Some Pictures and Perspectives in the Autumn of the Pandemic

Here are some moments captured in photos I took during the first autumn of the Covid-19 pandemic. I’d also like to reflect on some thoughts I had in these moments.

Early October, 2020

Keeping things in perspective

There’s so much happening out there in the world, that sometimes, it is important to try to see things in perspective and also to try to get some peace and slumber, for our own sakes and well-being. My photos are of the sun setting in Nice, France, taken just days after raging storms. Here’s to peace and quiet at times and the ‘honey-heavy dew of slumber’ to carry us through the nights.

Sunset in Nice, France
[P.S as always no filters used – it’s the real thing! Sun setting as it happened, snap shots left to right.]

These photos brought some warmth, colour and perspective. A reminder to take time to pause, sleep and take care. Tomorrow another day begins, and some things may look different again. The simplest things in life give us the most pleasure.

Late October, 2020

Staying positive

I was serving 2 weeks of self-isolation in accordance with current rules. I was at home up North in the UK. Autumn brings warmth with rich tones of foliage in the garden. In the evening they contrast against the chilly grey sky. As nightfall descends the soft suffusion of colours blend into pitch black darkness.


(My photos left to right capture different perspectives of autumn from my home)

The next morning heralds another day. Peeping through the front window blinds, I am drawn by a new perspective. I raise the blinds to behold a glorious golden spectacle of Nature. Life is good and I’ll soon be out and about again.

November, 2020

‘Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness’

But on Bonfire Night, November 5th – here in England – I thought a spark in the dark or rather a sparkler in the darkness was fitting. We probably needed a bit of sparkle on Day 1 Lockdown 2.

Bonfire night Lockdown 2
(Photos taken Day 1 Lockdown 2 up North here in England)

November is coming to a close now and the end of Lockdown 2 in England (UK) is in sight. Restrictions will continue but will be eased in some respects; these are still uncertain times. December will be a different phase and there already is a sense of optimism with recent scientific and medical developments. Nevertheless, many people are suffering emotionally and in different ways that may not be immediately obvious. The last month of 2020 will be a time for reflection on how we have felt and what we have learned. Autumn will pass and winter approaches.

We are here, we are in this together and we go forward together.
Here’s to keeping things in perspective, staying positive and seeing the light ahead.

by Dr Julie Charlesworth 30/11/20

Open Science in a Pandemic: Some Learning Shared at ESOF2020

Open science, and in particular data sharing to improve research, has long been a theme of the EuroScience Open Forum (ESOF). Most recently, a session at ESOF2020 discussed some learning from experience in the current Covid-19 pandemic. A link to the recording of the session ‘Open science in time of pandemics: the experience of the Research Data Alliance WG on COVID-19’ is provided below*.

Starting in March 2020, over a 3-month period several working groups were formed and many people were brought together to address the challenges of data sharing in the pandemic. It was an advantage that the Research Data Alliance (RDA) already existed (since 2013). There was also some collaboration between the RDA and the EOSC group (European Open Science Cloud – an infrastructure currently being developed). It was an intense 3-month period resulting in the release of a document produced to record and share the learning so that others can be more prepared in future. Key steps that were identified include the listing of data that can be trusted and the setting of standards for describing and defining data. An important consideration is that undue influence by any one particular jurisdiction should be avoided because the pandemic is affecting everyone and in many different ways.

The ESOF session included discussion of the kinds of collaboration needed. Cross-disciplinary interaction is very important in a pandemic because of the need to look at many different aspects. International aspects also need to be taken into account. Tools need to be able to quickly find out what is of use in such times of emergency. We may need better systems and infrastructure to handle pandemics in the future. Global problems have the challenges of harmonisation, and this might be facilitated by the development of appropriate frameworks.

