How science communication saved my PhD

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Yesterday I came across a funny tweet. One of my virtual friends asked whether science communication improved mental health in graduate school and if any data was available. I didn’t have any data last night and I just answered that tweet by saying “science communication saved my PhD”. At some point during my PhD, end of my first year, which I failed BTW, my mental health was extremely poor. I was crying every day, couldn’t stay still, had nightmares, strong headaches and felt unsafe to be in the lab. I was questioning my skills as a scientist every moment and thinking of quidding my PhD 5 times a day every day.

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How I wrote 10000 words of my PhD thesis in 10 days!

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I didn’t lose my mind, no no! I did write 10000 words of my thesis in 10 days. It isn’t a typo either! How that happened? The writing up period is notoriously the hardest and most stressful bit of a PhD. And, for students like myself, who are doing their PhD in a second language that should be much more intense! I was honestly quite scared to even open a Word document and put together a few words considering all the bad publicity.

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How to become more than your PhD

I am back to business (blogging) and decided to put together this article to share my experience of being an international student and tell the story of how I became more than my PhD. As I am reaching the end, less than 6 months away from my thesis submission, I have been reflecting on the 4 years spent in Nottingham. I honestly could not be any happier of the unique opportunity I was given to. This PhD made me grow professionally and as a person in a way that I could have never envisioned. I have learned a lot about science, science communication and about myself.

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You will not win the Nobel Prize for your PhD thesis.

There are loads of things I wish I was told before starting this PhD. The list is so long that I am not even sure where to start with. Apart from the obvious things, like making sure to find a supporting and understanding advisor (really learned this the hard way), familiarising with the wellbeing facilities like the health centre, gym etc, or finding your community of people, either by joining societies, book clubs, becoming member of sport and more professional clubs (will talk about this later on this month).

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When your PhD wins over you – 6 months to go!

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This post is coming a bit earlier than expected. If you been following me for a while you might know that I tend to write a blog article at the end of every month (check Jan and Feb ones) to assess whether I am on track with my goals and check on my progress. Many things happened over the last month, most of them unexpected. So I needed careful planning to make the best decisions for the upcoming and hopefully last months of my PhD!
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8 months to go or more! PhD life.

February was a busy month if you remember I started it with a to-do list. I had to deal with loads of stuff on top of my research. I organised an OutReach event, had loads of training on career development and CV writing, I went to the doctor a few times.  I always promise myself to be less busy but I always find a way to do something. I started forgetting to get my medications, had headaches at work and decided to slow down and rest. I know very well all the signs that my body gives to me and forgetting to take meds is one of them. I made sure to sleep enough, up to 12 h a few consecutive nights and went for one-day gateway to the spa.

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How to organise an effective OutReach event

As part of my PhD programme, I have to take part in, at least, one OutReach event every year. We get paid to do that! How cool is it? Science communication is something I discovered during my PhD and I really recommend it to everyone who’s training to become a scientist. It really gives an additional value to any PhD. I am really super busy trying to get my stuff done in the lab, but I didn’t get to do any OutReach event signed in this year, so I decided to volunteer for the Festival of Science and Curiosity held in Nottingham Central Library on Feb the 16th.

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Sustainability through Green Chemistry

Last year I applied for and successfully won a scholarship to attend the first IUPAC Postgraduate Summer School n Green Chemistry. (1) The event was held in Venice from the 11th to the 18th of July. It was an incredible experience that allowed me to learn more about sustainability, green innovation, monetise your scientific breakthrough and networking from people from everywhere in the world. In fact, I was pleasingly surprised to see so much diversity, every continent was represented, and loads of loads of students with the common goal of changing and challenging the current state of things.

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Is education for and accessible to everyone?

To celebrate the Internation Day of Women and Girls in science I decided to put together this blog article which is a summary of previous posts I have already done on Instagram. The United Nations instituted the 11th of February as a day to celebrate women in science and showcase diversity in the STEM landscape. We are very far off from getting gender equality. Society, financial and academic biases are one of the major deterrent from girls to enter the STEM world. For the research that show how women have been mistreted by science and society over the centuries check Inferior by Angela Saini.

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