What do you do?

So, after a few months (+ an extra few months) it’s dawned on me that I haven’t really touched on what it is I actually do. So let’s start from the beginning:

Hi, I’m Haafizah – a first year PhD student at De Montfort University. I graduated last year with a BSc in Biomedical Sciences (with a year placement – which was tough but amazing!) and then went on to this programme.

My PhD project is based around the detection of parasites within the environment (from faecal, soil, grass/shrubs and water samples) how prevalent they are and the impact they may have on public health. Detection methods include both microscopy and molecular. In addition we also look at the presence of some antibiotic resistant bacteria.

So that’s a brief introduction of my work!

Keep reading,

H 🙂

 

De Montfort University – SAHRC 2016

A little post about a conference I recently attended!

The 15th June 2016 marked the day of De Montfort University’s inaugural ‘School of Allied Health Science Research Conference’ where I was lucky enough to be offered the opportunity to give an oral and poster presentation on some of my research.

The day consisted of:

A broad spectrum of posters outlining some of the research that is being conducted within the School (from both staff and students).

The Keynote (delivered by Professor Mark Jobling, University of Leicester) titled ‘Sex, surnames and the history of Britain’ and an overview of Research in the School of Allied Health Sciences (Dr.Pravez Haris, Head of Research for the School of Allied Health Sciences).

A range of different topics presented by Early Career Researchers in the School. Which were then followed by presentations from some of the School’s postgraduate students (including me!)

The day ended with the closing address from the Pro- VC and Dean of the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, who also gave out certificates and prizes to the poster and oral presentation winners.

As a whole, the day was really enjoyable and interesting to find out about the other research going on in the school.

Even though I have attended a conference before this was my first time presenting at one and it was a totally different (some-what nerve wrecking) experience.

 

Here’s what I learnt from it all:

  • PRACTICE – Even though I practiced quite a lot (or so I thought) and knew my presentation slides well, if I could go back I’d practice more.
  • You are going to be nervous – especially if it’s your first time. But it’s okay, the audience you are presenting to understand this and most (of not all) will have been in your position at one point or another.
  • Expect questions – answering questions was one of the areas that I think I was most nervous about but one piece of advice I’d give is when practicing – do it in front of one or two people because they will most likely have questions. Oh, and if you don’t know the answer -be honest.
  • Don’t fill your slides with text – the audience will be focused on trying to read all the text instead of listening to you. So try and use images/diagrams to aid your story.
  • Make sure you stick to the time frame given e.g. if your allotted time is 15 mins including questions, try to talk for 12 minutes (10-13 slides) which allows time for questions at the end.
  • Try and enjoy it! You’ve put time and effort into preparing for this so enjoy it.

 

Attend as many of these as you can – it can be difficult to decide when and where you are going to attend a conference (time off, travel costs etc) but conferences like this one which are at your own university or in your own city are good to attend. They give you the chance to practice your presentation skills and allow you to learn about research you may not even realize is being done. You’ll meet people you may have not met before and be introduced to topics that could impact your research too.

 

Overall I had a great time and am definitely looking forward to the next one!

Keep Reading,

H 🙂

Spring Spring Spring.

Anyone else love it when the sun shines? It can completely change the mood of people, a town, a university and even a country.

So it’s no surprise I’ve been having more good days than bad this past few weeks and it is a great feeling!The same fears are still there but I feel so much more motivated to get out of bed and tackle the stacks of paper (electronic and physical).

If you’re like me and love the sunshine, use it as a motivating tool. For every hour of work/revision you do (and actual work not just an hour of sitting in front of your laptop refreshing social media) give yourself ten minutes of sunshine love. Or try and sit near a window to get those beams ☺️. It really does make a difference!

So lets make the most of the rays!

Keep Reading,

H ☺️.

Oh, Hi There.

Well, March has certainly creeped up on me. In the grand scheme of things it doesn’t seem that bad- it’s still the beginning of 2016, Easter break hasn’t started yet, it’s not exam season and it’s still cold out. But what it actually means is: I’ve been at university for over a month, I have two deadlines by the end of this month and two for the next, the teaching course I thought was far off is in a month plus I’m a third into my allocated literature review time – and I have definitely not read or come to grips with a third of the relevant literature.

I felt like in the first month, it was ok to feel a little lost because I’d just started and was still finding my feet. The only problem is I STILL FEEL LIKE THAT (maybe even a little more so).

My very well thought out and detailed timeline doesn’t even bring me peace right now 😞.

It can only get better right? RIGHT?!

So that was my little panic –  lets hope some good came out of it and you feel a little better or you had a good chuckle

I guess I’ll be off to make some strong coffee and read or write…Something… Anything.

Keep Reading,

H ☺️

I’m here! Now what?!

Hello!

Well, after about 7 months of applications, form filling, interviews, crumbling into a little ball in the corner and a whole bunch of tears I’ve FINALLY started my PhD project (microbiology/parasitology) – and it is AMAZING.

Taking time out of the field has really made me realise that I am definitely in the right place. I know that even when everything seems overwhelming (which will occur often and soon) I’ll push through it because at the end of the day I love what I do – and yes that does sound cliche but in this case its the truth.

With that being said- it doesn’t mean the first few weeks were a walk in the park. No no no no no. Most definitely not.

