Back in July this year, we were part of a group of ten students selected to participate in a week long attachment at the Open University. Our aim at the start of the week was to produce two short films, exploring how scientists have been represented in popular culture. To do this, we split into two groups; each group produced one film.
As postgraduate researchers at the Open University with an interest in communication and engagement, Frazer Bird and I are looking for your support. We’ve entered a video competition and we've been selected as finalists.
To win the prize - a trip for four people to the biggest geosciences conference in the world - our videos must receive the most likes on You Tube so we need all the help we can get.
If you’d like to know more about the type of research we do as paleoecologists, and to help one of our dreams come true, please follow the links in our post and like and share the videos. Read on for further details…
Week 3 of my internship on the OU's PER Catalyst was a bit quieter, but it doesn't mean I wasn't busy!
I spent this day working from home. For a 21 year old this is a very novel idea and it meant that I had to have some serious self control. I have to say that it went very well though, as I hope can be seen in my previous blog.
I also got to comment on the media training film made by OU postgraduate researchers. The piece of OU research they focused on, the field network system, is a collaboration between the OU's Knowledge Media Institute and the Field Studies Council. The videos was very high quality. I have to say the presenter, Frazer Bird, was very impressive.
Students from Walton High, a school in Milton Keynes, have been finding out that the sky is definitely not the limit when it comes to research at The Open University (OU).
In late July, as part of their digital media production course, ten BTEC students visited the OU campus to find out more about its work on Europe’s comet-chasing spacecraft Rosetta – the world’s first mission to land on a comet.
When I got an email from Richard Holliman about an Open University (OU) media skills training course, it took me all of 30 seconds to double-check with my PhD supervisor and sign up. I’d previously attended a one-day event with the Royal Society, and was keen for a more in-depth course. I had no idea what to expect, but was excited to hear that the aim of the course would be to build up the skills needed to design, produce and edit a short film.
From the 2nd to 6th June I worked with fellow OU PhD students Frazer Bird, Jamie Dorey, Hnin Myint, and Phillipa Smith, under the expert guidance of presenter Janet Sumner, cinematographer Gerard Giorgi-Coll and Assistant Producer Tom Ryan to create a short film about a collaborative research project between the OU and the Field Studies Council (FSC), an environmental education charity that provides opportunities for people of all ages to engage in fieldwork. You can watch the results of our efforts by selecting the video below.
Another week of media training, this time looking at space science!
I worked today with the new group of media students from Walton High. I got the chance to meet them last week at the briefing but in the space of a week had managed to forget everyone’s names; obviously not my strong point.
Monday is always the day that the students learn how to interview. Luckily I managed to get out of being the guinea pig and instead got to watch Manisha, the teacher, squirm.
Although very shy to start with the students slowly started to come out of their shells a little, especially when put in front of a camera. ...continue reading →
Leadership; Mission; Communication
Champion’s blog; star date 2014.03.10 (in effect, an update on the first post on this blog, 'An open research university').
Nearly two years of the mission completed; 14 months of funding left. "Where do we boldly go from here?"
I was interviewed late last year by Lucian Hudson, the OU's Director of Communications, to explore this question. We also discussed progress with the core mission of the OU's Public Engagement with Research Catalyst.
You can see the results of our discussion in the video below. If you'd prefer to read the text of the interview, select transcript.
Teamwork is key to successful planning
When we're producing courses at the Open University we tend to work in teams; many of them are multi-discplinary and almost all of them combine academics with other forms of professional expertise (e.g. editors and media professionals). For example, the last course I chaired (with the catchy code, SH804) involved more than 70 people during the production phase (including academics, media professionals, editors, librarians and web developers).
Over the years I've been lucky enough to work with some excellent colleagues in various course teams. You might expect me to say that. But it's not always straightforward working as a social scientist in a Faculty of Science. One of the many colleagues I've really valued working with is Professor Simon Kelley. We worked together as part of a larger course team on Science in Context.
Serendipity meets planning for diversity and inclusion
Spin forwards several years: I'd been working on the Engaging Opportunities project for about nine months when we began to think seriously about organising the first of the three annual lectures that we'd promised RCUK we would deliver.
I’m an astrophysicist and my research is mainly concerned with what may be called the “time domain universe”, or simply: stars whose brightness varies with time.
Stars can have a variable brightness for one of several reasons: they might be intrinsically variable due to pulsations of the star’s atmosphere; they might be in orbit with another object that periodically passes in front of it; or they might suffer some form of catastrophic change that causes flaring or outburst behaviour, for instance.
One way to carry out research in time domain astrophysics is simply to monitor the brightness of all the stars in the sky and see what you find. This is, in effect, what is done by the WASP (Wide Angle Search for Planets) project, of which I and others at the Open University are part.
A day in the life of a field geologist
Earth Scientists like me study the Earth: how it formed, how it changed over geological time, and how all the different ‘bits’ such as the atmosphere, oceans, soil and rocks interact with each other.
In detail, I’m a geologist – I specifically try to understand the rocks beneath our feet. And in even more detail, I’m a field geologist. Nothing excites me more than the prospect of getting to spend weeks in a tent up a remote mountain somewhere (although preferably not in the rain), collecting rock samples for analysis back in the lab.