Wow! What a year 2017 has been for me!
With only a few days left of the year and us all now being stuck in that awkward stage between Christmas and New Year, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to take a look back and reflect on what I have achieved this year for my last blog post of the year.
On a personal note, I’ve travelled to the Caribbean for the first time, been scuba diving with turtles, I got to watch Adele, I watched some amazing friends get married after some memorable hen do’s, I got engaged myself… and we have actually booked a date now! Ahhhh!
2017 has been my first full year of blogging and I celebrated my 1st blog-iversary back in July, I passed my transfer viva back in January and am well into my final year of PhD, I am nearly a published scientist, I got to work as a publicist for Pint of Science, I’ve become a STEM ambassador, I incredibly have nearly 6000 followers on Insta and I’ve started doing talks to inspire the next generation of scientists – particularly young women – and that’s not even everything!
But most importantly, I’ve made some incredible friends from this amazing science communication community. Friends that have got me out of some dark times and friends that inspire me every single day. Many of them I have never even had the pleasure of meeting in person just yet – but that just goes to show how special these people are. And I wanted to once again say thank you!
It has been an amazing year that has me feeling grateful for everyone around me and proud of everything I have achieved!
I will remember 2017 as the year I got engaged and became a part time science communicator.
Reflecting on 2017
Way back now in January, I published a post about my goals and science resolutions for the year. So, let’s see how I did before it’s time to set some new goals for 2018.
2017 goal: Pass my transfer thesis and viva.
How did I do? Tick. This was the first thing I managed to tick off my goal list this year way back in January as I mentioned earlier. It was basically a practice run of writing up all my PhD research into a thesis and then being examined on it. I got some great positive feedback and also some really helpful constructive criticism that will hopefully make everything run smoothly for the real thing to become Dr Arthur.
2017 goal: Get a more regular blog schedule.
How did I do? I 100% benefited from making myself a blog schedule. I decided I wanted to post twice a week on a Monday and a Friday. Now I have definitely not been perfect with this. Sometimes I’ve only posted once a week or I have not posted for two weeks at certain points throughout the year. Whether that’s due to writer’s block or having to put my blog on the back burner for a little while if lab life is getting on top of me, knowing that I have that goal has helped me think up ideas, plan and schedule posts for months in advance and find time to write them more effectively. Hopefully that schedule will continue next year and I would 1,000,000% recommend having a schedule and setting time aside at the start of each month to plan your blogs if you are struggling at the moment.
2017 goal: #365papers
How did I do? Okay – so this one was a HUGE fail! The aim was to do more reading of scientific papers and broaden my knowledge – something I am guilty of not doing enough of! So, I wanted to take on this challenge of reading one paper per day! Needless to say, I failed. I managed to do 6 weeks worth but didn’t have the time to do this and all the science communication things I wanted to do. So, I dropped this goal because – well – the scicomm stuff is so much more fun and I love it! Plus it’s not like I’m not reading papers anyway!
2017 goal: Get involved in some more scicomm activities.
How did I do? I have been incredibly privileged to get involved with the science communication activities that I have this year. From Pint of Science and STEM ambassador activities to everything I’ve been able to share on Instagram, I have well and truly fallen in love with sharing my passion for science and trying to inspire the next generation of scientists. So, I’d like to think I have achieved this goal and am so excited for what more I can get involved with next year!
2017 goal: Get my first paper published.
How did I do? This is my most frustrating goal. When I wrote my goals post, I said that I needed one more set of experiments for my paper. Unfortunately, this has seemed to be the case for the entire year! I sent my first draft to my supervisor back in May and submitted the manuscript in October. But all I seem to have done it add to it and have to do more experiments to add to it. I knew that publishing takes a long time, but I have been getting frustrated with it recently. I wanted to get it off before Christmas, so I worked my ass off to finish off Western blots and PCR reactions to make that goal, and then my supervisors thought it would be best to delay our only chance at resubmission. I’ll be honest. I was a little peeved off because I wanted to forget about it over Christmas and continue with paper number 2 at the start of the new year. But I completely understand the decision to delay. With only one chance to resubmit and get my paper accepted for quite a high impact journal, it needs to be as perfect as I can get it. So, fingers crossed the editors still like it and want to publish it – after all it as literally my entire thesis in the paper so I’m remaining hopeful for now. So, although I haven’t ticked off this goal, I am so so close!
