A cocktail of my activities, interests and an insight to my convoluted brain. An inspired cellular and molecular biochemist interested in Arabidopsis and C. elegans. Because the internet is better for communicating science than scientists themselves.
As a newbie on the block of blogging, I decided to take a leap and apply for a post as a guest blogger for grads.co.uk. My article was reviewed and accepted; now it is live for my fellow readers at: http://blog.grads.co.uk/2012/09/12/together-we-can-lift-the-cloud-of-limitation/
However for all intensive purposes, here it is as submitted:
TOGETHER WE CAN LIFT THE CLOUD OF LIMITATION
The 2012 Paralympians have shown the world there are no limits; where there is a will, there is a way. As a budding scientist, everyday I join many PhD students in a full pelt run into a brick wall, as our experiments fail and all our hopes to find the next ‘cure to cancer’ or ‘anti-ageing solution’per se, are made redundant.
Pain: a sense designed by nature to learn from our mistakes and avoid reoccurrence. Metaphorically speaking, researchers undergo this ‘pain’ on a day-to-day basis; yet endure with the optimism to discover something truly groundbreaking. Likewise, the Paralympians train, quite possibly more brutally than us so-called ‘able-bodied’ in order to be in with a chance of a Gold medal. But what is the incentive? Why undergo pain when we are intrinsically designed to learn from it?
Despite our programming, evolution trumps this. We have evolved to endeavor and progress to subconsciously fulfill the statement ‘survival of the fittest’. We love a challenge; we thrive to win regardless of chance. So, what is the relevance of my curiosity? Lord Coe is correct: the Paralympians have altered our view on the disabled. Well, perhaps I can be one grain of rice out of a sack to help tip the scale; revolutionise the opinion of students and scientists?
Geek is the new chic and I am determined to communicate not only Science, but also raise the awareness of our promising generation of emerging students and graduates; together we make up the children of the future. Albert Einstein once said, “in order to form an immaculate member of a flock of sheep one must, above all, be a sheep”. Sperate perati – go forward with preparation; our courage and motivation can unite us together to lift the cloud of limitation and tackle the economic collapse.
You can catch more of my student/graduate experiences at my official profile http://blog.grads.co.uk/author/nancy/
Now to test the memory! It has been 18 days since the 'Girls
of B85' ran in the Race for Life in Southampton. The atmosphere on the day was
a cocktail between emotional, electric and exhaustion.
For those who may know, our fellow colleague, PhD student,
one of my closest friends is fighting for his life and mobility as a result of
an original tumour found in his brain that has spread to his spine. At the age
of 23 Christopher Ford, the strongest man I know, is battling through cancer as
well as possibly facing a lifetime in a wheelchair. His strength and attitude
is admirable and one could only hope for such a positive outlook. Follow his progress on Twitter at @Chrisvstumour. For this
reason along with others, a group of nine girls from the Centre of Biological
Sciences and School of Medicine took part in fundraising and running in the
Race for Life.
Besides from training we decided it was a good idea to not
only fundraise for our event, but also to share with our colleagues our outstanding
bakery skills. On the 22nd of June we held a bake sale with
perfectly iced cupcakes, nematode
cookies and gingerbread DNA gels, courtesy of the finest bakers in the building! The C. elegans L4 nematodes were very popular
and tasty as were the aptly decorated DNA baked gels! For photos see a fellow colleague’s
blog post at http://cabbagesofdoom.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/cakes.html.
With a 5K route through The Common of Southampton ahead of
us we shared a warm-up with over 5000 other women and only one achievable goal
in mind: racing for life for beloved ones suffering past, present
and future; racing for Cancer Research UK. Looking fashionable with our token
personalised pink running tops plastered with black glitter print ‘I heart B85’,
we set off en route. Luckily missing the dismal weather, we all finished between
30 and 40 minutes; not bad for Science geeks! All in all we had a brilliant day
and between us we have raised over £1300 for Cancer Research UK. If you are
feeling charitable after reading this – more donations are welcome at http://www.raceforlifesponsorme.org/Girls-of-B85.
Back in Building 85 today after a nice escape to Beaulieu Hotel
for our annual conference hosted by the Gerald Kerkut Charitable Trust
(http://www.southampton.ac.uk/~gktrust/). I am lucky for my PhD to be funded by them because they certainly treat their students well. We get the
opportunity to present out work on a slightly more relaxed and informative
manner each year in stunning venues (last year it was held at Marwell Zoo), as
well as being very well fed on the occasions! I am particularly looking forward
to the annual Chilworth Kerkut Christmas Dinner, which we have been informed is
to occur on the 30th of November 2012; yummy! Being so busy with our own
research, it is hard to always keep track of other interesting work that is
happening around us. That is why it is fantastic to hear what my peers have
been slaving away with. Bees, nematodes, fruit flies and mice; just a taster of
the various organisms studied by Southampton University students. Highlights of
the day included bees that can sense diesel, anorexic mice, green tea and
antioxidant potentials. Not only were the quality of the talks excellent as usual, but also the dynamic range and enthusiasm that we all share for communicating Science - our Science. I feel my presentation went well, the crowd certainly appeared to be engaged and entertained! But I do honestly appreciate the funding from the Gerald Kerkut Trust as I said, because it has given me the opportunity to be 'jack of all trades; master of three kingdoms' as parroted from the finale of my talk. I truly did have an insightful day and I am very much
looking forward to the next. Thank you to the GKT - http://www.southampton.ac.uk/~gktrust/.
After spending five days in Salzburg for the SEB Annual Meeting 2012, I have been completely inspired by Anne Osterrieder to start blogging (https://twitter.com/anneosterrieder / http://www.plantcellbiology.com/). Although born into a generation where technology is blooming, I find myself almost being left behind as the exponential growth of social media is beginning to foster people from as early as primary school! Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+; is there an end to what we must
register for and maintain to stay up-to-date, or relevant even?
The #SEB2012 was my first international conference and my supervisor
wanted to ensure I got the most out of it; she was not wrong there. The
Salzburg Congress is a beautiful venue set in the heart of an
authentically stunning city. My hotel was a lucky 15-minute walk away
each day so I always had the pleasure of strolling through the Old Town
to and from the conference. Not only was I given the opportunity to
visit a fantastic city, but also I had a golden ticket to being in the
presence of some of the most prestigious scientists. It is a rare thing to be given an opportunity where you are in the
right place at the right time so I ensured I made the most of it. Having
spoken to many people in my scientific field, I not only felt inspired
by their research but also motivated by their enthusiasm for my work.
Alongside the food dabbling and social networking amongst peers, I
encountered upon a decent bunch of friends of whom one of which, Diana
Samuel, inspired me to name my blog 'Arabelegans' since my research is
strangely but interestingly based on Arabidopsis thaliana and Caenorhabditis elegans.
So here I sit, conforming to the requirements of 'staying relevant' in the 21st century and posting on my first blog, Arabelegans.