Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Degree Dilemma: Astrophysics vs Molecular Medicine

I've spent the last few days thinking about what degree I want to come out with. 

I went into college thinking I wanted to study Physics because I loved it at school, but wasn't sure so I signed up for a general science course, TR071 Science at Trinity, and did the first year credits required for Physics (40 credits of Physics and Maths) plus 20 credits of Chemistry. 

There are 15 possible degrees from Science, plus possible transfers into the Nanoscience course if you do certain modules. The degrees, aka moderatorships, are: Biochemistry, Chemistry, Environmental Sciences, Genetics, Geography, Geology, Immunology, Microbiology, Molecular Medicine, Neuroscience, Physics, Physics & Astrophysics, Physiology, Plant Sciences and Zoology. 

Because I didn't study Biology, Geology or Geography in first year and the moderatorships have prerequisites in first and second year, I'm eligible for these moderatorships: 

  • Biochemistry
  • Chemistry
  • Immunology
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Neuroscience
  • Physics
  • Physics & Astrophysics
  • Physiology
I hate organic Chemistry and Anatomy, so Biochemistry, Chemistry, Neuroscience and Physiology are out, leaving us with:


  • Biochemistry
  • Chemistry
  • Immunology
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Neuroscience
  • Physics
  • Physics & Astrophysics
  • Physiology
Interestingly, my score in Physical Chemistry was 20 percentage points higher than my overall score for the year (my results came out a few days ago), but organic chemistry in college, unlike at Leaving Cert, is the spawn of the devil and I'm not subjecting myself to more of that. 

This year, I didn't like Mechanics or Electromagnetism and wasn't particularly fond of Quantum Physics or Waves either -- the only subjects I liked in Physics were Astronomy and Statistics. So let's take out Physics too. An unfortunate truth is that I studied far too little this year, not realising how much work college requires, so struggled with tutorials and exams etc -- so I don't know if the reason I found Physics difficult was because it's not for me or because I didn't study, or both. 

  • Biochemistry
  • Chemistry
  • Immunology
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Neuroscience
  • Physics
  • Physics & Astrophysics
  • Physiology
Okay so with all that negativity out of the way, I've narrowed it down to three moderatorships: Immunology, Molecular Medicine and Physics & Astrophysics. Let's put down some things I like/care about:
  • Research
  • Astronomy
  • Statistics
  • Programming
  • Medical diagnostics
  • Curing/treating diseases
  • Helping people
  • Antibiotic resistance
  • Vaccination
  • Understanding rather than memorizing
So they look fairly even from that. But there are some other factors: (a) how much of the degree is actually the thing I'm interested in? (b) what do I want to do after college? (c) How much do I care about the subject? 

For part (a), I analysed the modules and estimated how enjoyable they looked. A big worry is that I haven't studied Biology since Junior Cert aged 14, so I don't really know what it's like, but I've read as much as I can find about it, down to the content of individual lectures that are helpfully online. 

I've been really biased against biology for ages because it's a softer science, and because of this whole "have to do the hardest possible thing to show I can" thing, and also because there are so few women in physics I feel pressured to be in it. I'm not even saying molecular medicine would be easier, but that perception has caused a lot of bias against biology that I've absorbed. I also know I can much more easily pick up Biology than I can pick up Physics, and if I do Biology I'm unlikely to ever go and learn the complicated maths, and I'm kinda jealous of other people knowing it if I don't. 

I didn't do the analysis for immunology for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it has the same prerequisites as Molecular Medicine, so I don't have to decide on that until next year. Secondly, it doesn't look as interesting as MolMed -- it's much more about the immune system (duh) than about diseases, which is what I'm more interested in. So it's just between Physics & Astrophysics and Molecular Medicine.

So here's that. The colour code: brown means awful (like organic chemistry), pink means yuck, white means eh fine, blue means looks reasonably interesting/looks tough but cool, and green means awesome/excited to study it.

