Me, Myself and MRI

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My role in the project has been to make sure that things happen when they're supposed to happen (and to make alternative plans if they don't) and to keep people up to date on what's going on at any time.

In the early stages of the project I was responsible for getting all of the partners and key team members on board and for putting together funding bids. Any project of this nature requires the preparation of one or more funding bids to make sure that the money needed to make the project happen is in place before any activities start.

Throughout the project I've had responsibility for:

  • Communications - with team members, partners, funders, venues, participants and the outside world (through PR and marketing and the project blog)
  • Budget management - keeping track of what we're spending, applying for additional funding and researching options to make sure we get the best value for money
  • Procurement - this is a fancy way of saying that I was in charge of buying things for the project. This included books, equipment, batteries, office supplies (stamps, discs etc) and the all-important chocolate biscuits to aid concentration
  • Scheduling - making sure that things happen when they're supposed to happen as much as possible and that everyone knows when and where they're supposed to be at any given time. Schedules often have to change at short notice and we've had to be very flexible throughout the project to fit in with people's availability, the availability of the MRI scanner, venues' exhibition schedules and the after-school activities of the pupils we were working with. A project like this that involves a core project team of five people plus several partners means that a lot of meetings need to take place to update everyone on progress, plan our next steps and create the session plans for the group activities.

Creating brain images for the exhibition

I also worked with the raw MRI scan data to create the 2D and 3D brain images seen in the final exhibition. The staff at York Neuroimaging Centre (YNiC) explained how to use the MRI analysis software (we used Osirix, a free piece of software for Macs) and I spent several days working with the data and experimenting with different settings, a range of colours and different contrasts to come up with the images you see in the exhibition. It was a really fascinating process to go through and I never thought I'd be able to recognise someone just by looking at a picture of their brain.

Tools I used

The tool that I've probably used the most throughout the project has been my email account, as well as spreadsheets for managing budgets.

We've all had to send each other a lot of large files, including photographs, videos and audio files. If you send these files via email it can take up a lot of room in your mail account so we've used tools such as YouSendIt and DropBox that allow you to upload files to a shared space on the internet. You invite people to share this space and they can then easily get hold of all of the files you've stored there.

Another useful online tool has been our blog. As well as the main project blog that we used to keep the pupils informed of what we were up to we also created an administration blog. This can only be viewed by members of the project team and we've used it to record what's been said in meetings and to keep each other informed on progress. Again, this is a useful way of making sure that everyone can access all of the information they need without clogging up their inboxes.