Science Communication Workshop A Great Success

The latest in the UK Polar Network’s acclaimed career skills workshop series was held at the University of Aberdeen, on the 12th – 14thJanuary.  The theme of this workshop was “Science Communication”.  Around twenty early career researchers came from across the UK to take part in active and lively discussions, as well as dynamic and entertaining practical sessions.

Focussed discussions were held on many topics over the course of the workshop.  These took an informal style, with an external speaker giving an introduction to their work, then fielding questions and contributing to an open discussion.  Antony Jinman, polar explorer and founder of Education Through Expeditions, gave a talk on the outreach work of his organisation, which includes videocasting and other interactive elements giving school groups the opportunity to experience expeditions from the classroom.

Andy Kerr, director of the Edinburgh Centre on Climate Change, gave a session on the relationship between scientists and policymakers, drawing on his experience in working with the Scottish Government on its climate change related publications.  The way in which scientists interact with the TV industry was de-mystified by Mark Brandon, an Open University senior lecturer and consultant on BBC programmes such as Planet Earth and Blue Planet, using examples of his work at all stages of programme production.  The many ways to get involved in public outreach work through opportunities such as the STEM ambassador scheme were described by Ken Skeldon, from the University of Aberdeen’s Public Engagement with Science Unit.  All of these sessions provoked insightful and absorbing conversation, both during the sessions and afterwards, over coffee and, later, a pint.

Practical activities were an integral part of the workshop, and a great deal of training was offered in this area too.  Athena Dinar, PR and Communications Manager at the British Antarctic Survey, led an exercise on press release writing which saw groups attempt to effectively summarise a study about satellite images of penguin poo, and conducted mock radio interviews, allowing volunteers the chance to practice these skills and receive feedback from the room.  Sian Henley from the UK Polar Network committee took everyone through two demonstrations previously carried out with school groups: one showing the working of the polar vortex around Antarctica and its effect on atmospheric ozone, that involved people linking arms and dancing in a circle, and the other illustrating the problem that penguin mothers have trying to find their hungry chicks after a hunt, which saw everyone walking slowly around the room, honking and clapping at each other until (almost) all of the mother / chick pairs were re-united.  Richard Morris, also from the Polar Network committee, led an exercise in which groups analysed newspaper articles, podcasts and short films on scientific issues for differences in tone, style and effectiveness.  Rounding off the workshop, Stuart Monro and Christine Angus from Our Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh introduced their work with schools using puppets and props, gave some interactive demonstrations of different methods of communication, and led a discussion on the different styles employed by TV presenters.

All of our speakers and attendees are warmly thanked for their efforts and enthusiasm.  Events such as this enhance the skills and abilities of Network members to communicate their science to the wider public, assisting them in becoming ambassadors for their fields, for the Network and for science more generally.

This event was made possible through generous grants from the Natural Environment Research Council, the Royal Astronomical Society, and the International Glaciological Society.

UKPN Member Featured on Science Careers Website

Tamsin Gray, a former member of the UK Polar Network committee, has recently been featured on the UK science careers website FutureMorph. This site is a great resource for people looking to see exactly what careers in the sciences can be – they might be research, but they might be a lot more!

Feel free to use FutureMorph and Tamsin’s profile in future education & outreach events you may be planning.

UKPN Science Communication Workshop

In a rapidly changing world, the ability of scientists to communicate their work to the public is becoming ever more important, and training in this key skill ever more valuable. The UK Polar Network will be holding a workshop on the 12th-14th January 2011 at the University of Aberdeen, providing a fantastic opportunity for early career polar scientists to develop their proficiency within this area.

Many different aspects of science communication and public engagement will be explored during the workshop. These will include the making of natural and scientific television programmes; the link between research establishments and the media and public; the role of government in science communication; expeditions as a means of inspiring and educating young people, and scientific and polar exhibitions and attractions.

Interaction and informal discussion will form a key part of all sessions. External speakers will be present from the BBC, the Open University, the Scottish Government, the University of Aberdeen, Education Through Expeditions, and the British Antarctic Survey, providing invaluable expertise and experience from which participants can learn.

