Thursday, 24 January 2019

Natalie Lamb and the mental resilience: Getting the best from your brain

I recently went on a Institute of Water training course on “Mental Resilience: Getting the best from your brain” delivered by John Sunderland-Wright. These are some tips I learned.

There are 100 billion neurons in the brain with an average of 40,000 connections. You have more neural connections than stars in the visible universe. Repetition and practice strengthens neural connections while those connections that are not used become week. New skills and experiences create new neural connections but the connections also decrease as we age.

Cognitive resilience is your ability to overcome the negative effects of stress on cognitive function (e.g. identifying you are stressed, putting strategies in place to relive stress) where mental toughness is the vales/attitudes/behaviours/emotions that keep you going even when stress is encountered (e.g. motivation, confidence, composure, resilience, focus). One of the best ways to strengthen cognitive resilience is to improve the brain’s overall fitness, which can be done using the SENSE (Stress Management, Exercise, Nutrition, Sleep, and Experience) Model.

Stress Management 
  • Chronic stress can result in brain cell degeneration and neurotransmmision, resulting in impaired memory and reduced emotional control
  • There is no such thing as multitasking, only switchtaking, which results in increased stress for the brain and decreased quality of the tasks being performed
  • Manage acute stress by focusing on your breathing
  • Manage chronic stress by doing a weekly brain dump, scheduling time for yourself, practicing meditation
    • A brain dump is where you spend 5 minutes writing down everything (both work and personal) that is currently on your mind)
    • Some apps that can help you meditate: Calm (basic mindfulness practices with 25 free meditations from 3-30 minutes), Stop Breathe & Think (34 free mostly 15 minute meditations with a meditation guide). More apps and reviews can be found here
  • A day of managed chronic stress could look like: beginning the day with a quiet brisk walk, chatting with someone over breakfast or coffee about the day ahead, starting the day with some planning of the day ahead rather than with a meeting, disconnecting from work during lunch, getting immersed in something other than work at the end of the day

  • Physical exercise helps build resilience, performance, and learning capacity. It can increase the blood flow to your brain, increasing oxygen and glucose levels
  • Moderate intensity exercise should be done at an intensity of 5 x 30 minutes/week
  • Strength training should be done 2 x 30 minutes/week
  • Some way to ensure you get enough exercise: use Fitbit to get notifications every hour if you haven't done 250 steps (a free app but a wearable you have to pay for). Google Fit can be used as an alternative to Fitbit for step tracking but you have to have your phone on your person

  • Healthy brain function requires certain nutrients and vitamins such as vitamin B12 and omega 3 fatty acids 
  • Try to eat a healthy and varied diet with plenty of fresh vegetables
  • Excess sugar and fat decrease the hippocampus function 
  • Stay hydrated as dehydration can lead to impaired physical performance, slower response times and mental confusion
    • There are numerous apps as well as Fitbit that can help you increase your water intake. Some can be found here. Water bottles with time increments can be helpful too. Or don't allow yourself to have another cup of tea until you have drank your bottle of water

  • Sleep is critical to brain health and function and particularly for short term performance and long term health
  • The Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index can be used to determine your sleep quality
  • Keep regular sleep hours rather than having a lie in on the weekends
  • Avoid stimulants and stimulation 1h30 before bed
  • The best sleeping condition is a cooler temperature with low light
  • Napping is OK
    • 2-3 or 5-6 are the best times to nap
    • Nap for 10-20mins or 90mins 

  • Mental effort and novelty are needed to stimulate the brain
  • Brain training should be: repeated, challenging, novel, require your attention, motivating
  • Some brain training apps: Fit Brains Trainer (more than 35 games, grouped into different workout sessions), Lumosity (a daily programme of mini-games with stat-tracking to show your improvement over time) and more can be found here.
  • Brain training can also be done with puzzles e.g. suduku

Thursday, 17 January 2019

Natalie Lamb and the European climate change policy: Paving the way to a water quality future

The following is an 800 word article, written for White Rose Brussels, about an aspect of climate change policy from my discipline's prospective and the policy implications for a European audience.

