Thursday, 9 August 2018

Natalie Lamb and Travel: Cambridge

I recently visited Cambridge as a tourist for just less than a day when I had a friend visiting. I wanted to make sure my friend checked off a lot of touristy attractions but while having a relaxed day. This is how we spent our day.

10am: Arrival
We visited on the train because there are so many buses, cyclists and one way systems that driving can be difficult and slow. Generally, Cambridge Train Station is a 20-30 minute walk from touristy attractions but we soon broke that up with some brunch.

10:53am: Brunch
Originally, we had wanted to go for bottomless brunch but I couldn't find anywhere that would do it on a weekday. Instead, we had brunch at the Old Bicycle Shop. It was only a 13 minute walk from the station and was on the way in to town, so helped to break up the walk. I had sweet potato pancakes (with dried apricot, coconut yogurt, oat crumble and banana powder) and a virgin mojito-esque drink for ~£9. Also, Darwin apparently bought a bike from there when it used to be a shop. There was an interesting map of Cambridge on the wall.

12:09 Punting on the River Cam
If you want to go punting, make sure you book in advance! I went with Cambridge Punt Company and it cost £12pp but if you booked on the day in person, it would have cost £20pp. It also means that you don't get nagged by people trying to get you to join one. I would recommend going on a tour rather than hiring a boat yourself if it is your first time, especially if you're a couple. The idea of a private punt seems romantic but to get it to move, the punter has to be stood up. It often takes hard work and you can be found going around in circles, rather than getting a tour around the colleges. It is a great plan if there's a group of you. We shared our punt with two other couples but there were ones that were heaving full of people, packed uncomfortably close together. The punts have backs but they are not deep like a boat so your legs are straight out rather than you sitting with them underneath you. It can be difficult to get up if you're older!

1:30 Drink Break
We had wanted to go up the tower of Great St Mary's but there was a private group tour going on for 30 minutes. So instead, we had a quick look at the market (at Market Hill) and at Kings College on our way to The Eagle for a pint. The Eagle is where Watson and Crick announced they had discovered the secret of life. It has a plaque inside dedicated to them. We each had a pint (~£5 a pint) and sat in the beer garden.

2:35 View of Cambridge
Whenever I visit a place, I like to get a good look of the view. Just around the corner from The Eagle, there is the tower of Great St Mary's. It costs £4 to go up but the view is excellent. Plus you can see straight into Kings College, for a lot cheaper than the £10 it costs to get into the college itself.

2:50 Journey Back
We then slowly walked back to the train station, going through Lion Yard Shopping Centre, through a few shops and via some iced coffee. At the train station there is a Marks and Spenser's, which we stopped by in to get some cocktails in tins to take with us on the train.

Overall, we were in Cambridge 10-4 and it didn't seem enough time at all!

Friday, 20 July 2018

Natalie Lamb and the 200 word biography

I had to produce a 100-200 word biography for The Bioscience Careers Day 2018. Due to the word limit and the focus of the day, I decided to keep it strictly on my PhD work, although I would have like to have made it a bit more personal, including hobbies, interests etc. I thought I would post the final biography as a blog post so others could use it as an example if they were interested.

Natalie Lamb's Biography

Natalie Lamb is a PhD student with The University of Sheffield and Anglian Water doing research into the chemicals used to treat drinking water.

The thing she most loves about her work is the independence she has to do this research with her own initiative. Some days she is in a hard hat and hi-vis strolling around a water treatment works. The next day she is gloved and coated in the lab, analysing all of her recent experiments. There are some restrictions, but by working with both industry and academia, Natalie has a lot of freedom to make each day a little different but all of it cumulatively building on her PhD.

One area that Natalie has an interest in is communicating her research to others in way anyone can understand- not just scientists. She volunteers with The Royal Society of Biology, teaches with The Brilliant Club, is a STEM Ambassador and tries to take part in all sorts of outreach activities.

Natalie’s PhD is a journey and she is learning every day, follow her on Twitter or read her blog (StartingMySciencePhD) to read more about it.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Natalie Lamb and the Kroto Prize for Science Education of Young People 2018

A 500 word press release for the Kroto Prize for Science Education of Young People 2018. I was lucky enough to be highly commended.