Practical experience in outreach and communication will also be emphasized, with participants given the chance to present talks and posters of their own, and take part in a hands-on session on effective outreach. This aspect of the workshop will cumlinate in an actual outreach event, planned with local school groups, to give participants the chance to put their new and improved skills into practice.

Registration for the Aberdeen workshop will open on the UK Polar Network website in autumn 2010. Attendance will carry a nominal fee, but it is anticipated that funds will be made available to support travel and accommodation for participants that have no other source of expenses funding.

The dissemination and communication of polar science and issues remains a key focus of the UK Polar Network. This science communication workshop will provide early career researchers with the skills, abilities and confidence required to better themselves as ambassadors for their fields, for the Network and for science as a whole.

We invite all early career polar scientists from across the UK and around the world to this exciting workshop and we look forward to welcoming you to Aberdeen in January!

UKPN at the British Science Festival 2010

Members of the UKPN spent last week at the British Science Festival teaching 8-10 year olds about glaciers, from how they form to their impact on the world and us.

We had a great team, with Antarctic scientists, postgraduate students, lecturers and recent graduates taking on the role of education. We all managed to bring something different to the classroom and our wide range of backgrounds gave the students a variation of knowledge from the fields of glaciology, biology, meteorology and paleoclimatology!

Held in Birmingham at Aston University, the festival was a chance to teach potential future scientists about the research that is being undertaken in the Polar Regions, excite them, and inspire them to choose a future in science.

During the week our workshop “The Polar Meltdown” was visited by over 350 pupils, many of whom had never heard of a glacier before but we hope they left informed and inspired about the Polar Regions!

We also managed to speak to many people involved in education, and get the UKPN better known in these fields. It was great to see not only children, but also adults interested in current Polar research.

A big thanks to all the team; Allen, Martin, Tamsin, Nicola and Iestyn, and also the event organizers. And a massive thanks to all the schools that attended and made our week so enjoyable!

UKPN at the IGS British Branch 2010

During the annual IGS British Branch meeting, held at Aberystwyth University by the Institute of Geography and Earth Science, the UKPN held a mentoring session for early career scientists concerning career paths and future employment. The session was held at the end of the first full day of the conference and was attended by over 45 delegates including Masters students, PhD candidates, post-doctoral researchers and others in full-time employment. The panel consisted of four leading scientists in cryospheric research; Dr Robert Bingham (University of Aberdeen), Dr Neil Ross (University of Edinburgh), Dr Nick Rutter (Northumbria University) and Maarten Krabbendam (British Geological Survey), all with various backgrounds and career paths.

Lessons from the session; as scientists in glaciology we must be flexible; be prepared to follow research around the world. Prove to yourself and to others that you are the right person for that job, or for that research grant. Be confident in your own abilities, and do not give up if you fail to get the job or funding. The same goes for getting your work published; you will receive criticism, but use it as a positive and not a negative… even the best academics get work rejected! Staying within your comfort zone or expanding your research areas, the choice is yours, as long as you can prove to future employers that it has benefitted you. Network; building good relationships within the glaciological community will improve the chances of getting employed. And finally, follow your ambitions.

Feedback from the session was extremely positive, from both the delegates and the panel. We wish to thank all of those who attended, those who posed questions and to Robert, Neil, Nick and Maarten for proving a wealth of information to budding cryospheric scientists.

Polar Sedimentary Processes and Archives Workshop

The UKPN and Loughborough University are pleased to announce the Polar Sedimentary Processes and Archives workshop as the latest in the 2010 series of UKPN career skills workshops.

Location: Loughborough University
Dates: 18th and 19th of November 2010.
Sedimentary archives are key indicators of past environmental change across a range of timescales.  Coupled with an understanding of contemporary sediment processes, they make it possible to reconstruct terrestrial, cryospheric, atmospheric, marine, and lacustrine conditions, which are vital for accurate modelling of future scenarios for climate change.

The workshop aims to explore the following themes:

• How is the polar sedimentary archive used to understand past environmental processes?

• How can past polar sedimentary processes be interpreted in terms of environmental and climatic change?

