Over the weekend I was one of eight women from different Universities within the United Kingdom who were invited by the BFWG (British Federation of Women Graduates) to give talks about our research at the BFWG headquarters situated in South-west London. We all had the opportunity to network over the scrumptious buffet lunch with other female researchers, women who were either in leadership positions, in government institutions and those who were retired. I learnt a lot from the range of stimulating talks.
I learnt that refugee camps in Jordan are in areas of high risk of cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) which is a flesh eating disease spread by female sand-fly (Phlebotomus papatasi) bites. This rise was said to be partly due to the increase of refugees from Syria where CL is prevalent. Another talk was on the exploration of people’s experience in using khat. (I thought that khat was a pet or a sort of sport. This was soo…… wrong!) I was made aware that khat is a leafy plant which acts as a stimulant and it has become a banned class C drug in the UK. Also interestingly, I learnt about the ongoing research on preventing biofouling, which is the unwanted attachment of marine organisms (such as barnacles and algae) to the surface of ships, pipes etc. which causes degradation of these surfaces. This study was looking at using laser micro machining on steel surfaces to mimick the patterns on the surface of sea animals that have developed a natural defence mechanism for preventing biofouling. Incredibly, this has proved to be beneficial in reducing the settlement of the biofouling process. Finally, a rather controversial talk which opened up lots of discussion was entitled “But I don’t know if I can call myself a feminist?”.
At the end, each speaker was appreciated, personal feedback was given and each of us was presented with a certificate. Overall, it was an amazing research presentation day and I did enjoy the sunny weather in London!