Category Archives: Campus

Vacancies – Managing Editor (Digital) – Lamp and Owl

Managing Editor (Digital)

The Lamp & Owl is looking to appoint a Managing Editor (Digital) for the 2015-16 academic year.

This person will be charged with the day-to-day management of the digital platforms related to Birkbeck’s student magazine.

The Managing Editor (Digital) will:

  • Manage the commissioning, editing and production of content for the digital platforms of the Lamp & Owl (e.g. website, social media)
  • Manage the infrastructures related to all digital platforms (e.g. social media user accounts, website content management systems).
  • Build upon existing digital presence of the Lamp & Owl to identify, plan and implement improvements and new initiatives that are realistic and feasible
  • Organize and/or attend regular meetings (e.g. editorial meetings) to build and maintain relationships between Lamp and Owl platforms (e.g. print, digital)
  • Assist the Editor-in-Chief in attracting, developing and retaining production staff and writers, including acting as a staff mentor where appropriate
  • Monitor adherence of production staff and writers to appropriate standards (e.g. ethics, style, production schedule) reporting any issues to the Editor-in-Chief
  • Assist the Editor-in-Chief and Business Manager in identifying revenue streams and business models pertaining to digital platforms, as appropriate and feasible
  • Liaise as required with the Communications & Activities Officer of the Birkbeck Student Union

Candidates who would like to apply for the role should submit a CV along with a 250 word statement, outlining how they would fulfil this position at the Lamp & Owl, to s.rodgers@bbk.ac.uk by midnight on Sunday 28 June 2015.
Interviews with shortlisted candidates will take place in the afternoon of 8 July 2015. The selection panel for will include representatives of the Birkbeck Journalism Society, Birkbeck Student Union and Birkbeck’s School of Arts.
We welcome applications from any individual regardless of ethnic origin, gender, disability, religious belief, sexual orientation or age.

All applications will be considered on merit.

Vacancies – Editor-in-Chief – Lamp and Owl

Editor-in-Chief

The Lamp & Owl is looking to appoint an Editor-in-Chief for the 2015-16 academic year. This person will be charged with the overall strategic management of Birkbeck’s student magazine across its print and digital platforms.

The Editor-in-Chief will:

  • Oversee the commissioning, editing and production of content across and between the print and digital platforms of the Lamp & Owl
  • Seek to attract, develop and retain production staff and writers
  • Ensure, with the Managing Editor (Print), the publication of at least three issues in academic year 2015-16, including a Fresher’s Issue to be published by the end of September 2015
  • Ensure, with the Managing Editor (Digital) the ongoing creation/curation of digital content in conjunction with and in-between issues
  • Organize at least three cross-platform (e.g. print, digital) editorial meetings per year
  • Ensure adherence of managing editors, production staff and writers to appropriate standards (e.g. ethics, style, production schedule)
  • Develop strategies, with the Business Manager and Birkbeck Student Union, for new revenue streams and business models
  • Foster, with the Managing Editors for Print and Digital, the training and/or mentoring of junior editorial staff and writers to prospectively assume senior editorial roles at Lamp & Owl in the future
  • Ensure that the Lamp & Owl pursues its mission to be a publication ‘by the students, for the students’ by maintaining editorial independence from the College’s governing bodies, academic and administrative departments, and student union

Candidates who would like to apply for the role should submit a CV along with a 250 word statement, outlining how they would fulfil this position at the Lamp & Owl, to s.rodgers@bbk.ac.uk by midnight on Sunday 28 June 2015.

Interviews with shortlisted candidates will take place in the afternoon of 8 July 2015. The selection panel for will include representatives of the Birkbeck Journalism Society, Birkbeck Student Union and Birkbeck’s School of Arts.

We welcome applications from any individual regardless of ethnic origin, gender, disability, religious belief, sexual orientation or age.

All applications will be considered on merit.

Vacancies – Business Development Manager – Lamp and Owl

Business Development Manager
The Lamp & Owl is looking to appoint a Business Manager for the 2015-16 academic year. This person will be charged with the day-to-day financial and business management of Birkbeck’s student magazine across its print and digital platforms.