• What uncertainties are there in the sedimentary record (past and present), and what are the strengths and weaknesses of the differing sedimentary records available in polar regions?

•       How can we use polar sediments from different sources to obtain a regional perspective on past and present environmental change that would benefit climate modelling?

We intend to appeal to early career researchers (MSc, PhD and post-doctoral researchers) working in polar, sub polar or alpine regions with an emphasis on sediments. The intention is to cover a range of sub-disciplines within the earth sciences including, glacial and periglacial sedimentology, limnology and palaeolimnology, hydrology, aeolian, marine and atmospheric sciences. This is not an exhaustive list and we welcome all polar researchers.

Proposed sessions include

• Glacial and periglacial sediments
• Lacustrine sediments
• Aeolian and Atmospheric sediments
• Marine sediments
• Arctic hydrology
• Modelling future change in the Polar regions

Planned sessions also include advice about publishing and a panel session on field research skills by leading academics.

The workshop will provide an opportunity for peer to peer networking, skills training, encouraging collaborations and increasing the technical and scientific knowledge of participants. All delegates will be encouraged to do an oral presentation or produce a poster about their research, and will be encouraged to help in the organisation of the workshop, such as chairing sessions.

It is anticipated that a small fee (no more than £10) will be charged for all delegates attending the workshop. This is a postgraduate event and costs will be kept to a minimum. The UKPN has donated some funding towards the conference which will be used to support travel and accommodation expenses of delegates. We invite all delegates to claim some funding towards the conference costs.

We ask interested participants to pre-register by the 31st of August 2010 by using the online questionnaire at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/SBXD9MW.  If you have any questions please email  lboroworkshop@polarnetwork.org.

UKPN Member Svalbard Fieldwork Blog

Hi UKPN! My name is Allen Pope and for the next three weeks I will be up in Ny Ålesund, Svalbard for the next 3 weeks doing fieldwork. My research is related to collecting ground-based glacier-surface reflectance data to help in validation and interpretation of satellite and airborne imagery.

In addition to myself and two other team members, we will be joined by our mascot Fjord the Reindeer. As an outreach measure, Fjord will be keeping a blog of our activities, research, life in Ny Ålesund, and stories about Arctic research complete with photos, maps and hopefully video.

So, check it out at www.notrudolph.blogspot.com, and keep checking back as he’ll be putting up new content frequently. Please feel free to tell any friends you have interested in education & outreach, too – we would love to get questions from anybody interested in our work or Arctic fieldwork in general whether school kids or armchair explorers. If you’re interested in more expeditions and outreach, check outwww.educationthroughexpeditions.org.

Investigating Variability in Polar Climates: Past, Present and Future

As a great start to the Career Skills series this year, the University of Leeds hosted a multi-disciplinary workshop Investigating Variability in Polar Climates; Past, Present and Future.  The workshop took place on the 8th and 9th of April and saw over 30 PhD, Masters students and Post-Docs gather to discuss the latest topics surrounding variability in Polar environments.

The workshop was organised by PhD students at the University of Leeds; Aisling Dolan, Amber Leeson, Sarah Monks, Thomas Pleavin, Jo Browse and Abigail Clifton.

Two keynote talks were given by leading scientists from the British Antarctic Survey.  Dr. Anna Jones gave a presentation on ‘Air/snowinteractions and its influence on polar tropospheric chemistry’ and Dr. Adrian Jenkins gave a talk on oceanic forcing on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.  Other speakers included Prof. Jane Francis and Prof. Piers Forster (IPCC Author) looking at the past and future evolution of Polar Climates.  Technical sessions included An Introduction to Modelling Polar Climates, Polar Meteorology, Polar Atmospheric Composition and Cryosphere Remote Sensing.  A speed researcher networking session was given by Dr. Andrea Howarth (Skills Training, Leeds) and anintroduction to Science and the Media was given by Hannah Isom; a Senior Press Officer at Leeds.  Practical sessions on ice sheet modelling (Dr. Daniel Hill, BGS) and a Q&A panel on fieldwork also provided an interactive learning environment.

