About Ben Turnbull

Hai! I'm a 5th Year (Part-Time) PhD student in the School of Psychology. I focus on animal behaviour and in particular how different experiences in early life establish different behaviours in adulthood. When I'm not researching, I also enjoy reading graphic novels (whilst trying to write my own book), playing guitar, and seeing friends (all of the normal stuff). Open to any questions :) @BenCTurnbull #UG2PhD

Managing Lab Consumables and Budget

Hi all,

The biggest thing in my last few weeks has been learning to use a budget to get where I need in the lab. I’ve never had to worry about costs as my supervisor has handled it. Last year, we got a grant for some lab consumables and this Spring it’s been on me to manage it. Reading over protocols, taking stock of what we have, working out the best value orders. It’s been quite fun.

I’ve been very thankful for the wonderful people at varies companies who have helped me with my orders. There’s been a lot of little things which I haven’t considered and they have been very patient. The pressure is on because the money will run out and any delays set back my research but overall it is getting there!


Next month or so is going to be spent working on draft 2 of my paper and doing this lab work!


Thanks for reading.



Writing My First Paper!

Hello friends!

I’ve spent the last month drafting my first paper. What an experience! To be honest, I didn’t really know what to expect…that sounds dumb since I’ve written things before but something about it being a formal output of MY OWN WORK raised the pressure a little bit. I’ve enjoyed the process though and honestly having the first go at sharing my piece of the world has been wonderful.

I started with the methods and results as these are the ‘easier’ bits. Easier in that the content is cut and dry, very matter of fact. From here I outlined and then wrote my discussion. This took a lot of phrasing and rephrasing. Finally, I wrote the introduction which, after having hashed out the discussion, was relatively simple to do. The only concerns I have is whether i’ve judged the balance of big picture content well enough…

It’s going off to the supervisor in the next couple of days and i’m fully aware of how much it may change in response to their comments. But for now I am proud of myself.

Thanks for reading,


An Apology and an Update

Hi all,

I haven’t posted since my introduction and it is entirely my fault. It also demonstrates some of the struggles which come in this world: balance. I’ve found it difficult to balance my activities for a while and no more obvious has that been than in my doctorate. So what have I been up to?

I have: taught a month long summer school, been away 3 times, presented at a conference, applied for funding to pay for lab kits, taught weekly on a first year course, been a study skills tutor, taken a Chinese class, organised a workshop series, AND re-done some statistical analyses as well as started planning papers…

So getting it all together plus working out the best things to say for a regular blog here was difficult and I’m sorry for that. But with the new year I have a no structure to my activities and that includes booking in blogging time. My next month is going to be spent ordering the lab kits and starting that work, drafting another summer school as well as workshop series, and finishing off my first paper. I will update you accordingly.

Thanks for reading,


Who Am I?

When thinking about my first post for the post-grad blog, I wasn’t sure where to start. Do I just say what I’ve done this week? That seems a bit empty without context. So I thought that I would give you a small overview of who I am and what I’m hoping to communicate on this page. Then future posts can relate to that and more detailed about my week-to-week activities. Seem like fun?

I’m Ben Turnbull, I did my undergraduate in Biology at The University of Birmingham and have spent 4.5 years doing my PhD here in Psychology. I’m a Biologist in Psychology clothing, so to speak. I’m 4.5 years in, as opposed to having finished, because I registered part-time, having received no funding. This gives me longer deadlines, including an ultimate 7 years for submission. I’m aiming to be done in the lab within 5 years, submit in 6, and graduate in 7.

I’m a huge proponent of opening up and humanising experiences including those of academia. We learn a huge amount about the basic process (apply, PhD, life…) but very little is spoken about the actual experiences of that. To address this, I started blogging during my masters and have done so every 2 months since. Under the premise of #UG2PhD I talk about my experiences and pay particular attention to how I felt during those times. I urge you to check out that page for any insights into the application process, dealing with shortcomings and frustrations in the lab, ‘failing’ exams etc. I’m going to slowly transition that blog to focus a bit more on science communication now as I have joined this team and blogging here more frequently means I’ll talk in more detail about what has been going on.

Other than my research hat I also am an avid wearer of a teaching one. I am a lab demonstrator in both biology and psychology as well as an academic tutor for CAPOD. I’ve racked up several hundreds of hours of teaching experience since being here which I something I thoroughly enjoy. I pay my bills with another hat: Dominos Pizza. I was lucky enough to get a job in the first 3 months of living here and have sustained it since then. So if you ever pop in, do say hi! Bar these commitments, my interests are pretty standard…I read comics (and still have a novel in the works), play music (and likewise for an album), am a big lover of films, and always love to see my friends.

Wow, that was a bit longer than I intended! But that’s me. I look forward to talking to you soon and as always feel free to ask me anything :).