My role as an EDI rep

By Alex Washington, MSci Biomedical Genetics

For a little while now I’ve been looking for ways to help the LGBT+ and disabled communities but was never sure where to go or what I could do. I do still want to find other ways to help, but I found my starting point as an EDI (Equality, Disability, and Inclusivity) representative in the School of Biomedical, Nutritional and Sport Sciences.

How I got the role

I originally applied to be the LGBT+ rep, thinking “well I’m really queer so that’ll work,” but Dr Parry, head of the EDI committee at the time, thought I’d be better suited for the marginalised genders role, seeing as I’m very vocal about being trans. I didn’t have much of a choice when I was 19 going on 12 but I’m still open about it now, when I easily pass as a cis man (not looking quite 20 yet but getting there).

I am also the rep for disabilities, which wasn’t a part of the plan, but I’m very happy how it turned out. I have ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), and I know that it’s a serious disability, but a lot of times people brush it off and treat it as “not a real mental disability.” Because of this, a lot of the time I’m scared to speak up about it, in fear I won’t be taken seriously.

Me on my 19th vs me on my 20th (I had a cake, birthday bread was more iconic), thanks Puberty 2.0

At our first EDI meeting, it was mentioned our disabilities rep was a final year student, and so we’d have to find a replacement for when she finished university over summer. At that point I volunteered to be a co-rep with her until she left and take over the role afterwards if we didn’t have any other volunteers, and I’m really glad I did so. My fears of not having my ADHD taken seriously are very real, but they never reflected reality while working with the EDI team.

What I did with the role – it’s more than a way to get a free hoodie

Having worked side by side with the Faculty of Medical Sciences since February, I’m happy to say I’m proud of what I’ve achieved so far in my time as a rep, as I managed to make positive changes both to school- and university-wide policy, and to specific students dealing with LGBT+ and disability issues. From simple things like ensuring the lecture slides are more accessible to students, to more serious matters like how DSA (Disabled Students’ Allowance) is addressed in placement talks. After an extremely homophobic survey got sent out to students, we even got the university to change how student surveys are approved to be sent out.

Talk to us

From my experiences I can say that the School of Biomedical, Nutritional and Sport Sciences and Faculty of Medical Sciences are happy to support their students, but a lot of times issues can go unnoticed. Being a representative, I can highlight to the staff, at a professional capacity, any issues students bring up to me, and then address them. Once a solution is presented, I haven’t once seen excuses be made to avoid fixing the problem, no matter how big or small it was.

For this reason, I would urge any student that is having an issue adjusting to life at university to speak to either me or one of the other EDI reps – whoever is most suitable – so we can support you and help make the university experience more accessible.

EDI rep contact information can be found on the Biomedical and Biomolecular Sciences Stage 1-4 Community modules on Canvas.

My Summer Travels with Cryptosporidium

By Rosie Gathercole

Working with poo turned out to be exactly the summer experience I wanted!

I worked at the national Cryptosporidium Reference Unit (CRU) at Public Health Wales in Swansea with Professor Rachel Chalmers and her team. I received a Scholarship from the Society for Applied Microbiology (SfAM) for this placement, writing the application together with Rachel.

Rosie with a computer screen behind her showing the live spectra produced by the mass spec machine
Me working on my summer placement

Cryptosporidium is a parasite that causes diarrhoea, is found globally and is typically passed from animals, other people, food and fresh water sources. It is currently a human health issue due to the significant effect it has in developing countries and the lack of specific treatments to fight the parasite. Quite often how well you recover from the illness depends on how healthy you were to begin with!

Continue reading “My Summer Travels with Cryptosporidium”

A summer placement at Oxford University – yes please!

By Fahiza Begum – Physiological Sciences

It’s that time of year when uni is out and you’re not quite sure what to do with your 3 months of freedom. Does the phrase ‘unpaid internship’ fill you with dread? Well, let me introduce you to UNIQ+…

Continue reading “A summer placement at Oxford University – yes please!”

My week as a student at the University of Padova: Views of a summer school student

By Charlotte Ripley – Food and Human Nutrition Student

A trip to Italy?! Yes please!

In June, I attended a Food and Health Summer School in Italy, mixing with students from the University of Padova and the University of Sydney.

The focus was on the effects of different food components on overall health and well-being, with topics ranging from the effect of soil on the micronutrient content of foods to the worldwide issue of obesity – so the week was specifically aimed at those with a medical or food science background. Thankfully, everything was taught in English, as even Duolingo wouldn’t have prepared me for terms such as ‘squalene’, ‘fetotoxic’ or ‘teratogenicity’.