Climate Change Policy: Paving the way to a water quality future

Water is essential for life. Access to safe drinking water is vital for human health and is a basic human right (WHO, 2017) (United Nations General Assembly, 2010). One way in which the sustainability of safe drinking water for future generations is being driven is through long term thinking, by investigating current practices and utilising innovation to improve them. The use of chemicals to treat drinking water has been used since water treatment was developed in the 19th century and today chemicals are used at many different points during the journey of water from source to tap. However, the use of chemicals to treat drinking water has numerous disadvantages, including health concerns, environmental damage, high purchasing costs and poor or unknown long term availability. Current research is investigating how these chemicals can be removed from treatment processes while still maintaining the compliant drinking water currently provided by water utilities. One example is the use of chlorine which is a very effective disinfectant capable of a 99.95% bacteria reduction but it is able to form disinfection byproducts that are known to have carcinogenic properties (Hill, 2014) (Kärrman, et al., 2004) (Cozzolino, et al., 2005).

The research into chemical free drinking water is a long-term goal but future challenges put this and similar research aims in jeopardy. Climate change, for instance, has many likely impacts on the planet, including higher average air temperatures, increased precipitation intensity, sea level rises, hot extremes and increased frequency of extremes of the hydrologic cycle, floods and droughts (Patz, et al., 2008) (Coffey, et al., 2013) (IPCC, 2018) (Johnson, et al., 2009). These impacts will alter the amount, distribution, timing, and quality of available drinking water. As The Pacific Institute (2007) stated “according to the United Nations, if present consumption patterns continue, two-thirds of the world’s population will live in water-stressed conditions by the year 2025” (World Water Assessment Programme, 2012). Evidentially, priorities may have to shift and, for instance, the use of chlorine may be implemented more frequently than at present, in an effort to cope with water demand, despite the harmful side effects. Chemical free drinking water will no longer be prioritised.

One way in which the impacts of climate change could be further incorporated into EU legislation is that the EU Water Framework Directive could include climate specific components to the assessment systems, such as metrics particularly reflecting the temperature sensitivity of species (European Commission, 2016) (European Commission, 2016) (Hering, et al., 2010). As, currently assessment metrics are often focussed on traditional stressors, such as organic pollution and eutrophication, rather than metrics for the effects of emerging stressors, such as climate change. Emerging stressors are likely factors that will shift and change over time, meaning that the assessment systems used should have a greater degree of flexibility to address other changes in future. Furthermore, the additions to these systems that are directly linked to climate change could be more clear about this link and the reasons for adding to this legislation, potentially by using a supplement or recommended guidelines.

Overall communication could be improved in several ways, including policy that is easier to understand so experts in other areas feel comfortable working with it and know what is expected of them. Knowledge sharing between different regulators will help ensure linked policies (such as water policy and agriculture policy) work synergistically. Overall, climate change research efforts and legislation could be better communicated between regulators, water utilities and research institutions, which in turn should be translated into a format that can be understood by the general public (Frances, et al., 2017). Currently, the major regulatory frameworks do not explicitly address the risks posed by climate change in a straightforward manner.

To conclude, EU water legislation has identified climate change as a major future challenge, the impacts of which have been gradually incorporated into regulation. However, there are further adaption measures that need to be developed and assessed, including: improved monitoring and reporting of climate-related extremes, the addition of climate specific components to assessment systems, better integration of water policies into other policies, cost benefit analyses of the different adaptation options and continued and improved communication between those who regulation impacts, including the general public. Climate change, as well as other challenges to the global water sector, such as increasing water demand, population growth and demographic changes, will require the use of innovation and development to better manage water resources so as to ensure adequate provision and quality of drinking water (World Water Assessment Programme, 2012). It is essential that legislation helps water researchers and providers to tackle the impacts of climate change proactively rather than reactively so that research to improve water quality, such as chemical free drinking water, continues to take priority.