JF means Junior Freshman aka first year, SF means second year and so on, so SS is Senior Sophister or fourth year. S1 means semester one. Click the image to enlarge it. 



As you may be able to see from the chart, the Astrophysics degree is only actually about 30% Astrophysics through the whole degree -- I'd have to do a LOT of the Physics I don't like, because the degree is normal physics plus astrophysics. In second year, for example, I'd have to do 40 credits of physics and maths for the prerequisite and only about 3 credits of that is Astrophysics. 

As for part (b): the sad thing about astrophysics is that it's not an experimental science, so most of the work is either observation, spectroscopy, computer simulation or instrumentation. I'm also thinking about my research and how my two big ones were both health-related. And if I want to cure diseases or do something epidemiology-related, molecular medicine seems like a good bet. 

FInally, part (c): how much do I care about the subject? Well, like I said, I don't know what biology is like, and I still need to find out how much is memorization (hopefully not much as I hate memorization), and it bothers me that I'd end up with much weaker mathematical skills than my friends who do Physics, and I worry about doing a course with "molecular" in the title since I hate organic chemistry, but something I realised in the last few days is this.

I like astronomy, I think cosmology is cool, but thinking about fighting disease has made me realise what a calling is. Astro might be fun once I got past all the horrible maths, but working on things like my antibiotic resistance project and my medical diagnostics project makes me feel fulfilled, because it feels like I can help people and change the world that way. Molecular medicine is a weird degree, because a lot of it is about how you treat diseases, but it doesn't make you a doctor -- but it does seem like a great place to start for researching and curing disease. And even if I ended up hating a lot of the biology, at least I'd have that calling, the knowledge that I could help people, to pull me through. 

In the words of one of my best friends, Will (Leon has also been not-so-subtly pushing me towards biology having seen how my projects are based around it), "Elle, astrophysics wouldn't fulfil you as much as molecular medicine, I think. Molecular medicine allows you to work on something that can and will yield results. Astrophysics...you can observe, and maybe come up with a model of some sort. You are an absolute go-getter, and it's why I think mol-med would suit you better."

So I have a few choices. 

  • Commit to Physics with Astrophysics: do 40 credits of Physics and Maths in second year and use my remaining 20 credits to do the bits of Biology that look fun but don't get me the prerequisites for a Bio moderatorship
  • Hedge: do the 40 credits of Physics and Maths required for Physics, and the 20 credits required for Immunology/Molecular Medicine, which would involve doing all the Biology modules that look horrible plus a lot of horrible physics, but would keep all my options open and bring me back to this dilemma again next year. 
  • Commit to Biology: drop Physics, do the Bio prerequisites plus a bunch of bio modules that look really fun, like Infection, and Behaviour, and Microbiology, with three or four maths modules (say Fourier Analysis, Multivariable Calculus, Data Analysis) to fill out my credits since I don't want Organic Chemistry and Physics has too many coreqs to fit in with all that Bio. 
I haven't fully decided yet, but the whole calling thing is making me lean heavily towards Molecular Medicine, which would have shocked the me of a week ago. I have all summer to decide on my modules for next year, but I'd like to get it out of the way fast, so I'd love any advice you guys have. If you've done Bio or Physics in college or have any advice, hit me up on Twitter @frizzyroselle or by email at izzyroselle@gmail.com. 

Friday, 16 June 2017

Harvard Banter: HBX Core Week 1

I'm currently enrolled in the HBX CORe (Credential of Readiness) program run online by Harvard Business School to teach Business Analytics, Financial Accounting, and Economics for Managers thanks to the Naughton Foundation who also fund my college education, and I've just finished Week 1 (Analytics module 1, Accounting module 1 including two tests, and one assignment), so here's what I've learned so far. 

Business Analytics Module 1

This was mostly just basic stats, so I didn't learn much here. I did learn that Excel can do conditional calculations though, which was cool (like if you have a list of all the countries, their populations and their continents, it can find the average (say) of the countries in Asia). It can also do summary statistics. The module was really into histograms, so it was nice when we got to scatter plots, which I love, and were talking about correlations. I got 90% on the module test, which will do. 