Many researchers gave a poster of their current or projected research and all posters were of a very high standard.  Three posters were chosen by a panel of senior academic judges as outstanding; Kathryn Nye (Durham, best overall poster), Carys Cook (Imperial College, highly commendable) and Daniel Grosvener (Manchester, highly commendable).  The poster session and conference dinner offered a valuable networking opportunity and allowed for many in depth discussions about current Polar research.

We feel that the workshop was a huge success and we hope that early career researchers found the event of value and that it may have sparked off future collaborations.  We would like to take the opportunity to thanks all of the participants and presenters who made this event as enjoyable as it was.

Particular recognition must also go to our sponsors – the Natural Environment Research Council, International Polar Year International Programme Office, the University of Leeds (Institute of Climate and Atmospheric Science, Earth System Science Institute and the Sellwood Group for Palaeo-Climatology) and the Royal Meteorological Society – for making this event financially possible.

Aisling Dolan (UKPN Committee)

IPY Oslo Science Conference, 8-12 June 2010

DEADLINE EXTENDED UNTIL THE 25TH JAN 2010!!

The IPY Oslo Science Conference, taking place 8-12 June 2010 in Oslo, Norway, is the major IPY Conference, a brilliant opportunity to show off your polar science whether it’s part of an IPY project or not. The IPY Oslo Conference also sets a precedent for the involvement of early career scientists at all levels of the conference and the activities during the event. APECS is coordinating the activities, and of course UKPN members are involved too! Spread the word so that this becomes the highlight of the year!

The submission deadline for abstracts is the 20th January 2010, so get your abstracts in!! To submit, go to this webpage: http://www.ipy-osc.no/section/1257865053.48. There is plenty of support available for early career scientists (reduced registration fees, accommodation, Oslo stipends, travel fellowships), all of it tied to abstract submission. Any question regarding the application process, don’t hesitate to contact us!

We would like to use this opportunity to highlight some of the sessions UKPN members are (co-)organising and show you what else there is for early career scientists.

Sessions with UKPN (or UK based APECS) conveners (apologies if I forgot anybody!):

  • T2-1 Climate and paleoclimate dynaimcs and processes (Louise Sime, BAS)
  • T2-4 Permafrost on a warming planet (Matt Strzelecki, Uni Durham)
  • T2-6 Ocean physical and geochemical dynamics and processes (Povl Abrahamsen, BAS)
  • T3-8 Ecosystems of the Southern Ocean (Angelika Renner, BAS/UEA)
  • T6-3 Adventures in the field: Impact of field programs for students, teachers, artists, writers and others (Allen Pope, SPRI)
  • T6-4 Global learning: The impact of the media (Jose Xavier, BAS)

APECS activities during the conference: APECS Professional Development Workshop – workshop with session on publishing your research, communicating science, funding, alternative careers, and more

APECS Reception – speed dating with potential mentors

APECS Lounge – in the middle of everything! THE meeting point of the conference

Awards for outstanding presentations and posters!

Application includes Oslo Stipend, Travel Fellowships and the APECS Professional Development Workshop

  • 20 February 2010 Abstract Acceptance Notification Date
  • 25 February 2010 Notification of Oslo Stipend Awards
  • 1 March 2010 Notification of Acceptance in APECS Workshop
  • 5 March 2010 Deadline to Confirm Stipend Acceptance
  • 8 March 2010 Stipend Recipients Conference Registration Deadline

So get your abstracts polished and send them in! For more info check http://www.ipy-osc.no and http://www.apecs.is/events/oslo2010

See you in Oslo,

Angelika

UKPN Annual General Meeting 2010

The Annual General Meeting will be held at the Royal Astronomical Society’s rooms in Burlington House, Piccadilly, London. 

At the AGM we will discuss the future of the UKPN and we encourage all UKPN members to participate in the meeting. The outline of the meeting is:

  • An overview of UKPN, its aims and general future directions
  • An overview of UKPN events in 2009.
  • Discussion about UKPN events in 2010.
  • Discussion about the proposed spring/summer school in 2011.
  • A talk by an external scientist on a broad, topical subject.

More information will follow soon.