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Museum on the brain?

by YPU Admin on September 2, 2013, Comments. Tags: and study, careers, Life Sciences, Neuroscience, pathways, and Research

The new Thinking Careers section will explore non-academic career options pursued by PhD students. The first case study will be on Emily Robinson, who completed an undergraduate degree and a PhD in Neuroscience at the University of Manchester. Emily now works as a Secondary and Post-16 Co-ordinator for the Sciences at the Manchester Museum.


Introduction 


When I was in sixth form, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do. I liked both biology and geography, but wasn't sure if I wanted to spend years of my life studying either. Then one day, in a very small section of books termed 'Careers Library' in the corner of our study room, I found a book about Neuroscience – the study of the brain and the nervous system. With every page I turned, I realised that I had found what I wanted to study. My mum was shocked that evening when I announced over my spaghetti bolognese, “I'm applying for Neuroscience”. Her first reaction was to ask, “What is Neuroscience?” But as she heard me enthuse about this intriguing subject and how interesting studying the brain would be, she realised that she was going to have to trust me.


Current job

Flash forward ten years and I am now working at Manchester Museum coordinating their secondary and post-16 science programme. Therefore, I get to share my passion for science by creating engaging science workshops using Manchester Museum's stunning collection. But how did I get from Neuroscience to museum? Well, I did end up studying Neuroscience for my degree at the University of Manchester and I liked it so much I stayed and did a four year research PhD in Neuroscience.


My research

The focus of my PhD research was on trying to block the immune system's damaging reaction to brain injury. It might seem odd to try to stop our immune system – which normally protects us from dangerous injections. However, when a brain injury occurs, such as a stroke, our immune system can overreact and as the brain is such a sensitive organ, it can easily be inadvertently damaged, making the situation worse. The research group I was working with are currently trialling an anti-inflammatory treatment which will hopefully reduce the potential damage caused by a stroke if it is given within a few hours of it occurring. Alongside my lab work, I also enjoyed communicating the research to the public. Therefore, I was involved in creating a lot of family and school activities to try and get people interested in Neuroscience and to highlight the important research we were doing. So my current job is an extension of that in the wider context of science; as I get to simplify complex scientific concepts and get to show students the real life application and importance of the science you are taught in school.


Experience

Although my current job does not directly use my Neuroscience knowledge, my PhD has been invaluable and helped me to get my current job. Conducting research, no matter what subject, develops your analytical skills as well as your specific subject knowledge. So whether I mean to or not, I now think like a scientist! Along the way you also gain many useful transferable skills such as communication and project management skills. Don’t get me wrong, doing a PhD isn’t all rosy; there were tough times when things got me down and I had a few wobbles with my confidence – but the challenge was all definitely worth it. I loved being part of a large laboratory group, seeing how everyone’s separate research linked together in the hope of making a big difference to people’s lives in the future. On top of that, I have made some lifelong friends along the way. Looking back, I can't say that I had the last ten years mapped out since sixth form. I could never have guessed I would end up becoming a doctor and working in a museum. But I’m always glad I chose to study a subject that I found so interesting.


Going further...

To find out about studying Neuroscience at the University of Manchester, go to the Faculty of Life Science's webpage and the Neuroscience Research Institute.

The book which inspired my interest in Neuroscience.

For up-to-date news about Neuroscience, go to Neuroscience News.

The Guardian has excellent articles about Neuroscience.

For more ideas about what you can do with a Neuroscience degree, visit the British Neuroscience Association’s website.

To find about more about non-academic career options for PhD students, visit the Prospects website.


 

Focus On...Audiology

by YPU Admin on August 13, 2013, Comments. Tags: Audiology, careers, healthcare, Life Science, pathways, and study



Audiology 


Considering becoming an audiologist?

Not sure what an audiologist is? Well, if you like interacting with people, want to improve somebody’s quality of life and want a career that is people focused but also has elements of science and technology, then a degree in audiology could be just for you.


