Saturday, 9 December 2017

Review: November 2017

Hi all! Long time no talk, I know. I'm currently in bed listening to Christmas songs, and taking a study break to write this post. I've been studying a lot so that's most of what I've been up to, but here's some other stuff:

COLLEGE: I've been incredibly engaged in college this year, it's awesome. I spend a lot of time studying and also pay much more attention to the lectures and it's great. I feel super immersed and scholarly, and I've learned so much. Multivariable Calculus continues to be interesting and I'm learning a lot of stuff I didn't even realise I didn't know; we did Organic Chemistry in the Chemistry module and despite my usual dread of organic chemistry it was fine, especially since we concentrated on stereochemistry and the lecturer linked it to biological uses a lot; Metabolism, the second Biochem module and only biology module I have during this part of term, is tough but really cool and interesting, much cooler than it looked from the description I read over summer. It's so crazy that the admin were so resistant to letting me switch to Biology. Contrary to their expectations, things have been even better than I imagined. As my friend Will said (possibly paraphrasing slightly?) "Elle, you love Biology more than I love some close family members."

LABLINN: Lablinn was super active in November. We:

  • held workshops with about 120 students in Finglas and Meath, demoing our new cooler workshops with me, Sarah and Daniel delivering the workshops.
  • had Diagnostics Week on, featuring articles on nanodiagnostics and the importance of diagnostics for antibiotic resistance, and a really exciting interview with Lily from APOPO, who train HeroRATs to safely clear landmines and diagnose tuberculosis. 
  • had Ella write about speaking on a Stemettes panel (something from our collaboration with the Stemettes was just released at the start of December!)
  • had me speak at a TwitterxUNICEF event on digital advocacy about Lablinn - more on that below
  • organised workshops in two more schools for December, with Laura delivering.
  • had me get a mentor from Social Entrepreneurs Ireland for Lablinn through Launchpad (see below)

TWITTERxUNICEF #DigitalYouth17

I was invited by Twitter's EMEA head of third party policy outreach, Ronan Costello, to speak at Twitter HQ as a young person using the internet for advocacy/cool things alongside three other young people with cool stories. So that cancels out all the time I've wasted scrolling Twitter, right?


My term as a Council Member of the Youth Platform of the European Council of High Ability (what a mouthful!) continues, so I've been doing the usual work for that and also went to Budapest for a few days over Reading Week for our autumn Council meeting. 

Did lots of work, and had time to confuse people with the pronunciations of Irish names like Saoirse and Sadhbh, so a good mix.

SCHOLS (...and learning how to #hackthelibrary)

I've signed up for schols in all the biology papers, which is kinda hilarious because I didn't even do biology last year. For non-Trinity readers, schols are super hard optional exams you do in January of second year and if you get a first in them you get free accommodation, free dinner and various possibly mythical things as well for five years. You also get to put 'Sch' after your name but I think it's generally seen as a bit obnoxious. Since I'm going in with a bit of a disadvantage, I'm not expecting to get them, but apart from the pressure I am really enjoying studying for them. I just counted and I've written almost 60 pages of notes for the extra biochem study and typed a good few pages for the evolution paper in the last 3 weeks, which was a pleasant surprise. It's really interesting stuff. 

As part of that, I've learned how to #hack the library and by that I mean (a) find out whether books I want are there and where they are using Stella search (b) get them from the section only some people (including me) can access for various reasons like being registered with the Disability Service, so I can take out a whole 8 books and keep them for 4 weeks without renewing rather than 1. So I currently have 7 books out of the library. Even if I don't get schols (it really depends what kind of paper I get), I'm loving being all scholarly and reading a ton and am glad of the skills I've picked up studying for it. 

The annoying thing is the pressure, and how the papers seem very hard to categorise or prepare for in a way I can be reasonably confident of -- so I'll need to get lucky as well. We'll see -- for now I'll just use it as an excuse to learn cool stuff. 


I've mostly been reading as part of studying (so lots of the biochem book I'm using), but I did read Maryn McKenna's book on the Epidemic Intelligence Service of the CDC, which was interesting. The last book I read is The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins, and I'm currently reading his book The Blind Watchmaker. Apart from that, lots of papers on evolution. I also bought an evolution textbook (Skelton) on a whim because I found it online for 75 c (75c! for a textbook!) not including postage, but still under a tenner in total. 


I've enrolled in Launchpad's Women Who Wow mentoring programme and been assigned a mentor, Sara, from Social Entrepreneurs Ireland, to help me develop Lablinn. The launch event was in late November and we had our first meeting in early December. 


The Naughtons got us Naughton Scholars tickets to hear Nobel Laureate William Campbell talk about his discovery of ivermectin, a life-changing treatment for river blindness and similar diseases in tropical countries, in the Royal Irish Academy. In an awesome turn of events, Belinda was there and we talked a bunch. 


I continue to be Secretary of Physoc. It's grand. Probably the best part so far was taking Shane Bergin out for dinner before his talk with us on The Scientist as Advocate -- it was great to see him again, we had very interesting chats. 


That's about all I can think of. The vast majority of this month has been attending college and studying, and honestly it's been cool. 

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