Accounting

Accounting was completely new to me, so I had a lot to learn. The course started with the accounting equation (Assets = Liabilities + Owners' Equity), which took me ages to get the hang of but I'm getting there. Another new concept was accrual accounting -- apparently only the smallest companies use accounting based on when money is exchanged, most use accrual accounting which is based on when the money is earned e.g. when the good is delivered. So if you run a gym and a customer buys a year's membership you only count the assets (money received) when you deliver the service, i.e. as each month passes you count 1/12th of it as earned. 

I liked the part on the principles of accounting, which include:

  • conservatism (account for future losses, not future gains)
  • money measurement (only account for things that can be measured in money, so a good relationship with the media doesn't go on your balance sheet)
  • historical cost (use the actual cost you paid for something even if its value has changed)
  • consistency (don't change your accounting methods without good reason)
  • the entity concept (your business is separate from you; your parking tickets don't go on the balance sheet of the business even if you're the owner)
  • going concern (the business will keep existing probably)
There are probably other ones I've forgotten but there you go. 

I got 85% on the accounting module test which I was pleasantly surprised by given how new it was and how badly I thought the test was going.

Economics for Managers

This module isn't due for another week but I've done about half of it. I've learned about willingness to pay, demand curves (steep and shallow) and started elasticity. Quite counter-intuitive some of the time, but I should be used to that with Physics. 

Overall

In general, it seems like a good course. I was nervous at first because the platform is very complicated, but now that I've done the first three assignments I'm feeling good about it. The interface in the lessons is slow but very slick, with short videos and many many questions and knowledge checks and reflections to write. I really like that I have to do so many quizzes and interact with it because it makes me learn everything and feels like I'm getting value out of it. 

So that's Week 1 down. Cool. 

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Spotlight ABR Updates

Hey guys! I've been doing a bunch of stuff lately for the antibiotic resistance project (Spotlight ABR). As I mentioned, I made a website for it at lablinn.com, and over the last month I've talked to hundreds of students about antibiotic resistance and what everyone can do for public health. 

Between mid-May and mid-June, I visited four schools (one secondary, three primary) and talked to fourteen classes of students on the 18th (the day after my college exams finished) and 22nd of May and 9th and 12th of June; two in Louth, one in Kildare and one in Dublin. 

Kildare

I visited Kildare Town Community School the day after my college exams finished and talked to three classes of fifth year Biology students about antibiotic resistance. I had fun preparing for it and it was cool to get to go into more depth with the older students. It was also really nice when a student came up to me afterwards asking for my advice about doing science in college. 

Togher

I took a trip over to Togher three days later and talked to their 4th, 5th and 6th class students. They were great because they asked loads of questions, lots throughout the talk and then also dozens of questions at the end. They were good questions as well, ones that showed they'd understood what I was saying and were curious to learn more. They also participated really well and volunteered to answer my questions for them. One thing I learned was to reassure the students that the presence of trillions of bacteria inside us does not mean they need to be germaphobic.


I didn't want to take pictures of the workshops because child protection but I think a teacher from one of the schools took one so I'll put that up if I get it.

Walshestown

Walshestown is another local school that were great with questions. I talked to their 5th and 6th class and ended up staying for an hour despite the session normally taking forty minutes because they had so many questions. Good fun, and nice to visit local schools.

Blanchardstown

Most recently, I visited a primary school in Blanchardstown and talked to seven of their classes. The teachers told me it was a disadvantaged school and it was cool that the students got to see a scientist. One touching moment was when I was leaving the school to grab lunch and a kid who'd been sitting in the front for one of the talks and asked lots of questions came up to me and hugged me twice and said she was so happy and interested because "I finally got to learn about bacteria!". She goes by "Fox", wants to be a vet and is adorable. 