From distant rivers to your kitchen sink:
The chemical, microbiological and civil engineering journey of drinking water treatment

Every person in the UK uses ~150 litres of water each and every single day. But this waster isn’t just used, it’s wasted, it’s taken for grant. 1 in 3 people leave the tap running while brushing their teeth – wasting 24 litres of water a day. I designed a course to teach pupils about all the effort, all of the time, all of the science and engineering that goes in to getting river water to be of high enough quality to drink. That water has a value and how they can protect it going forwards.

I tried to contact young people to get this message across in a multitude of ways. I tried volunteering on a “Water Bus” with Anglian Water to spread the message of water value to local schools. I tired volunteering at events, such as New Scientist Live 2017 with The Royal Society of Biology to demonstrate some of the experiments done in the water industry to show your quality of water is pristine. But what I found was most effective was designing a course and delivering it to schools in a series of 7 tutorials with The Brilliant Club. A lot of hard work and 71 pages later, the course was designed. I have currently delivered it at two schools and am looking forwards to delivering in many other schools during the course of my PhD. 

I try to make the course as hands-on as possible. From a flashcard game where pupils work against the clock to try and put the water treatment processes in the correct order to demonstrations of chlorine testing that water companies actually do at the customer tap. We use Play-Doh to recreate microorganisms, I bring in actual props from my PhD (yes, I went to USA with that poster!), I challenge the pupils to think about their own water usage and the lead in their own houses. My aim is to spark discussion, encourage debate and motivate the young people to think about water.

“Why isn’t this taught in school? It’s really important and it matters to my future. I think everyone should do it” a recent pupil from Greater Peterborough Technical College asked me. It’s moments like these that you actually realise that the young people you’re working with appreciate the effort that you’re putting in and that you might actually be encouraging them to change their behaviour and challenge the behaviours of others. This is why this work is important, it is talking about important issues and engaging with these young people.

For more information about my water saving journey, this project and other similar ones I have been working on, visit my blog at or follow me on Twitter at @Natnotgnats 

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Natalie Lamb and the plastic free July

More than 8 million tons of plastic are dumped in our oceans every year. Half of it comes from disposable plastics that are only used once before being thrown away. This month I have taken the pledge to identify the single use plastics in my life and try and reduce my usage of them. I have decided to do a plastic diary, of the single use plastics I have been using throughout the month.

Sunday 1st July
-For breakfast I had cereal with plastic packaged milk 
+ For lunch I fancied instant noodles. I got some Kabuto ones. Kabuto (n.d.) state that their packaging is speci cally designed to minimise the brand’s environmental impact, with a double-walled paper cup that is more easily recycled than standard plastic and there are no additional sachets or internal packaging. 
+ I baked bread to go with the lunch (and we also had some with dinner on Tuesday) so no plastic packaging from bread today.
- For dinner, I made a Mexican. This included some tortilla chips, which although it was my third or fourth use of them, were still plastic wrapped.
 - Also at dinner we had wraps, which we used for the second time but which were plastic wrapped.
- Dinner included frozen onions and peppers, both from plastic packaging. 
- My shampoo/conditioner uses plastic packaging, so does my washing up liquid and my washing machine detergent bottle
I feel like there is a lot I hadn't thought about before doing this challenge!

Monday 2nd July
 -For breakfast and during the day I had a protein shake and cups of tea/coffee using plastic packaged milk 
- For lunch, my Warburtons Thins use plastic packaging, even though it is 6 servings per packet.
+/- Also for lunch I tried to substitute my Graze boxes with something else because they are individually plastic packaged boxes. I bought some larger packets of mixed fruit and nuts from Lidl and put a portion in a reusable plastic container to take to work. Problem is, the larger packet is still a plastic packet.
- For dinner, we had food at my partner's parent's house. It included chips which I assume were from frozen in plastic packaging
- My shampoo/conditioner uses plastic packaging, so does my washing up liquid 
 I had tried to make some changes but they were not all successful.

Tuesday 3rd July
 -For breakfast and during the day I had a protein shake and cups of tea/coffee using plastic packaged milk
+/- For lunch I had my Thins and my fruit and nuts again
- For dinner we had leftover gammon from the weekend that I had wrapped in cling film
+ But we had fresh rather than frozen vegetables
- We finished off the homemade bread but I had wrapped it in cling film 
- My shampoo/conditioner uses plastic packaging, so does my washing up liquid  
Cling film was a problem today!

Wednesday 4th July
 -For breakfast and during the day I had a protein shake and cups of tea/coffee using plastic packaged milk
+/- For lunch I had my Thins and my fruit and nuts again
- As part of dinner we each had half a meatball sub from Cafe Nero, which was plastic wrapped. We were in a rush and so my partner brought food home
+ After rugby, later that night, I resisted the temptation of plastic wrapped chocolate and had a cardboard wrapped cornetto instead 
- My washing up liquid uses plastic packaging  
The ongoing plastic usage is very annoying!



