New Year, New You?

2017

Okay. So it’s January. 2017. A hideously scary thought isn’t it? As we contemplate just how we have managed to survive 2016, chances are you’ve either thought about, or you have produced a list of New Year’s resolutions as the majority of us do entering the new year with the hope of transforming our sluggish post-Christmas selves. Personally, experience has shown me that let’s be honest, keeping these resolutions is not all that easy, and quite frankly by February it’s likely that I’ve waved them goodbye already. But NO, not this year. This year I’m determined to make realistic, achievable goals that I WILL (try my best to) stick to. And you will to. So here I offer you my best tips on how you can be successful on your quest, we’re all in this together folks so let’s give it a whirl.

  1. BE REALISTIC

One of the most important things when creating resolutions you can actually stick to, is making them realistic and being straight with yourself. Don’t kid yourself. You’ll just end up giving up prematurely and thinking you’re a failure. If you’re currently out of breath walking up one flight of stairs, chances are you might not be able to run a marathon by February. Likewise, if you’ve set foot in the library once since starting University, perhaps promising yourself you’ll now be going nine till five, seven days a week may not be a great idea. This brings me on to my next tip…

  1. SET SMALL, ACHIEVABLE GOALS

Rather than ‘run a marathon’ or ‘never eat chocolate ever again’ go for smaller mile stones that can be realistically achievable, perhaps along the lines of ‘run for 2 miles by the end of February’ or ‘cut down chocolate intake to one bar a week by Easter’ or simply ‘make healthier choices’, if improving health and fitness is on your 2017 agenda. Smaller goals that are actually in sight will give you more motivation to persevere and believe in yourself.

  1. REWARDS

Being kind to yourself is important. If you’ve set yourself the goal of eating at 5 portions of fruit and veg a day, and you’ve succeeded for the whole of January, TREAT YOURSELF. Go wild and get yourself an ice-cream sundae or go and get your nails done. Or even just a pat on the back. This will give you greater incentive and drive to continue reaching for those goals.

  1. DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP

If you slip up or only manage to go to one gym class a week instead of two, don’t revert back to square one and sit in a pit of doom and gloom feeling useless. It’s totally fine, no one is perfect, by any means. Perhaps take a step back, re-assess, maybe break down your bigger goals into smaller parts, and get back on that path to success.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Hogmanay :)

img_0743

Hogmanay was nothing I had ever dreamed of in a new years celebration. In the past, I have watched, from my television, a colourful sphere slowly drop down in Time Square, and I have visited a temple while in Japan, living with a host family. This New Years, however, I had the opportunity to participate in an event as fun, warming, and happy as Hogmanay. I joined the street party with my friends from the United Kingdom, and we went to one of the stages that held a trio of bands play music. There were so many people cheering, laughing, and singing, and it felt absolutely wonderful to be part of such a joyful moment. Thank you Edinburgh for creating another amazing memory, and bringing in the new year with a beautiful display of fire works 🙂

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Reflections on First Semester

img_20161124_162849-1

As the dust settles at the end of the first semester, life admin tasks are taken and sleep has been recovered, I can finally start to reflect on what has been a crazy 14 weeks or so.

You always come to university with the best of intentions, which are made even more ambitious in freshers week, you find yourself signing yourself up to 3 societies and 5 sports clubs, you’re going to run that marathon you always wanted to run, why not? You can fit it around your studies can’t you?

And them boom,

you get lulled into a false sense of security from the first two weeks and then all at once the work hits you and you start on a treadmill, albeit it not the one you expected. It’s a very different marathon you have embarked upon. I always thought that if I worked hard I could contain my working week to a monday -friday 9-5. By week three you do your first late session at the library working until 9. Fast forward 4 weeks and this is just the norm you’re sprinting just to keep up.

Exams roll around, by this point you’re settled in, you have your spot in the library, you’re on nodding terms with the security guards, the library is your life, you are at one with the books.

img_20161108_103534

A 5 Bengala-pesa note, from a lecture regarding alternative currencies. 
But all of this sounds like a bad thing, yes the work has been intense, the hours has been very long. I study Ecological Economics, and as a consequence I now have a manageable understanding of micro and macro-economics (and what’s wrong with Neoclassical Economics)! That in itself is a massive achievement. Within the first semester I have been able to meet so many like-minded people, who are all pulling in the same direction with ambitions in creating a better, fairer and more sustainable world, my course has formed into a really close knit group of 22 people all of whom I find remarkable. I was able to take breaks and the amount of work you undertake means that the time you do manage to take off feels amazing, that day trip to the highlands is a real treat, your study break can be exploring the summit of an extinct volcano or even visiting the grave of Tom Riddle!

img_20161112_120645-1

Day trips away become so much better when you earn them! This is Killin in the Autumn
One of the real bonuses of doing a masters degree at a Scottish University is that you start a month earlier, but it also means you finish before Christmas, no worrying about exams or coursework over the festive season.

