community of PhD students to gather and meet. The BGRS induction session welcomed new PhD students to Birkbeck and invited returning students to meet at the start of term, with around 70 attendees. Later in the Autumn term the BGRS Winter party provided another opportunity for students to meet with around 50 postgraduate researchers attending.

Shut up and write

We have continued to organise Shut Up and Write sessions, with more than 220 registrations to attend since we began running them in July/ August. During the Autumn term we organised 2 to 3 session every 2 weeks. Attendees have continued to give positive feedback about these writing sessions which provide opportunities to concentrate on writing alongside other PhD researchers and to build connections with those who take part. The BGRS intends to continue these shut up and write sessions throughout the year and registrations are now open for the Spring Term. During the Spring Term we hope to offer a concentrated all day writing event based on the same format as these sessions – this will be announced in due course and listed on the BGRS Eventbrite page.

Interdisciplinary Research: How Birkbeck PhD students are informally trespassing disciplinary boundaries

Antonella Patteri

On the 4th of November 2017 Birkbeck’s Graduate Research School hosted ‘No Trespassing: The Risks and Rewards of Interdisciplinary Research’, a half-day workshop organised by Dr Dermot Hodson from the Department of Politics. Inspired by Albert O. Hirschman’s concept of trespassing, this workshop, primarily taught by members of staff from across the School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy (SSHP), brought together a wide range of expertise and personal perspectives on the intellectual benefits and dangers of interdisciplinarity. Understood as studies that deploy methods and insights from several traditional fields with the aim of integrating and combining multiple forms of knowledge, interdisciplinary research aims to make connections between concepts and to reassemble them in a circular way. Recognising the value of interdisciplinarity, the workshop stressed that interdisciplinary training should be integrated into academic careers. At the same time, it warned about the risks of superficiality associated with interdisciplinary research and the dangers of being excluded by disciplinary politics. In this sense, collaborating across disciplines involves a serious and careful rethinking of well-established academic borders that give meaning to specific fields of knowledge. Taking research beyond its comfort zone involves a creative crossing of a range of subject boundaries. Even though not all research should be interdisciplinary, the increasing complexity of issues with which we are faced as scholars compels us to look beyond single subject areas by stepping over the borders that contain our academic reality.

As Birkbeck students, we think that such boundaries are crossed in libraries, mediated exclusively on search engines and during formal academic meetings. What if we also attempt to trespass such delimiting lines of knowledge in other ways? While my first year as MPhil/PhD student in the Department of Politics was rewarding, I initially struggled to connect with many of my fellow students. Since last year I started organising monthly meetings with Politics PhD students and this year we have a WhatsApp group with more than 30 members. November’s workshop was also a fantastic opportunity to reflect upon our links with PhD students from different schools and departments at Birkbeck. At the event, we had the opportunity to discuss ways of increasing our interdisciplinary ambitions on a human level. Thanks to the efforts of Janice Lazarus, from the Department of Geography, PhD students from across the School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy are now meeting weekly. This new intellectual network is helping us to step over our own disciplines by generating relevant ideas and arguments that go beyond departmental affiliations. Why is it working? Because it is an informal, real and direct way to avoid more ‘structured’ conversations that allow us to reflect upon personal experiences and projects with the potential to enrich our work.

Law, History, Geography, Politics, Art, Biology and Archaeology at times seem incommensurable but we are linking them through methods of analysis that are discursive in theory but practical in scope. By sharing research goals, we are becoming more aware of the fact that there are different paths of knowledge. Qualitative and quantitative methods, immersive fieldwork, archives and discourse analysis are being shared as a way to trespass rigid theorization. In so doing, generating new knowledge becomes a social activity of discovery that gets more and more exciting each week. Such meetings can also offer a possibility to ‘humanise’ the unpredictability of our research, both in premises and intentions. This is not necessarily something that can be grasped easily from our laughs, personal biographies or individual storytelling or from our most awkward and funny moments. Interdisciplinarity is not just a matter of addressing complex questions through a multiplicity of perspectives. Interdisciplinary research should be about reflexive rethinking and informal interaction that trespasses disciplinary boundaries.

This BGRS Blog post was authored by Antonella Patteri, an MPhil student in Birkbeck’s Department of Politics and Research Student Representative for the School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy.

New CHASE training opportunities

History and Theatre

12, 14 & 15 December 2017 
Theatre Royal Stratford East

The following training opportunity is open to all Arts and Humanities PhD students at Birkbeck.

This training programme will explore dramatising research, the use of fiction in research and the position of the playwright/author/composer in historical contexts.

If you attended the CHASE Encounters conference on Saturday 1st December, you will have heard course leader Dr Jeremy Krikler (University of Essex) introduce the themes to be explored in this training programme during his keynote lecture.

Arts and Humanities in the Digital Age

Various dates in 2018 starting with Winter School 15-17 January
at the Open University

The CHASE Arts and Humanities in the Digital Age programme will engage you with the concepts and practices that form the field of Digital Humanities, preparing you for the challenges of doing research in an increasingly digital world.

After completing the course, you will be able to analyse, understand and use digital data, to assess information technologies critically, and to integrate discipline-specific enquiry with digitally-driven methodologies and media to develop your own research. You will learn through workshops that combine methodological reflection with hands-on exercises and by developing a Digital Humanities project together with other students.

Deadline to apply – Wednesday 13 December