The session also aimed to increase awareness of the existence of the document ‘RDA COVID-19 Recommendations and Guidelines on Data Sharing’ (reference below**)

A message for the future: Data sharing is possible and there are ways to do it; progress has been made because of this pandemic.

by Dr Julie Charlesworth 23/11/20

Sources and further reading:

ESOF2020 Press Conference September 2020

*ESOF2020 session ‘Open science in time of pandemics: the experience of the Research Data Alliance WG on COVID-19’

**RDA COVID-19 Working Group. Recommendations and Guidelines
on data sharing. Research Data Alliance. 2020. DOI:
https://doi.org/10.15497/rda00052

AMR and Lessons from Current Covid Pandemic

It is World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (November 18 – 24, 2020).

The danger of antimicrobial resistance is something we have been aware of for years. However, it often takes a specific event or a simple communication to jolt us as individuals to action. This is a subject I have posted about several times before here.

‘Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites resist the effects of medications, making common infections harder to treat and increasing the risk of disease spread, severe illness and death.’ WHO*

‘The unchecked growth of drug-resistant infections is a silent pandemic with long-term implications for global health’ GARDP*

We are in this together and hopefully we can share the learning from the covid pandemic to address future challenges.

by Dr Julie Charlesworth 18/11/20

*
GARDP (Global Antibiotic R&D Partnership)
WHO (World Health Organization)]

Professional communicators and writers – doing the right thing and now!

It is great to see professional groups, networks, forums, associations, companies, institutes, agencies and individuals – standing up, speaking out or just getting on with it! Many science, medical, health and medcomms communicators and writers are doing the right thing by promoting and supporting high standards and working with transparency, openness, timeliness and integrity. There were already some long-term proponents of such causes and many more are now rising to such challenges which are even more important in these troubled times.

I made a call out some 6 months ago, which was very well-received. The points are still very pertinent…

‘To the professional communicators in science particularly life sciences, clinical research and medicine. Now is the time to get it right. Now is a good time for you – to write. Too right it is because:

Science writers and medical writers can:
· help with results interpretation and provide appropriate language and wording.
· improve the writing quality.
· speed up the processes of trial and regulatory document development.

Science, medical and medcomms communicators can:
· call out the fake, inaccurate and poor reports.
· improve the quality of messages and conclusions in communications.
· facilitate understanding and evidence-based decisions.

And these are just some of the ways…

You know the need is there and you can help. So, tell them!’

I wrote this message and posted it to my networks on LinkedIn and more publicly (early in the pandemic and again more recently).

I am proud to know a lot of good people out there who are doing the right thing.

by Dr Julie Charlesworth 02/11/20

Chance, Choice and Defining Moments ©

This is a title and theme of several of my talks.
I have also expressed it in a short piece I have written:

CHANCE, CHOICE AND DEFINING MOMENTS ©

Reflecting on what I have learned so far
From life and science.
(And, I am still learning.)
There is this thread that seems to hold true:
Progress in both life and in science (and other matters matter too)
Is often down to a matter of
Chance, Choice and Defining Moments!

My message to newcomers,
In either case.
And what I would tell my younger self,
Is this:

A story will evolve, and you may not see it
Until later on.
Maybe it was there all along.
Or maybe we ‘cherry pick’,
Or tease out a story in hindsight.

There will be chances you have,
And see
Or don’t see.
Chance itself clearly plays a part.
The choices you make
May be right
Or may seem wrong.
The defining moments that set us
On a new course,
May be different from what you think
At the time.

Remember, when we are grown up
At heart, we are each still the child we once were.
It is still in me
And it is still in you.
And there is always scope for growth,
More that you can do.

So, take it all seriously
But not too seriously.
Serendipity is at play.
Don’t overthink and worry too much.
Keep on learning and try to enjoy the ride,
On this rich tapestry
of Chance, Choice and Defining Moments.

©Julie Charlesworth, 2020

by Dr Julie Charlesworth 21/9/20

The Funny Onion

To those who ‘know their onions’. If someone says you know your onions, it means you are experienced in something or you know a lot about a particular subject. Of course, we should take our work seriously but maybe we shouldn’t take ourselves too seriously.

And on that note for the weekend I’ve written this very silly short rhyme.

