Tag Archives: Physiology Friday

I am bionic, I have aids in both ears: A Physiology Friday poem

By Simone Syndercombe, age 13, Newminster Middle School

I am as deaf as a post; don’t you see,

That’s why hearing is of interest to me.

Pin back your pinna and I will begin,

To tell you how sounds gets from out to within.

When my mum shouts with intention to berate,

Her speech makes the air from her mouth oscillate.

Hitting the pinna the shape does enhance,

The sound which is high pitched, to further advance.

Down through my ear canal, hitting the drum,

The sound is transferred into mechanical vibra-tion!

The eardrum is attached to a bony chain of three,

The malleus, the incus and the stapes, of me.

They act like a lever, enhancing the sound big,

Transferring the signal from middle to inner ear rig.

Through the oval window, the stapes does conduct,

Sound to the snail-shaped cochlear duct.

In this fluid-filled spiral are sensory cell hairs,

Attached to the basilar membrane, which cares,

Whether amplification or attenuation is desired,

Dampening or boosting before the auditory nerve fired,

Transferring the message to brainstem from ear,

The auditory nerve ensures that we can all hear.

I am bionic; I have aids in both ears,

As I have great difficulty hearing my peers.

Remember the mechanisms this poem’s about.

For I’m not ignoring you, you just need to shout!

Hearing is fascinating, I hope you’ll agree.

And that is why hearing is interesting to me.

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Top 10 Tips for Science Outreach

1. Keep it simple: Whether you want to share your research and passion for physiology, or promote The Physiological Society, the best thing to do is stick with a simple idea. It could be a free public lecture, a physiology pub quiz or even a stall with Society merchandise and leaflets. We’ve developed free outreach activities for you to use (or adapt to your own research), an you can also get inspiration from our case studies of events.

2. Decide on your audience: Is it undergrads studying physiology as part of their degree, the general public or school students? Our primary target audience is 16-25 year olds; we want to inspire the next generation of physiologists.

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3. Decide on a location: Depending on who you want to reach, this could be at your University, a school or somewhere in a community such as a library or shopping centre.

4. Contact your Society Representative: If you have one at your institution, get in contact with them as they may be able to help you with planning and have access to Society banners, magazines, and fliers to use at the event. If you don’t know who your Society Representative is or if you have one, please get in touch.

5. Recruit lots of helpers: Reach out to friends or colleagues for a helping hand. If you have your own students, try to get them involved and running the event. Anyone can organise an event on Physiology Friday whether it’s undergraduates, PhD students, postdocs or lecturers.


6. Get funding: Approach The Society for a small grant to run your events. Also, a lot of universities have their own public engagement departments offering small pots of funding.

7. Reach out to organisations that can help you: If you are going to be working with school students then a great way to organise this is by becoming a STEM ambassador with STEM learning. They will do your DBS check for free and can help you to link up with schools in your area.

8. Entice people with freebies: You could hand out Society merchandise like our new sleep masks or leaflets with further info about your research. You could even have some kind of craft or food activity so that participants take their creation home.

9. Make it clear who you are and what you are about: A simple step is joining The Physiological Society and getting your very own I ❤ physiology T-shirt from us!

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10. Spread the word: Make sure you advertise your event as widely as possible. This of course depends on where it is being held. If it’s in the community you could try to promote it in newspapers or online. You could also make use of your university social media channels and get in touch with The Society.

Wikipedia, women, and science

Every second, 6000 people across the world access Wikipedia. The opportunity to reach humans of the world is enormous. Perhaps unsurprisingly, many eminent scientists, especially eminent female scientists, don’t have pages!

Melissa Highton is on a mission to fix this. Her first step was bringing together a group of students and librarians for an Edit-a-thon to update the page of the first female students matriculated in the UK, who started studying medicine at the University of Edinburgh. They’re known as the Edinburgh Seven.

Not only do Edit-a-thons provide information for the world, the Edinburgh Seven serve as role models for current students studying medicine at the University of Edinburgh.

Melissa shines light on Wikipedia being skewed towards men, and also on structural inequalities that lead to so few women having pages. Women are often written out of history; they are the wives of famous someones who get recognised instead, they get lost in records because they change their last name, or they juggle raising a family, meaning they don’t work for as long or publish as much.


Having a forum to talk openly and transparently about these inequalities is one of the steps to closing the gap. Our event for Physiology Friday 2017 did just that, and we hope participants will continue the conversation. Listen to Melissa’s talk here.