One part the Blanchardstown kids were really interested in was when I told them there are about 40 trillion bacteria in the human body -- I got them to put up their hands and guess, with guesses typically starting around 5000 and eventually getting up to the trillions. The gasps when I wrote out the number of zeros on the board were funny. 

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So that's been going well. Schools are closing for the summer now, so I'm booking schools for September (form to book a workshop here) and working on the website for the summer. 

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Working with the Walton Club

The other day, an excessively tricky-to-open and highly confidential-seeming letter from Trinity College arrived and scared the life out of me as I was convinced I'd been expelled from college somehow. As it turns out, it was my payslip for the work I did at the start of April for The Walton Club, so let's talk a bit about that. 

The Walton Club is Trinity's science, technology, engineering and maths club for Junior Cycle students, run by Arlene O' Neill. I know of it in three ways: (a) seeing my friend Ollie take part in it (b) seeing the Walton Club kids (Alphas) exhibit their work at Inspirefest Fringe (c) working for Walton Club for a week.

I have discovered that they're pretty awesome. Here's why. 

Real Science

Their task for the week I worked there was to program a moving robot that could carry a load. In Physics they learned about forces and motion, in Technology about programming in Python, in Engineering about building things and in Maths about co-ordinate geometry, among other things. It was super cool that they were making a robot, but I think the best part was that it actually did teach them some science, as in the scientific method.

Their challenge at the end of the week was to do a bunch of tests on their robotic cars to see how far they travelled in metres given varying travel times and varying loads and to make graphs and predictive models, then, given at the last minute the load and duration of travel, to predict how far their car would go. The team with the closest prediction won. 

So science (measurement and prediction) won out over engineering (it didn't matter how good your robot was as long as you predicted it), but honestly I'm impressed at how well all the strands (science, tech, engineering, maths) were integrated into that final challenge. 

Creative Challenges & High Expectations

One of the sessions had Arlene ask the Alphas to estimate the number of jelly beans they could fit in the room using Fermi estimation. I watched and was amazed at the thoughtful, considered answers the kids gave to this question where they weren't given the volume of the room or the volume of a jellybean, as they estimated the height of the room from the height of the door and used their legspan to measure the length and accounted for the fact that the room is essentially triangular so a lot of the room wouldn't be available for jelly beans. 

Arlene pushed the kids but was kind about silly answers and always kept it fun. She also brought it back to science and maths, teaching about scientific notation and orders of magnitude through it, as well as talking about ways to estimate the accuracy of your answer and see if it sounds reasonable.

What Happens when You Don't Underestimate Kids

These kids were about 12-15 years old and honestly I wasn't sure if I could've done as well in some things as they did. The course wasn't about using difficult maths, it was about creatively solving problems, and it was great to see the kids being pushed and trusted. I'm sure it was something to do with the selection of kids -- they do have to do an entrance test and are all very intelligent -- but it was still cool to see how well they did. Instead of just teaching them facts, the instructors guided them to experiment and figure it out.

The Alphas Make Cool Things

I was impressed at how modern and interesting the challenges were -- a lot of courses would start with C or Java and something boring in Physics, but this went right in with Python and relevant physics and robots.

In the exhibition of their work over a longer period I saw at Inspirefest Fringe, I saw a variety of awesome things including a fingerprint scanner that opened a wooden door. Lots and lots of creativity.

Fun atmosphere

I sat in on a lot of the classes (my job was to ferry students between locations) and it was cool seeing how fun the instructors made it. I'm sure it was also down to the students' willingness to engage, but something has to be said for the instructors' sense of humour and energy. They were also super timely -- one of the Maths classes was the day after that United Airlines scandal and the example word problem for a very negative slope in co-ordinate geometry was United Airlines' finances.

In short: Cool program, may be expensive though, would be awesome if everyone (not just Junior Cycle students) got to learn science that way. 

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Review: When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanathi

When Breath Becomes Air is the story of a supremely high-achieving brain surgeon's life and untimely death in his 30s from lung cancer, exploring his journey from superstar doctor with the world in his hands to terminal cancer patient. It's the kind of story that, once existing, has to be told, because that kind of insight is exceedingly rare. It's a book that inspired me, unsettled me and made me cry.