Three and a half out of five isn’t bad! But there are no regrets at all!
I’ve been spending some time over the Christmas break thinking up some ideas for blog and Instagram content which I’m excited to share with you and hope you will enjoy, but to mark the end of this year, I want to take a quick look back at the Top 10 most read blog posts from Soph talks science of 2017.
Soph talks science Best 10 of 2017
Number 10 – Scientist in the Spotlight. Ben M.
I absolutely loved getting to know Ben and share his story for this Spotlight post. In case you missed it, Ben is a PhD student and an Olympian from Canada and just goes to show that if you love science, you don’t have to give up on everything else you love doing too. You can do both if you really want to!
Number 9. Scientist in the Spotlight. Sofia M.
Another post from one of my favourite blog features. This time featuring my wonderful friend and PhD course mate Sofia. Take a look back at what Sofia’s research is all about and where she recommends for your next holiday. In fact, go take a look at what all the amazing scientists in the spotlight that I have interviewed get up to.
Number 8. PhDLife. How to stay on top of the literature.
I wrote this post after a few different people wrote to me asking for advice. So, I thought I would share my top tips on how to get more reading into your PhD life. Maybe you can do better than me at the #365days challenge.
Number 7. Making the jump from the lab bench to a career in medcomms.
A guest blog from a previous Scientist in the Spotlight Sophie P that tells us all about why she chose to leave academia and move to a post PhD career in medcomms, and what that even means. As the months I have left to finish my PhD are quickly vanishing, I want to try and do my research to choose the best career option. So, I started this mini blog feature to share that research and inside experience with you. Watch this space for more of these posts in 2018!
Number 6. How to write a science book for kids.
I keep going on about some amazingly inspiring people I have met in this scicomm community and this posts features two more of them. Two mums who are also scientists, and are also authors. They have both written books that can inspire the inner scientists of the youngest people in your lives and as an aspiring author myself, I wanted to pick their brains for their top tips and advice. Check out their work in this blog post.
Number 5. 10 secrets to become a successful research student.
With nearly 5 years of research experience in the bag now, I thought I would share my top tips for the scientists of the future on what I think makes a great research student. If you’re starting a research project, maybe take a look to see if you can take something away. Or maybe take a look to see if there’s something you can add.
Number 4. How you can read a scientific paper. Part One.
A post I feel that scientists and non-scientists alike can take something from. In my mission to give the public confidence to ask ‘how do we know that?’ or ‘where is the evidence for that?’ and not just believe everything they see in the media, I hope that this is a good starting point.
Number 3. Could I actually be a full time science communicator?
A more personal post and another post that links to me trying to decide what on earth to do with my life after this PhD journey ends. Do I leave the bench to do this science communication that I have fallen in love with? And what does a career in scicomm even entail? A post where I question if I’m up to the challenge, or if I’m sticking to the ‘traditional’ route.
Number 2. PhD mythbusters. Volume 1.
Another fun mini series on Soph talks science. There are so many ‘myths’ associated with PhDs that may put some people off and I wanted to share some of those and bust those myths to hopefully allow PhD students on the future to be more prepared for their PhD journeys
Number 1. ‘You don’t look like a scientist’
I have been very lucky in my science career to not be looked down upon or judged for being a female scientist. Except for this one time back in January this year where a member of the public judged me for being a scientist. More specifically, not looking like a scientist. This made me so angry and upset, but the shock inspired my work and scicomm for the rest of 2017 and what will be the rest of my life. I am on a mission to show EVERYONE that being a scientist is not just one thing by sharing the stories of different scientists in my blog posts, and inspiring future generations by showcasing the wide variety of careers a scientist can have – and spoiler alert – that doesn’t mean working in a lab for the rest of your career! I am so thrilled by the response to this spur of the moment and raw blog post that I wrote and it has ignited a passion in me to break down these stereotypes more than ever.
I want to end by thanking every single one of you who has read, shared and followed my blog and across my social media throughout 2017 from around the world. Your continued support means the world to me and hopefully I can continue to bring some science love and some science knowledge to you and more people throughout 2018. I absolutely love what I’m doing with Soph talks science and am so excited to see where the future takes it.
So, thank you!
Goodbye 2017! See you all on the other side in 2018 with more brand new and exciting blog posts coming your way!
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