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  • Public perception of science

    How does the public perceive science? When I started this in 2020, I didn’t think I would still be this interested in the topic. I am slightly obsessed with science but in the 12 months of the pandemic I have tried to understand the balance and how much understanding should be expected of the public when it comes to health. In trying to understand this, I use myself as an example and try to look at other fields I do consider equally as important: finance and politics. I'm not that engaged and do I have the basic knowledge every adult should have? Is science made to seem inaccessible and deliberately confusing and complicated? After a year of immunology and public health at the forefront of discussion, has this changed public perception of science. Where do scientists stand and how do we better engage outside of the conventional outreach activities that show science is “fun”? In my first survey with 149 respondents people were more on the fence and had a lot of hesitancy around vaccines and pharmaceutical companies and it would be especially interesting to see how this has changed. So I’m doing another survey : Public perception of science 2 survey. Lets talk about my thoughts in this area: What do I think people are concerned about? Are vaccines safe? After a year and millions of people given at least their first doses and further rollouts. Safety questions around the vaccines won’t just go away. While I believe my immediate circle both personal and online are pro-vaccine many people are on the fence. The safety of the vaccine has been questioned for many reasons and I have seen sci commers and scientists fight hard at trying to understand the facts. Social media guidelines now indicate vaccine safety and links to official organisation posts. At the start people were very much concerned about vaccine safety, the false links with autism, lack of representative studies including minority populations. The truth is looking outside the UK , many trials were quite representative as they included a range of different countries . More than 400.1 million doses administered . Of those vaccines, the most controversial has been the Oxford/Astrazeneca (OX/AZ) vaccines. With many European countries haulting rollout before further confirmation from EMA of its safety. On a positive side,people tweeting their side effects form the vaccine has most likely reduced hesitancy around the vaccine. We cannot forget about the amazing work done my many communities in translating work and what does this mean for trust in science. Science has confused us. The Oxford/ Astrazeneca has perhaps been the most confusing vaccine. Following on science twitter and news headlines. Has it been science that has confused us or media headlines mixed with politics. The science hasn’t changed much and neither has the general opinion but what has changed is how government and media choose to use the information and when to share “facts”. The oxford/ Astrazeneca group in my opinion had an amazing start to the vaccine with the best video online explaining the process of vaccination. But it seemed after that things took a turn for the confusing. The battle of OX/AZ against Europe. It is not recommended for over 65s in Europe and now the controversies around blood clots. While the WHO and health organisations consider it all to be safe. T I have often felt overwhelmed with information and news of new variants sending a deep panic. This has left the question of have I just overcomplicated things and want clarity of every detail or has it left people fatigued to even read about the news and altogether just avoid the confusion? Variants,Variants, Variants ! How can this affect the future ? Variants are the main attention looking forward in this pandemic. What we know is that they lead to decreased vaccine efficacy. Knowing this, would it be useful to have a guide on all the variants that is easy to check or does knowing that the world could change just cause further anxiety. The next few steps in understanding peoples relationship with important science news is gauging what the appetite for it is. This next question might seem quite random but it was a question I often found myself asking even with all the research I did. Do people actually understand what the main aims of vaccines are? This has been an interesting concept. Has the talk around vaccines offered a false sense of security . A maskless society by June seems a bit ambitious but we will not find out until that time comes. Vaccines are mainly made to stop deaths and the standard is a vaccine with greater than 50% efficacy is considered a good vaccine. While I am not an immunology expert. We can see that vaccines with an efficacy of 95% tend to make the other candidates look incredibly poor or subpar and making people a lot more hesitant. This is a huge problem for many European countries with the fears of it being less than. We are living through an era of scientific development that shows the power of great focus collaboration and years of groundbreaking research. Can too many options be a problem? Has Covid-19 shown what scientists across different fields deal with on a daily basis ( this is really what science is about and shows how scientists have to continuously challenge their thoughts when presented with new information ) The information about Covid-19 is forever evolving and I see that has contributed to public controversy in not wanting to believe scientists but this is an accurate insight into the world