10 Epic Physiology Cakes

It’s that time of year again! Great British Bake-Off time Bio-Bodies Bake-Off time! To celebrate the return of the baking season, staff at The Physiological Society have been reminiscing about past entries to our annual hunger-inducing competition. From muscle to kidneys, representing health or disease, grossly graphic or detailed to the molecular level, check out our 10 favourites, in no particular order. If you haven’t quite decided what area of physiology you would like to cover in this year’s competition, these delicious treats might give you some inspiration!

  1. Operation Indigestion: Stomacake, by Anousha Chandran, Kujani Wanniarachchi, Susannah Watson and Anna Higgins

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Rosie Waterton, our Governance Manager, admits to having limited physiology knowledge, but confesses to a somewhat higher than average level of cake eating experience. “This cake is probably my favourite,” she explains. “There is something darkly ironic about demonstrating indigestion through something so delicious and tempting! I also just love a good pun.”

  1. Anatomy of the Face, by Sophia Rothewell

Rosie couldn’t help picking a second choice when she saw Anatomy of the Face. She was struck by its uncanny resemblance to a Game of Thrones white walker…. only colourful.



  1. Not Kidneying Around, by Carlotta Meyer


Jen Brammer, our Membership Engagement Manager, another pun fan, loved this delicious masterpiece, Not Kidneying Around. Whilst unsure about the anatomical accuracy, she did enjoy debating whether the appendages were pickled onions or grapes!

  1. Upper Leg, by Jack Croft

Bobby Harrop, our summer intern and a keen cyclist, was immediately struck when seeing the cake titled Upper Leg.

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He commented: “when cycling, I rely heavily on the input of my upper legs and I was fascinated to see this submission highlighting the complexity of the Rectus Femoris and Vastus muscle group whilst including real detail in the muscular tone. Plus in terms of parts of the body to eat, muscle is probably the most appetising as it is mostly protein!”

  1. The Effects of Drug Abuse on the Human Body, by Amy Yang

Anisha Tailor, our Outreach Officer, has probably spent the most time browsing through the #Biobakes entries. Each year, she develops a minor obsession with the hashtag and eagerly awaits the first entry!


“I think my favourite cake of all time has to be the one titled The Effects of Drug Abuse on the Human Body. It was a bit of a shock to find it in my inbox at first, but it became one of my firm favourites of 2016: it’s visceral, yet educational, although perhaps not very appetising”.

  1. Guts, by the students from Tiverton High School


Hannah Woolley, Editorial Assistant, spent far too long deciding which one was her favourite. She finally decided she liked this one the most because it looked gross.  “It’s a compliment! I particularly liked the attention to detail that went into the blood splatter.”

  1. A Tasty Great Cake, by Katie Pennington


Daïmona Kounde, our Communications Officer, loves picking yummy cake photos for our social media. “I have a soft spot for the DNA-themed cakes,” she says. “My favourite, A Tasty Great Cake, is not just beautiful and colourful, but it also has the A, T, C and G bases paired correctly, with a colour key to boot. The ‘base necessities’ pun in the cake description was just… icing on the cake (sorry)!”

  1. Synapse, by Nicola Armstrong

Angela Breslin, our Education Manager, has been following the BioBakes competition ever since it started, and continues to be amazed by the high standard of entries each year.

“It’s a difficult choice but if I had to choose just one, it would be the cake titled simply Synapse, for the sheer amount of detail and the elegant way in which it shows how an action potential travels between nerves – somehow managing to show physiology in a single snapshot. It’s also a beautiful bake!”


  1. Louis’s Lungs, by Louis Christofi


Samantha Chan, Events & Marketing Officer, has tried baking different cakes and biscuits in the past, but has never attempted a BioBakes cake. Sadly, staff aren’t allowed to enter, so she will just have to make do with all your entries – or make some cakes for the office! Her favourite was Louis’s Lungs, which shows the structure of the lungs.

  1. Your baking masterpiece!

We can’t wait to be amazed by this year’s entries. Maybe yours will make it to our next round of favourites! If you’re still a bit stuck for ideas for BioBakes 2017, browse our Twitter hashtag #Biobakes, read about one of our previous winners, or take a look at our 2014, 2015 and 2016 Facebook albums!

All you’ve got left to do is bake! For full terms and conditions visit our competition page. Entries are due in by 5pm, Friday 6 October, and photos must include the #Biobakes photo entry form to be considered.

