PhD student spreads the word about Happy Feet

On 29th April Graduate Women Scotland (GWS) East held their annual Research Presentations Day at Discovery Point.

The GWS promotes the advancement of women and girls world-wide and at home, and hosts this annual event to enhance the skills and confidence of female post-graduate students. Presenters are given 15 minutes to explain their work to a varied and non-specialist audience, followed by five minutes for questions. Dr Susie Schofield from the Centre for Medical Education, School of Medicine, University of Dundee, was honoured to be invited as commentator.

This year saw stiff competition, with 75 notes of interest recieved and 35 submitted abstracts for the eight coveted presentation slots. We were delighted that Rania Edris, a PhD student at the Institute of Motion Analysis & Research, TORT Centre, was invited to present her work, and kicked off proceedings with her humorously-named talk ‘Do you have happy feet?’. Her sub-title Assessment of the Impact of Loading Pressure on Endothelial Function in Diabetic Foot gave a more scientific account of her research, namely the importance of pressure measurements when designing insoles for diabetic patients to avoid the development of foot ulceration. Rania held the audience in rapt silence, not only showing great mastery of her subject but also demonstrating the skills needed for public engagement.

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Left: Rania being presented with her certificate from Dr Susie Schofield; Right: Rania collecting data at the Institute of Motion Analysis & Research.

Dr Schofield commented: “During Rania’s presentation I noticed several of the audience wiggling their feet, even removing their shoes as they tested their own foot pressure on the floor. Rania’s topic certainly grabbed their attention, right up to showing a picture of Professor Rami Abboud’s foot being tested. This was a particularly nice touch as it showed the audience how involved our PhD supervisors are, and also encouraged GWS members to join the study.”

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Graduate speakers, from left. Joanna Rodgers, Vasiliki Bitsouni, Rania Edris, Rachael Sibson, Anne Scrimgeour, Michelle Lawrie, Shona Main and Kirsty Graham (Photo courtesy of DC Thomson Ltd.)

Rania, herself, added: “It was an honour to be shortlisted to present at the Graduate Women Scotland annual presentation day. I asked to present in the morning but didn’t expect to be first! I only felt some relief when I heard the organiser introducing the second talk with a comment on mine “What a fabulous start to the day”. I tried to simplify my topic and adapt for an audience from different backgrounds. I believe I was able to share my idea as I got lots of ladies approaching me saying how interesting my talk was and asking for more information about foot pressure and diabetic foot. All the other talks were very interesting and well-chosen to cover a wide variety of topics. It was one of the best academic gatherings I have been to. At the end of the day no one wanted it to finish.”

Giving overall feedback to the audience then individual feedback to the presenters, Susie commented on how impressed she was with the enthusiasm and professionalism of the presenters. The eight topics were diverse, covering health and safety, communication and ancestral tourism, with presenters from the Universities of Dundee, Highlands & Islands, Robert Gordon, Aberdeen, Glasgow and St Andrews.

Rania is already showing what a great ambassador she is for the research we undertake at IMAR and the whole of the university. Her personal commitment to improve knowledge is breath-taking”, stated Professor Rami Abboud. “Not long ago she won Venture 2017 Award (see related story below), I wonder what is next?!