of science. Science and medicine are different. Science is innovative and pushes boundaries there is usually just general consensus on how things work and people are trying to push boundaries and add to knowledge which can lead to change in a consensus opinion in a field. So with science its not that it is a lie it is that people really don’t know. To the public… i don’t know is a confusing but probably the most honest thing you will hear out of the mouth of a scientists. “ I don’t know” from a scientist should’t be scary How has all of this changed public perception of science? The points have just been my observation and so I would really appreciate if you take some time to answer this second survey -> Survey should not take more than 5minutes and will go into completing my public perception of science project. The results of the last survey have already been published and the results of this one will be added !: Public perception of science

  • How to write a Dissertation or Thesis

    A very detailed guide on how I wrote my dissertation I have always enjoyed writing and in both degrees I did well in my final projects. Writing in science although technical at its core, it is telling a story and ensuring your reader understands the main points. In this post I outline my thought process while writing my MSc thesis. I have included a link to shared doc that you are free to use as a checklist for your writing. If you do use it, let me know what you think and feel free to dm/ email me to discuss your writing goals/ struggles. TCIM RESOURCES: download guide on writing your thesis/ dissertation A long piece of work can be very intimidating. My BSc dissertation was 6000 words and MSc thesis 10,000 words. For context I have only written work that involves direct experimental analysis so this blog post will be most useful for students in a similar place, although the structure can be applied across fields. BSc dissertation title: The soluble erythropoietin receptor (sEpoR) is expressed in mouse models of obesity MSc dissertation title: Speckle tracking echocardiography: A retrospective study using pre-capillary pulmonary hypertensive patients The beginning. Before I start any piece of work, the word count is extremely important for me. I am a very concise writer so it keeps me in check of getting to the word count. With the word count in mind, I begin to roughly allocate numbers to each section. Examples: BSc 250 words for my abstract 1500 for my Introduction/Background and literature review this can be extended to 2000 1500 for my discussion of results and a conclusion paragraph The rest is split between my methods and results. MSc 250 words for abstract 2500 -3000 for Introduction and background 2500 for discussion and conclusion The rest is split between methods and results What is included in the word count and what style of referencing ( figure legends are usually not included,citations are included) Note any deadlines: Project report, project update, project presentation, draft deadline and full deadline: As you write, think of sections that will make sense for posters/ presentations. Create a timeline for the work I have to do with dates. I tend to set a personal deadline at least a week before the official deadline for big pieces of work. What is the assessment criteria and what do I want to achieve? What are the sections I need ? ( check your university criteria). Use other thesis as examples to get and idea of a structure you want to follow The general sections needed: Title, Abbreviations, Acknowledgements, Abstract, Intro/Background or literature review, Aims and Objectives, Methods, Results, Discussion and Conclusion . Lets break it down further I usually write my sections independent of one another when it is in the very early stages and put it all together at the end of my writing process. Now let’s break down the sections Background/ Intro/ Literature review When writing your background. You start very broad and then slowly narrow this down into the specific focus and finally the importance of the topic you are writing. These are just a few questions you can ask yourself and start to answer What are the main topics of my title? What is essential and needs to explained ? What is the main focus of my project ( what has been done in this area) ? What additional benefit does my project add to the current field ? Additional notes:How can you visualise the information in this section. Can you make a figure for these sections. Can you add a table or flow chart for your literature review?. Your literature review can be tweaked as you read more papers so don’t hold on too tightly to the first full draft that you write. You won’t cover everything in a few weeks. You have till your submission deadline to perfect this section. Methods Write the methods as you go along with either conducting the experiment or research. Sometimes you have to think of your method before writing it. Use other papers as a gauge for what method is best and keep notes of any alterations you made and which papers you specifically followed These are just a few things to think about when writing your methods: How was the data collected ? What is your plan for analysing the data ? Is there an industry standard method that you need to reference ? What specific equipment did you use ? Results Before you write your results, you need to analyse your data but to analyse data you need to have an understanding of the outputs you want from the data. So have a structure in mind when looking at your data. What information can I get from my data? How