An introduction to Mindfulness, Part 1, getting started

As part of the Life Tools series, a talk on Mindfulness has been organised for Wednesday 21 October at 1.00pm in Palmer 105.  It lasts around 50 minutes and there will be a chance to ask questions at the end.  It will be followed later in the term by a second talk – Mindfulness – keeping going.  There is no need to book a place at the talk – students should just turn up on the day. This talk is open to all students in the University.

Professor Mark Williams, Professor of Clinical Psychology at the Oxford Mindfulness Centre says that “Mindfulness can be an antidote to the “tunnel vision” that can develop in our daily lives, especially when we are busy, stressed or tired…………  Most of us have issues that we find hard to let go and mindfulness can help us deal with them more productively.”   Mindfulness is also one of the 5 steps for good mental wellbeing advocated by NHS Choices (2014).


Why Ada Lovelace Day matters

Tuesday 13th October was Ada Lovelace Day (Ada worked with Charles Babbage on his ‘analytical machine’ which if it had been built would have been the first computer). This day celebrates women in science, and highlights role models to inspire current and future generations. Suzi Gage has written a really interesting article about this in the Guardian:

‘Of course, more needs to change than just visibility. The culture of academia needs to change in order for it to be a place that everyone can thrive. Unconscious biases are problematic and hard to remove precisely because they are unconscious. I may have been overlooked or belittled because I’m a woman – equally it’s likely I may have unconscious biases of my own. It isn’t just men who rate CVs with women’s names at the top as being of lower quality, the study that investigated this found that women did so too.’




Earth Science Week: 10 – 18 October 2015

The Geological Society has hosted Earth Science Week since 2011.  For a summary of the events, Geowalks, talks and workshops taking place this year follow this link – Earth Science Week. 2015 is also the first themed year – ‘this year the theme being mud, highlighting mud’s role in our understanding of the history of our planet. Mud represents both an end and a beginning – the end of the cycle of erosion and transport, and the beginning of the generation (through burial and transformation) of new materials of great value to society’  Are you taking part in any of these events? Let us know if you are!




Make science courses more accessible to stop women dropping out, says author

Published in the Times higher on 11th October – ‘Stereotypes, prejudice and laddish behaviour still deter young women interested in physics, engineering and computer science, says Eileen Pollack (Professor of creative writing at the University of Michigan and author of The Only Woman in the Room: Why Science Is Still a Boys’ Club). Eileen argues that  ‘science courses designed “to weed out those who don’t come as prepared as they should be” need to be radically reformed so that more under-represented groups including women do not drop out of such programmes’

Eileen ‘was discouraged by stereotyping and other obstacles from pursuing a PhD, and notes that even today women still make up only a fifth of the physics PhD students in the US. It was this that spurred her to write a book about “what it felt like to be an intelligent, ambitious young woman growing up in the late sixties and early seventies, and why even today so few women and minorities go on in science”.


Social scientists asked to comment on early career support

Published in the Times Higher on the 11th October, Jack Grove highlights a survey being undertaken by the new Centre for Global Higher Education at UCL.  Early career social scientists are being invited to comment on the support they have received since completing their doctorate in order to improve support for those people just starting out in academia. ‘Any social scientists who were awarded their doctorate within the past eight years are asked to complete the survey at


Managing Academic Pressure talk

The ‘Life Tools’ talks are run for all students.  The next talks are:

‘Managing academic pressure’ this is being given on Tuesday 13 October at 3.00pm, in Carrington 101. It will provide advice on strategies to manage the demands of your course and advice on how to meet deadlines.  This is followed by a talk ‘Understanding stress’ on Wednesday 14 October at 4.00pm, in Carrington 101 which offers information on the ways to minimise the effect of stress and maintain your health.

There is no need to book a place – students should just turn up on the day.

Last year, students gave their views on these talks. One student who attended the talk on Managing academic pressure said: ‘It was very helpful and motivational, there were a lot of useful tips!’
While another attending the Understanding stress talk commented: ‘MUST GO! I was apprehensive about the relevance of this talk to me as I hardly get stressed, but I did go and I learnt so many new things, it has helped me immensely.’


Wellbeing Cafe – Wednesday 1 to 2.30 in the RUSU Study

Feeling stressed? Want to meet like-minded people?

Peer Supporters are holding a Wellbeing Cafe tomorrow (Wednesday) from 1 to 2.30 in the Study (the one story building in the Student Union Car Park)

Come along to take a break and share experiences in a welcoming, informal, friendly setting.

Alicia Pena, Head of Student Wellbeing, will be hosting an informal discussion and Q & A session on ‘Maximising Your University Experience’ from 1.15 to 2.15.

Join them for a free cuppa and loads of useful tips on ways to make settling into University as stress-free as possible!

Peer support

The Fresher’s Balancing Act – Athene Donald

Once again I am returning to Athene Donald’s blog to highlight a post about being new, and the start of the academic year.  While this clearly applies to Undergraduates, being new is also relevant to Masters and PhD students, as well as staff at any point in their career.  I think we can all relate to being new and feeling a bit overwhelmed:

‘Just remembering that you are not alone in being uncertain, nervous and probably totally confused is a good place to start. It is so easy to be fooled into thinking that you are the only one operating in a fog when the reality is that if you don’t feel like that you are probably missing an awful lot that is going on around you. Admitting to being befogged in that first week is not an admission of failure it is an admission of reality. However, remaining struggling in the mists of confusion most certainly means that you aren’t taking control by asking enough questions. Ask your peers but, probably even more importantly, ask all those who are ahead of you in the game……………’


Network your way to bigger grants

A study published in PLOS ONE suggests that Researchers should ‘focus on building a strong network of contacts to improve their chances of securing funding, rather than relying solely on track records and citations.’ Publishing in Research Professional, Cristina Gallardo discusses the importance of networking and also performance.










Have you built up a strong network of contacts?  How easy is it to do this?  Do you have any advice?

‘Pretty curious’ campaign draws criticism

Lisa Lodwick has highlighted the recent discussion on Twitter surrounding EDF Energy and their #prettycurious campaign. Thank you Lisa!







Published on 1st October in Nature, Chris Woolston explores the differing points of view, and why this campaign has generated so much controversy.

‘Scientists generally laud attempts to get more young people interested in careers in science, technology, engineering and medicine (STEM). But an initiative to encourage girls to study science — launched by EDF Energy, a London-based power company— has met much scepticism and ridicule online, mostly because of the campaign’s name: ‘Pretty Curious’.






What do you think?