Thursday, 28 June 2018

Natalie Lamb and the Brilliant Club Heart Worksheet

I have to keep some KS2 pupils occupied tomorrow while I do 1:1 feedback. I produced this worksheet on the heart to give the pupils something fun but relatively useful to do. The full and printable worksheet can be found for free here.

1. Infogrqaphic
The first thing on the worksheet is a fun inforgraphic to remind the pupils about some of the facts we have been looking into. Resource source: Choc Children’s

2. Label the heart
Next the pupils have to label the heart diagram, probably the trickiest part of the worksheet. The answers can be found here. Resource source: Kids Health

3. Word search 
Next is a cardiovascular system word search, something a bit easier. Resource source: Kids Health

4. Quiz 
To make things a little harder again, I included a bit of a quiz. The answers are: Q1)1, Q2)3, Q3)3, Q4)3, Q5)3, Q6)1, Q7)2, Q8)3, Q9)3, Q10)1. Resource source: Fun Trivia

1. The body has many cavities which house and protect its organs. The heart is in which cavity?
o The chest
o The skull
o The abdomen
o The pelvis

2. What is the average size of your heart?
o The size of a beach ball.
o The size of a pea.
o The size of your clenched fist.
o The size of a watermelon.

3. The human heart is divided into sections called chambers. How many chambers does a human heart have?
o 2
o 3
o 4
o 5

4. Some of the heart's chambers are located at the top and some at the bottom. What is the name for the top chambers of the heart?
o Base chambers
o Ventricles
o Atria
o Upstairs chambers

5. What's the name for the bottom chambers of the heart?
o Atria
o Downstairs chambers
o Ventricles
o Apex chambers

6. Between the upper and lower chambers of the heart are some leaf-like structures which help blood to flow in one direction. These structures are called valves.
o True
o False

7. Which blood vessels return blood to the heart?
o Arteries
o Veins
o Capillaries
o Bronchioles

8. The number of times the heart beats per minute is called the heart rate. All of the following activities would be likely to increase the heart rate except one. Which one?
o Watching a scary movie
o Running
o Sleeping
o Fighting

9. The right side of the heart pumps blood to the lungs. What happens in the lungs?
o The blood turns from red to green.
o It has a rest.
o The blood loses carbon dioxide and picks up oxygen.
o Nobody knows for sure.

10. Most of the blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood around the body are called arteries. The largest artery in the body is the aorta.
o True
o False

5. Origami heart
Lastly, I gave the pupils the opportunity to create their own origami heart. Resource source: Origami Resource Center 

1.     Start with a square sheet of paper with the white-side facing up. Fold and unfold along the diagonal in both directions.
2.     Fold down the top-corner of the paper to the center of the paper.

3.     Fold up the bottom corner of the paper to the top of the model.
4.     Fold up the bottom-left and bottom-right sides of the model so the edges meet in the middle. This gives you a heart shape.

5.     Fold back (mountain fold) the corners of the paper so as to get a more rounded heart shape.

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Natalie Lamb and the 10 top tips for new PhDs

1. Meet some other PhDs who are at the same stage as you
I attended a PhD networking event in the first 6 months of my PhD. There was a little group of us who went for pancakes after. I still keep in touch with one member of the group and it's really helpful to see how similar our problems and our PhDs can be.

2. Meet regularly with your supervisor
I meet with my supervisor every 2 weeks. It's good to keep track of this and ensure you keep booking the meetings in. 

3. Keep good notes 
I use a diary to write down my notes, that way I can review them whenever I need to and there are all already chronologically ordered. I then type up my notes from supervisor meetings into a single word document. Having them all in the one document means I can easily search for something specific if I need to.

4. Keep a blog or some sort of record of the training courses you attend
I use this blog as a way to record the new information I have learned on training courses. I use the tag functions and then am able to search for something specific such as "presentations" and all the information I have learned form different training courses on presentations comes up. I'm not saying you need to keep a blog, I'm just saying use whichever method would work best for you to remember everything you have have learned. Don't be afraid to write a blog if you are interested though. I write this blog for myself, without expecting anyone to read it. 