The Business Manager will:

  • Manage the overall budgetary affairs of the Lamp & Owl, liaising regularly with the Communications & Activities Officer of the Birkbeck Student Union
  • Seek opportunities for advertising revenue across both print and digital platforms, in consultation with the Managing Editor (Print) and the Managing Editor (Digital)
  • Manage the distribution of the print edition across the Birkbeck campus, while developing strategies to grow readership across both print and digital platforms (e.g. through market research, promotions, social media)
  • Manage, in consultation with the Editor-in-Chief, the allocation and use of space and equipment in The Newsroom at 43 Gordon Square
  • Develop strategies, with the Editor-in-Chief and Birkbeck Student Union, for alternative revenue streams and business models
  • Attend other regular meetings (e.g. editorial meetings) as required by the Editor-in-Chief

Candidates who would like to apply for the role should submit a CV along with a 250 word statement, outlining how they would fulfil this position at the Lamp & Owl, to s.rodgers@bbk.ac.uk by midnight on Sunday 28 June 2015.

Interviews with shortlisted candidates will take place in the afternoon of 8 July 2015. The selection panel for will include representatives of the Birkbeck Journalism Society, Birkbeck Student Union and Birkbeck’s School of Arts.

We welcome applications from any individual regardless of ethnic origin, gender, disability, religious belief, sexual orientation or age.

All applications will be considered on merit

An Insider’s Look: A Long Weekend of Student Politics

Cross Party London Youth Debate

It all started on a Friday.

While many students were heading off to one of the local watering holes, including “Radar” night at the former University of London Union, I opted instead for a trip to a room in City University.  The sparsely occupied lecture theatre hosted a panel debate among the regional chairs of all major political parties. In true London fashion, Nigel Farage’s UKIP was not represented, while the Green Party was – by incoming Birkbeck SU Welfare officer and Young Greens regional co-chair Sofiya Ahmed. It was duly noted by the floor, however, that the Greens do not constitute a major party.

The impartial chair (a confirmed floating vote) and the floor posed questions on topics such as the economy, employment, the housing crisis and education.

The most entertaining part of the night was when Will Dyer charmingly defended the Liberal Democrats and the governance of coalitions. He stated that the Liberal Democrats had protected the country from more radical Tory cuts, stopped the foundation of a Maggie Thatcher day and instituted a low tax band for working people.  He had a genuine love of the party, despite it being the least trusted by most students. Students turned away from the party after Nick Clegg’s tuition fees U-turn, which even saw an apology and subsequent viral video. Needless to say, I was not convinced by Will’s message that the Lib-Dems are the rightful stewards for his nation, although I must give him credit for the most uses of the word ‘anchored’ in a sentence.

Luke Springthorpe of Conservative Future defended the current government. Despite being pro-union, he praised zero-hour contracts for their flexibility, adding that such work was ‘better than no job’. He wrote off criticisms of DWP sanctions, saying the sanctions were probably there to stay. Springthorpe remained highly sceptical of the left proposition to use taxation as a stimulus for housebuilding.

Ria Bernard(@riab_22), a speech and language therapist and joint leader of London Young Labour, held the fort for camp Miliband. She maintained the current party line of a more moderate austerity. She said the cuts were ‘too fast, and too soon’ and Help to Buy was an interesting idea but problematic. When I told her that my plans for the next morning involved going to protest the party’s proposition of £6k fees, she replied with a shrug, “6 is better than 9.”

The three major parties all avoided the toxic term – “social housing” . Sofiya, however, did not shy away. She stated that the Green Party would ditch a £100bn trident renewal, instead spending £6bn on half a million new homes and plugging the £20bn NHS deficit. Nicola Sturgeon of the SNP has also made these suggestions. In response to the Tory panelist’s defense of apprenticeships, Sofiya expressed concern that some apprenticeships are low quality, and the employers just use young people, not providing adequate skills or education in exchange for the cheaper labour.

At the end, many debates continued in the pub. I left somewhat swayed to the Green cause.

#FreeEducation Protest in Birmingham

Saturday morning was the earliest of its kind since I had been bothered to go doorknocking with #labourdoorstep. This Saturday called for walking action against Labour. NUS London, in association with the Student Assembly against Austerity and the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, called for a demonstration on the doorstep of Labour MP Liam Byrne in Birmingham.

Byrne is the shadow minister for Higher Education. His contribution to the Labour 2015 campaign was a commitment to lower the tuition fees’s upper band. His constituency is Hodge Hill.

There was an overwhelming amount of local support for the Demo. Regional support came from the Black Country Young Greens. A local Trade Union head and schoolgirl were among the opening speeches at Birmingham University.

The coach journey up to Birmingham came courtesy of the UCL union. UCL ‘defend education’ songbooks circulated for rounds of poorly tuned Trotsky-esque songs. It was a delight to see seasoned Birkbeck Activist Alex Owalade squirming at the singing, having heard it all better the first time round in the 1980s. The Marxist tone of the travelling demonstrators was echoed by the red patches pinned to a number of students’s lapels, supposedly the sign of international student resistance. Over the long journey, protesters discussed strategies for progress with NUS London as well as the viability of a demand for free education.

