London Met PhD student Amy Chave reflects on the University’s recent student and staff research conference.
Date: 26 July 2021
The second annual Student and Staff Research Conference has just concluded with a fond farewell to Professor David McCarthy, Professor of Nutrition and Health, as he moves into retirement. Professor McCarthy gave an engaging valedictory lecture summarising his twenty-five years of work with us in the field of early life origins of obesity and health, during which he established the Public Health Nutrition and Food Microbiology Research Group. Professor McCarthy has had a great and lasting impact both on the university and his field of research and we wish him all the best for his retirement.
The conference was a great success, incorporating lectures, lightning talks, and posters from university staff and students and keynote lectures by guest speakers Dr Marlon Moncrieffe of the University of Brighton and Dr Hannah Gibson of the University of Essex. The event covered diverse fields of research across the university, giving researchers the opportunity to engage with fields outside their own and potentially spark interdisciplinary ideas and partnerships. The theme gave rise to a fascinating mixture of both reflections on how the world has changed, by the pandemic in a broader sense, and contemplations on ways in which we can guide future change.
Day one commenced with Dr Moncrieffe’s insightful lecture on the educational concept of decolonising the curriculum, the epistemological endeavour to ensure that black and minority ethnic (BAME) voices and histories are part of the curriculum at all levels of education. This represents a challenge to the present Eurocentric monoculture of the curriculum. Said challenge has been welcomed by some, particularly considering the recent Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests, but still faces resistance by others. Solutions constitute a concerted effort on the part of educators that will also take time. The day continued with student and staff talks on a wide range of subjects including Social Sciences, Education, Healthcare, Molecular Biology and IT.
The second day focused largely on language and communication, opening with Dr Gibson’s interesting keynote lecture on language-in-education in Botswana, Tanzania, and Zambia, in which she discussed monolingual language policies in education in these three countries and the ways in which they undervalue learners’ multilingual abilities. A monolingual approach may also disadvantage multilingual learners, who are less freely able to express themselves in a monolingual classroom. Translanguaging, the co-operative use of multiple languages in education, may present an opportunity to create more equitable learning environments and improved learning outcomes. Following Dr Gibson’s lecture, a variety of student and staff talks took place, covering linguistics, identity and inclusion, the Internet of Things, and reflections on the implications of the pandemic.
As a research student, I am inspired to examine my own approach to learning and education. Undoubtedly, colonialism and sexism have historically dictated who is and who is not able to engage with Chemistry. We have certainly moved in the right direction but still the legacy of colonialism and sexism casts a long shadow.
Day two also saw prizes awarded in the afternoon for best poster, student presentation, recorded presentation, and lightning talk and most engaging student presentation from each day. Many congratulations to all winners and runners-up. The level of expertise on display was very high and each talk provoked some great discussion. I encourage anyone interested in the university’s research to attend next year’s event.
The conference prize winners were as follows: