Friday, 13 June 2014

Last week at POST!

I just can't believe this is my last week at POST. I guess that shows just how interesting it's been, as the time has flown by. After this week I'm flying out to South Korea for the World Hydrogen Energy Conference (WHEC) so this will be a quick post about the activities in my last week, and then when I get back I'll write an overview of my time here.

I spent these two days finalising the note: making sure all the comments from the reviewers had been incorporated, and then deciding which other bits to cut to make room for the extras! It's amazing how obsessed you can become with shrinking paragraphs so that more can fit on a page... By Tuesday afternoon the note was ready to send to the director Chris (@cptyler) ahead of the final sign off on Thursday afternoon. I then made sure all the reviewers were entered into the POST database and that all their comments were recorded. On Tuesday evening, along with one of the other fellows, I went to the All Party Parliamentary Group for Energy Studies' meeting on "Scottish independence: What would it mean for UK energy?". This showcased the difference in what the UK government and the SNP would expect would happen to the energy markets on devolution - there is quite a discrepancy!

With my note sent to Chris, I had today free to do some much needed planning for my conference trip - including going over my presentation to try and re-familiarise myself with my own research!

Today was the day of the final sign off! In the morning I finished a draft of a scope for the board on e-skills and cybercrime - the idea that increasing the level of basic online skills should protect people from malicious behaviour online.
My sign off was in the afternoon - almost 3 hours going over the note with Lydia and the director, Chris. The feedback was overall positive, but there were a number of changes and re-shuffles that I tried to get done straight away before I forgot what my scribbled notes meant! I did manage to get most of them done before heading off to meet a friend for dinner and then staying up late to finish my packing for Korea. I got a nice view on my walk to Waterloo though...

Last day! I can't believe it...
I finished off the changes that Chris had recommended, and then sent it back to him so he could have a final glance over it. I then spent a while formatting the references so they are all the same and adding hyperlinks where needed. Then lunch with the fellows in the sunshine and some admin things: expenses, tidying, e-mail forwarding etc.
I had a final coffee meeting with Lydia, just chatting about the POST process and whether it could be improved. For me, once i was down here everything went to plan, so it was all good from both sides!
One final iteration with Chris and the note was done! Perfect timing - finishing at 4:30 on the last day :-)

Monday, 9 June 2014

Penultimate Week at POST: Space, cycling and the Queen!

After yesterdays BUCS triathlon (below) and the drive back from Birmingham, I was glad of my lie in until 7 am this morning! I had a few replies from reviewers when I got in, although thankfully nothing drastic, so I continued to scope out the proposal for a note on space for the board.

In the afternoon, I headed to the Olympic Velodrome to try out track cycling! Anyone who can ride a bike can register for one of these sessions here and I would highly recommend it. They provide bikes and helmets, and you can hire shoes if you want. The coach was very accommodating for all levels of cycling ability and fear levels. It seemed terrifying at first, but it no time all of us were speeding around on the banked circuit. As it is the state opening of parliament on Wednesday, I managed to get a photo of the palace without the usual security barriers in the way.

Today I started to write the proposal for the board based on all the information I've been collecting. There is a lot of activity out there and my challenge will be getting it all in one page, as always seems to be the case with POST....!

Today is the state opening of parliament, and so most of the roads around Westminster are closed off, with the police starting to make an appearance even on my way in from the pool at half 8. After doing some work collating the reviewer's comments, a few of us headed out in the drizzle to see if we could spot the Queen - and we did! We then all went back into the office to watch her speech. In the afternoon a couple of us went over to the House of Commons and sat in the Strangers' Gallery to watch the Prime Minister "commend the Queen's Speech to the House" which was quite exciting, and a good opportunity for some MP spotting. In the evening, I tried out a road bike only time trial at Hillingdon Cycle Circuit with my friend Ellie, which was fun despite the weather turning apocalyptic - and as there were only us two girls there we both won prizes!

So today was the Evening Standard's #run2workday and I thought: why not? It turns out there are a lot of answers to that question! Despite the lack of breakfast and a lot of bugs inhaled, I made it! 10.5 miles along the river from Mortlake to Westminster: and once I'd stopped worrying about how slow I was going, I quite enjoyed it.


I spent today collating all the responses from the external reviewers and making changes to the note accordingly. All the feedback has been very positive, and most of the comments are suggesting things to add in if I have space. Unfortunately, I don't, and many of the topics they'd like added in were in the note at one stage of the draft but were removed to make space for something else.
I had a pretty bizarre evening - I caught the commuter boat to Canary Wharf where there was a cycling race happening! It was very odd to watch racing between the high rise buildings, but really good fun at the same time.

Another few e-mails in from reviewers today, so some more editing of my note to accommodate the changes they have suggested. We also had another big data team meeting, looking for areas of overlap in the notes and discussing what the main themes for POST's big data event in the Autumn will be.
It's crazy to think that I've only got one more week at POST!

Monday, 2 June 2014

Week 11 at POST: feedback and scoping

The benefit of sending my note off to external review last Friday meant that I was able to extend my bank holiday weekend and take Tuesday off too. I had a great 4 days: played basketball with some friends from Oxford on Saturday; ran the BUPA 10k (with the elites!!) and then made the most of the sunshine in Kew gardens on Sunday; got soaked on a 15-puncture day cycle to Brighton on Monday and was a lady of leisure brunching, shopping and having afternoon tea on Tuesday.

I came in to some e-mails from my external reviewers. So far, all very positive and not recommending any major changes which is great! 
I then had an interesting meeting with the Physical Science team discussing possible future POSTnote topics. Last week I had had a look myself at what I thought might be interesting, and it was good to see there was some overlap. Before a topic becomes a note, it is put forward to the board in meetings that are held quarterly. It is put forward in the form of a one page scope detailing the relevance, timeliness and parliamentary activity surrounding an issue. Before this is written, a lot more topics are considered and some "pre-scoping" is done to see if a subject has the potential to be an interesting and relevant note. As I have some time left before I finish, I am going to have a go at doing some pre-scoping for some of the physical science topics. This should be really interesting as it gives me an opportunity to look into some more interesting research in a completely different area to what I am used to.

Today I carried on scoping out for some possible new topics. A varied day reading about space, diversity in STEM, basic IT skills and biometrics! We met as the physical sciences team to discuss what we had found and which notes we thought could be interesting and topical to expand into notes.
An evening of preparation for my race on Sunday with a sports massage for me and a service for my bike!

I spent the morning working from home in London before heading back up to Birmingham to meet with my research group and discuss a paper I am writing with my supervisor. It was a useful meeting, although meant that it gave me lots to do! Because of this, I spent all of Saturday at my desk in Birmingham making changes and new figures.