Though the week was primarily lecture based, we visited 2 different food producers (Grandi Molini Italiani –  one of Europe’s largest flour mills – and Prosciuttificio Attilio Fontana Montagnana – a family-run prosciutto factory) and got to see some of Padova’s biggest attractions (Orto Botanica, Palazzo Bo and the Museum of History and Medicine). We even had our very own gala dinner to celebrate the end of the summer school – luckily, the lectures didn’t quite put me off the free wine on the tables.

Prata Della Valle – just a 5-minute walk from my hotel.

Continue reading “My week as a student at the University of Padova: Views of a summer school student”

My top tips for starting university when living with disability or long-term medical condition

By Caroline McKenzie

Moving to uni can be lots of change for anybody. When you’re also living with a disability or a medical condition, getting through each day, let alone being able to study can be a challenge.

I’ve just finished my first year studying biochemistry and living and learning with physical disability has often been hard! I thought I’d share a few things that have helped, and so here are my practical top tips for starting university for those living with disability/long term medical condition.

Me on my scooter outside the med school

Get a Support Plan

A Student Support Plan (SSP) looks at all aspects of learning and possible adaptations that you may need, you get these from Student Wellbeing. Meet up with your disability advisor as soon as possible, the sooner you get this in place the sooner adaptions can be made. They will be aware of things you can utilise that perhaps you didn’t realise- for me that included creating a Personal Evacuation Plan (PEP) for when there were fire alarms! Continue reading “My top tips for starting university when living with disability or long-term medical condition”

Dear International [and UK] Fresher – You CAN do it!

By Simona Jogaudaite (2nd Year Biomed Sciences)

With a flight ticket in my hand, I can still remember being so nervous and so excited at the same time before starting a new chapter of my life – university.  

My big flight to the UK from Lithuania

“How did you handle that?” you may ask. Here’re my answers and top tips you.

GET RID OF THE FEAR TO FAIL:

You think the British accent is hard to understand? Well, you haven‘t heard the Geordie accent then. I remember it was my first day in Newcastle and my flatmate texted me: “alreet”.  Continue reading “Dear International [and UK] Fresher – You CAN do it!”

Celebrating International Women’s Day – Women in Science Blog Competition

Women make, and have made, vital contributions to science.  This is a statement that should not need to be said, but too often women have not received the credit they deserve.

This year to highlight the achievements of Women in Science we ran a blog competition in the School of Biomedical Sciences.  The challenge was to write a blog to highlight the contribution women have made to science.

The 2019 winner was Lilla Marshall (2nd year pharmacology), receiving £50. The close runner up was Caitlin Cosimini (Stage 3 Biomedical Sciences), congratulation to both, here is Lillia’s blog.

Lilla Marshall, winner of the ‘Women in Science’ blog competition 2019

Three Interesting Tales of Women in Science

By Lilla Marshall

Historically, science has been dominated by men. Since the year 2000, only 12.7% of Nobel Prizes for Physiology and Medicine have been awarded to women.

I wasn’t the best in my stats module last semester, but even I can see the problem there. Even in popular culture, if you asked the general public to name as many female scientists as they could – the majority would say Marie Curie and “that lady who had her work on DNA stolen” (meaning Rosalind Franklin).

Continue reading “Celebrating International Women’s Day – Women in Science Blog Competition”

Student Enterprise Ambassador’s #EntrepreneurshipDiary: #1

Introducing our Student Enterprise Ambassador, John.

Hi, my name is John and I am a 3rd year Biomedical Sciences student with a business idea that I am pursuing while completing my degree at Newcastle University.  I was consequently nominated to be the Student Enterprise Ambassador for the School of Biomedical Sciences (SBMS). Continue reading “Student Enterprise Ambassador’s #EntrepreneurshipDiary: #1”

My summer research really ‘complemented’ my degree

By Sam Murray – 3rd Year Biomedical Sciences student

Vacation Research Project

During the summer I worked alongside scientists in the Institute of Cellular Medicine in Newcastle University to complete a 8-week research project in Complement Immunology, and was paid £200 a week to do so! I produced a poster to communicate my research and defended it at the university wide Celebrating Research Scholarships & Expeditions presentation evening. I was awarded a Commendation for oral defence of the poster and also won 3rd prize at the School of Biomedical Sciences Summer placement poster presentations. Continue reading “My summer research really ‘complemented’ my degree”

Antibiotics from bacteria? My Year in Industry

By Katie Green

Scientists in Newcastle are harnessing bacteria’s own defence mechanisms to create new antibiotic drugs. I spent my year in industry in the laboratory, working alongside these scientists searching for the mechanisms that could potentially be used to treat bacterial and fungal infections in humans.

Continue reading “Antibiotics from bacteria? My Year in Industry”