Archive | March 2012

Nature Organisations to Join & Volunteer With

The Wildlife Trust: Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire & Northamptonshire.

Henry Stanier, Ecology Groups officer

The Manor House
Broad Street
Great Cambourne
Cambridge CB23 6DH

Wednesdays Conservation Management Volunteering

Scrub clearing with Andy Fleckney

The Wildlife Trust: Hertfordshire and Middlesex:

Carol Lodge (MIEEM)
Wildlife Sites Programme Manager

Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust

Grebe House, St Michael’s Street

St Albans, Hertfordshire


Thursdays: botanical surveying

Wildlife Recording:

  • Local Environmental Record Centres (LRC):

  • Bedfordshire and Luton:

  • John Dony Centre in Luton

Luton Hoo Walled Garden Project:


Conservation & Saving Our World

Aim of Category & Post:

To identify conservation areas that I’m interested in and practical applications areas of my PhD research (plant-herbivores interactions, plant chemistry, inorganic pollutants).

Conservation Areas:

Urban gardens

Nature reserves in polluted areas

Set aside areas, nearby areas of agricultural run-off

Nature Improvement Areas (NIAs) – areas of land where natural features and wildlife habitats exist alongside housing, roads and food production.

Practical application areas of PhD research:

  • Nature after minerals: Converting mineral extraction area to conservation areas.
  • Biofortification of food: Increasing the trace mineral content of crops through identifying plants traits or population traits that have naturally higher mineral uptake and mineral concentrations. Determining the ecological effects of this – food chain, biomagnification, effects on the soils, litter decomposition.
  • Phytoremediation of inorganic, organometallic and organic pollutants
  • Conservation of hyperaccumulating plants

Further Theoretical Areas of PhD research:

  • Elemental defence hypothesis: Joint Effects Theory, Accumulators and elemental defence, population differences.

Taken from ‘The Thesis Whisperer’: ‘The nowhere-everywhere place’ i.e. life just after submitting.

The Thesis Whisperer

This post is written by Maia Sauren, a PhD student at RMIT  who will be doing a series on life immediately post PhD

I submitted my thesis. About three weeks ago. I still don’t quite believe it.

Hate me yet? I would. Every time a friend submitted theirs, I wanted to kill them. Or die. On the up side, it’s really possible! Until it was almost over, I didn’t think so.

I’ve been enrolled for many years, and finishing took all my reserves. Working part-time just wasn’t working for me, so I took out a loan. I developed a mild social phobia – the idea of talking about something other than THIS CHAPTER made me panic. I transcended the full gamut of emotions and sublimated them all into mania. I ate my body weight in nutella. I co-opted someone into formatting and called in friends to read drafts. I…

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​Strategic Thinkers…

Strategic Thinkers…

Cut and pasted from:

“Every leader’s temptation is to deal with what’s directly in front, because it always seems more urgent and concrete. Unfortunately, if you do that, you put your company at risk. While you concentrate on steering around potholes, you’ll miss windfall opportunities, not to mention any signals that the road you’re on is leading off a cliff.

This is a tough job, make no mistake. “We need strategic leaders!” is a pretty constant refrain at every company, large and small. One reason the job is so tough: no one really understands what it entails. It’s hard to be a strategic leader if you don’t know what strategic leaders are supposed to do.

After two decades of advising organizations large and small, my colleagues and I have formed a clear idea of what’s required of you in this role. Adaptive strategic leaders — the kind who thrive in today’s uncertain environment – do six things well:


Most of the focus at most companies is on what’s directly ahead. The leaders lack “peripheral vision.” This can leave your company vulnerable to rivals who detect and act on ambiguous signals. To anticipate well, you must:

  • Look for game-changing information at the periphery of your industry
  • Search beyond the current boundaries of your business
  • Build wide external networks to help you scan the horizon better

Think Critically

“Conventional wisdom” opens you to fewer raised eyebrows and second guessing. But if you swallow every management fad, herdlike belief, and safe opinion at face value, your company loses all competitive advantage. Critical thinkers question everything. To master this skill you must force yourself to:

  • Reframe problems to get to the bottom of things, in terms of root causes
  • Challenge current beliefs and mindsets, including your own
  • Uncover hypocrisy, manipulation, and bias in organizational decisions