Works Cited

Coffey, R. et al., 2013. Assessing the Effects of Climate Change on Waterborne Microorganisms: Implications for EU and U.S. Water Policy. Human and Ecological Risk Assessment: An International Journal, Volume 20, pp. 724-742.

Cozzolino, L., Pianese, D. & Pirozzi, F., 2005. Control of DBPs in Water Distribution Systems Through Optimal Chlorine Dosage and Disinfection Station Allocation. Desalination, 176(1-3), pp. 113-125.

European Commission, 2016. Legislation: The Directive Overview. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 20 September 2016].

European Commission, 2016. The EU Water Framework Directive- Integrated River Basin Management for Europe. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 4 January 2019].

Frances, G., Quevauviller, P., Gonzalez, E. & Amelin, E., 2017. Climate Change Policy and Water Resources in the EU and Spain. A Closer Look into the Water Framework Directive. Environmental Science and Policy, Volume 69, pp. 1-12.

Hering, D. et al., 2010. The European Water Framework Directive at the Age of 10: A Critical Review of the Achievements with Recommendations for the Future. Science Of The Total Environment, 408(19), pp. 4007-4019.

Hill, D., 2014. Basic Microbiology for Drinking Water. 3rd ed. Denver: American Water Works Association.

IPCC, 2018. Global Warming of 1.5°C: Summary for Policymakers, Switzerland: IPCC.

Johnson, A. et al., 2009. The British River of the Future: How Climate Change and Hhuman Activity Might Affect Two Contrasting River Ecosystems in England. Science of the Total Environment, 407(17), pp. 4787-4798.

Kärrman, E. et al., 2004. Systemanalys av dricksvattenförsörjning med avseende på mikrobiologiska barriärer ochmiljöpåverkan, Stockholm: VA-Forsk.

Pacific Institute referencing Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2007. Making Every Drop Count, Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Patz, J., Vavrus, S., Uejio, C. & McLellan, S., 2008. Climate Change and Waterborne Disease Risk in the Great Lakes Region of the U.S.. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 35(5), pp. 451-458.

United Nations General Assembly, 2010. Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 28 July 2010: 64/292. The human right to water and sanitation, s.l.: United Nations General Assembly.

WHO, 2017. Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality, Fourth Edition Incorporating The First Addendum, Geneva: World Health Organization.

World Water Assessment Programme, 2012. The United Nations World Water Development Report 4: Managing Water under Uncertainty and Risk, Paris: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Sunday, 13 January 2019

Natalie Lamb and the 2-3 sentence biography

I had to produce a 2-3 sentence biography for the IYWPC 2019 Conference. It was advised to: describe your current job title, the organization you work for/university you study at, the qualifications and experience you have. The following is what I produced, however I would have liked to have added an extra sentence about how the PhD is going, that I enjoy it and that I am thankful for the opportunities I have been given, just something to round it off.

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. During her BSc Biology she was captivated by a dissertation project into the prevalence of Giardia spp. in local rivers and it very much motivated her to learn more about water microbiology. Anglian Water, a water utility who supply water and sewerage services to the East of the UK, sponsored Natalie to complete her MSc into Cryptosporidium spp. in vulnerable catchments and, after she had worked for a year as an Assistant Operational Scientist with them, further supported her to completed her PhD.

Monday, 17 December 2018

Natalie Lamb and the pipe calculations

The following are some calculations I have had to do so far for my rig (basic image below). They can also be found in this Excel document.

The purpose of the first tab "Pipe and Tank Dimensions" is to ensure the volume and the surface area of the water tank is greater than that of the pipe. This is to ensure that I am seeing the impact of the pipe getting slowly more dirty over time and not the tank.

