Hi all! This will be the last PhD related post of 2016 and what better way to finish the year of posts than by cheering? That’s what you do in a bar, right? Yes, and you can also listen to PhD students explaining their research in a really informal style and being asked questions by the audience that can really make them think about research in a different way. This is the whole point of the PubhD innitiative.
This interesting format of science communication allows each pre-registered student to give a 10 minute presentation (no PowerPoints! Just a white board and some pens), followed by a 20 minute Q&A session. In exchange for the scientific presentation, the PhD students who presented get one or two free drinks, for which the audience is invited to contribute to with a small amount of cash. This event started in Nottingham, England, UK in 2014 and since then it was spread out to a variety of locations in the UK, Ireland and Portugal. Having watched one of the events in Nottingham was the inspiration for the PubhD Lisboa organizer, Sérgio Pereira, to bring the event to Lisbon, where a chapter started in October 2015. I had meant to go a couple times before, but it always happened in days that I really couldn’t go. However, this month, I promised myself I’d go no matter what, also since a former colleague was presenting her PhD research there. Since this December event, the PubhD Lisboa will happen every month at Bar Irreal, a nice vintage feel bar and cultural association in the typical neighborhood of Bica.
I won’t go much into detail about the presentations of this session but I can add I really learned interesting stuff with all the speakers I had no idea about before. Patrícia Soares, who was my colleague in my first grant after I finished my studies, presented her PhD work on personalized medicine for asthma and eczema. With her presentation I learned that having eczema may increase the risk for other immune related morbidities, such as asthma, and that Scotland has the highest prevalence of asthma in the world, almost 18% in children. She related mutations in a given gene to the likelihood of failure to a certain medication. Next up was Sara Freitas, a PhD student in Sustainable Energy Systems of the MIT Portugal Program (my PhD program, even though I’m on the Bioengineering track) told us about the best locations in the house to have fotovoltaic panels for the production of electricity from solar energy and how to store the energy. This talk raised an interesting debate about how the implementation of fotovoltaic panels is restricted by some laws and how to deal with these issues. Finally, Susana Domingues talked about industrial cold in Portugal and how this industry was developed in the 20th century to avoid importing food, prompted by a crisis in the supply of codfish in 1934. I also had no idea that Museu do Oriente in Lisbon used to be a warehouse for frozen codfish storage, I’m sure that when I go back to that museum I’ll try to look for signs of this former life of the building.
As you can see, sessions are very varied and we all learn! In the end I also had a chat with Sérgio about science communication and how we can get involved in this area. I also registered myself to talk about my PhD project once I return from the US. I am really interested in how to improve the communication of such a specific topic as mine to make it more accessible to an audience.
If you cannot find a PubhD chapter near you, you can always creat your own. Anyway, you can also listen to the PodhD series of podcasts to know more about this innitiative. In the beginning of the session, Sérgio told us that PodhD needs financial support to keep going and that we can reach out to find out how to help by contacting the organizer, Guy Kiddey.
What type of science communication innitiatives exist in your town? Would you attend or start a future PubhD near you? Let me know in the comments below!