What is audiology?

Audiology is the branch of science that studies hearing, hearing related disorders, and balance. Audiologists work with people who have hearing and balance conditions, so you will get to work with people of all ages, from new-born babies to adults. Audiologists are also responsible for the patient’s management, which may include counselling and fitting of hearing aids. As the world gets more crowded, and ‘louder’, and people get older, more and more people will need help from audiologists. Just check out the figures: there are more than 10 million people in the UK with some form of hearing loss. That’s one in six of the population. There are more than 45,000 deaf children in the UK and, on average, it takes around ten years for people to seek help about hearing problems. By 2031, it is estimated that there will be 14.5 million people with hearing loss in the UK. Hearing problems are only going to get more common and that means the world needs more audiologists!


Studying audiology

There are lots of different training and education options if you want a career in audiology. You could work alongside an audiologist as an assistant, or work as a Hearing Aid Dispenser in which you would need to do a foundation degree (see http://www.bshaa.com). If you are not really sure where you want to work, but would like to see patients then you may want to study an audiology degree. Here at The University of Manchester we offer both undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, which combine the practical, theoretical and clinical aspects of audiology. These courses are part of the Audiology and Deafness Group at Manchester, which is the oldest audiology department in the UK, dating back to 1919. In addition we have strong links with the NHS, where some of our courses provide placements in NHS clinics. Click here to find out the many different courses we offer. Also why not find out what one of our first years has to say about the course….here


Career Paths

Completing either an undergraduate or postgraduate degree at The University of Manchester prepares you for a career in the NHS or the independent sector. Audiologists are part of a big team and work with: speech and language therapists; teachers of the deaf; ear, nose and throat specialists; and social services. But if working in the NHS doesn’t appeal to you, there are loads more options. Graduates from our courses have found work with companies that create and dispense hearing aids or have become lecturers at universities, undertaking their own research. Others now work for hearing charities or at schools that specialise in teaching children with hearing problems. The career opportunities as an audiologist are very good and, with an ageing population, the demand for audiologists will only increase.


Our Research

One example of a research project being carried out at The University of Manchester is investigating the changes in brain activity after wearing an earplug in one ear for a short period of time. Our brains are able to compensate for a change in hearing. If you have a hearing loss, the brain will increase its activity to compensate for less sound reaching the brain. However, in some people, the brain activity will increase too much and this can lead to tinnitus, a condition where the person hears a high-pitched ringing noise (this is why the condition is also known as ‘ringing in the ears’). Little is known about what causes the brain to overcompensate and where and when these changes occur. We hope to understand more about the changes in brain activity and how it can lead to tinnitus by simulating hearing loss, which involves wearing an earplug and measuring the changes in brain activity. If we can understand more about the changes in brain activity, this could lead to a better understanding of tinnitus. If you would like to know more about our other research projects, visit our website.


Find out more about audiology

Have a look at our website for more information about Audiology at The University of Manchester.

For up-to-date news about what we do in our department and school, check out our blog.

Check out our very own Professor Chris Plack, explaining how the ear works using only the thousand most used words in the English Language.

The British Society of Audiology supports audiology across the UK and you can find out about the latest news and events from their website.

Check out The British Academy of Audiology (BAA) that supports Audiologists and provides advice on careers in Audiology. 


 

Focus On...Archaeology

by YPU Admin on May 20, 2013, Comments. Tags: archaeology, careers, history, pathways, and study


Archaeology: Digging Up the Past

Have you ever wanted to discover ancient remains in a distant land? Do you feel excitement when watching a team of archaeologists on TV reveal human bones, bronze tools, gold jewellery and pottery? Are you riveted by the details of how a Roman bathhouse worked or how an Iron Age roundhouse was built? If your answer is yes, then archaeology might just be the thing for you.


What is archaeology?

