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?



Pints, PhDs and New Pals

On Thursday 26th February 2016, we held our first ever PubhD Newcastle!

Over 20 researchers from across the North East made their way to the perfectly-named ‘Library’, an upstairs area at City Tavern, and settled in for an engaging evening of PhD chat.

 Pints at PubhD Newcastle! via @aebenvenutto

Faced with just 10 mins to explain their PhD topic, our amazing speakers did a fantastic job. First up, we had Lucy Hatt, of Newcastle Business School. Lucy provided us with a fascinating insight into the idea of ‘entrepreneurship’ and ‘threshold concepts’. Lucy’s work resonated with a number of our attendees, who said they saw parallels with their own disciplines. Lucy was followed by Tracy Kirk, doctoral student at Northumbria Law School. Tracy’s work explores the rights of adolescents and her passion for this topic was clear for all to see. Tracy’s talk encouraged a very useful discussion about methodology. Finally, we  Chris Simmonds, also of Northumbria Law School, spoke about his work as a clinical legal educator and the conceptualisation of the phrase ‘social justice’. Chris led us in a lively discussion about unmet legal need in our local area – and how law clinics could look to fill gaps in provision.

Lucy Hatt: “What does an entrepreneur look like?”

We had nothing but positive feedback from members of the audience. A relaxed, fun atmosphere – we had lots of mingling and got chatting during the breaks. We were also delighted to be joined by Professor Roy Sandbach (@profRoys) and Dr Elaine Hall (@respartnersedu), both of whom provided excellent & supportive tips about PhD study to our speakers and others in the room.Some of us even stayed after the talks were over for a few more drinks and lively chat about the ups and downs of doing a PhD. Thank you to everyone for making the inaugural PubhD Newcastle go off with a bang!

Lots of people were keen to know when the next PubhD Newcastle would be. Watch this space – an announcement is coming very soon…