Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Nutrition Society Student Conference

Julia Jaczo -- a Nutrition, Exercise and Health student -- writes about her experience, and that of her colleagues, at a recent Nutrition Society Student Conference.
As part of my second year summer research bursary, I had to the chance to investigate the relationship between dietary intake and chronic disease risk. I used data from the EarlyBird cohort study, examining energy and nutrient intake according to gender, BMI and body fat and related the data to glucose tolerance test values.
After finishing the research, I had the opportunity to attend the Nutrition Society Student Conference in Reading during the first week of September.  Two other students, James Wallis and Rachel Hine, also joined me, alongside our tutors, Dr Gail Rees and Kathy Redfern, to represent the university and present our research findings.
The conference exceeded my expectations every way possible. It was great meeting students from around the world with similar interests and listening to their research findings. As part of the conference, we also had the chance to find out details about emerging and ongoing research in the field of nutrition, such as different dietary fats and their effects on risk of heart disease; changes in the immune system during aging and how diet can modulate the gut microbiome and effect health.
The conference also focused on providing support for future graduates and registered nutritionists. We had talks on how to prepare for a public speech, how to build our CVs and prepare for job interviews and we also heard useful tips of how to work freelance.
Overall, it was a great experience attending the conference and I am grateful for the university for making it possible for us. I have made some new connections with people I would have never met otherwise and gathered lots of useful information both regarding future careers and nutrition science.
Rachel commented:
“The student conference was a great opportunity to present my research, network with other students and professionals and learn more about career possibilities. Completing the summer studentship has allowed me to gain confidence and new skills in research and I look forward to attending more Nutrition Society events in the future.”
James also agreed:
“Undertaking the vacation research scholarship has improved many skills such as conducting primary research, analytical skills and communication skills. Not only this, but being able to present our projects at the Nutrition Society conference was an amazing experience and a great opportunity to network and talk to people at different levels of their career.”

Below:  Julia (right) with Rachel Hine and James Wallis

Friday, 30 June 2017

Students write a book

Nutrition, Exercise and Health students Becky Thomas and Rachel Hine worked with arts, business and education students here at Plymouth to produce a book aimed at improving the health of young children: A Taste of the World with Bertie. Read more about this fascinating venture by following this link.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Students present project posters

On Tuesday, the final year undergraduates presented posters on their research projects. Here are a few.

Laura Fryer (BSc Nutrition, Exercise and Health)

Callum Hayes (BSc Health and Fitness)

Luke Michael (Health and Fitness)
Jessica Burns (NEH)

George Dukes (H and F talking to Neil Avent)

Enver Keleszade (NEH)

Nutrition Society award to 2nd year student

Rachel Hine, a second year undergraduate student studying BSc (Hons) Nutrition Exercise and Health has won a competitive summer studentship worth £2500 from the Nutrition Society. The award will enable Rachel to undertake an 8 week research project within the School of Biomedical and Healthcare Sciences. Rachel will be investigating sleep patterns during pregnancy using data from an existing study which aims to examine the timing and composition of weight gain during pregnancy alongside diet, physical activity and infant anthropometry. The study, which is nearing completion, has been conducted by Kathy Redfern, who will be supervising Rachel over the summer, and her PhD supervisors Dr Gail Rees and Professor Jonathan Pinkney in collaboration with Plymouth NHS Hospitals Trust. 75 women with a BMI >30 were recruited from Antenatal Clinic in Derriford Hospital at their twelve week dating scans, and followed for the rest of their pregnancy. The proposed relationship between sleep and gestational weight gain is relatively novel, with a recent study suggesting a relationship between sleep duration and disruption and weight gain in late pregnancy, and another suggesting sleep to alter glucose metabolism during pregnancy. The existing dataset therefore provides a unique opportunity to examine sleep patterns alongside other maternal lifestyle factors and pregnancy outcomes. The award also includes the opportunity for Rachel to present her findings at the Nutrition Society Student Conference in Reading in September, and it is hoped that Rachel’s work will contribute to a scientific publication.