Examples? Sure:

  1. I moved into a DUMP – actually, dumps are probably cleaner and have way less funky smells. It’s been sorted and my current living situation is SO MUCH better so I feel like I can look back and laugh – there was definitely no laughing at the time though, I’m pretty sure I spent the ONE night I stayed there choking back the tears (and reaching 2 am where they all just came pouring out). Thank the Lord I had a friend keeping me company and whose house I could crash at, it would not have went well otherwise.
  2. THERE IS SO MUCH TO READ and I only understand about 20% without having to refer to other journals, textbooks or a dictionary (I’ve been told this is normal when you start but it doesn’t make you feel any less like you’re in over your head).
  3. Security now know me because of the amount of times my card hasn’t worked or I needed access to a new place (I’ve been here 3 weeks).

But seriously, now that I’m starting to settle in and establish a routine that works for me I look forward to what the next few months (well, years) bring for me. I’m sure there’ll be a bunch of disasters but no doubt a ton of great times too.

Keep Reading!

H.

Graduation!

Friday 17th July 2015 marked the day we (as a family and cohort) had all been waiting for. GRADUATION!!! And let me be the first to say, it was one of the busiest days of my life. This year, Eid (an Islamic day of celebration) was on the same day as graduation so, as you can imagine this added to celebration of the day.

It was an absolutely perfectly imperfect day. Filled with joy and excitement from everyone you met. Whether it was from family, friends or random passers by that noticed you trying to navigate yourself in that giant robe and the tassel hanging down your face.

Since I’ve had a couple of days to recover from the festivities – I decided to write down a few tips that may help the day go that little smoother:

  • Stay hydrated! There’s usually quite a lot of walking involved and those robes can be fairly thick and heavy.
  • Make a plan of action, complete with meeting points and make sure everyone attending knows it. It’s easy to get lost in the crowds and distracted when you see your friends.
  • If you are wearing heels, carry a pair of flats. Like I said before, there’s usually LOTS of walking.
  • Take lots of pictures. Get everyone to take lots of pictures and videos. These are great to look at and watch after since you haven’t seen from the outside.
  • Carry little snacks. The day is so busy that you get caught up in it and forget to eat.
  • Thank everyone that helped you along the way. Sharing the joy makes the day that little sweeter.
  • But most of all. ENJOY YOURSELF. It is a great day and you should be so proud of yourself for getting to this point.

Even though I’m still a scientist living in limbo career-wise, it didn’t take away from the occasion.

Love,

🌸

My first application…

So, it’s been a while since my first post but I’m back with a little story about my first application.

While preparing for my final set of exams of undergrad, I received an email about a very interesting post available as a PhD scheme. It was based in parasitology and sounded like something I’d really enjoy. With encouragement from my family I decided to apply and was thrilled when I received an invitation for an informal interview. After learning more about the position I started to get really excited about the prospect of the research. Later that day I got invited to a second formal interview with both supervisors present. During this meeting we began discussing my interest in the project, the experience I have and future plans. Both the supervisors were extremely nice and very encouraging while being completely honest about the requirements of a PhD. At the end of the meeting it was made clear that we were a good fit and I was offered the position- with the condition of my pass rate (and if the university accepted the proposal).

After a few weeks of waiting I received an email stating that the university would not be able to fund the project. Understandably I was pretty upset about this. The supervisors informed me that if I could find funding it may still be an option, or alternatively I could continue my education via an MSc. They encouraged me to pursue research and to further my education, for which I am grateful.

Though initially I was disheartened when receiving the news, when I looked back at things a few days later with more of a clear head, I saw things I didn’t before. The encouragement from the supervisors – this was so beneficial for my confidence that I do (hopefully) have the ability to work in a research lab or institution. When the option of doing this project was essentially taken away, it made me even more sure that research and gaining further education is something I really want to (even if it means doing a PhD later on in life, rather than right now).

I see this particular process as a success and failure – both of which have helped me to keep putting myself out there for different opportunities.

Keep reading,

H 🌸

The First Post

Finishing university and taking the next steps for your future can be tough, scary, exciting and so stressful. When you finish your final year after the deadlines and exams there’s an immediate sense of relief, and internal (and external) exclamation of “YAAAAYYYYYYYYY” and then it sets in. The realisation that you may have to transition into an actual real life adult. People around you expect a “plan of action” or sometimes even one set in stone. What it if you don’t? What if everything is up the air and you don’t have all the answers? With this blog I hope document my journey after university- the ideas, processes, ups and downs and just life in general (the day to day, not so scientific side to it).

University : I studied Biomedical Sciences with a year out on Placement in a hospital Pathology department and I’ve loved all four years of my degree – was never too keen on exams. Though it had tough moments, learning about various processes within humans and the evolution of medical research made me sure I was on the right path. I decided along the way that I want to have a research based career (for now anyway) instead of pursuing a “typical” biomedical scientist career route. Buuuttttttt….that’s about it for my “plan of action”. There’s options out there, I just have no idea which is best or where to go 😩 so why not write about the journey ahead.

I hope everyone enjoys reading it 🌸.

Warning: I’m not a writer or English student. I’m a scientist and still getting my head around blogging. Please be kind and any pointers or questions are most welcome 😊.

So, I think that’s it for the first post 🌸.

Peace and love ✌🏽️,

H