Physiology Friday Festivities at University College Cork

Cork for PN Fig 2After an action-packed week of festivities, made possible by the tireless efforts of undergraduate and postgraduate students, postdoctoral researchers, academic, administrative and technical staff, we held our main event on (Physiology) Friday, 16 October 2015. It took place in the Western Gateway Building, one of the largest buildings dedicated to third level education in Ireland and home to the Department of Physiology.

The party kicked off with a trial of the ‘Mobile Physiology Laboratory (MPL)’, a portable bicycle ergometer and metabolic system, which we hope to use as a valuable outreach resource in the future. The MPL arrived at Bishopstown Community School, Cork City and was used to demonstrate cardiovascular, respiratory and metabolic responses to exercise to year 4 pupils (equivalent to year 11/GCSE stage in the UK). This demonstration was met with enthusiastic responses from the class involved and will be developed further as an educational tool.

The foyer of the Gateway Building provided a space for interaction with members of the public and the University. Events included:

– a celebration of ‘Women in Physiology’, marked by a ‘newspaper’, a poster and ‘walking exhibitions’ (through the medium of tee-shirts), highlighting the achievements of the twelve female Nobel Laureates in Physiology or Medicine

– double-sided posters presenting research carried out by postgraduates in the Department, with technical and lay versions aimed at different groups of visitors

– a world-record attempt to register the greatest number of ECG traces in five hours (over 280 were taken, including that of a government minister)

– a passport competition to record visits to various exhibits and a ‘bio-bake’ cake sale, which raised €605 for the Irish Heart Foundation.

Two research seminars were held during UCC’s Physiology Friday. One was a blitz session by academics and trainees in the Department, in which research activities were summarised in presentations delivered at a blistering pace (less than four minutes per ‘speaker’) in styles as diverse as poetry, Irish language, animation and rap. The second seminar was a highly entertaining and informative public lecture entitled ‘A First Kiss at Puberty: It’s all in the Mind’, presented by Prof Bill Colledge, from the University of Cambridge.

Our Physiology Friday celebrations were recorded for prosperity in multiple formats, which we aim to employ in the future for outreach to the public. These include a dedicated Physiology Friday page on our departmental website: http://www.ucc.ie/en/physiology/phyfriday/ and release of video clips via social media.  We would like to express our gratitude to The Society for funding these fun and exciting events, which will no doubt seed the growth of future successes in promoting Physiology as a discipline.

John Mackrill, Department of Physiology, UCCork

This article was published in Physiology News 101.

Student-led ‘Physiology Challenge’ for Biology Week at the University of Leeds

Phys challengePhysiology Friday, the annual event supported by The Physiological Society as a finale for ‘Biology Week’, aims to engage with science in a novel way.  This year, the challenge was set by Dr Charlotte Haigh, an associate professor in Human Physiology at the University of Leeds, and James Croft, a final year Human Physiology student; to “design and run a fun and engaging stall for the local Leeds public at Leeds Central Library”.

Teams of six, which each contained undergraduate BSc Human Physiology students from each year, engaged the public with a range of physiology themed stands: Alzheimer’s disease and neuro-degeneration, cardio-pulmonary health, diabetes, and the science of hangovers. Rose Bavage, Outreach Officer for the Faculty of Biological Sciences, said of the event, “It always amazes me how much undergraduates want to get involved in these activities and how much effort they put into these events. We will certainly be working with more undergraduates on public events like this in the future.”

Students evaluated the success of their efforts and were marked on the quality of their presentations, impact of their projects and the effectiveness of their engagement strategy. The activities culminated in a social quiz within the students’ union bar, and marks from both the outreach project and quiz were used to select a winning team. James Croft commented, “There is a University-wide drive to promote our research findings not only within the scientific community, but also into the public eye. The week ended in a social quiz, and, aside of anything else, outsmarting some of our lecturers was great fun!”

Chris Salmon, a third year student, elected to use peak flow meters to inform the public about obstructive disorders such as asthma, and the effects of smoking, in line with the NHS’s Stoptober campaign.  He said, “It was a challenge trying to communicate principles learned in lectures to the public in a fun and easy to understand way, but we think the visitors to our stand were left feeling inspired.”

Jordan Appleyard, a second year student, designed a mountain range with the peak flow readings of famous athletes, singers, the average person and smokers to allow people to compare their peak flow readings with those of celebrities. He found the Physiology Challenge “a great way to make friends with other Physiology and Biomedical Science students in different years, and a way to engage with members of academic staff outside lectures.”

This outreach activity was a great success and introduced undergraduate students to public engagement on behalf of both our institution and The Physiological Society. We look forward to running the Physiology Challenge again in 2015.

This article was published in Physiology News 97.