Friday, 2 May 2014

Dance and Academia

*WARNING* this post is going to be pretty honest so those that don't wanna read about my life stop here, those that do feel free to carry on and enjoy the musings of a petite lady

Today an issue was fully brought to my attention, not that it hasn't crossed my mind before but not as in full focus as today. That issue is that I have a passion for dance as well as wanting to be taken seriously as an academic woman. You may be thinking you dance so what? Many women do that. but when I tell you it is pole dance then some will have a dramatically different view and this is what I am scared of. I think the reputation of pole dance is getting better as it gets more widely accepted and there are now professional competitions and gradings so it can be viewed more clearly as a sport and seen for how demanding it is and not just a prop used by strippers. I myself have done three solo performances and taken part in a competition as well as group routines in two showcases and definitely do not class myself as a stripper but as a strong, confident lady. Through pole dance I have met some of the most amazing, wonderful and strong women I have ever known, their fierceness has brought me out of my shell and made me more confident (honestly I was so shy and the person you would least expect to do anything like this, people still get shocked sometimes when I tell them)it could be said confident enough to even think about pursuing a PhD and career. I am very open and honest about it, if someone asks I will answer is my policy on this subject. I don't and never will regret taking up pole dancing but I am starting to think about the possible impact it may have on my reputation and whether I will be taken seriously. All the pictures below are of me, the 1st is from my 1st performance and the other two are from training

I really do hope that to most this will seem like of course she should not be treated differently but I'm not so sure everyone will hold this view. As much as I love pole dance I don't want it to get in the way of my love of science and pursuing a career in academia.

I know this is controversial but I would love to hear peoples views on the subject

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

PubHD talk

After 6 months or so doing my PhD I am preparing to give my first talk about the research I am undertaking and its purpose within the literature in the field thus far. Nervous and excited would be a good way to describe how I am feeling currently. Talking for 10 minutes then fielding questions from a crowd in a pub (The Vat and Fiddle in Nottingham, if anyone is interested)armed with just a whiteboard, pens and whatever remains in my head when I get up there. As much as I love performing in front of a crowd this is a whole other ball game and totally new to me so I just hope I can do a good job and not make any glaring errors. At least it is not just me, there are two other PhD students giving talks as part of a PubHD event. If anyone wants to know more about PubHD follow the link:

I think this talk has come at the right time as the PhD work seems to be picking up and the direction I want to take is becoming clearer. I have already got some good results :)

This is all making me reflect on my progress so far and I am pleased with how far I have come and feel ready to take the step into finally doing an academic talk (albeit in a pub, but hey I have to have some sort of comfort), something I would never have thought possible or dreamed of a year or so ago after returning from a summer in America.

Anyway back to script writing and finalising ready for the talk tomorrow....

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Books 3

As part of my PhD I have already read so many articles and textbooks my head is spinning with all this new information, but with all of that my studies seem to be forming a direction at last (after at least a month of being a bookworm). Anyway I want to talk about one book in particular which was lent to me by my main supervisor.
It is a sort of guide into the world of epigenetics for beginners which is the stage I was at. A totally fascinating read and goes through step by step the evidence for epigenetics and has lots of diagrams so is very easy to follow and it has a clear logic which is amazing considering the depth of the field and how most of the events are interwoven. It totally changed my view on genetics, before I viewed it as very static with a blueprint and that was it, now it seems more fluid and technically controlled. The depth with which scientists can view things is incredible and this emerging field highlights this. I am so excited to hopefully be contributing work to this field in my PhD...bring on the fun in the next 3yrs

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Let the PhD commence

This week has been very hectic. Firstly organizing everything and then moving, which all went surprisingly well.
Then there was all the formal things that had to be done at the Uni but am now settled so all is fine.
It is now onto the task of choosing courses and reading the subject area in more depth so I can determine the exact question I am going to research, all very exciting stuff. Even delving into the field of epigenetics so am in a kind of geek heaven at the moment I believe.
All in all lots done in a short space of time and yet bizarrely it seems like I have done very little at all, like this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

University and festival times :) 2

Well life has been hectic over the past two or three weeks.
It was then I was contacted about an opportunity to do a PhD at the University of Nottingham which I thought had gone as I had applied months ago but nope, so I am now going there to study at the end of this month :) Since the e-mail it has been a whirlwind to get paperwork done and things ready but I can't wait!!! To top it off the PhD is in a genetics based topic!!! I finally feel like I am getting somewhere after almost a year of trying. So on Tuesday I went to explore the city and see where I will be studying and sort out details. I can say I love the place already and felt at home there even in such a short space of time.
In amongst that excitement on Monday I went to the British Science Festival that was held in Newcastle (a city I am very familiar with). I think this festival can be described as the Edinburgh Fringe for nerds. I was definitely disappointed to only make one day but in that day I sat in on two very interesting talks: one on perception which featured a little bit on autism, and another on how chimpanzee brains differ from ours. I would have loved to have sat in on Michael Mosley's talk yesterday....soooo many amazing things. There were even interactive exhibits and street entertainers around Newcastle University so it was truly for all ages. Even the cat looked interested for all of a second
As you can gather a very busy two days but they were well worth it.
Any advice on doing a PhD and balancing the workload would be much appreciated :)

Monday, 26 August 2013

University and festival times :)

Yesterday I just registered for a course in Medical Genetics (MRes) at Newcastle University :) I am sooooo excited about this opportunity and cannot wait to be a student again :)I have already started looking over some of the modules I will be studying and am so inspired already. Gunna be a long year but a good one.

Also today I have been looking at the British Science Festival which is coming to Newcastle 7t-12th September. It seems amazign so many shows and exhibits even street doubt be bloggin about it on here after I've been. Anyone fancying it look at @BritSciFest on twitter

Nature Vs Nurture- eating disorders

This is the age old debate in science and psychology. The idea being how much of our traits are determined biologically (specifically by our DNA) and how much is due to the environment we surround ourselves with.

A good example of this debate in action is eating disorders. In psychology there are many theories why individuals may develop a disorder including a good mix of biological and environmental arguments. A specific place where this really comes to light is in dancers. As a dancer myself since the age of 3yrs old being in and out of classes of differing styles and teaching in the past year or so it has obviously played a huge part in my life so naturally I am curious about this special case and how much research has been done. It is argued that traditionally this is seen in ballet dancers with the pressure to be thin to produce beautiful lines and increase flexibility, I would argue this is the case for aerial arts as well which I have started taking classes in within the last few months and already I find myself working out more whether it is because I want to lose weight and be thinner or to get stronger so I can do more complex moves I cannot decide.

What got me thinking about this topic was this article on the BBC News website that I read ironically during my lunch break at work
Like I have mentioned above in my experience as a dancer the arguments in this article ring true. In the studio you are used to seeing other people in tight clothing and it is very competitive always wanting to improve and better yourself and if that means losing weight so be it. You will naturally compare your figure to those around you as well as your idols. My idols range from Ginger Rodgers to Dita Von Tease (yes I do have a wild side) so I would consider myself as having a healthy outlook yet I will watch what I eat and the amount I exercise so there is still some element of control and wanting to stay a certain weight there. The articles listed at the end of this post which I have also read agree also.
You can therefore easily see the environmental factors at work in my case, but has anyone done any work to determine whether there is a biological predisposition or trigger that makes certain individuals more prone to this? If anyone knows of any research into this I would be most interested to know :)