I could relate to a lot of his early career as well, especially his love for words and his transition to health as a calling. He loved words and always used them to figure out where to go, but after doing his degree in English Literature realized his vocation to help people and entered medical school to become a neurosurgeon. I always wanted to be a writer before realizing after a couple of science fairs that science was the best way for me to improve the world. 

So then he starts talking about his medical training and it became a real page-turner. I remember sitting in bed with Leon (I think he was reading Temeraire beside me) and being struck by this sense of awe when he described the medical students' anatomy classes with cadavers and the sacredness of it all, how these were real people just being used as teaching materials. I was also extremely impressed with the beauty of his writing -- I kept coming across sentences I had to tell Leon about. 

There was just so much gravity about it, the story of this ancient, sacred profession, sacred in the sense of our shared humanity -- the wonder of consciousness and the sadness of its extinction.

His obvious passion for helping people and his stories of times he'd failed, times he'd saved a life but had made a millimetre's error and turned a sweet child into a monster or a sick patient into a vegetative one, and his death from lung cancer, renewed my drive to save people with science because our current medicine isn't enough. There was also that sense of wonder at the intricacy and mystery of the brain, how a human life is squeezed into the small space of a skull, how there are so many ways it can go wrong and yet so often it doesn't. 

He told stories of the extreme pressure in medical school and residency, of leaving for work at 6 am and going home at 2 am, of colleagues who committed suicide, and of the additional pressure he put on himself to do every surgery perfectly and swiftly because of the enormous power he held in his hands to heal or maim. 

Paul had almost made it. He'd very nearly finished his residency and was fielding prestigious job offers, winning top awards, even having a position created specifically for him at a university. Then he started experiencing debilitating back pain and was diagnosed with lung cancer. It was an interesting diagnosis story because he was a doctor as well so the diagnostician couldn't soften the blow for him because he could see how poor the prognosis was from the scans.

And suddenly, he was in the hospital bed instead of standing over it.

He was treated and went into remission, then went back to work as a neurosurgeon despite his exhaustion. But then the cancer came back, and this time it was terminal. 

The really unsettling bit here was how Paul spent his whole life in preparation. School, college, Masters, med school, residency, cancer diagnosis in the last year of residency. His fingertips were just touching the pinnacle of his field when he was cut down. He'd been working 18-hour days, not making time for his family, not making time for rest or reflection or relaxation, because he thought he had time for that later. This book, which he wrote while dying, was the book he wanted to write at the end of a long life. It's scary because so much of what I do is future-focused, always trying to create things and work for the future rather than living in the present. 

Paul's last few weeks, his death and its aftermath are written in an epilogue by his wife who promised him she'd get his story published. It's a beautiful afterword, one that really drives the poignancy of the word home -- in many novels, an afterword is just something that happens after the arbitrary point the author has decided to end the story, but here it's the story after his death, after that point of finality he cannot come back from. His wife described their love and his life and legacy, and the child he had with her just months before his death. She described visiting his grave and ruffling the grass as if it's his hair, and I thought of how I liked to do that with Leon.

The only criticisms I have are (a) it's short (well, what can you do) (b) I didn't appreciate how he says everyone, even rationally-minded people, will become religious facing death. 

It's the second book I've read on the recommendation of Bill Gates (Superintelligence by Nick Bostrom was the first, review here) -- he seems to have good taste. I'd previously loved another poignant and far-reaching book by a doctor-writer called Siddhartha Mukherjee, Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer (seems I didn't actually review this -- I'll have to soon, it was incredible) and have since bought another neurosurgeon's autobiography, Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery by Henry Marsh.

Really an excellent book -- it fascinated and inspired me with his work, and moved me with his illness. 