THE FUNNY ONION ©

There was a funny onion 🧅
Whose life felt less appealing
They say I smell.
I make them cry 😢
Bring them to tears.
I don’t know why.

Noses running,
Eyes smarting.
Windy bellies,
Someone’s starting ;)
Who did that?
‘More tea, Vicar?’ ☕️

To the silliest rhymes
In the strangest times.
Let’s bring out the funny ones.
High five to gaffes and lots of laughs
🖐 😂
To those who know their onions.

🧅 🧅 🧅

©Julie Charlesworth, 2020

by Dr Julie Charlesworth 18/9/20

Science & Society. ESOF2020 gets a stamp of approval; a resounding success.

EuroScience Open Forum (ESOF), is the largest biennial general science meeting in Europe.

* International * Multidisciplinary * Science & Technology * Society & Policy *

“There was never a question of cancelling this event! It was unthinkable precisely during this crucial period in our history, where the discussion between Science and Society is more important than ever.” Michael Matlosz, president of EuroScience.

Stefano Fantoni, Champion of ESOF2020 remarked, “We must not be afraid of knowledge especially in times of crisis”.

ESOF2020

ESOF2020, scheduled for July this year, had to be delayed due to the covid-19 crisis. Trieste, the European City of Science 2020, rose to the challenges and restrictions imposed by the pandemic. ESOF developed and organised ‘an innovative hybrid organisational model’ for the conference with in-person and on-line sessions running for 5 days from September 2nd; thus, enabling maximum participation. ‘Online visitors came from 52 countries across 5 continents.’

Programmes were packed with intellectually stimulating and thought-provoking sessions: excellent keynote talks, a plethora of diverse presentations, and panel sessions. There were even some exhibition stands as well.

Three key themes were SCIENCE, BUSINESS, and CAREERS.

I think the revised timing proved to be even better because covid-19 also needed to be discussed widely, openly and across many disciplines; with national and international perspectives and from many aspects of science and society. Moreover, other than the current pandemic, there is much more going on in the world and in the world of science that needs to be debated and discussed. Science communication is very important as is the subject of communication itself.

ESOF (and everyone involved) – can be proud of providing an important and timely platform for discussion and debate during this ‘crucial period’. Italy and Trieste can also be proud of hosting ESOF2020. The number of expert scientists and eminent authorities who participated is noteworthy and included the Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

My final thought:
When something is important enough – you can do it.
Adapt and even experiment.
Take the learning forward

Sometimes, in some ways the result can be something better!

by Dr Julie Charlesworth 12/9/20

[The photos include: the brochure I picked up whilst attending the previous ESOF2018; a photo of the slide of a limited-edition stamp to commemorate the event in Trieste; a photo of a slide shown on the final day of ESOF. Open Knowledge. Fair Future. Like a beacon of light in difficult times.]

‘Freedom for science, science for freedom’. Thank you ESOF2020!

Thank you also for granting me Media Accreditation and for the Freedom to dip in and out with access to everything. As a science communicator, I have so many stories to tell from Trieste. It was an exhilarating conference! What an inspiring start to September.

The motto of ESOF2020 Trieste is important and timely.

FREEDOM FOR SCIENCE refers to the open-ended and unresolved questions that science is facing, with method and curiosity, without restrictions of credo or prejudices.’

SCIENCE FOR FREEDOM, on the other hand, refers to the inclusiveness of science and its language, which goes beyond borders and conflicts and brings together people of any colour and gender.’

I will be spreading not only the serious science but also the joy and hope of science.

Watch this space…

by Dr Julie Charlesworth

‘A Hug’, a new poem for a summer in strange times.

Just for a change I thought I’d post something a little different.
This is a new poem that I have just written.

A HUG ©

A hug
That means so much.
A touch that softly sparks a gentle flame,
Rekindling the embers.
Generating warmth.
A glow.

Behold I am alive.
My weeping, yearning soul is calmed
And I can breathe again.

©Julie Charlesworth, 2020

Here’s to love and laughter. Take care. Stay safe.

by Dr Julie Charlesworth 30/07/20

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