Posts Tagged ‘Conference’

Sharing PhD experiences in Edinburgh

My name is Alexandra Boyle and I’m a PhD student here in the School of Geography.

This summer, I was lucky enough to be able to attend the 5th International and Interdisciplinary Conference on Emotional Geographies at the John McIntyre Conference Centre in Edinburgh. I went to present the initial results of my PhD research ‘Exploring the emotional and spatial dimensions of communication technology use among older adults in contemporary London’.



Collected my conference pack for the 5th International and Interdisciplinary Conference on Emotional Geographies at the John McIntyre Conference Centre in Edinburgh.

Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh and the conference centre

Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh

Set against the stunning backdrop of Arthur’s Seat, the University of Edinburgh turned on a fantastic conference (and the weather!) for 3 days of interactive learning, socialising and networking and delicious food!


Looking out over the historic city of Edinburgh.


I stayed on site at the University of Edinburgh accommodation which made me particularly nostalgic for my days as an undergraduate at Arana College at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand (with Dunedin coincidentally founded by the Scottish in 1848 and the name ‘Dunedin’ the Gaelic translation of Edinburgh. The two cities remain sister cities to this day!).

Although I was inevitably nervous about presenting, the conference was a unique opportunity to present the findings of my research to a community of like-minded scholars. The conference allowed me to test out ideas in a support environment and gain critical feedback that will help me to refine my research. The conference also provided a platform to meet interesting PhD students from Taiwan, Singapore, the UK and the Netherlands and share amongst each other our PhD experiences.


Dr Joyce Davidson presenting her plenary session

With a diverse calendar of events not only were there daily plenary sessions with preeminent scholars in the field, namely Professor Liz Bondi and Dr Joyce Davidson who were co-authors (along with Mick Smith) of the seminal book ‘Emotional Geographies’ which helped to establish emotional geographies as discipline, but also the opportunity to participate in field trips, a drinks reception and the conference dinner…and I managed to find time to squeeze in a trip to the top of Arthur’s Seat!

Studying in the UK as a Colombian student

De Pais en Pais (from country to country) is an annual conference hosted by the Universidad de Antioquia. Each year they invite a single or group of countries and put together a series of talks open to both students and academics, but very importantly, the community at large.

This year the guest nation was Great Britain. In 2014, I had the privilege of attending the conference on behalf of Queen Mary University of London, where I presented on the subject of what it’s like to study in the UK as an international Colombian student.

This is important because of the growing links between the two countries: there is more funding available for academics to carry out joint research projects and more funding for Colombian students to carry out postgraduate studies abroad and study English.

But, how does this affect students at QMUL?

The movement of academics and students adds to our education and builds on our global perspective. But what has struck me, and something that I suspect many students don’t know, is the eagerness of Colombians to welcome British students, researchers and teachers to become a part of their already growing academic culture.

Whilst I was talking to an audience of Colombian students about my experience of studying in the UK as a Colombian student I realised that what made my experience extraordinary was the chance to interact with different cultures and points of view and the challenge of moving to a new country. In other words, learning to adapt and learning to value a new place.

Thus, I have to echo the invitation of the Universidad de Antioquia and Colombia and call on more British students to consider a period of study abroad, and particularly in Colombia, where some of their skills (particularly around languages) will be integrated into the local and academic community (ICETEX the national scholarship and student loan company, is offering full scholarships for foreigners who wish to undertake periods of study in Colombia).

This is why it is so important that QMUL students take advantage of the language opportunities and other services such as the study abroad office, the careers service and enterprise centre. There are many opportunities abroad that offer the possibility of personal and academic growth, and as students it’s easy to forget that many of the services that we need to make this happen are right here, on our doorstep.

For me, as an international student, the conference was an inspiration and a celebration of all that is diverse about QMUL. It was a pleasure to be a part of it, and to see the amazing international links that the university has built and developed over the years.

Gabriela holds an Honours Degree in History and Politics from Queen Mary University of London. She also served as Vice President for Education with QMUL Students’ Union.

A Student’s Perspective: The 2014 British Conference for Undergraduate Research

Attending this was the most fun I have had in years. It was better than going on holiday. In December I applied online to present my findings from a summer research project – and in April, Queen Mary sent me to Nottingham so that I would be the QMUL delegate at the 2014 British Conference for Undergraduate Research (BCUR). Science is fascinating to me and as I want to be a scientific researcher. My experience at the BCUR only reinforced this goal.

Travelling to a new place on your own is exciting, and it was quite a journey for me to get to the BCUR. On the train I even played poker with the stranger sat across from me while revising for an exam. After arriving at Nottingham, I met a myriad of people on my way to the conference, all of whom were happy to help me get where I was going.

An image from the BCUR website showing researchers discussing poster presentations.

An image from the BCUR website showing researchers discussing poster presentations.

I did not expect what happened then. Everywhere I went I met people who were welcoming, spontaneous, and just overall awesome. I had dinner with groups of delegates from different universities each day, and would then go to the hall bar with them afterwards. I met Swedish young scientist superstar Ulrika Frising and even a former Miss Wales. It was surprising to me how friendly everyone was, and how eager everyone was to spend time together and get to know each other. I mean: we were complete strangers.

The delegates gave talks or presented posters about their research during the day. It was fantastic to meet so many people with the same passion for science as me. On the second day I presented my poster, which detailed the procedure for synthesizing a novel bioplastic that I designed during the summer before I started university. This plastic is made up of corn starch molecules cross-linked with tartaric acid – a prevalent winemaking waste product. Its biodegradability makes it eco-friendly. Furthermore, it was designed such that it would be edible, opening up a world of possible applications. A research article I wrote exploring the synthesis of this bioplastic is currently under review for publication by the Canadian Young Scientist Journal. To learn more about the BCUR or how to apply to attend next year’s conference, you can visit for information.



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