Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research

Meeting my fellow students in-person for the first time | Jasmine Hine

Jasmine Hine, PhD student and student rep, writes about meeting her fellow students in person for the first time

Image of Jasmine Hine
Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research PhD student and current student representative, Jasmine Hine

After a full set of negative lateral flow tests, an in-depth search for a well-ventilated room and an over-complicated IT set-up accommodating both virtual and in-person attendance, the anticipation was over… our very first in-person, face-to-face, event since the start of the pandemic was finally happening! Honestly, it was everything I could have ever asked for and more!

All the Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research students from across the UK were invited to meet at Imperial College London for a 2-day event that covered a multitude of subjects. Not only was it the perfect opportunity to network and socialise with fellow PhD students; to share our concerns, our worries, our successes, our progress, and our highs and our lows, but we also heard from some renowned speakers, learned about how Centre-led research has contributed to the worldwide battle against Covid-19, tried out some inhalers and received some top tips about academic writing.

Insights from a pandemic

The first day kicked off with a session entitled “insights from a pandemic” which included presentations from a variety of researchers regarding their experiences of Covid-19 and their research collected to date:

  • Professor Aziz Sheikh, Centre Director, spoke about responding to the pandemic, with his reflections as an applied scientist
  • Sarah Woolnough, CEO of Asthma UK and British Lung Foundation, spoke about the patient’s perspective of living through a pandemic
  • The characteristics and risk factors for post-Covid breathlessness were discussed by Dr Luke Daines, GP and former PhD student at the Centre
  • Professor Seb Johnston, Professor of Respiratory Medicine and Allergy at Imperial College London, spoke about the complex relationship between asthma and Covid-19
  • The impact of the Covid-19 lockdown on asthma attacks across England, Wales and Scotland was discussed by Professor Jenni Quint, Professor of Respiratory Epidemiology at Imperial College London and Professor Gwyn Davies, Professor of Respiratory Medicine at Swansea University and Postgraduate Training Lead at the Centre
PhD student, Emma Kinley, presenting her work
PhD student, Emma Kinley, presenting her work

Hearing about the extensive research that has been conducted over such a short period of time revealing some interesting data about the effect of the pandemic upon asthma, was fantastic and was inspiring to say the least!

PhD progress presentations

The afternoon was dedicated to student presentations; all the students were challenged with presenting their PhD project progress or a small section of their research in an innovative and interactive way to a London-based Patient and Public Involvement panel who joined the event

Imogen Skene presenting her work
PhD student, Imogen Skene, presenting her studies

virtually. The presentations were very well received by the panel and included a variety of formats such as digital infographics, videos, games, and interactions with the in-person audience!

Discussion forum

The second day included an invaluable discussion forum with a panel of experts including Dr Louise Fleming, Professor Gwyn Davies, Professor Hilary Pinnock, and Dr Holly Tibble, all Centre members with deep and varied backgrounds in applied asthma research.

All the experts were asked questions about their experiences and gave some brilliant advice to the students on writing a thesis and writing for publication – whatever stage the students are at in their PhD journey, I’m sure these tips will be taken advantage of.

Clinical training workshop

selection of placebo inhalers
A selection of placebo inhalers the students had training on

With inhaler technique being a hot topic of discussion within both adult and paediatric asthma populations, it was fantastic to have a hands-on learning experience with Hetal Dhruve, a specialist respiratory pharmacist. Hetal brought in a selection of placebo inhalers. She taught us about the various inhaler devices and how to perform good inhaler technique for each (a lot harder than most of us realised!).

This workshop brought us to the end of our 2-day event. This event would never have been possible without the support of the postgraduate training leads, Professors Hilary Pinnock and Gwyn Davies, and of course the organisation by our postgraduate training co-ordinator Amanda Davies. On behalf of all the students who attended (both in-person and virtually!), I would like to say a huge thank you to them and of course all the guest speakers for taking the time to speak to us.

It was a fantastic event for all the students. Not just academically, but also emotionally and socially, by bringing us closer together as a group and to finally have some interaction that is not solely through a digital screen!


Jasmine Hine is a first-year PhD student at the Centre based at Imperial College London. Find out about her PhD study.

Jasmine's PhD profile

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