Review: Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software by Charles Petzold

A few months ago, I was doing that "but how does it work fundamentally" thing I do and Leon's friend Scarlett managed to shut me up by recommending this book, CODE, that goes from the absolute basics to modern-day (well, 1999) computing. 


CODE covers, in order, the idea of a code (Morse code and Braille), telegraphs and relays, the decimal system and other systems including binary, octal and hexadecimal, logic and logic gates, binary adding and subtraction, feedback and flip-flops, bytes, memory, microprocessors, ASCII characters, operating systems, fixed point and floating point systems, programming languages and graphics, along with a couple of other things I don't remember from their chapter titles.

In a weird twist, this book called CODE only has one chapter out of twenty-five on actual programming languages (not counting assembly language and machine code, which it has a lot of). I was (admittedly naively) hoping to see some of my beloved Ruby or at least Javascript, but the only high-level language it mentioned was an obscure one called ALGOL. It's very much about the fundamentals about computing, so I did (mostly) get what I wished for it when I asked for an explanation from the ground up. 

Positives:


  • Logic is fun! I really enjoyed reading about Boolean logic, probably because I knew it already. He had a nice metaphor for AND, OR, and NOT gates, going to the shelter looking for a cat and it can be white, grey or black, neutered or non-neutered, and male or female. Say you want a cat that's neutered and female and not grey, you could say (non-neutered AND female) AND (not grey) aka (NN && F) && (!G). He then showed how you'd translate that into circuits, where they lightbulb will only light up where all those conditions are satisfied. 

  • The parts about other number systems were cool, again probably because I already knew them. 

  • I enjoyed the explanations of things like bar code scanners and how they read in bits.

  • The chapters on binary adding and subtraction were laborious to read if I wanted to get anything out of them but good and seemed very comprehensive. It was interesting to learn about things like one's complement

  • The memory parts were sometimes hard to understand but were interesting. I'm not sure how I didn't realise before why RAM gets lost when the computer turns off. I also didn't realise before I read this that when your storage isn't full it's not like there are some places that are just empty, those places have disorganised electrical signals instead and places you've saved things to have organised information. So you're not adding something to nothing, you've overwriting that chaos. 

  • The snippets of history were enjoyable and well-written.



Negatives:


  • The learning curve and pacing is really weird. It starts out very simplistic with the introduction to the idea of a code that goes on for about five chapters, then the chapters about other number systems are fine as well (although I had already studied them in college), and I loved the mathematical logic and even the simple circuits were okay, but then I got destroyed by circuits with dozens of wires, flipflops and microprocessors.

  • The second half of the book was pretty boring. It went into HUGE detail on two specific microprocessors, and I had no interest in learning about the location of all the individual inputs on an intel 8080 or whatever. It also talked about "the graphics revolution" but was written in 1999 so it was saying things were impressive that didn't seem impressive, and again too much detail on specifics of operating systems. I liked seeing how they worked in general, though.

  • I would really have liked more of an emphasis on programming -- how compilers work to get code from nice while x < 7 do statements to something the computer understands. It was explained for assembly language, not that I really got it, but not for higher-level languages. I suppose there's only so much you can fit in a book, and it does specifically say (late into the book) that it doesn't have room to cover compilers.

  • He spent the vast majority of the book talking about using telegraph relays and transistors barely made an appearance -- I would've liked to understand those more. The input-output system he spent most of the book on was lightbulbs, and I get that it was supposed to be clear to everyone but it didn't really suit my level of knowledge, i.e. knowing how to do basic programming and being "decent with computers" but not understanding what's under the hood. He specifically says in the Preface "The "bit" isn't defined until page 68; "byte" isn't defined until page 180. I don't mention transistors until page 142, and that's only in passing" and seems proud of that, but not really my thing. 

  • The Internet is pretty much ignored.