do I want to present my data: Images, can this be quantified? - graphs what is the best type of graph? Statistical analysis-> Do I understand the statistical test? Is it the appropriate test and what software will I be using to get my results? If you are doing an experimental project in person. Two important questions: What do I expect from my results vs what did I actually get and the final column of what does my result mean. Were there any problems during data collection that may affect your results? -> how are you going to explain this: missing data, sample size and more Now the actual results Using your table from before: What results do you actually have How are you going to explain your results. I try to stick to the same format to explain results. The structure you present your results will depend on what you actually did. My structure: Heading of results: Statement of result:more detailed explanation of results. Is there a figure for these results? Making sure the figures and results section matches. My results follow a simple structure: What did I do, what did I find, did anything go wrong or look strange that needs a simple explanation. Some can be kept in the results and deeper results mishaps or explanations can be kept for the discussion. You are meant to STATE your results and not really explain them. ( I say this with a pinch of salt as it is the writing style I prefer) How is the data presented ( table / graph). What does the table describe? What does the graph mean? What is the overall finding from the results. How can you describe this in further detail? Two examples from my dissertation Bsc Msc Discussion This is the hardest bit to write. I usually think of any discussion points as I write up my results. As a rule of thumb anything that I don't understand how to explain becomes a point in my discussion. Your discussion can also be split Make it a story. Spilt the main findings of your results into different headings ( Limitations and conclusion). I did this for my MSc. Your opinion and view based on the literature ( this is where you analyse each point). State the result -> where does it stand ( is it with the general consensus, does it stray away?).You can have a whole section for limitations or sprinkle them as you go through. If your results are all quite different, don’t be scared to add extra heading to make buts flow better and read well ! Thinking points in my discussion Is it common and follows what is in the field ? Is it not common but has been stated in another paper? Is it not found in any paper ( this is where I throw the novelty statement where it looks like something good) ? Is it a big anomaly that can be explained due to data collection or machine error ? Is there work that already builds on this point and offers an alternative reason? Cant find anything to explain your results -> is it wrong or novel ? Examples of discussion headings BSc MSc What were the aims of your project and what did you find ! -> Break down the key results and begin to expand. Add headings by contextualising your results and explain them in relevance to your work and the field. What went well and what could have gone better. Where do your results skew or agree with information and what does that mean? Future perspectives, limitations and conclusion! Review: I wrote all my sections separately and once I had a good rough draft I put the sections together with the references all together! This is when I focused on formatting and line spacing and reading the sections out loud. Sending to people and leaving some time for it to sit Have I read it out loud? Annotate your work as you read it out loud-> I had things like “hate sentence structure”, repeated, don’t understand and sounds ugly. Be brutally honest with yourself, Read your work like you weren’t the one that wrote it. Do I have at least two people to read over my work ( Non-specialised for grammar and specialised to understand flow and critique ie good enough subject background) Use the Resource I made when checking over your work : Download TCIM writing resource This is a very detailed overview and personal to me. In writing people don’t share what they do and I hope this can help someone, no matter what stage of writing they are at. Furthermore it may seem like I did everything to plan but really I wrote my entire MSc project excluding my introduction in 10days ( I wouldn’t recommend it) but as a student you can really do anything under pressure. The only pro to writing in such a short time was, I was hyper focused on my work so I knew exactly what to do and didn’t have to get myself up to speed with bits of my writing Major con: I had writing fatigue and didn't even want to look at my work for a few weeks In addition to this, I watched YouTube videos and attended the writing course from my university to make sure I had the right idea of what standard was expected from me ! Its a long process to produce a piece of work you are proud of. In both cases my work wasn’t published but for my undergrad achieved 72% and MSc 85%. So don ‘t worry about your work needing to be published. If you liked this post, let me know and feel free to drop me questions about writing problems you may have. BASIC OUTLINE TO GET YOU STARTED :VIEW HERE If you got this far please fill out my survey . In my first survey with 149 respondents people were more on the fence and had a lot of hesitancy around vaccines and pharmaceutical companies and it would be especially interesting to see how this has changed. So I’m doing another survey : Public perception of science 2 survey.

