PubhD Newcastle #2: Biology, Creative Writing & History

In this week’s post, PubhD Newcastle team member Tracy Kirk gives us the low down on our latest event…

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Thursday 21st April 2016 saw the second PubhD Newcastle event in The Town Wall pub. The aptly named ‘Library Room’ provided the perfect atmosphere for some PhD chat. Some familiar faces came back for their second helping of PubhD and there were some new faces too.

First up was Kathryn Gray who introduced us all to the wonders of immunology. Clearly very passionate about her research, Kathryn outlined the ‘pub level’ science involved in searching for therapies for specific liver problems. The hard work and dedication needed in the lab; doing lengthy experiments for a small amount of useable research data, showed the different types of pressure science PhD students face.

Then came the thought provoking questions, when Kathryn explained how her research suggested a potential link between immune effecting diseases and landfill sites. The abstract application of Kathryn’s science knowledge to everyday use of products helped us see that although we may not understand the deepest intricacies of the lab, we benefit from it greatly. It was brilliant to see someone with so much passion and enthusiasm share her research with a bunch of non-science people; I think we all left feeling cleverer – without any effort too!

After a small break, we heard from John Schoneboom, a second year creative writing student at Northumbria University. Without a doubt, John engaged everyone from the start – just as all the best writers should! Discussing the differences between fact and fiction in relation to modern day terrorism, John effectively showed that most of us are willing to accept news stories as fact without much question. John’s ability to grip our attention with the use of topical examples was one of the most unique PubhD experiences we’ve witnessed so far… I’ve no doubt that John’s book will be one to look out for.

Last, but by no means least, Christopher Wallis took us on a history tour – back to the years of Jimmy Carter’s presidency. Chris, also from Northumbria University, described his passion for analysing the US foreign policy during this time period. This passion, he admitted, was despite warnings from someone who worked within the administration saying it wasn’t an interesting period to live through! Nonetheless, Chris’ discussion of in-fighting within the government, and its significance for how other presidents have led, brought us to a modern day comparison of how President Obama has led his administration. Chris was even asked about his predictions for the upcoming American Presidential election – Hillary was his one to watch.

Another enjoyable hour in the pub, with new friends and PhD chat. Some stayed on for more drinks, while others went off home, but everyone had only positive comments for the evening. After all, where else can you hear about immunology, creative writing and US foreign policy over a drink?