Pipe Dimensions

  • Pipe volume/m^3 = pipe surface area/m ^2 * pipe length/m
  • Pipe surface area/m ^2 = PI() * pipe radius/m ^2
  • Pipe total internal surface area/m^2 = PI() * (pipe diameter/m / 100) * pipe length/m

Tank Dimensions

  • Tank volume/m^3 = height/m * width/m * length/m
  • Tank surface area/m^2 = (2 * tank length/m * tank width/m) + (2 * tank length/m * tank height/m) + (2 * tank width/m * tank height/m)


A 3" (0.0762m) diameter 10m long pipe has the following:
  • Pipe radius/m 0.0381
  • Pipe surface area/m^2 0.004560367
  • Pipe volume/m^3 0.045603673
  • Pipe volume/l 45.60367312
  • Pipe total internal surface area/m^2 2.393893602

Required Water

The second tab "Required Water" is to calculate the amount of water needed per day to ensure my rig functions.

A 3" (0.0762m) diameter 22m long pipe with a 3 day water age, a 0.1ml/s leakage rate and a 0ml/s trickle drain rate has the following:

  • Rig capacity (130l) / no. days (3 days) = 43l/day - leakage/day (0.1ml/s * 86.4 = 8.64l/day) = ~34l/day
  • Rig capacity/l 130
  • Required water for turnover/l/day 39.48269362
  • Required water for turnover/l/hour 1.645112234
  • Required water for turnover/l/s 0.000456976
  • Required water for turnover/ml/s 0.456975621

Monday, 10 December 2018

Natalie Lamb and the organisation of music

I needed to reduce the memory that my laptop uses. A lot of my memory is used on music and the organisation of it is something that has been bugging me for a while. iTunes has converted all my music to m4a, a format my car is unable to play and it has been this way for years, probably since I first started listening to my own music. I do have a generation one iPad Mini but I never- and have never- used it for music. I only listen to music now on my phone (using an SD card), my car (using my phone via Bluetooth or via USB) and on the Echo Dot (using my phone). So these are the steps I have taken to reorganise my music.

1. Deduping 
Over the years I have tried using iTunes to change my music format from m4a to mp3. It did not work and all it has done is to replicate all my music once or twice. That's a lot of storage!
To find and remove all duplicates search the following in File Explorer:
These searches will find only duplicated m4a (iTunes format) and mp3 songs that have a (2) at the end of the file name. If you have three copies of each song, add a 3 in the brackets etc. You can then select all (press ctrl and A) then delete them.

2. Remove songs from iPad
Since I don't use the music anyway, I thought I would delete it from my iPad. Connect the iPad into the computer, open up iTunes then click the small phone icon that appears. Under the Options heading, untick all the boxes.

You may also need to delete the songs from the device itself. If you do, click Settings on the iPad then click Storage & iCloud Usage. Click Manage Storage under the Storage heading and wait for it to finish adding everything that takes up memory on your device. When it is finished, click Music, then All Music, then Delete.

3. Remove songs from iTunes
I wanted to remove the songs from iTunes so I wouldn't have it reconverting them any time soon.
In iTunes under the Library heading, click Songs. Select all and click Delete From Library. The following warning sign pops up. Personally, I kept the files so I could convert them to mp3 format.

Any songs that are left will be from the iCloud Library and these can be hidden if you want by selecting all and clicking Delete From Library, a second time. Any empty music folders can be deleted by searching iTunes in the File Explorer. Then click Music and you should be able to view all the folders. Select all and click Delete to remove them or leave them if you want to convert them.

4. Convert files to mp3
I downloaded a free m4a to mp3 converter. After it had installed, I clicked File then Add Folders. When all the music folders had uploaded, under the heading Output Format (bottom right hand side), I clicked Setup then General. I ticked the final box- Remove the source file after a successful conversion- to stop further duplication. I then clicked Convert to start the process. It took hours (maybe like 6h to do ~60GB of music) but it worked and it put everything in the correct folders.

Although it took quite a few hours, this was the most hands off approach for me to dedupe and reformat all of my music. Now to factory reset and start again!

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Natalie Lamb and the water quality: Bottled water vs tap water

The Consumer Council for Water (2015) completes yearly reports from audited data from UK water companies. It was found that in 2015, 14% of UK consumers prefer to drink bottled water, rather than their tap water when a home. But which should be drinking? Bottled water or tap water?

1. Cost


Bottled water may cost over £1 per litre.


In 2015 there was a decrease in the percentage of customer who felt their water service bills were fair, from 68% in 2014 to 62% in 2015 (Consumer Council for Water, 2015) but tap water can cost 1p per litre, much cheaper than bottled.

Winner? Tap

2. Taste 


Half of the people who opted to drink bottled water in the Consumer Council for Water (2015) study did so because they perceived tap water to be of poor quality, bad tasting or of a bad smell. 
Blind comparisons of different waters found that consumers preferred waters with high mineral content (e.g. bottled water, groundwater) over lower mineral content water (Falahee & MacRae, 1995). However, this study did not take familiarity into consideration- it might just be that people like to drink what they are used to.


On the whole, people are happy with their tap water quality, with 93% of customers were satisfied with the taste and colour of their water and 87% satisfied with the taste and smell (Consumer Council for Water, 2015).
If you do dislike the taste of tap water, have you tried placing jugs of tap water into the fridge to remove the taste?

Winner? Bottled?

3. Quality


Both bottled water and tap water must conform to The Water Supply (Water Quality) Regulations.


It has been argued that tap water is better controlled than bottled water, with more rigorous standards and more frequent analysis (Olson 1999). Tap water can often also have more advanced treatment methods (DWRF 1999).

Winner? Tap

4. Trust


Perrier Mineral Water was recalled worldwide in 1990 when it was found to be contaminated with benzene. After this incident, bottled water sales in the US dropped until 1993 (Doria, 2006). 


However, the same can also be said of tap water.Drinking water consumption can be decreased in areas that have previously had serious problems with their tap water, encouraging consumers to drink bottled water (Anadu & Harding 2000). For example, incidence of  Cryptosporidium and Giardia in Sydney in 1998 resulted in a 40% bottle water sales increase in the year following the contamination and remained increased five years later  (Lonnon 2004).

Winner? Draw

5. Environmental Impact


According to the Pacific Institute (2007), it takes about 3L of water to produce 1L of bottled water, meaning that more than 100 billion litres of water is wasted yearly to produce bottled water (van der Linden, 2015).
Bottled water also requires the use of more energy. Per litre of water produced, bottled water requires 2000 times more energy than tap water (Gleick & Cooley, 2009). 
The manufacture, transportation and disposal of plastic bottles have negative environmental impacts, including the fossil fuel consumption, the CO2 emissions required and the waste plastic generated (Etale et al., 2018).


The use of tap water could have an impact on the environment but much regulation is put in place to stop this. For example, water companies are only allowed to abstract a certain amount of water from local water bodies, monitored by the Environment Agency, to ensure levels do not get too low.

Winner? Tap

Overall Winner

Bottled 1
Tap 3
Draw 1

It looks like tap water has won this quick rundown, however I am biased as my research is in tap water. What are your thoughts? If you choose bottled water in the UK, why do you do so?


  • Anadu, E; Harding, A (2000) Risk Perception and Bottled Water Use, Journal of American Water Works Association, 92 (11), 82–92.
  • Consumer Council for Water (2015), Water Matters: Household Customers’ Views on their Water and Sewerage Services 2015.
  • Dorria, MF (2006), Bottled Water Versus Tap Water: Understanding Consumers’ Preferences, Journal of Water and Health, 4 (2), 271-276.
  • Drinking Water Research Foundation (1999), Analysis of the February 1999 Natural Resources Defense Council Report on Bottled Water.
  • Etale, A; Jobin, M; Siegrist, M (2018), Tap Versus Bottled Water Consumption: The Influence of Social Norms, Affect and Image on Consumer Choice, Appetite, 121 (1), 138-146.
  • Gleick, PH; Cooley, HS (2009), Energy Implications of Bottled Water, Environmental Research Letters.
  • Lonnon, K (2004) Bottled Water Drowns the Competition.
  • Olson, E (1999), Bottled Water: Pure Drink or Pure Hype?, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), New York.
  • Pacific Institute (2007), Bottled Water and Energy Factsheet,
  • van der Linden, S (2015), Exploring Beliefs About Bottled Water and Intentions to Reduce Consumption: The Dual-Effect of Social Norm Activation and Persuasive Information, Environment and Behavior, 47, pp. 526-550.
  • Thursday, 13 September 2018