  • Covid-19- One Year On

    On the 23rd of March 2020, I actively started following Covid-19 headlines. Since then my research has grown way more than I had initially thought.I have learnt a lot about infection, immunity, public health and the pandemic response. The place of science in society is slowly being redefined as a result of the pandemic. It gave me time to fully realise what science meant to me and was the birth of my first big science communication project: Public perception of science. I started this journey simply talking about what a vaccine was quite early on and then expanding that through what clinical trials were. This grew into combatting information on how the public perceives science, videos on wrongdoings of science and how to hold said system accountable. Multiple lockdowns later, the growth continued: trying to predict what the new normal would be through IG lives, podcasts and even more twitter conversations. In that time so much has been learnt and there is still so much more. One year on,how people receive information, what is considered urgent and important is still being debated and will probably form a new area of research or focus for the next decade in preparation for the possibility of another pandemic. This blog post is a reflective overview of what has happened and where things are going. “ pandemic is a contagious infectious disease that has spread to multiple geographic areas or continents. The term “contagious” implies that the infection can be transmitted person-to-person, either directly or indirectly. Covid-19 and the year 2020 is one for the history books. With more than 121 million cases worldwide and the unfortunate deaths of which many could have been avoided. This is not something that can be skimmed over. Covid-19 has claimed more than 2million lives which is comparable to other epidemics such as the Russian Flu and Asian Flu. The only virus that exceeds the death toll is HIV Aids with more than 25-35Million deaths from 1981 to present. The Covid-19 numbers do not include the many families that have further been affected by the loss. This is why, comparing this disease to the common cold will be one of the biggest communication and misunderstandings of the Covid-19 pandemic. As things begin to look better in some parts of the world, it is easy to talk of the pandemic like a thing that is slowly becoming a past issue. It is still new, meaning there is so much to be learnt in terms of long-Covid-19 sufferers and what society would look like moving on. It has led to a strain on many already struggling systems leaving more people with other diseases even more vulnerable and burning out an entire workforce. For some people, coronavirus (COVID-19) can cause symptoms that last weeks or months after the infection has gone. This is sometimes called post-COVID-19 syndrome or "long COVID"- NHS website Even though we are a long way from “normality” , there have been many strides through science in getting some populations to a better position. At the start of the pandemic we had no idea how and what the best tests were. Testing capacity and options greatly changed and increased . The main two are the standard PCR test and now widely used Lateral flow test.Pharmacological interventions were also highly debated, Chloroquine and the controversy behind it , magical juices or remedies were also a point of conversation. Treatment and management of Covid-19 is at a much better place than it was before. With great strides, comes new questions, with the biggest and most important for the future being: Do the vaccines stop or reduce transmission of Covid-19 Do the vaccines stop or reduce transmission of Covid-19? A big question on transmission that led to extreme lockdowns around the world. While the data around vaccines reducing transmission is promising, it hasn’t been set in stone. As time goes by and more people are vaccinated, the picture will get clearer. For now, let’s take a look at real world evidence and different approaches ( with and without vaccines). Looking back to the source:Wuhan,China. From extreme lockdowns to control and keeping cases down have been an incredible example to the world on how to handle an outbreak even if in the early outbreak things weren't perfect. Some countries were able to show great strength in public trust and compliance leading to control of the disease without the need for vaccines. These countries include: Australia, Taiwan and more. Their strategies and success have fully been outlined in a previous blog post: The world can handle Covid-19. Outside of lockdown measures, vaccines have been fundamental in changing the course for many countries especially the UK and US showing huge decrease in cases and deaths that they were not able to control with lockdowns. These two nations like many others will probably not look at a zero Covid approach but instead look for an “acceptable” range like other countries have done and manage the disease accordingly. In a recent press conference where prime minister and advisors were asked in their approach he stated "There is therefore no credible route to a zero-Covid Britain or indeed a zero-Covid world. And we cannot persist indefinitely with restrictions that debilitate our economy, our physical and mental well-being, and the life chances of our children” - BBC How have vaccines changed the trajectory of Covid-19 ? To date, just in the UK there are several vaccine candidates available with more in the process of approval across the world. To keep track you can find INFORMATION from different vaccine trackers below Vaccine tracker Bio-render vaccine tracker To understand what life could look like, again we need to look at other countries that have been leaders in vaccination rollouts and have started to open up. There is overwhelming evidence that the vaccine rollout has had an extreme positive effect on lowering the amount of covid-19 cases and deaths. In Israel there has been solid proof on the effectiveness of the vaccines “ Jab has 97% efficacy against disease and death and 94% against infection without symptoms” having vaccinated 55% of their population with at least a single dose. “ Another country to look at is the UAE, exceptional leaders in vaccine trial participation, rollout and keeping the country open and even at one point the safe haven for British tourists. This is what you find UAE had max reported cases of approximately 1500, following the influx from the UK, cases rose to approx 4000 and is on the decline now .Deaths have remained below 20 per day! Reported deaths increased in Jan- Feb of 2021 ! but are still quite low.The UAE has also been one of a few countries to provide booster shots for individuals with a lower immune response. This is especially important when looking at the effects of booster shots as new variants arise and the vaccines become less effective against them. Life in Israel and the UAE are somewhat normal. I could go on to compare the US which is also has a fantastic vaccine rollout , but for the most parts, many states have been somewhat open and without a single national lockdown. The US is an interesting backdrop for vaccine rollouts and once things settle down, will make for an interesting country comparison if it hasn’t already been done ! By looking at countries outside the UK, you get a real sense of what life and normality could look like. While there isn’t time to look at every country and every region, the new normal worldwide will continue on as some countries join those in an open society and some unfortunately continue to battle with the effects. The efforts of the COVAX vaccination scheme are good intentioned but will it be enough for global travel to resume in a simple way? What is COVAX? It is the only truly global solution to this pandemic because it is the only effort to ensure that people in all corners of the world will get access to COVID-19 vaccines once they are available, regardless of their wealth. - Gavi website The threat of new variants spreading and becoming dominant is a major pushback to the strides in vaccine development and rollout ! If there was one thing to look for in headlines as the world opens up, it is the emergence of new variants ! Current vaccine candidates have been tested against new variants and they all show a reduction in effectiveness although levels are good enough to still offer more than the recommended minimum level of protection. The variants reported have been tested against vaccines and to date of writing this post, variants with the EK48K mutation are now known to be more transmissible - what was responsible for the massive rise in cases in the UK. At the time known as the kent variant, now B.1.1.7 . This mutation has also been reported to be more deadly as compared to the original variant that had spread worldwide. When looking through headlines, for now new concern would be further spreading or mutations of the variant that further change the characteristics of the virus and make vaccines less effective. Till then the measures in place will hopefully work ! More recent reports on Covid-19 variants suggest that even though they mutate independent from each other, they seem to follow the same path. "One pattern we see is called convergent evolution, where the same trait emerges in different independent lineages over time, usually as they adapt to similar environments "- Scientific American Looking at the UK, It has currently reported all variants currently circulating in the world to be identified in some individuals. To some extent things are under control and being monitored. What will be difficult looking into the summer is the idea of travellers to neighbouring European countries that have not been as successful in reducing case numbers and vaccine rollouts. While countries like Portugal and Greece look to open up borders to travellers and think about vaccine passports, other nations like France and Germany etc have struggles with vaccine hesitancy around a specific vaccine candidate: Oxford/Astrazeneca vaccine. A survey published stated that Less than 50% in some European countries are willing to get vaccinated with some being as low as 36% in comparison to other western countries such as the USA and the UK. Most non-EU( European Union) countries are at least 70% receptive to vaccinations. This would have probably been made worse by the news of Oxford /AstraZeneca vaccines possibly causing blood clots. More than 16 European nations temporarily stopped rollout and some having resumed rollout after the European medical agency declared it safe. The Oxford/Astrazeneca vaccine has had a rollercoaster ride in the press and would think things are turning for the better, there is more. Recent reports of the vaccine being 79% effective in trials in Brazil and other places brought joy to the world but these claims have been quickly shut down by private regulatory bodies in the US. This is not to say the vaccines aren’t safe but the data regarding their safety and effectiveness is not being reported accurately in their press releases. It is an interesting thing to witness as the confusion brings about doubt in communities and can easily be used by Anti-vaccers as a way to further propagate their agenda. To date of this post AstraZeneca