Meet Sebastian

As a PhD student and winner of the Eli and Britt Harari Graphene Enterprise 2016 Award, Sebastian is tackling the global issue of water scarcity and looking at ways to improve the quality of people’s lives with graphene.

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Sebastian began his career at Manchester where he studied for his undergraduate degree in Material Science. He had the opportunity to do an industrial placement year which helped to boost his CV. The placement also gave him the chance to experience what industry is like and helped inform his decision to pursue a PhD.

“I’ve loved my time here. I started my undergraduate degree at Manchester and I met some great academics and friends. Getting experience in my final year to work with graphene was great. It was a dream come true. I joined the University a year after the Nobel Prize was awarded, so you could say I was eyeing it up from the beginning!

“I applied for the Eli and Britt Harari Graphene Enterprise Award not really thinking I’d win. But I thought it was worth the shot and would be a good experience to think through the idea of seeing how a project could be commercialised. I took on the challenge and discovered how there was space for my idea.

“Winning the award was a big surprise, but it was great and very exciting. As part of my graphene NOWNANO CDT (centre for doctoral training), I’m working on a desalination project which looks at incorporating sustainable energy to tackle the global issue of water scarcity. This project in particular caught my eye as what motivates me the most is working on technology which improves the quality of living and people’s lives.

“The aim of the game is to think how technology can solve problems and have an influence for the better in the world. I’ve been interested in science for as long as I can remember and I have two main channels of interest. One being the curiosity side of science and analysing how things work in particular ways. The other is more focused on how human history has evolved and how technology has factored in to it. There are big problems to overcome, but I think being on the verge and change in technology is really exciting – particularly at Manchester.”

You can view Sebastian’s full story here

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Give It Don’t Bin It

With summer quickly approaching and house moves coming up for many, it’s time for another of the hugely successful Give It Don’t Bin It campaigns. As a student who has loved living in Manchester for years, this is definitely one of the easiest ways students can give to charity, help reduce their carbon footprint, and give back to the local community.

Give It Don’t Bin It is an annual collaboration between Manchester University, MMU, the logo_newsarticleCouncil and charities to encourage students to recycle and donate their unwanted items to the British Heart Foundation and foodbanks as they pack up for the summer. Last year, students donated a tremendous 124 tonnes to the charity which raised £230,723 towards lifesaving treatments and research.  This fantastic amount helped to fund 43 Defibrillators, 38 CPR kits, 4 Heart Start Groups, 13 British Heart Foundation Shops and 51 Research Grants!

GIDBI_Food_transparentNot only does Give It Don’t Bin It make a great contribution to medical research, but it also means that hundreds of tonnes of unwanted possessions are recycled instead of going to landfill.  In addition to helping the environment this saved the city £50,000 in landfill costs in 2015.

Together, long-term residents, landlords and Manchester Leadership Programme students contribute hundreds of volunteer hours to pack and deliver charity donation bags and blue and brown recycling bags to students across the city.

All you have to do is but your unwanted things in the British Heart Foundation bags and drop it off at one of the donation banks found all over Manchester.  You can donate almost any clean and reusable items, such as small electronics, clothes, books, shoes and CDs.  A single bag could be worth over £14, so please think twice before throwing away your old possessions!GIDBI_Bag2_transparent

Give It Don’t Bin It packs are delivered to most student neighbourhoods, and to all students in Halls of Residences so keep your eyes peeled for yours. From drop off points in halls for British Heart Foundation to dates for extra recycling collections in student areas – the packs tell you what you can donate and what you  recycle and (importantly) how.  But, if you’re keen to make a start and yours hasn’t arrived you can find all the information on the Give it Don’t Bin it website

Let’s see what amazing things we can achieve this year!

Tips on leaving your house secure over summer

Leaving Manchester for the summer?  Remember that empty student homes can be tasty targets for burglars, and homes without security measures are five times more at risk of burglary than those with security measures.   Here’s an exciting list of some things you can do to make sure you make your house is as theft-proof as possible this summer.  Most of these are very obvious so I’ve tried to make it as non-patronising as possible, so please bear with me – you might have missed something out!

  • Double-check that all doors and windows are locked, as well as gates to the back of your property.
  • Secure bikes inside.
  • Make sure that you can’t see valuables from ground floor windows.
  • Take your most valuable items away with you over summer, pay to keep them in storage or give them to a friend who’s sticking around over summer.
  • Consider a timer switch to turn on your lights if you’re going on holiday for a short period
  • Hide all keys and make sure they’re not near the letterbox.
  • Ask a friendly neighbour to keep an eye on your property.
  • Avoid raving about your holiday plans on social media – this is an easy way for burglars to see that your house will be unoccupied!
  • Cancel unnecessary mail so there’s not an obvious pile of letters and junk mail underneath your letterbox.
  • Ask the landlord to trim your hedges so your house is easily seen from the street, and request automatic outside lighting.
  • All appliances and heating turned off
  • Make sure bins are emptied and put back (bins left out will not only annoy neighbours but are a sign no –one is about!)