Doing a masters degree is a lot of work, more than you may even suspect, but it’s worth it when you get there, at least that’s the view from the end of semester one!

img-20161216-wa0006

Merry Christmas from the Ecological Economics students!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

My Postgrad Experience so Far

As I am studying for my last final exam, I have been contemplating my experience of being a graduate student. It was weird at first, for I dedicated four years of undergraduate to studying neuroscience, prodding nerve cells with a thin glass need, and trying to understand why oftentimes humans want that one chocolate bar right this minute instead of waiting one week to maybe receive two. Now, however, here I am doing carbon management and learning how to prepare society and businesses for the devastating impacts of climate change. But I have to say, in the transition from brains to business, I have greatly enjoyed my time here at the University of Edinburgh. The people, the professors, and the atmosphere(potential climate change pun) have been so warm and welcoming! I absolutely cannot wait for what next semester has to offer!

I hope this little Pikachu wearing a Santa hat will brighten up your day and give you hope to move on through finals.img_0462

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Living the Commuter’s Life as a Carbon Data Analyst Intern

Finding an internship related to my degree, Geography, and more specifically my interests in quantitative models, glaciology, and climate change is pretty tough! I would say impossible but luckily, I stumbled across a listing for an internship at CDP (the Carbon Disclosure Project). Never heard of them I hear you say? They are a NGO based in London, but have offices worldwide, who work with shareholders and companies to disclose their greenhouse gas emissions. The listing described the position very succinctly but what jumped out at me was the fact that the outcomes of the work the data team did would be packaged up and spread across the world to investors and relevant stakeholders so that they could make better informed decisions, whether that be promoting or investing in more environmentally friendly/conscious companies or identifying which companies are not pulling their weight in the battle against anthropogenic climate warming. This wasn’t a topic I had been physically involved in before but I knew right then that it was definitely something I wanted to be involved in; luckily, I was hired!

Waking up at 6am to jump the 7am train from Colchester to London every weekday was not my idea of fun, nor was discovering how horrific the tube is in rush hour, but it was totally worth it! A typical day would involve a team meeting with the data team, who were a group of really interesting and awesome guys, many hours of collecting and cleaning data, some vegan sour dough pizza from the market outside, and a few more hours developing bottom up models. I also got the opportunity to work on the general linear models that my colleague had created. I had some experience of coding with R in the past, but nothing on this scale. The shear amount of data that was going in and out of these models were incredible (data science geek, I apologise).  I did a lot of data cleaning for these models, which may sound boring but I really enjoyed the task, especially working with companies in the high emitting sectors. Working in the data team involved a lot of getting your head down in the midst of models, running scripts, reading corporate sustainability responsibility reports, trying to get Excel to be clever and save you boring work… but it was always nice to take a step back and think about what you’re doing in the grand scheme of things, and talking to people working in the other departments to see how everything fitted together. Everyone there had the same mindset about climate change and it was nice to work alongside so many likeminded individuals.

Now I’m coming up to half way through the last year of my degree and trying to decide where to go next. This internship meant a lot to me not only in the skills I developed but also the people I met, the experiences I had in the industry, and is now also my dissertation topic, in addition to acting as another one of the reasons why I’m interested in going into environmental modelling in the future. To add to all this I found out last week that the data team at CDP have published the methodology reports on their site for the 2016 Clean & Complete Dataset, and I am a co-author on one of the annexes, and a contributor to the other two, which is crazy and an awesome thing to able to say I’ve achieved and contributed to! I enjoyed working at CDP a lot and I’m ecstatic to have had the opportunity to work alongside some fantastic minds in the data team. So, if you’re looking for an internship at the moment don’t stress, keep looking, and I hope a good opportunity pops up for you.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Charlie Moriarty on being a social media rep!

One of our social media reps  Charlie Moriarty shared his experience of being social media rep for the School of GeoSciences:

I’d say the biggest challenge has been how busy my course has been! In the weeks when I’ve been assigned different accounts, I’ve often found that my amount of time free to generate posts has been much less than I expected. I’ve really enjoyed watching what the other social media reps have been posting though, and overall I’ve found that the experience of being a rep is keeping me much more in touch with the Geosciences social media pages!

I think this first semester is the busiest part of our course, but I think things should ease up a bit going into Semester 2 and thesis work, so I’m hoping to get more time to dedicate to rep duties in the new year! I’m also really enjoying the advent calendar 🙂

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Making the most of it!