In short:

This is a book you really need to have a pen and paper out for, because it's not the sort of thing you just read and take information in from -- it's very involved. This is especially important because it starts incredibly easy and lulls you into a false sense of security, then flip-flops appear. As long as you're not looking for a book on modern programming but want to understand where computers come from, I'd still recommend this book. It did an impressive job of a big part of what I was after, translating logic to circuits and showing how you'd use that to do fundamental computing operations like addition and subtraction. I know I've said a lot of negative things here, but the first half is excellent. Recommended if you can take time with it.

Friday, 2 June 2017

Review: May 2017

May was pretty busy! I was locked away until the 17th studying for and doing my college exams, then did some antibiotic resistance workshops and went to Berlin for the T20 Summit: Global Solutions for G20. I also worked on a website to bring my various open science projects together, Lablinn.com, and on my books.

EXAMS

I had 6 exams, two each for Chemistry, Physics and Maths. I had a difficult time with them -- I panicked at the start of Maths I and didn’t do myself justice, and then for some of the others I just hadn’t studied near enough. I’ll know I definitely need to up my game for next year, and will try to do some study over the summer.

SECONDARY ABR

The day after my exams finished, I went to Kildare to talk to three classes of 5th Year Biology students about antibiotic resistance. It was fun delving into the research literature again to refresh my knowledge and learn more. I was so tired after exams and that, so I spent the next few days chilling with Leon.

PRIMARY ABR

I talked to 4th, 5th and 6th class students in Togher primary school about antibiotic resistance and public participation in science on the 22nd. It was awesome -- the students were super engaged and asked loads of good questions. I saw on my way out that the school has a banner on the wall saying they prioritise health and it was great to see they walk the talk.



LABLINN WEBSITE (lablinn.com)

I wanted to combine my open science projects and spread the message to more people, so I made this website.

I bought the domain name and made the basic website a while back, but this month I did a lot of work on the website. I was using wordpress but hated it because it was a massive pain in the ass to use and really user-unfriendly with the free version, and wouldn’t let me add custom javascript elements (like, for example, Blogger does). It made me not want to work on the website, it was that bad. So I switched over to Weebly, which has issues inserting photos but is otherwise much better for me. I really like the clean layout of the theme I found eventually.



WRITING & READING

I’ve been working on edits from agent about my citizen science book, changing the chapter topics slightly and personalising it (i.e. fighting my tendency to write like an academic and being a real person). I have a little bit of time now we’re into June to focus on that, so that’s cool. I’m also hoping to make time this summer to work on novel-writing -- I read the first half (the only part I have in cloud storage) of a novel I wrote three years ago recently and actually really enjoyed it.

I read Oasis by √Čilis Barrett on the plane -- review soon.

T20 YOUNG GLOBAL CHANGER

I was chosen as one of 100 Young Global Changers from 1400 applicants between 18 and 40 from 140 counties to participate in the T20 Summit: Global Solutions for G20 in Berlin, to come up with solutions for Germany’s presidency of the T20. I’ll have a full blog post up about it soon, but to summarise:
  • Cool speakers included Nobel Laureates George Akerlof and Joseph Stiglitz, Sweden’s Minister for Finance who was awesome, and other big economists including Jeffrey Sachs and Lord Nicholas Stern
  • Berlin was HOT. The minimum night-time temperature was 18 C.
  • I met so many awesome people from all around the world there and learned so much about different cultures. Such an incredible learning experience. For example, here’s a photo with five people from five different continents: Europe (Ireland), Asia (Vietnam), Africa (Ethiopia), South America (Venezuela) and Oceania (Fiji).



FUN

There were some pretty intense times this month, so after I got over each of those hurdles I got to relax with Leon and he managed to teach me how to have fun and not feel guilty about it. We played board games (Pandemic, which I love because epidemiology, and Carcassonne, which is relaxing except when he steals my pieces) and he collected me from the airport again. Impressed we manage to still stomach the sight of each other after spending 10 hours a day studying beside each other coming up to the exams.



I’m happy.

Looking to June, I’ll have at least two more antibiotic resistance talks in primary schools, starting my summer job, working on my books, reading and working on lablinn.com, and some chilling too I imagine.