Archaeology is the scientific study and interpretation of past peoples and their lives through studying the material remains they left behind. Archaeologists look at a wide range of artefacts from large buildings and colourfully painted graves down to small clay pots, paintings, stone arrowheads, bone fragments and even pollen and seeds.

The most common way to find past artefacts is by excavating, or by doing a field survery where you collect remains that are visible on the surface. As these activities destroy the precise locations and context of the artefacts, archaeologists record, draw and photograph all information accurately for future generations. All finds are then washed, analysed and interpreted. Finally, the artefacts need to be preserved, possibly reconstructed and stored – frequently in a nearby local museum. All of this work is rarely done by archaeologists alone, but requires a team of specialists, such as geologists, botanists, osteologists, computer specialists, and conservators. Once the analysis has been completed, the findings are published in articles, books or magazines.


Studying archaeology

In order to get expertise in archaeology, an undergraduate degree is the best way to go. Here at Manchester, we offer both single honours and joint honours degrees (with Ancient History, Anthropology or History of Art). With our teaching stretching from the Neanderthals through to modern day and our research areas ranging from Europe, the Near East, Africa through to Australia, the UK and the Pacific, we offer a truly global introduction to the discipline. Our main focus at Manchester is on exploring the social dimension of the past human experience. We offer a unique combination of theoretical enquiry, a concern with the contemporary social context, and a commitment to practical field work (You can watch a video of Manchester's archaeologists here). In addition, we have strong links to the archaeological sciences at the university and to the Manchester Museum whose collections we are able to make use of in our teaching and whose staff members regularly contribute specialist lectures.


Career paths

Archaeology is one of the most varied careers as it draws on the sciences, social sciences and arts. It is also one of the most diverse subjects as it combines activity out in the field with intellectual study and scientific analysis in the laboratory. Archaeologists can be found in the private, public and academic sectors: You could find yourself working at the shovel’s edge in charge of uncovering new sites and finds. Alternatively, you might be working in a museum, designing exhibitions, talking to the public and looking after the collections. Maybe you are employed by the council in charge of providing guidance to developers. Or possibly you are working as a lecturer at university and are undertaking your own research projects throughout the year. Depending on your interests, you might find yourself working at home in Britain, on a hot island in the Mediterranean, on a lone mountain in South America or the cold expanses of Siberia. One thing is for sure: it’s a hugely rewarding career that combines painstaking discovery with stimulating interpretations about past people’s lives.

Even if you don’t see yourself pursuing archaeology as a career, it is an excellent foundation for your future that will serve you well in a wide variety of interesting careers: studying archaeology alerts you to the great diversity between people and social practices; it provides a rigorous training in evaluating evidence and ideas; it encourages the development of creative and critical thinking, verbal and written communication, and a wealth of practical and team working skills that are sought after by employers. As a subject it is challenging, intriguing, satisfying and hugely enjoyable.


The Archaeology of beer!

One recent project carried out by archaeologists (with the help of archaeology students) at Manchester has been the excavation of a Bronze Age beer production installation on Cyprus. A two by two metre domed mud-plaster structure (shown in the picture) was used as a kiln to dry malt for the production of beer three-and-a half-thousand years ago. The beers were brewed from malted barley, and fermented with yeasts produced from fruits such as grape or fig. All the ingredients have been found as carbonised seeds at the site, along with stone tools for grinding the grains and pots for heating the mixture.


Additional clues on beer production on Cyprus come from large decorated pottery bowls like the one shown in the image. You can see people grinding grain and a couple sitting relaxing drinking beer from bowls!



Find out more about archaeology…

To check out Archaeology at Manchester, go to the department's webpage

The Council for British Archaeology supports archaeology across the UK and you can find out about the latest finds, excavations and the Young Archaeologists’ Club from their website.

For up-to-date news about archaeology as well as articles about different topics, go to: http://archaeology.about.com

A recent BBC series uses planes to detect archaeology. Find out more with the ‘flying archaeologist’ blog.

BBC History has excellent website about archaeology (and some self-test quizzes).