    Natalie Lamb and the Brilliant Club tutor top tips

    I have now completed quite a few placements to different age groups as a Brilliant Club tutor:

    • Spring 2017- Is Ebola the next international pandemic? KS3
    • Autumn 2017- From distant rivers to your kitchen sink KS4
    • Autumn 2017- From distant rivers to your kitchen sink KS4
    • Spring 2018- From distant rivers to your kitchen sink KS3
    • Summer 2018- What makes a healthy heart KS2
    • Autumn 2018- From distant rivers to your kitchen sink KS3
    I have produced this post to help other tutors. These are some tips I've learned so far on my teaching journey.

    • It's OK to be nervous with your first class- I was! Just don't overthink it and it will be fine (as long as you have prepared for it!).
    • If it's a pre-designed course, make it your own! It's OK to change it and that feeling of ownership you will get will vastly improve the way you teach it.
    • Assume both the lead teacher and the pupils have been told nothing about the Brilliant Club. It's better to repeat information than them not to know. Start from the basics, like what it is, why pupils have been chosen, who you are etc. Some pupils are surprised that they have to do homework, for instance.
    • Email the lead teacher your handbook. This way they know the course, know what homework the pupils have to do and if a pupil looses one, they can print pages off.
    • Assume the first tutorial will be 30-45 minutes long. That way if you do end up getting a full hour it's a bonus.
    • Plan extra activities at the back of your handbook in case you have extra time and to keep quicker pupils occupied.
    • Spend the last 10-15mins of each lesson talking over the homework and any leftover time talking about uni life. Remind them you are a student! They will look forward to it (especially after talking about homework). But have stories about uni already prepared because there might not always be questions.
    • Break the ice in the first lesson- introduce competition or prizes or just general silliness. Personally, I get them to choose a sweet but they can't eat it straight away. Based on their choice they have to do different things e.g. yellow sweets have to say their favourite subject and blue sweets have to say their dream job. At the same time, round sweets have to speak while clapping their hands and square sweets have to speak while stood up. Everyone has to say their name before doing their tasks. If you do it first, they are likely to join in, although every class is different and some may be too shy for the silliness and you might just stick to saying things. 
    • Properly explain who you are e.g. show them a map of the UK with their school on it, where your uni is, where your undergrad uni was etc. Explain who you are in terms they can understand and identify with.
    • Make lessons fun and interactive (this requires planning!).
    • Make homeworks short or fun. Long is OK (e.g. produce an academic poster). Boring is OK (I'm thinking baseline assignment here) but never both. Leave that to the final assignment!
    • Don't worry too much about the final assignment word count and, more specially, get your pupils to not worry about it. Quality>quantity. The word count isn't actually in the mark scheme either.
    • Be positive about the final assignment e.g. it's a way to prove yourself, it's work you can put on your CV, you'll be allowed to graduate, you might get your work published in a magazine etc. They might well be freaking out about it- they really don't need any more negatives to think about!
    • Don't rely on the VLE to work or for attendance or for messaging- some classes never even end up using it at all.
    • Join the class on the launch trip tour! They get to know you, you get to know them and you get a taster of what they are like.
    • Let the pupils make choices. Quite often in school you are told what to do, rather than asked. Don't give the pupils completely free reign but them have choices (e.g. produce a poster for homework or write a 300 word description). We're expecting university- standard work from them. The best way to get this is by trying to treat them like university students.