Have a safe and happy summer!

5 tips to help you survive your final exams

Semester two has gone so fast and we’re fast approaching the exam season. So here are my 5 quick tips to help you survive the exam season!

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  1. Be on time! It’s always a good idea get to an exam a little earlier than planned as you never know if there’s a lot of traffic on the day. It also gives you plenty of time to find your seat number and get prepared rather than rushing-in last minute.

 

  1. Make sure you have planned ahead and know exactly where your exam is taking place. It’s always a good idea to go see the exam location if you don’t know where it is, well before your exam.

 

  1. Remember to take everything you need into the exam! That also includes your library card! I always tend to keep my card in a clear pencil case with all the equipment I need for my exams, so I have everything I need in one place. It’s a good idea to get your things ready the day before so you aren’t rushing on the day of your exam.

 

  1. Look over the questions carefully and highlight the key words. This sounds like something from school, but I often find it helps me when I answer essays as I know exactly what I need to answer. Also, in the stress of an exam we can easily overlook key words in the question.

 

  1. Stay hydrated! Drinking plenty of water is important for your brain to work and it keeps you refreshed and calm during exams.

 

So here they are my 5 tips for the exam season! Good luck!

Got any more tips? Leave a comment!

Tasnim x

University VS time

The past month has been especially busy! Aside from the usual 8 hours of lectures, I have had to split my time between lab practical (15 hours/week), dissertation writing, course work, job applications, and activities for my society (Cancer Research UK Society). So, I thought I’d write this blog on what I think is important to remember during busy times.

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I might not be the best person at time management, but I always try my best to be efficient and get my work done by planning ahead of time. Every week, I write down a to-do list with important deadlines and assignments, whether it’s turning in a uni project or tasks I overlook as part of being the secretary for CRUKSOC society. Having a set list of goals makes it clear in my mind what I have to do and helps me in dismantling big tasks into smaller ones.

As a student, my  main duty is to study but almost everyone I know (myself included) has additional commitments such as part-time jobs, sport and society activities – so there’s a lot of juggling going on most of the time!

I also know that I’m the kind of person who can’t say no to people and who also naively believes I can multi-task different assignments all at once. This has caused tricky situations where I found myself spending sleepless nights trying to finish my work or, even worse, missing deadlines. I hate that this can make me look unprofessional and/or leave me feeling guilty for not delivering on a promised deadline. I’ve found that it’s important to be honest with myself and know exactly how much work I can take on.

Sometimes (maybe always), I put my personal health and wellbeing in the last place. I would rather sleep less, skip gym and eat ready-made meals to finish my work. But, even if it appears to save time, it is actually counterproductive. Due to lack of good nutrients, exercise and sleep, our body becomes more tired, stressed and less efficient/fast in getting things done. Therefore, it is very important to look after your own health. After all, health is something that you can’t obtain with good grades or buy with money. So, don’t forget to listen to your body and treat it well!

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I hope this short post can remind you that is normal to feel overwhelmed and stressed at times. All you need to do is to learn (by your own mistakes and experience – or by mine!)] how to balance your work and wellbeing.

What does employability mean to me and how the University is helping me become employable!

Employability – a word I heard a lot during my first few weeks at the University.

I was told that Manchester is among the best institutions worldwide for educating/training highly employable graduates (UoM has been ranked 35th in the QS Graduate Employability Rankings, this year). What does that mean?

Indeed, the University organises various Careers Fairs and other events throughout the year.

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Last year, even as a first-year student, I attended “The Big Careers Fair” at the Manchester Central Convention Centre. I met and networked with representatives from L’Oréal, AstraZeneca, P&G, Barclays, Jaguar Land Rover, Sky and many more. It was great – like a whole new world, because for the first time I understood the importance and relevance of adaptability and transferable skills. It didn’t matter (and even now, it doesn’t matter) that I was studying for a scientific degree; I was still a potential employee to most of the employers there at the fair, even though to those who were not science-related.

And that’s what I realised – that University teaches you transferable skills constantly, skills that can be applied to any situation and industry. If I needed further proof that employability is about more than my academic course, I got it  when I met former students at one of the “Meet the Professionals “run by the Alumni association. I encountered people who showed me that I could work in science policy and funding (still fascinated by this title) or as a scientific consultant in a bank, rather than the typical/stereotypical job as a lab technician. They all talked about using the transferable skills they gained during their university career.

What is also important is knowing how to present and talk about your experiences, and usually the first opportunity you get to do this, is on your CV. Curriculum Vitae is the first means to impress your potential employer: it takes 10 seconds to end up in the right pile and not in the trash bin. So, a good CV is essential to get that awesome job interview!

