The assignments students do in STS modules today are nothing like what they used to be. These days, they build portfolios with all sorts of things: short writing, long writing, posters, blogs, in-class presentations. Add to these, projects like podcasts, film clips, campaign strategies, briefing papers, debates, and proposals. Research of different kinds. Creativity. And Challenge. We diversify our curriculum because we know the future for our students holds work as varied as we can imagine. That’s true not only for STS science communication students, but also for everyone in our degree programmes and modules.
Today’s episode offers a sampler of student-made podcasts. These were created by year 3 undergraduates in our science journalism module, run by Dr Jean-Baptiste Gouyon. The assignment is straightforward: create a three-minute news feature about a recent piece of research at UCL. The piece must be suitable for use on as a news segment for radio or podcast. Students start with a recent press release from the UCL Press Office, and they go from there. The piece must include a short interview segment with a researcher. They have a tight deadline, and they have to work pretty much with the tools they have through a laptop and phone. This is real world work as a freelance journalist.
For today, I’ve brought together eight of the ones I like a lot. They’re varied, and they deliver the assignment is different ways. Think of it as a sampler.
The whole syllabus for HPSC0107 Science Journalism:
STS Science Communication Students Tracks
TRACK 1. New X-ray Tech Promises Better Diagnostics for Heart Disease, Gracie Enticknap
This newscast introduces a new-to-research x-ray technology called HiP-CT which images organs at multiple scales with better clarity than previously achievable. I discuss HiP-CT with a researcher who is using it to study the evolution of congenital heart disease in blue baby syndrome and children with one heart ventricle. We discuss the aims of his research, and eventual clinical application and hospital usage of this technology, which could have revolutionary benefit to the understanding, diagnosis and treatment of heart diseases.
Professor Andrew Cook, Institute of Cardiovascular Science, Zayed Centre for Research
Stock Media provided by baldwinphilly / Pond5
TRACK 2. Covid-19 Impact on Gut Microbiome, Marcus Chow
It is well established that the digestive system, its microbiota, and the immune system are linked and influence each other. With COVID-19 coming to an endemic, much of the research interest now lies in how it can shape the microbiota and how the microbiota can influence the patients’ symptoms and long term effects. Wong et has investigated how COVID-19 interact with and in the gastrointestinal tract to better understand the implications of disease management, transmission, and infection control. In this article, we review the important gastrointestinal aspects of the disease.
Interviewee: Sunny H Wong, Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, Hong Kong
TRACK 3. Marketing Infant Formula against Breast Feeding, Nadya Rauch
Let’s take a critical look at infant formula marketing, which the WHO recently condemned for misleading parents and undermining breastfeeding. Breastmilk has key benefits for infants that can’t be replicated in formula milk, such as stems cells and antibodies that help protect infants from infection. We talk to infant formula expert Dr. Fewtrell from UCL’s Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health to debunk some myths on whether infant formula can improve cognitive outcomes for children.
Interviewee; Dr. Mary Fewtrell, UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health
Credits: Intro/outro music produced by Leo Daiji Waltmann, ” “The Wonder of Baby SMA PRO Follow on Milk,” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0RDGFnermSc&ab_channel=LacaraChildModelandTalentAgency
TRACK 4. New guidelines on the diagnosis and treatment of endometriosis, Sofia Sancho
The European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology have recently released 200 pages of new, comprehensive guidelines for the diagnosis of endometriosis. A major change in the new version is that laparoscopy is no longer deemed the gold standard for diagnosis, which will lead to more patients being accommodated for, and hopefully the long wait for diagnosis being decreased. I speak to Dr Ertan Saridogan, who co-authored the new guidelines, about their significance and how they can lead to improvements in endometriosis research.
Interviewee: Dr Ertan Saridogan, UCL Hospital and UCL Institute for Women’s Health
Credits: Cool Jazzy Brass & Vibraphone by M33 Project, licensed under CC BY 4.0
TRACK 5. Minimally invasive image-guided ablation (MINIMA), Yingnan Chen
Proof-of-concept for MINIMA is recently published. Compare to traditional ways of removing tumours, MINIMA is not as invasive and has fewer side effects, hence, the patients can recover quicker. Moreover, MINIMA can preserve the function of infected organ as much as possible. I have invited the lead author, Rebecca Baker, to talk about how MINIMA works and its potential as a cancer treatment. She also discussed the limitations and what needs to be done before moving on to clinical trials.
Interviewee: Rebecca Baker (PhD Student at UCL Centre for Advanced Biomedical Imaging)
Credits: Inspiring Electronic https://elements.envato.com/inspiring-electronic-BHYUADP. License Code: 9WXPUERVK7
TRACK 6. Covid’s impact on student experience at UCL, Juwairiyah Aftab
The podcast explores a research study conducted by Dr Waugh, alongside other individuals, titled ‘Impacts of the Covid‐19 pandemic on the health of university students’. The study, based at University College London (UCL), explores the physical and mental health consequences of the pandemic on students, with mention of the importance of this study and its relevance. Furthermore, the study mentions cases of racism and discrimination, followed by an evaluation of how trustworthy the research is and brief future recommendations.
Interviewee: Dr Mark Waugh, UCL Department of Education, Division of Medicine, UCL Faculty of Medical Sciences
TRACK 7. How Do We Slow Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, Eloise Jarvis
Dr Toryn Poolman talks about non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), leading cause of liver transplants that effecting up to one-third of the British population. It’s a medical condition that’s on the rise owing to changes in diet: more sugar, more alcohol, and more processed foods. He explains what NAFLD is, what it can progress to, what the causes are, and how it can be avoided or reversed.
Interviewee: Dr Toryn Poolman, Department: Structural and Molecular Biology, UCL Division of Biosciences
TRACK 8. Applied Linguistics studying pain descriptions associated with endometriosis, Dan Sharpe
Listening more carefully to the words patients choose to describe their symptoms can help doctors identify more complex medical conditions, says Zsófia Demjén. She reports on new research into specific patterns of words patients use to describe their symptoms. This might lead to earlier diagnosis of endometriosis and other serious chronic conditions. Just listening more carefully can make all the difference.
Interviewee: Zsófia Demjén, Associate Professor of Applied Linguistics, UCL Centre for Applied Linguistics
Credits: Details to come
- Professor Joe Cain
Professor of History and Philosophy of Biology
- “Rollin At 5,” by Kevin MacLeod
- “Silly Intro,” by Alexander Nakarada
Both are available on the website: filmmusic.IO
WeAreSTS is a production of the Department of Science and Technology Studies (STS) at University College London (UCL). To find out more, or to leave feedback about the show:
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Editing and post-production by Professor Joe Cain, unless otherwise noted.
WeAreSTS producer is Professor Joe Cain.
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