vaccine is still safe and efficacy reported at 76% - Nature report . Let’s hope there is no more drama. The lack of trust and mixed messages out of Europe shows how trust and politics goes hand in hand. This is why science and politics should always be on the same page, with science leading policy and not the other way round when it comes to important health issues. A recent article outlines how Taiwan was able to achieve great balance between public trust, previous outbreak experience and new science: ‘The West was not humble enough’: Taiwan’s health minister on why Covid brought Britain to its knees Public Perception of Science Survey Link Welcome to the second Public perception of science project from “TCIM” - TheCatalaystInMe. At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic I surveyed 149 people and now we're doing it again to see how public perception of science has changed . The main aim of this survey is to understand where people have got their Covid-19 information from and how that contributes to their perception of science as a whole or scientists as individuals. I have no real answer for what I believe the future would look like. Having gone through 2020 and almost a quarter of 2021 it is something you can’t fully predict. The future is very much what you make it. You can choose to loosen your restrictions in line with regulations or choose to wait and see what happens. The pandemic has taken its toll and honestly it is clear people have had enough. While travelling and living a mask free- risk free life like before we knew what Covid-19 was is very tempting but the realities are we have to be aware of the risk of our action. We need to understand risk and benefit: collectively we can get things to a good place by being responsive as situation changes or make it get worse if things do get worse by ignoring red flags for the sake of normality. Whether you stay inside for a little longer or hop on the next flight out, these are a few things you should think about: What are my personal risks Have I been vaccinated ( BOTH DOSES) How many cases are there where I am going and what are the local restrictions Is my travel destination a place that has a had a good vaccine rollout ( think about the additional risk you may pose to people living there) In the event I catch Covid-19, what do I do? What are the potential risks with the activity I am about to do ? Am I feeling unwell after vaccinations: Do you know what you should do? If you enjoyed what I wrote and want to stay up to date with Covid-19 headlines, you can follow across social platforms and for news straight to your inbox, subscribe to the tcim newsletter here: Subscribe to the newsletter If you got this far please spare 5 mins to fill out the survey: Public perception of science 2. Public Perception of Science Survey Link Welcome to the second Public perception of science project from “TCIM” - TheCatalaystInMe. At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic I surveyed 149 people and now we're doing it again to see how public perception of science has changed . The main aim of this survey is to understand where people have got their Covid-19 information from and how that contributes to their perception of science as a whole or scientists as individuals.

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  • Life science Careers l The Catalyst In Me l United Kingdom

    Survey promo Fill out Public Perception of Science 2 Survey Umu Wurie Biomed to LLM Legal Practice Elicia Fyle Scientific Officer, institute of cancer research. Lynn- Asanate Are Visiting Scientists and Medical Student Allan Campbell Molecular scientist Adama Fullah Pharmacovigilance Business Consultant to Medical Consultant Rachel-Lambert Forsythe Chied Executive British Pharmacological Society Oluwasuen Ogundele Msci Biochemistry to Research assistant at Cambridge Merissa Brown Bsc Biomedical science to Psychology conversion Msc Recent Blog Posts Life science Careers are often not well described to life science graduates. Out of all STEM careers it is hard to find clear information with personal examples. The catalyst in me does all this through interviews and resources that will guide your life science career. Adama Feb 17, 2020 5 min Can life science graduates earn high salaries? Most of the most recent reports across platforms like The telegraph , save the student and BBC in relation to life science graduates, there 207 views Write a comment 5 Adama 2 days ago 9 min Covid-19- One Year On I started this journey simply talking about what a vaccine was quite early on and then expanding that through multiple blog posts. 0 views Write a comment Adama Mar 21 3 min Biochemistry and Molecular Biology to Biology Teacher I TCIM Careers Name: Rahma Sesay (she/her) Job: Biology/Science Secondary teacher A level: Biology, Chemistry, Religious Studies and Welsh Baccalaureate... 7 views Write a comment 1 Adama Mar 9 4 min Doing a PhD in science in post-apartheid South Africa as a black female I Career Highlight Author: Nomhle Ngwenya Profile (South Africa) I was born in South Africa in 1996 and I am considered part of the ‘born-free’ generation... 12 views Write a comment Adama Mar 7 5 min Male Contraceptives : A 2021 Update I Bench to Bedside When you talk about contraception. In many cases women are at the forefront of discussions. 19 views Write a comment 1 Adama Mar 1 5 min Bsc Medical Physiology to Research Technician My Journey from Medical Physiology to Research assistant was't the most straight forward but thus far I have enjoyed it 21 views Write a comment

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