Below are Rachel (right) and Kathy.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Women in Science

Elaine Green (one of our academics) writes: Last week I attended the L’Oréal-UNESCO for Women in Science awards ceremony at the Royal Society, London and saw the research of 10 up-and-coming academics selected from nearly 300 applicants. The Women in Science programme was founded by L’Oréal and UNESCO 18 years ago to ‘promote and highlight the critical importance of ensuring greater participation of Women in Science’.
The opening speeches highlighted the gender gap in science that still exists today with only 15% of those individuals working in STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) in the UK being Women. Five scientists were awarded fellowships receiving £15,000 of financial support. The money can be spent in a more flexible manner that helps to continue their research, including laboratory consumables, equipment, or even help to balance their research commitment with childcare costs. There is a need for change to create a more diverse community and over-come the unconscious bias still evident today in STEM subjects. Gender stereotypes are made early in life, around the age of 5 to 7 years old, and younger individuals need to have inspirational role models, such as winners of this award, to highlight that success is not just a pipe dream for girls. It was also recognised that being a women in a male dominated environment can be isolating and as such a network has been set up linking more than 2,000 of the award winning women across many Countries.
The event was good, I applaud the steps taken and there is clearly progress on the road to equality for women. Whilst all these actions are necessary, they are not yet sufficient to fully address this issue, and I’m not sure of the perfect solution. Taking one of the positive actions, the financial support for extended childcare is genuinely helpful for working women. But, what more needs to happen for women to have a full and successful scientific career, whilst still prioritising home life, such as picking up the kids from school more often? Are we forcing women to comply with male stereotypical work pattern? Would an alternative be to set a more flexible structure for work and home life, and make that equally available to Men and Women?
I have a feeling the debate will continue.
UK Scientists who won the L’Oréal-UNESCO fellowship 2017;
  • Dr Radha Boya, University of Manchester, Nanoscience

  • Dr Annie Curtis, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Immunology

  • Dr Manju Kurian, UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, Neurology

  • Dr Bethan Psaila, University of Oxford, Haematology

  • Dr Priya Subramanian, University of Leeds, Mathematics

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Grant success for second-year student

One of our undergraduates has received funding of almost £2,000 from the Microbiology Society to investigate antibiotic resistance in treated waste water.

The award has been made to second-year Biomedical Science student Melissa Temlett, who will be working with Dr Philip Warburton over the summer as part of the Microbiology Society’s Harry Smith Vacation Studentships scheme; named after the former Society President, Professor Harry Smith, to mark his well-known support of microbiology students at the start of their careers. 

Melissa and Philip (pictured below) will be analysing waste water from sewage treatment plants to assess the level of antibiotic resistant bugs in the water, their potential spread in the environment and wider health concerns. Antibiotic resistance is a major public health issue, which if unchallenged, is predicted to kill over 10 million people a year by 2050.

Philip, Lecturer in Medical Microbiology, commented: “We are delighted to have received this support and we are looking forward to working with Melissa on this important project over the summer.”

Monday, 10 April 2017

Fighting Ebola and other 'emergent' viruses

One of our academics, Dr Michael Jarvis, is working hard on an exciting new approach that could prevent the sudden appearance of serious infection from pathogens, such as bird flu, SARS, and Ebola by vaccinating the animals that habour these microbes and from which these microbes ‘spill over’ into humans and agricultural animals. One example is the deadly Ebola virus, which in Africa periodically spills over into humans from great apes. Closer to home, this approach is also being developed to prevent bovine TB infection of cattle. You can read about Michael's work in the top science journal Nature and on the Popular Science website. Not only could this work protect humans from deadly microbes, but when applied to control of Ebola it would also protect the wild apes too (Ebola is deadly for them): this online article looks at Michael's work from an ape conservation angle.