Ambiguity is unsettling. Faced with it, the temptation is to reach for a fast (and potentially wrongheaded) solution.  A good strategic leader holds steady, synthesizing information from many sources before developing a viewpoint. To get good at this, you have to:

  • Seek patterns in multiple sources of data
  • Encourage others to do the same
  • Question prevailing assumptions and test multiple hypotheses simultaneously


Many leaders fall prey to “analysis paralysis.” You have to develop processes and enforce them, so that you arrive at a “good enough” position. To do that well, you have to:

  • Carefully frame the decision to get to the crux of the matter
  • Balance speed, rigor, quality and agility. Leave perfection to higher powers
  • Take a stand even with incomplete information and amid diverse views


Total consensus is rare. A strategic leader must foster open dialogue, build trust and engage key stakeholders, especially when views diverge.  To pull that off, you need to:

  • Understand what drives other people’s agendas, including what remains hidden
  • Bring tough issues to the surface, even when it’s uncomfortable
  • Assess risk tolerance and follow through to build the necessary support


As your company grows, honest feedback is harder and harder to come by.  You have to do what you can to keep it coming. This is crucial because success and failure–especially failure–are valuable sources of organizational learning.  Here’s what you need to do:

  • Encourage and exemplify honest, rigorous debriefs to extract lessons
  • Shift course quickly if you realize you’re off track
  • Celebrate both success and (well-intentioned) failures that provide insight

Do you have what it takes?

Obviously, this is a daunting list of tasks, and frankly, no one is born a black belt in all these different skills. But they can be taught and whatever gaps exist in your skill set can be filled in. I’ll cover each of the aspects of strategic leadership in more detail in future columns. But for now, test your own strategic aptitude (or your company’s) with the survey at In the comments below, let me know what you learned from it.”

Paul J. H. Schoemaker: Founder of Decision Strategies Intl. Speaker, professor, and entrepreneur. Research Director, Mack Ctr for Technological Innovation at Wharton, where he teaches strategy and decision-making. Latest book: Brilliant Mistakes

So what now??

Goal of Post: To come up with a plan/ a to-do list for the research side of my life for this year.


So I have submitted my PhD. My viva is booked for the 19th April, less than a month away. Im on the dole – I have to apply for 2 positions a week to get my dole money. I live with my parents which is driving me mad, and provides many excuses for not getting any work done. I have an interview at the OU, which went really well for a ‘people-based’ role as a Student Registration & Enquiry Assistant. However I need to start preparing for my viva, and thinking about my PhD publications, and trying to get my research career off the ground.

Goals for this month:

  1. Prepare for viva (also includes roughly identifying 1) planning potential papers and 2) areas of expertise).
  2. Apply for jobs that I enjoy and are useful to my career = stepping stone, since I am not financially desperate enough to work in a call centre.

Goals for this year:

  1. Identify potential papers from PhD
  2. Identify my research areas of expertise
  3. Identify research areas that I’m interested in exploring and are recession proof.
  4. Volunteering with conservation projects/ citizen science/ science communication stuff…
  5. Start writing up papers to be published!!

Action Plan for Viva preparation:

  1. Read over thesis without a pen in my hand or a notebook nearby.
  2. Go over websites for ‘preparing for your viva’ and books, and use tips/ potential questions.
  3. Contact Luton Uni for using their library (Luton library has no power sockets for laptops, although it does have wi-fi).
  4. Form profiles of examiners research areas and their take on my thesis.
  5. Prepare for Viva!!

Hello World!!

So why has another person decided to write a blog? Because I think the traditional approach of writing in your journal before you go to bed, is something that would benefit people, including myself, and that an online method is far more practical, flexible and dynamic. It allows you to keep track of your life and show it off to others. So I better have something good to write about!

What am I? My statistics are: recently submitted PhD in Ecology, white British, female, mid/late twenties. Who am I? Someone who is trying to crack the job market and lead there own life and aspirations. Where am I? Currently based in Luton – the transient melting pot of England, and living with my parents (sigh, freedom comes at a cost). Having lived in Brighton (best city in England) and York (too small and narrow-minded for me), I would like to live my own life again, when the conservatives allow me too. How am I? Middling thank-you for asking. I can’t be a student any more, so I best grow-up, and this blog hopefully will help….