Applying learning from leadership week to the early stages of my summer research project

This is a post reflecting on some of my experiences, so far, as a 2021 scholar.

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Halfway through my second week of research, I can now reflect on how the activities of the leadership week have positively influenced the beginnings of my project. This has become apparent most prominently in my communications and collaborations with others, as well as in my approach to scheduling and time management.

 For some background information, due to the need for online delivery of the leadership component of the first summer of the Laidlaw program, this year the University of St Andrews and Tufts University collaborated in a week-long leadership program for the 2021 cohort. This involved daily activities, including talks and group work.

 One activity for St Andrews students involved completing an individual DiSC profile, which determines how you characteristically interact with others and approach things such as teamwork, problem-solving, etc.  This was followed by a group discussion with fellow scholars who obtained similar behavioural profiles. I found the activity extremely useful, as it allowed me to examine how I act and react in different situations, as well as how people with different profiles do. This is information that I have taken forward into my research project. My project involves quite a lot of collaboration with different students, researchers and community members. I have found that the people I am working with have very different approaches to many tasks. By thinking back to the DiSC profile, I am better able to understand why the people I am collaborating act the way that they do, and to take that into consideration with my actions.

 Another activity from the leadership week was a talk about project management skills. The things I took away from this talk led me to create a much more detailed project timeline than I had before. This has allowed me to stay on track and make progress in my project that I believe would not have been achieved without this. It has helped me realise that taking the time to initially get organised and plan has a massive impact on your work down the line. With this planning ahead, I have so far been able to collaborate on the creation of infographics for the Royal Societies Summer Science Exhibition. This is part of my research on ways to increase youth engagement and knowledge of blue carbon science. Below is one such infographic, which outlines a way that children can be taught about blue carbon at home in an engaging manner

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Marcelina Lekawska

Student, University of St Andrews