The communal feeling was very much disappointment with Labour. The demand for free education involved a complete turn-around from tuition fees to replace them with free education and living grants – such as would have been the deal for many of Birkbeck’s mature students had they had the chance to go for a degree at age 18.

The marching route headed through the town centre. Shouting for an end to student debt and austerity, cries of “Cutback! Fightback!” went on strong. Multiple megaphones, a sizeable crowd, a conch (like from Lord of the Flies) and an exuberant drummer kept pace and spread the message of anti-austerity through the city’s main shopping areas.

There was even an attempted entry into the Council and an impromptu incursion into the Library. The brand new central library, an impressive addition to the city, is facing cuts to its librarians agreed as part of Labour austerity.

Last Monday, a meeting at Birkbeck launched the @bbk24hr campaign: Birkbeckers aiming for a return of 24 hour access to the library computer rooms as exams and deadlines loom.  Watch out for more organised action on this campaign.

Laughter And Curiosity – Birkbeck Science Week

Birkbeck Science Week has now come to a close, and what an exciting week it’s been. Birkbeck has gained internationally recognized excellence in a number of scientific fields, and it was a treat to be able to see this on display.

Dr Tim J. Smith from the Department of Psychological Sciences began the series with ‘Attention Machine: The science of cinematic perception’ on Monday. Participants were able to become both scientist and subject whilst watching one of the trippiest films I’ve ever seen, The Fountain.

The event had a double focus: testing and demonstrating how filmmakers create shots and scenes in order to keep our attention by manipulating our gaze, whilst also investigating how the use of mobile phones in a cinema is received by other cinema goers. Filmmakers today tend to keep shots very short, rarely lasting more than 2-3 seconds to keep our gaze in the centre of the screen. It was encouraging to find out that the cinema still retained a certain amount of sanctity as far as mobile phone use was concerned, remaining a big no no for most people.

A log of viewers gaze points shown as a heat map (courtesy of Tim J. Smith)
A log of viewers gaze points shown as a heat map. (Courtesy of Tim J. Smith)

Tuesday started with a tour of the Department of Biological Sciences’ electron microscopy lab. This new technology puts Birkbeck at the tip of cutting edge science and enables researchers to study cells closer than ever before and in much greater detail. We saw, for example, how electron microscopes could magnify a red blood cell by up to 132,000 times so that we could see not only the details of the cell but also the malaria parasites this sample had been infected with.

It’s not only malaria parasites that biologists can see in greater detail. Birkbeck has been at the forefront of research into cell-attacking proteins. These are proteins that essentially punch a hole through a cell’s membrane, leaving it open to infection. In the talk that followed the lab tour, Dr Helen Saibil detailed how a team of researchers, using electron microscopy, had been able to see for the first time how proteins can do this.

A cell that has been attacked by a protein called Perforin. The turret at the top of the cell is the protein. (Source: Nature, 2010)
A cell that has been attacked by a protein called Perforin. The turret at the top of the cell is the protein. (Source: Nature, 2010)

Fortunately, it is not just the cells we need that get attacked. As Dr Saibil revealed, the body also produces natural killer cells as part of its innate immune system. These killer cells use the exact same punching-method to destroy infected and tumorous cells as part of an ongoing arms race.

Science Week continued on with more interesting talks and events. Professor Karen Hudson-Edwards gave a talk on ways in which Birkbeck’s Department of Earth and Planetary Science are investigating geochemical pollution from mine waste, and looked at ways the mining industry needs to manage this.

On Wednesday, Professor Martin Eimer looked at the complex ways in which the brain achieves facial recognition, and Dr Alan Lowe continued the theme of investigating cells by looking at ways in which researchers are now able to visualize the inner workings of a living cell.

Thursday kicked off with the second lab tour of the event, this one at the Birkbeck-UCL Centre for Neuroimaging (BUCNI) lab, which looked at the Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanners that the Department of Psychological Sciences use to image the human brain. MRI allows neuroscientists to image brain activity as well as brain structure without having to use invasive surgery or radioactive materials, and enables several centres of brain research within the School of Science to conduct its work.

