Posted by Holly Fleming and Catherine Lynch on 27 July 2016
A Conference for Students, by Students
In January 2016, we gathered eleven students from the EPSRC and MRC CDT in Optical Medical Imaging (OPTIMA CDT), jointly based across the Universities of Strathclyde and Edinburgh. The students were tasked with organising the first TransMed Student Conference, held on the 31st May and 1st June 2016.
Our aim was to host a conference for students, led by students, with the theme of applying physical sciences research to address key challenges experienced in the clinic. We believe that interdisciplinary research is vital for developing effective healthcare technologies. By holding this conference, we hoped to foster connections between students with similar research interests across many fields, and highlight the potential for collaboration.
Many CDTs from across the UK were invited, and invitations were extended to students local to Edinburgh and Strathclyde whose research fit with the theme.
The conference opened with an icebreaker to facilitate networking using a bingo-style fact finding activity, with Bruno Agostinho Hernandez (University of Bath) receiving a prize from Roslin Cells for completing a row.
Over the two day conference we heard from three keynote speakers: Professor Tony James from the University of Bath, Dr Ruchi Gupta from the University of Hull, and Professor A.P De Silva from Queen's University Belfast, who all gave interesting and entertaining talks. There was also an enlightening talk on scientific publishing given by Stuart Cantrill, Chief Editor of Nature Chemistry.
Student speakers provided insights into their PhD research, with topics ranging from smart glasses for macular degeneration patients to fluorescent probes for imaging atherosclerosis. Prizes were awarded to Howard Moshtael, Applied Photonics CDT (prize sponsored by OPTIMA) and Rachael Cameron, OPTIMA CDT (prize sponsored by EPSRC) for their presentations.
The quality of the presentations and poster sessions were consistently high throughout the conference and gave students the opportunity to network and discuss research ideas. Prizes for the best posters, one sponsored by EPSRC and two from the Deanery of Clinical Sciences at the University of Edinburgh, were awarded to Daniel MacDonald, University of Strathclyde, Cian Vyas CDT in Regenerative Medicine, University of Manchester, and Holly Fleming OPTIMA CDT.
Inclusion of all Students
Some of the invited delegates were early in their PhD, and were yet to begin their main research project. We wanted to find a way to include them in the proceedings and so we created the Poster Technical Challenge. These delegates were encouraged to explore the poster presentations, learn about a new technique, and then explain this at the conference using a whiteboard. Mohammed Rupawala, (CDT in Physical Sciences for Health, University of Birmingham) won the challenge with an engaging explanation of an assay based on catalysis. The prize was awarded by Launch.ed - the University of Edinburgh's Student Start-up Advice Service.
In addition to the academic side of things, social activities included a walk up Edinburgh's famous Arthur's Seat, and a ceilidh following dinner to end the evening.
See you next year!
The TransMed Student Conference was deemed a success, based on positive feedback from staff and students, with some expressing great interest in hosting the conference themselves. We hope that this will be the first of many TransMed conferences, continuing to highlight the importance of interdisciplinary research and its application in healthcare.