5. Work out where the gaps in your training/skills are
It is very easy to only attend training courses about things you are interested in but you should sit down, work out where your weaknesses are and dedicate some time to building on these skills. You may not enjoy them but you'll be grateful that you got them out of the way. For me, it's statistics. 

6. Keep a back up of your work
Have a backing up system in place, something you automatically do and don't have to think about. Personally, I use Google Drive.

7. Make a list of conferences in your field 
Find out what the big conferences are. Do you know anyone who has attended them previously? What did they think? You need to work out which ones are worth your time and which are not. It's also good to know the deadlines- for submission, for early entry fees etc. I try to go to an international conference a year during my PhD.

8. Don't compare your work with the work of others
A PhD is a journey and everyone has a slightly different path. Just concentrate on what you are doing and try not to let other people worry you.

9. Don't be afraid to say no- you're going to get busy quickly!
Don't be afraid to say no to extra work but also don't be afraid to say yes to extra work. You know what you are capable of and if you're not entirely sure what workload you can cope with, you will soon find out during the course of the PhD.

10. Enjoy it!
A PhD is a difficult thing to take on. It can be hard work. It can be lonely. But make sure you enjoy just one thing about it a day- this is a good portion of your life you are dedicating to this. It should be worth it for you as a person. For me, work-life balance is also a part of enjoying my work.

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Natalie Lamb and Travel: Glasgow, Scotland

I have recently been to Glagow for the first time for a conference and so did some research on where to go and what to do, especially if you enjoy video games like I do. I thought I would share the info, in case I go again in future or if anyone else in interested.

Things To Do

The Cloisters
I have included the cloisters from The University of Glasgow on this list because I saw photos of them everyone in Glagow and thought I just had to go. They can be found in the main building on the campus, as though you are heading to the Hunterian Zoology Museum but they are located on the ground floor, rather than above for the museum. They are actually not that impressive, if I'm being honest. I was expecting long underground tunnels but it was very short. They are pretty and iconic though and obviously free to view, with them being a part of the university.
Actually, I thought the outside of the building looked more impressive!

Hunterian Zoology Museum
I visited the zoology museum, which had interesting skeletons in showing the different organisms. Worth a quick 10 minutes look around for free. I would recommend going to the Hunterian Museum, however.

Hunterian Museum
I thought this was a really interesting museum, chock full of things in jars- a great place to take a biologist! It is free to enter and contains three areas of interesting things to see.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
I had wanted to come here, a very pretty museum which was another free one. I did, unfortunately run out of time but I did manage to see it from the university.

I chose to come to Yesbar because I wanted to see some comedy but it was a Wednesday. There was comedy on and it was a Wednesday but it was pretty empty. We were late starting. There was a lot of heckling. I wouldn't recommend it on a week day.
Photo Credit: Yesbar

Tokyo Toys
A good-sized Tokyo Toys, great for plushies and other merch from animes etc.
Photo Credit: Yelp

Forbidden Planet
Very close to Glasgow Queen Street Station. Great for all things geeky, although a very small shop.
Photo Credit: Yelp

G-Force Games
A gaming shop on the high street. The prices were relatively expensive but the choice was good.
Photo Credit: Yell

So I didn't up going because I was pretty tired but they have gaming tournamenets which sound really cool. They are a gaming pub that also do Japanese snacks. The arcade passes are £3 and they are open 12-9.
Photo Credit: Glasgow Live

Super Bario
Another bar and arcade that I didn't end up going to!
Photo Credit: Glasgow Live

Things To Eat

Hillhead Bookclub
A very instgrammable place for food. I had a grilled cheese with chips. I felt they could have used cheeses with a bit more taste but I loved the chips. I went in the hope to play the video games (but they had recently been stolen so there were none) and to use the ping pong table (being used by rowdy children for the duration of the visit). Still, a great place to go to see the decor. I couldn't see the gramophone cocktails on the menu. I found it a little expensive for the food. I took the tube because I didn't have much time (£4 all day). It's in a really good location if you want to visit Glasgow University or Kelvingrove Museum though.

Tantrum Doughnuts
Some great doughnuts with all sorts of different flavours. I recommend going early so they don't run out of the flavour you want to try. The milkshakes are really good too- the marshmallow one comes with a giant marshmallow on top. It's a little pricey though- ~£9 for two doughnuts and a milkshake.

Chakoo Bombay Cafe
A great lunch of Indian tapas that was only a 5 minute walk from Glasgow Queen Street Station for only £9.95/head. Plus there was lots of free water. I recommend the madras.