Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Guest blogger for

As a newbie on the block of blogging, I decided to take a leap and apply for a post as a guest blogger for My article was reviewed and accepted; now it is live for my fellow readers at:

However for all intensive purposes, here it is as submitted:


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

Thursday, 26 July 2012

The Girls of B85 Racing for Life

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

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

Registered for next year's 10K :)

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Gerald Kerkut Symposium 2012

Back in Building 85 today after a nice escape to Beaulieu Hotel for our annual conference hosted by the Gerald Kerkut Charitable Trust ( 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 -

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Inspired in Salzburg

After spending five days in Salzburg for the SEB Annual Meeting 2012, I have been completely inspired by Anne Osterrieder to start blogging ( / 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.