One of these centres is the Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development (CBCD) whose BabyLab has been exploring the cognitive development of babies. Dr Esha Massand from CBCD started Thursday’s talks on babies with a look at what infants with Down Syndrome can tell us about dementia. In people with Down Syndrome, the APP gene which contributes to plaques and tangles associated with dementia is over-expressed so that by the time they reach the age of 30-40, they exhibit Alzheimer’s brain pathologies. However, not all individuals with Down Syndrome go on to develop dementia. BabyLab has been studying babies with Down Syndrome to try to uncover what risks and protective factors may exist in the brain, so that in the future early interventions can be made.

It seemed only fitting, however, to end Science Week with two talks, focusing on curiosity and baby laughter. Katarina Begus, a PhD student at BabyLab, spoke about the research that the lab has been undertaking to test for babies curiosity. The research found that babies have a strong tendency to try to interact with adults who are most likely to satisfy their curiosity by, for example, naming the things that a baby points at.

A curious child inspects pet dog. (Source: depositphotos)
A curious child inspects pet dog. (Source: depositphotos)

Katarina also left an open question to us that sent a warning about the future of curiosity. By asking us to write a question on a piece of paper that only we individually probably knew the answer to, and then passing it to the person next to us, she was able to demonstrate just how important it was to us to find out the answers. When then asked to rate from 1-10 how much we wanted to know the answer (10 being very much, 1 being not at all), my neighbour and I both put 9. It was clearly important, and in fact other neurological research has shown that curiosity in adults elicits the same response from the brain as when we yearn for chocolate, nicotine or sex.

However, with information so accessible now it has become necessary to ask: What will happen to curiosity? Is there an incentive to remember when even infants know you can get the information you need on your phone? No one really knows the answer to these questions but Begus reminds us that greater knowledge can help protect against dementia and she finishes by imploring the audience to never stop being curious.

If curiosity is the first message from Science Week, the second is to laugh together. Dr Caspar Addyman gave the final talk, on the surprisingly serious science of baby laughter. He asked us to keep in mind a quote from Victor Borge who said: “Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.” Dr Addyman’s initial research into a largely overlooked but defining characteristic of babies has highlighted several very important qualities that incentivise laughter.

The two YouTube clips below, which Dr Addyman has shown on his BabyLaughter blog were favourites from his talk.

Laughter is essentially a social process. For babies it not only encourages parents to spend time with them, but is a way for parents and babies to give each other their fullest attention. It is also a powerful learning tool. As Dr Addyman says: ‘babies are little scientists; they have to teach themselves an awful lot of stuff.’ And the most important thing for any human to learn is how to understand other people. Laughter, and the ability to make others laugh is one of the best tools that babies have in order to do this.

Keep laughing, and always be curious!

Finally, Stonewall will live up to its name @StonewallUK

“Stonewall? Oh, you mean Sonewall. The T is silent.”

Those working in LGBTQ activism may be familiar with the quip, which rightly ridicules the organisation’s lack of work on trans* issues. Stonewall takes its name from the Stonewall Inn, one of very few venues that explicitly catered to an LGBT clientele in 1960s New York. In the early hours of the 28th of June 1969, police raided the bar, but the patrons fought back. The ensuing riots were largely led by trans* women of colour – but this is often overlooked by the modern movement.

A few weeks ago however, in a milestone for trans* rights, Stonewall announced that their work will now include trans* people. As quoted in Pink News, Chief Executive Ruth Hunt said: “Stonewall no longer needs to maintain a strict distinction between sexual orientation and gender identity”. In other words, they will now try to live up to their name. Previously, Stonewall campaigned for the rights of marginalised sexualities – lesbian, gay and bisexual – but not on issues of gender identity.

The headline to that article, “Stonewall announces it will now campaign for trans rights too”, almost reads like a joke. An equality charity waited until 2015 to deem trans* issues important? Even the Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBT charity in the US, and notoriously homonormative, has had trans* issues on the agenda for some years.

Better late than never. To their credit, Stonewall did apologise in their report for past mistakes that hurt trans* people – a necessary step in regaining the community’s trust.

It is crucial that trans* issues are fought for by every equality organisation. Gender identity and sexuality are two different things, but the bigotry against them comes from the same harmful structure: heteronormativity. It is this structure that enforces the idea that a man or a woman should only act a certain way, dress a certain way, love a certain way, have certain genitals – even that one can only be a ‘man’ or a ‘woman’.

Trans activists have long fought for change and Stonewall is finally stepping towards it.

The full report that accompanied Stonewall’s announcement is available here. Birkbeck LGBT Officer Reubs Walsh was one of hundreds of trans* activists to consult with Stonewall on their introduction of trans* lobbying. You can read Reubs’ comment on the announcement here.