Advice from our graduates to all our future students…

pablo-6

pablo-9

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Geoscience Outreach and Engagement

How to get out of exams 101 😉 I’m just kidding, but it is true that there is no exam. This is because of the very nature of the course that is ‘Geoscience Outreach and Engagement’ – an elective course within the school of Geoscience. This module allows you to take what you know within the world of Geoscience, and apply it to the world outside of the four walls that make up university. You could outreach to children, adults, non-specialists, elderly, families etc. And in a range of locations whether that be in a museum, a school, a garden project, youth organisation, again the list is endless. The key component through all these is that you engage with your audience in a way that’s fun and interesting. I love the idea of outreach and think it is important component of working within academics.

270792_2219780181833_1171271_n

Back in school I did a lot of outreach projects for Geography. This one in particular was an open evening where I educated 11-13 year olds, and their parents, on the Geography GCSE 🙂

Through the first semester of the course you get provided with many workshops that covers a variety of skills you may need in your outreach project. We have had workshops on design and layout of presenting your project, science communication, looking at the curriculum and understanding the jargon teachers may use, a talk at Dynamic Earth looking at what the earth science museum does to engage with their audience, project and time management, and understanding the greatness of interdisciplinary learning.  So now we have the skills, what is the next step?

Within the midst of coursework and revision was the project proposal. In the words of the God that is Lin-Manuel Miranda, how do you write like you’re running out of time? I have chosen to do my outreach project at a school, working with students aged 15-17 on combining my two greatest loves in academia, Geography and Maths! The concept behind my project is to educate the students on the different statistical tests that are used in scientific research, and will be used in their coursework projects for Highers/A Level. I wanted to break down that barrier that ‘maths is hard’ or ‘maths is boring’, because it isn’t! Maths is a beautiful language (A Level Further Maths teacher, 2013) and when integrated within science, in this case Geography, can be extremely useful and make you see the data in a different light.

My project consists of two workshops: one covering descriptive statistics titled ‘How to be a Geographer’ and the second covering inferential statistics titled ‘Pokecology’ (yep, I am very much a nerd and Pokemon is most definitely being incorporated in this session). One thing I remember from school that annoyed me was the ‘fake data’ we had to use when practicing these statistical tests, both in Geography and Statistics class. So, the first session will be covering the basics and allowing students to analyse “real data”, i.e. river data that has been collected by students and staff in the Geomorphology department here at University. The concept of the scientific method will be key throughout this session so that the students see the full process of conducting a scientific experiment from creating their own hypotheses about sediment size with respect to distance from source to analysing the data collected to presenting their findings and drawing conclusions.

b1741583b196fe03a6f3aed86ed09f4e

Drummond! The one pokestop to rule them all!

The second workshop, ‘Pokecology’, incorporates the app Pokemon Go and the concept of biodiversity. I will be setting some “fun” homework (how cruel I am) for the students to collect Pokemon in their local area. As I am working with two schools, one in Edinburgh and one in Liverpool, I am hoping for them to be able to partner up and swap their data with each other so that they can compare the biodiversity of Pokemon species in the two cities using some inferential statistical tests. This will hopefully be a slightly more fun way of covering these tests and hopefully add a little element of competition to see who can find the most Pokemon, I mean you ‘gotta catch ’em all’.

Throughout these workshops, I will also be focusing on technology and how, in this present day, technology is wonderful and can be used to enhance geographical studies. Firstly, as previously said, using technology, such as apps, to collect data can be extremely useful. Now obviously collecting Pokemon isn’t exactly scientific, however this will open the student’s eyes to technologies such as GPS and cameras, for example how photography can enhance both physical and human Geography studies. Secondly, I will be running a mini introduction to R, specifically gpplot, to show students how they can present and analyse their data in a way other than Excel. I also hope to slightly break the barrier on the theory that ‘coding is hard’ and hopefully also show teachers that, wait a minute, you know what, coding isn’t that hard, and again can be a really cool and useful way of presenting data. Finally, *takes a breath* the idea of presenting data on maps through GIS – and in this case using the website ‘pokemap.net’ – which shows you the location of Pokemon recently found (pretty awesome, right?!).

All in all, these fun packed workshops should hopefully clarify any confusion students may have had on statistical testing, and leave them with a good understanding of how to use these tests not only in the examples we cover but in many geographical contexts. But most of all, I hope they have fun in my workshops and enjoy the sessions. I know how hard the topic of Maths can be to some students and some may shy away from it, but these sessions aren’t about the technicalities of statistics. These sessions should promote the idea that applying Maths to concepts they already know, like river sediment characteristics, is actually quite easy. We aren’t thinking of imaginary numbers (not imaginary numbers, but numbers that they can’t pick up) and instead we are thinking of sediment, that you can hold and pick up and see changing in the river.

I have really enjoyed this class so far! And shall keep you all updated next semester on how the workshops have gone! Now… back to revision 😥

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Changing the world!

What our graduates are going to do next….

pablo (4).png

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Dissertation inspiration

One of our Class of 2016 shared their favourite memory from their MSc programme with us…

pablo (2).png

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment