Posts Tagged ‘Training’

School of Biotechnology Research Day and Belfast Visits

January 29, 2012 Leave a comment

Last Friday saw the return of the SoBT research day at DCU. I had been accepted for an oral presentation earlier on in December, and was looking forward to this first oral presentation of my research in a formal setting. Luckily I was scheduled first up, just after the keynote speaker, and so it meant I could get my presentation over and done with and enjoy the rest of the day, especially since I was part of the organising team on behalf of the Biological Research Society, so it turned out to be quite a hectic day.

However I must say I enjoyed my presentation. I was mostly scared of the questions people would ask, but I believe I managed to answer most of them quite well and some of the insights I got were quite good. Apart from my presentation, I also enjoyed talking to a couple of the academics about my research and also with members of the sponsoring companies (there were 10 sponsoring companies with stands there, representing most of our suppliers, and therefore it was good to have them all there to talk about your research and discuss new opportunities).

The past two weeks I have also been quite busy with two visits to Belfast. I was supposed to have a supervisor up in Queen’s University Belfast, however he has now left the University (although still in sporadic touch via email). Nevertheless, there is still work to be done there, and I have in fact been waiting for the instrument I am supposed to be using there to be fixed. Therefore when the specialist engineer was coming over, I took the opportunity to go up to Belfast and spend time with him to learn about the instrument and get trained, since the person who had used it before has now left and I will be the only person using it once it is fixed.

I had a very productive and interesting 2 days, and the instrument was up and running, so I came back to Dublin for the weekend and planned to go up the next Tuesday, to analyse my actual samples. Unfortunately, when I went back on Tuesday I found out that another part of the instrument has now broken down, as a circuit board has stopped working, meaning the mass spec magnet is no longer operating. Therefore back to Dublin I came after a day of trouble shooting, and we are now awaiting confirmation for fixing the instrument (or not) depending on what the powers that be decide.

Nevertheless, my PhD is now getting into the swing of things, and I am getting busy. I look forward to what the coming weeks and months bring up, and hopefully it will be mainly good news 🙂


PhD: 1/12 over

December 19, 2010 1 comment

The first 3 months of my PhD are over it seems. That means that 1/12 of my PhD is (hopefully) over. Hopefully as I would not like that my studies take longer than the 3 years for which I am funded.  I think I achieved quite a lot during these 3 months, and I am happy with the progress I am making. In my last week in Dublin I managed to order the first analytes I selected and will be analysing for. Hopefully these will be received soon, so that as soon as I go back to Dublin in January I can start working on my method development. I am really excited about that, because if I manage to achieve that with minimal problems (I am being very optimistic here) it will mean that my PhD life will be easier. However I am not looking at less than 3 months (if everything goes well that is) for this portion of my project.

The day before I left DCU I also had a meeting with my supervisor. This time instead of a lab meeting we had 1 to 1 meetings, where we discussed progress and the way forward. They seemed happy enough with my progress and told me to go ahead. One of the supervisors also suggested that I start working on my literature review. I have already read a lot of papers and have a number of separate documents from which I can pull the details. So I will hopefully organise what I have and add more to it as necessary. On the last day I also got word that I got accepted to give a poster presentation to the DCU School of Biotechnology Research Day in January. Therefore I now need to prepare a poster…have started working on it somewhat since I arrived in Malta, and hope to have most of it ready by the time I go back, since I would definitely need Bernard’s help with the design aspect.

The next months will probably be really hectic as regards to my PhD. I have to work on method development and my literature review, Graduate training elements (I actually have 2 scheduled for the same week…will probably have to drop one), I will give my poster presentation at the Biotech Research Day in January and sent my abstract for another conference at the end of February, I start practical session demonstrations in February too etc. I look forward to this however. It will be hectic, definitely…but hopefully I will actually start seeing some progress (reading papers all day long gets a bit monotonous at times).

So bring it on (and think of me so that hopefully things work out well 🙂 ).

PhD Week 6: Done

November 12, 2010 1 comment

My 6th week as a PhD student has come and gone. It was quite a busy week. I am a bit confused however. I think I achieved a lot, but at the same time I do not think I got anywhere. The main job in the past week was that I looked into pharmaceutical selection, to determine the suite of pharmaceuticals I will be analysing for. I now have 2 lists of human and veterinary pharmaceuticals from which to select from. However I am not confident in that this is the way to go. Especially with respect to the veterinary pharmaceuticals. It seems that the way I am going around things might be a bit haphazard. But I am not aware of being able to do it better myself. Unfortunately we did not have a lab meeting this week, so I did not get to present what I did. This could have been a way where I could discuss the way forward with my supervisors. We should have a meeting next Monday, and we will see how things go. I hope that they can give me some constructive feedback.

Another issue I am struggling with is how to approach other researchers and what to say. I have pinpointed a number of individuals who seem to have vast experience in the area of human and veterinary pharmaceutical analysis. However I do not know whether I should contact them, and what level of detail I should give. Giving more details of my project could result in them possibly being more helpful, but at the same time maybe I do not want to give everything away. You always hear about competition in the research world and I never know to what extent this reaches.

This week, I also attended the first of Graduate compulsory training, a session called Safelab 1. We also got a new PhD student in our research group. She is also part of the ATWARM project, and she seems to be very nice.