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The University runs CV surgeries appointments, where they can give you valuable advice about how to tailor your CV, from the font size to the content itself.

I have been actively searching for an industrial placement and so I’ve had recent experience of the whole application process – submitting my CV, going to assessment centres and attending interviews. I received great support from the Careers Services (located in The Atrium on the 1st floor of University Place).

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For the first stage of my application, I had to answer competency-related questions, as well as “why are you applying for X?” I received really helpful guidance about what employers were looking for in my answers. , I recently discovered from one of the employers that I ended up in the “right pile” because I demonstrated my eagerness and enthusiasm through my answers and beat at least 300 people who googled their answers. So, don’t slack and tailor your application, it will pay off!

I also booked a mock interview session with the Careers Services again and had the chance to practice my interview skills. It was a very insightful experience, where I was given loads of tips and tricks (for example, how to answer questions with the STAR model: Situation, Task, Action, Result). I also discovered online resources offered by the University, including videos on things like “what to do in an assessment centre”.

The University also offers different workshops (e.g. “how to boost your LinkedIn profile” and coding sessions at the Learning Commons) and resources like career-advice brochures and “Employability Passport”, to track your skills as well as to help you set a plan in increasing your employability.

After being in University for almost two years, I can definitely see all the effort, money and time that have been invested to help us become the most employable graduate employees possible. I can honestly say it’s not something I have seen before, especially where I come from in Italy. Support is definitely here, but you have to put in time and effort too. You can do so not only by developing transferable skills and experience but by learning how to show them off to employers.

Good luck everyone!

Top 5 Vegan and Vegetarian Eats Near Campus

Greenhouse Café @GreenhouseUOM

I thought I should point this one out first because despite having been on campus for nearly a year, I only actually discovered this gem a couple of weeks ago. The food is super yummy, with both hot and cold, vegan and veggie options on offer. I had the vegetable stew and a piece of vegan chocolate cake, both of which I thoroughly enjoyed and my friend tells me that the quiche was gorgeous too. The hot meals come in at £5.25, perhaps a treat on a student budget, but the soups and broth cost just £2.50 with a piece of fresh baked bread. Not bad at all. It can be found down the side of University Place and can be bit tricky to come across if your classes aren’t nearby, but here’s a map to help you out.IMG_8171

Falafil Express

I LOVE this place. It’s on Oxford Road, situated in the row of shops opposite All Saints Park (MMU) about 10 minutes’ walk from the SU. A medium, incredibly tasty, falafel wrap will cost you just £3 and they also do fresh juices and smoothies. It’s a win win really. Plus you get to load up your wrap with whatever veggies and sauces you like, which is great if you’re a fussy eater like me. You can see more of the menu here though the prices are a little out of date.

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8th Day Cooperative @EighthDayVeg

If you are vegan (or a lactose intolerant vegetarian such as myself) you know how hard it is to find good dairy free cake. Not only does this place provide a whole array of tasty treats to choose from, it also doubles as a shop and a café. Downstairs, you’ll find hot vegan and veggie meals, whilst upstairs you can browse the aisles for any hard-to-find meat and dairy free goodies for cooking at home. The prices vary depending on what you want to buy, but the take-away pasties are super cheap at around £1.50 – £2.50 and the cakes even cheaper. Oh, and it’s located just a couple of doors down from Falafil Express.

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Sidney Street Café @TheProudTrust

This lovely little caff is just around the corner from 8th Day and is a community project run predominantly by volunteers in aid of The Proud Trust, which is an active charity working to support LGBT+ youth in the local area. They make all their food from scratch, often with ingredients grown and harvested in their allotments. The menu offers up various hot butties and a salad bar, but my favourite is the killer veggie chili, which you can get with either rice for £3.50 or nachos for a pound extra. I also highly recommend their vegan brownies which are only £1.50!

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Earth Café @EarthCafeManc

Although this one isn’t possible as a quick stop off between lectures, I couldn’t not include it. Located in Northern Quarter next to the Manchester Buddhist Centre, they do a mix and match menu which changes up every day and depending on the seasons, which makes for an interesting menu for the adventurous foodie. As I’m a bit of a chilli fiend, this is again one of my favourite dishes they do, but I’ve also had a super tasty mushroom pie and veggie roll amongst other things. One main and one side costs just £4, or if you’re after a feast, it’s £7 for two mains and two sides. They also do a selection of refreshing smoothies and vegan cakes.

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This is just a taste (pun intended) of the yummy vegan and veggie places in Manchester. There are loads more, such as Fuel in Withington, V-Rev in Northern Quarter and the SU providing a small vegan menu (with all meat free options half price on Mondays!), so there’s plenty of options to choose from!