After getting back to England, I re-packed my suitcase, picked up my research poster, taught an osteology lab, and then rushed to get to the train station so I could make my flight from Heathrow to Lyon, France, where I found myself less than 48 hours after only just coming back home from Japan. Fortunately, I am a (self) acclaimed master of organization, and I had strategically planned my flight from Japan such that I would beat the jet lag. This was done by forcing myself to get up at strange times for flight transfers so that by the time I made it back to Leicester, I’d be tired enough to sleep during the night and wake up at a fairly decent time in the morning. I was very grateful for my foresight and planning, since I was able to adjust to the time in France (1 hour difference with Leicester) without a problem.
After a couple of months from my application for a poster presentation, I got an answer from the IABR summit committee saying my abstract is approved!
Long story short? I ‘ll head to Zurich this September for the Annual IABR summit Conference. More news to come in a month, approximately.
One more update I should add here is that I now have a student to supervise. His name is Athanasios Filippou. He is from Greece and he studies pharmacology at the University of Ferrara. He was very interested in my work for my PhD so he asked me to supervise him for his thesis! So far, he helped me a bit with my work and will continue with data analysis. As you can imagine he is a long distance student which is a bit of a challenge for both of us. Let’s hope everything will work fine and within the time limits we already set to ourselves. Good luck Thanos! (short for Athanasios in Greek)
That’s all for now. I need to get back for work as there isn’t much time left since the conference and there is plenty of work to be done until then.
Vita sine litteris mors.
Life without learning [is] death.
~Epistle 82, Letters from a Stoic
I quite like to think that modern science is somewhat based upon the philosophies of Stoicism, which emphasized knowledge as a product of reason. Not only do we know what we know through logical inductions and deductions, but scientists often seek to understand the deeper natural causes of phenomena, what the Stoic philosophers referred to as “Fate”. In modern terms, we prefer to call this “high-level theory”.
Seneca’s Letters, or the Epistulae, to Lucilius in Ancient Rome contain deep philosophical advice on a wide number and variety of topics. While this blog post will certainly not attempt a discussion of a similar magnitude, I do want to highlight a few pieces of advice I’ve learned this month.
After the buzz and excitement of New York, the next stop on my agenda was Washington, D. C. Lisa, Francisco, and I were going to attend the 1st International Symposium on Forensic Science Error Management, a brilliant opportunity for us to introduce our projects and meet new people.
As you can probably guess, we also used this occasion to explore the political capital of the States a bit: Washington Zoo (which is free), some of the Smithsonian museums (also mostly free), the impressive government buildings along the National Mall: White House, Lincoln Memorial, US Capitol, Archives, various war memorials. Like New York, it felt a bit unreal seeing all those world-famous sights with your own eyes – although the heat and humidity quickly drove home the message that this was for real!
The conference itself was a great experience. It lasted four days, and consisted of talks as well as panel discussions. The keynote speech by Brandon Mayfield was one of my personal highlights, as his story served as a powerful reminder of the impact that errors in forensic science have on people’s lives. We saw some great presentations on current research in fingerprints, digital forensics, DNA, legal studies…. You could also notice a growing interest in human factors – although it did seem to me as though the main focus was on studying human factors in order to reduce or eliminate their effect on human performance, rather than to understand the underlying processes and examine possible advantages of the seemingly irrational and inefficient approach our brains take to information processing and decision-making.
I also got the chance to present my first poster at an international conference! The poster session was in the afternoon, and despite an interesting concurrent panel session we got to speak to a lot of people, and got great feedback on our work. Overall, people at the symposium seemed very friendly and approachable, and we made a lot of good contacts for feedback and collaborations.
And so, buzzing with ideas and unusual doses of sunlight, I headed back to the UK to face the probation review, and prepare for the next trip: PhD summer school in Lausanne…
Here I am. Once again. One more time. Thinking how to start. Trying to consolidate everything I had in the last days. It was too much. Perhaps some flexibility is needed from you to understand that this is not going to be easy to start. Perhaps some flexibility in my thoughts to understand that this is just one more post. One more text.
Maybe just one more, but even though, it seems there is too much to say.
First, and to start with, a happy moment. I saw snow for the first time in my life. It may sound weird, but yes, I have never seen snow. There are some places where it snows in Portugal, but unfortunately I never went there. Well, all I can say is that I remember myself like a little kid with my arms open catching some snowflakes while everybody was running to protect themselves. It also looks that I was not the only one to do the same… right Alex? People were watching me with that kind of look you might give to a lunatic… Well, it would not be the first time as our Godfather already called me that! But I know it is a ‘good’ lunatic he means. Maybe some flexibility from the people in the street that day… “I’ve never seen snow! Can you stop looking at me like that? No? OK I’ll keep continue catching my flakes”. Maybe some flexibility to me and my ethnocentric way of thinking.
The snowflakes did a good job and gave me a bigger smile to carry on this journey!
Dear readers, fellow Intrepid partners,
I write this blog today, unfortunately not with great pleasure, but prompted, pained, by the ever-cracking whip of our tyrannic – yet beloved – administrator, cowering in fear at the mere thought of his divine punishment.
So, it’s been a busy first month, and the two highlights so far happened within the last week and a bit.
Two weekends ago, on November 7th and 8th, we attended the Annual Autumn Conference of the Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences. This was a fantastic opportunity for people like yours truly who have no previous experience in Forensics to find out what people are getting up to, and chat with academics and practitioners in the area. Conveniently enough the conference took place in College Court, the University of Leicester’s conference centre.
A further upside of this conference: We finally managed to get the entire INTREPID group together, including Jessica and Marwan, who aren’t starting until January! You can imagine that this was adequately celebrated. Everyone arrived the evening before the conference, so we all got together at a lovely tapas place near the conference centre. The next morning I arrived early at Hotel Thalassa (I live outside of Leicester, so decided to spend the weekend at hers). It was fun to see everyone all dressed up and formal (or rather, business-casual ;-). And then it began… [Read more…]