Five years post PhD

Career to date

This week, it’s five years since I had my viva. Rather like finishing my PhD originally, I feel like I’ll celebrate this anniversary several times (five years since submission, since viva, since corrections accepted, since graduation, etc.). I guess this means that I’m no longer an early career researcher, and I’m supposed to know what I’m doing. I feel that this is as good a time as any to reflect on the past five years and my career progression; where I am, and where I want to be. This article contains thoughts on some of the strategies that worked for me – and that I’ll be employing over the next few years as I move on to the next stage in my career. Continue reading

Setting up a science blog

Online science communication

There are as many outlets for science communication as there are scientists doing it. They range from traditional press releases and media interviews1 to science cafes, public debates and lectures, museums, open days, TV programmes2 and films. However each comes with its own specific limitations; many preach to the converted. Many people visiting these events are already interested in science3. Scientists are limited by a lack of training, opportunity and time (we can’t all be the next Brian Cox). These events often offer only a limited time to explain key concepts and deliver powerful arguments. Continue reading

My 2013 year in review

It is a good idea, at the close of one year, to review the past 12 months and to reflect on accomplishments, skills developed and lessons learned. Inspired by similar posts by Jon Tennant and Martin Eve, I thought that I would also write a summary of my activities and achievements in 2013, just for my own benefit. Hopefully others will follow suit and we can all congratulate each other! Continue reading

How to get a post-doc

Why do I need a post-doctoral position?

In an era when PhD students are rising in number and the amount of highly qualified early career scientists is huge, competition for post-docs are intense. These fixed-term research positions, which can be thought of as apprenticeships, are essential for scientists wishing to move to permanent positions in research leading universities. Lectureships at good universities seem to require at least 5 years of post-doc experience, at least 10 first-author publications in strong journals, a significant amount of grant income, and ideally a prestigious independent research fellowship. Continue reading

GeoWomen

As part of GeoWeek, students and staff from Aberystwyth University Department of Geography and Earth Sciences discussed women in Geography and Geoscience. We wanted to know what challenges are faced specifically by women in science and by Geowomen, and how they can be overcome. We discussed our motivations and inspirations, gender balance in different research networks, challenges faced specifically by women in academia, and the importance of role models. Continue reading

Search Engine Optimisation for science communication

What is Search Engine Optimisation?

This is an exciting time to be a scientist interested in science communication. More and more academics are taking the bull by the horns and are starting up blogs and websites. Many NERC-funded research projects now have their own website. But what’s the point in having a blog if no one reads it? Continue reading

Writing up a PhD thesis

At some point in the journey to the PhD, it is time to stop experimentation, stop data collection, stop fieldwork, and consider how to convert this huge pile of data into a PhD. It’s not easy. No one said it would be easy. But it is achievable. Here are some coping strategies that I used when I was writing up – and still use today – that might be useful to anyone contemplating a large writing project, be that undergraduate or masters’ dissertation or a PhD. Continue reading

It’s good to be a little bit nervous

Public speaking is a big part of any academic’s job (and many other jobs, come to that). Crippling nerves are debilitating, and can inhibit a speaker’s flow and presence. If you suffer from severe nerves in this way, the best advice I can give you is to a) seek professional guidance on public speaking, and b) to practise and do it often. Continue reading