Categories: Research Tags: , , , , ,

Orientation for Researchers

October 29, 2010 1 comment

Today saw the commencement of the DCU Researchers Development Programme for 2010-2011, with the session Orientation for Researchers. It is organised by the Human Resources and the OVPR (Office for the Vice President for Research) within DCU.

Although most of the sessions are geared towards Post-docs and higher researchers, this session is suitable for all individuals. Its aims were to help researchers understand the support systems at the University for research staff and the research environment at DCU and in Ireland. It also allows for different research staff to meet and talk together. There was a strong showing from the School of Biotechnology and so I knew some people, and got to know others who I have already started meeting in the corridors etc.

The programme consisted of various presentations of around 20-30 minutes each, from various entities, such as OVPR, IT systems, HR, Finance, Commercialisation of Research, a presentation by DUCRA (DCU Contract Researchers Association) and the library. The sessions I found most interesting were those by the IT personnel and DUCRA, and particularly the latter.

The 2 members of DUCRA explained what the issues related to researchers are, and the particularities of developing your research career depending on what you would like to see happen in your career. I found it really enlightening to have two researchers discuss in a frank manner this subject. Being a researcher is nothing like other jobs. And people (at least I) do not have a good idea of what is expected etc.

Overall I think it was a great success personally. I also got to meet two other ATWARM fellows who are at DCU, who are really nice, and other researchers within the school of Biotechnology. If I had to change something, it would possibly be to have two different sessions, with one oriented towards PhD students and another oriented towards higher level researchers. But apart from that a great success.

HPLC Training

October 26, 2010 4 comments

I have now started lab training at Uni, namely in using the HPLC. I have had some previous experience in using HPLCs, so I knew what to expect somewhat. However my knowledge is quite limited and was looking forward to getting trained on this piece of equipment which is likely going to be an integral part of my research. I will also be using IRMS and LC-MS, of which I have no prior experience. So it was good to start slowly with something I knew a bit about.

On the advice of the other people in the lab, I decided to carry out some runs during my first training. It seems that usually training is held with only verbal explanations, which might not be as helpful later on. Therefore I prepared my stock solution and mobile phase last Tuesday, so that they would be ready for Thursday (on Wednesday I went to Belfast). Training was unfortunately postponed to Friday, since the lab officer was quite busy on Thursday.

So I prepared my standard solutions from the stock solution and got ready to be trained. I am quite pleased with myself. I managed to get a 0.999 R squared value (5 standards used). This shows that the standard preparation was indeed carried out correctly and that the HPLC worked properly.

I still have lots more to achieve. This was simply a test run using a standard method used before by other people in the lab. As part of my research I will most probably have to develop my own method. But I will take it one day at a time. Next up in lab work…using the HPLC to carry out a run on my own. Hopefully sometime this week or early next week.

Biodiversity Training Seminar

October 9, 2010 3 comments

Today, I attended a Biodiversity Training Seminar organised by An Taisce, the national trust for Ireland. I had seen this advertised some time ago, on the ESAI (Environmental Sciences Association of Ireland) listserv, I had joined in before I left for Dublin. The subject and programme content had interested me and therefore I had signed up. In particular I saw this as an opportunity to understand better the Environmental Agencies of Ireland.

The day was fully packed. Three Sessions and a Field Trip were organised. The first session concerned ‘Irish Ecosystem Services’. Three presenters from different backgrounds described how different ecosystems provide numerous services to humankind. This session was not as technical as the following sessions were. However it gave a good introduction to the subject.

This was followed by four presenters in the area of ‘Plans, Strategies, and Legal Instruments’. I really found this session of great interest to me, as it allowed me to understand better the way that different entities in the Irish environmental sphere act. In addition I learnt a lot about the legal frameworks of importance and how these are applied in an Irish context.

The final session was about ‘Information Sources’. Three different presenters explained the best ways of finding and accessing data which is available. The presentation by Sinead O’Brien, from SWAN (Sustainable Water Network) was of particular relevance to my studies. This is because it dealt with accessing water quality data of Irish relevance, in particular in relation to the Water Framework Directive.

In the afternoon, we could choose to go to one of two different field trips. I took the Dublin Bay SPA fied trip, where Siobhan Egan from Birdwatch Ireland and a representative of Coastwatch Ireland explained the different aspects of this site, and the particular challenges faced with the site designation.

First up we went to the mud flats at Dublin Bay, and Siobhan Egan from Birdwatch Ireland explained about the issues related to SPA designation at the site. Another member from Birdwatch Ireland also joined with her telescope to explain about the overwintering birds that were visible.

Dublin Bay Mud Flats

Dublin Bay Mud Flats

After this, we went to Booterstown in Dublin, a bit farther along the coast. The Coast Watch Ireland member explained about the biodiversity we could see along the mud flats. She could recognise the different organisms and shells we found lying along the shore. At the moment the highest spring tides are currently present, and therefore a considerable amount of debris could be seen. She also explained about the issues related to designation, and the concerns they have related to the designation of the site in relation to changes in habitats and their description within the water framework directive.

I am sure that I will make good use of the information gained today at this seminar in my studies. The seminar gave all of us participants an overload of information. nevertheless, it was provided in a manageable way. The presentations were of only 15 minutes, which I found useful. This is because we managed to get a good overview of the various different aspects of biodiversity from the relevant legislation, to their application and how the data collected can be accessed. In addition, the field trips allowed us to see the various considerations in action.

I must congratulate An Taisce, for a wonderful seminar, and I will certainly be back for another event organised by them.