BPS Psychology in the pub

The highbury vaults in Bristol. This is not where this psychology in the pub talk was held, but many psychologists can often be found here due to its proximity to the Uni of Bristol Exp Psych dept!

On Wednesday evening I attended a social event held by the south-west hub of the British Psychological Society. This was great because after the “outside the box inside pharmacy” conference both Jane and I commented that there were no similar local events for psychologists that were being run by our professional body (which is the British Psychological Society). Not long after we said this, as if someone was listening in to our conversation, or reading my mind (or simply down to coincidence) I received an invite to the psychology in the pub session. The great thing is that this is going to run once a month and there is an informal talk from a local psychologist about what they do / a piece of their work. How great is that! Ok, so I sound a little geeky now, but psychology is such a diverse subject that you can’t be an expert in every aspect of psychology so it is great to talk to other psychologists and learn from them a little more about psychology.

The psychology in the pub sessions were kicked off by a talk from Jo Maddocks who is a chartered occupational psychologist and co-founded an occupational psychology group in Bristol – called JCA. His area of expertise was emotional intelligence and he and his colleagues devised a questionnaire to assess emotional intelligence (which he delivers with a lot of interactive group work for companies). What was interesting was that the key to understanding emotional intelligence is reflecting on your own behaviours and your own emotions and figuring out how others are going to respond – and if they don’t respond in the way you expect, then you reflect on that too, and so on. It did spark a few thoughts in my mind and finally I know something about EI, a topic which I remember hearing about when I did my a-level psychology class.

I am looking forward to lots more of these events, despite the rumours psychologists are great fun, and I really enjoyed meeting those that went on Wednesday.


Outside the box: inside pharmacy


Yesterday I presented with my supervisor at the Outside the box: inside pharmacy conference in Bristol. It was aimed at pharmacists from the south west of the UK and is about fostering connections between difference disciplines of pharmacists, and building stronger networks in the local areas. My supervisor and I were lucky to be invited as conference delegates were limited to those who were members of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society.

Anyway I had the most amazing day, meeting so many inspiring pharmacists and pharmacy students. After one talk I was on the verge of re-training to become a pharmacist as the speaker gave a talk about what exciting times there were ahead for those in the pharmacy profession!

Anyway I was asked to present about the theory behind my research. I called the talk brain errors (which explains the photo above) and spent some time explaining how the way our brains work can lead us to make certain types of errors. It was perhaps the most nerve-wracking and difficult talk I have given so far in my career. Firstly I was worried that I wasn’t going to do the concepts I was talking about justice or explain them well enough. They are fairly straightforward, but quite abstract and I only had a 20 minute slot to outline them and how that might all relate back to dispensing errors. Plus I had to work hard to pitch it at the right level – i.e. for people who had never come across psychology theories before. However, I think most of my nerves were down this was the first time I had presented in front of a non-academic & 100% pharmacy audience and as they will be the key audience for my results when I have them, it was so important to me that they thought my rationale and the theories I was using were relevant. The talk was a big deal for my supervisor as well who has been trying to promote the role of psychologists within this field for many years. So we both felt we had a lot riding on our talks.

I think we sold it though. We were asked lots of questions afterwards about the theory and other people said they would be interested in hearing more – taking part in the research – or – most exciting doing some research in collaboration with us. I must not get my hopes up too soon, but that is the first time anyone has approached “little old me” and said I would love to work with you on a project related to this.

So we made some great contacts, and best of all, because some of the students at our University attended this conference, they got in touch afterwards and asked if they could take part in my study. Every time someone says they want to take part I get very excited – one participant closer to my goal, but also that is one more person that thinks my research is worth giving their time to. Hooray! The pace is starting to pick up now with the research so I am sure my updates are going to be much more frequent.

Presenting at the outside the box inside pharmacy conference (Photo credits to Dr Philip Rogers)

Future science leaders 2011

A few weeks ago I went to a conference at the University of Oxford – called the future science leaders conference 2011 and it was one of the main reasons that I started writing a blog. The conference was aimed at early career researchers (so PhD students and post-doc researchers) working in any aspect of science. There were a range of presentations but one was about networking and really getting your work and yourself known and out there. This was followed by an after dinner talk by nobel laureate William D Phillips who talked about his surprise that many researchers were fearful of talking about their research and ideas just in case someone else decided to jump in and use them or do the same before you managed to finish and publish the work.

I now know that this fear of being gazumped harks back to the days when Watson and Crick received the nobel prize for the discovery of the DNA double helix. Their theory was based on Rosalind Franklin’s data and findings and she had also been about to publish this idea but they got there first. Sadly and this was not Watson & Crick’s fault, the nobel prize was also awarded to W&C after Rosalind Franklin died and at the time the Nobel prize committees did not award the prize to dead researchers (Glynn, 2008).  I learnt all this after the conference when I was telling my supervisor about Prof Phillip’s ideas on being open about your research ideas. Prof William’s talk became even more interesting when I heard the Franklin, Watson and Crick story because the conference was funded by a the Rosalind Franklin award (from the Royal Society). I wonder what Rosalind Franklin herself would say about being open about one’s research. Prof Phillip’s idea was that one should publish and talk and write about the good and bad things about one’s research what worked, what didn’t because even if it helps another research team – this furthers your research field, moves it on, leaving you to get on with bigger and better things, the faster the field develops the faster your work does too.

I agree with him.. So I am now writing this blog although I know I haven’t put my ideas out there yet as I just don’t know where to start (and I am still a teensy bit apprehensive – one step at a time)!

 Glyn, J. (2008). Rosalind Franklin: 50 years on. Notes and Records of the Royal Society, 62(2), 253-255. doi: 10.1098/rsnr.2007.0052

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