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The Fresher’s Balancing Act

It’s the start of another academic year. For some universities, students have been in residence for some time; for others, such as Cambridge, freshers (undergraduates and graduates) are only now arriving. That of course goes for ‘Heads of House’ too, i.e. people like me who are Masters, Presidents, Principals and Wardens. Continue reading

Posted in education, experience, sleep, undergraduate, university | Leave a comment

Lunacy and sanity

It’s less than 24 hours, so this still counts as a timely post.

I guess I had been primed because I had been thinking about it. But although I hadn’t set my alarm I found myself awake at 02:52 0n Monday morning – I can still see the digital display. And so I got up, checked out the window that the sky was clear and the moon visible (it Continue reading

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Can We Get Beyond Quotas?

As people talk increasingly about the need for quotas of women on Boards and senior management teams of different kinds, it is worth considering not only whether this is desirable but whether it is viable. I am prompted to ask this question by an email from a senior civil servant seeking a diverse pool of applicants for such positions within a gove Continue reading

Posted in committee membership, Equality, head hunters, nominations, Women in science | Leave a comment

In which I get angry (again): Science, as vital as ever

Hopefully most of you have heard about the upcoming campaign that we at Science is Vital are frantically working on. The background can be found in our recent Guardian piece, and the fine details are on our website. But for those who are too busy to click, here’s the digested read:

The government is threatening cuts of up to 40% for science, Continue reading

Posted in Science Funding, Science Is Vital | Leave a comment


There’s a very real chance that this could turn out to be an actual blogpost. In the original sense of the word: a web-log of what’s been happening.

Posts have been rather sparse on Reciprocal Space of late. That’s not for a want of words. Continue reading

Posted in Change, funding, Guardian, Scientific Life, Times Higher | Leave a comment

Book reviews!

An inner monologue, recently: “oh! I have a blog! I should write something. But the most exciting thing that happened this year isn’t really bloggable yet; the second-most exciting thing was the wedding in England of a very dear friend who would not want her wedding photos posted on the internet, and also that seems too long ago to write about now; Continue reading

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The Lady and the Trump

This week, my family and I convened to do something very unusual: to watch television. And not just any television program — no, it was to watch the Republican presidential candidate debate. While I fully expected the debate to be ‘entertaining,’ perhaps I underestimated the sheer level of ignorance that I would encounter. In retr Continue reading

Posted in autism, Ben Carson, CDC, doctor, Donald Trump, education, ignorance, NIH, pediatrician, Rand Paul, Republican debate, Research, science, vaccine, vaccines | Leave a comment

Why so Few (Still)?

If you ask a kid to draw a scientist, very often they will draw a ‘mad’ scientist with sticking up hair in a white lab coat, probably holding a test tube containing some evil-looking smoking liquid: an amalgam of Einstein and Frankenstein. Oh yes, and they’ll be male. Perceptions about this really don’t seem to be changing very fast. The L’Oreal Fo Continue reading

Posted in Change then Numbers, Elizabeth Blackburn, Equality, L'Oreal For Women in Science, nobel prize, UNESCO, Women in science | Leave a comment

Compartmentalising our Passions

As scientists, many in the world believe we are reductionist, breaking everything down into component parts. For some humanities’ scholars this can be equated to the fact that we can’t possibly be creative or, in Thomas Carlyle’s words (in 1833), that

‘The Progress of Science…is to destroy wonder, and in its stead substitute Mensuration and Numerat Continue reading

Posted in British Science Association, Communicating Science, CP Snow, Michael Berkeley, Music, Private Passions, Science Culture | Leave a comment

Cervical cancer is not porn – Knox County schools shouldn’t cave to ignorance

banning books quote

My hometown has made the international news. Is this for the fact that Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero was one of the few Tennessee mayors to fully support same-sex marriage? Or for the fact that Ms. Dolly Parton, our great lady of helping increase literacy in the impoverished Appalachian area got her start in Knoxville? Continue reading

Posted in censorship, Knox County School System, Knoxville Tennessee, the immortal life of henrietta lacks | Leave a comment

Multitasking in the Public Eye

I spent much of the last week in Belgium. A long-scheduled trip, I spent a couple of nights in Brussels and one in Leuven. With Cambridge-Brussels being easy and streamlined (usually at least) via Eurostar, this should have been a straightforward trip. In Brussels I was fulfilling part of my role as an ERC Scientific Council member by observing a ( Continue reading

Posted in BBC, British Science Association, Communicating Science, Justin Webb, LERU | Leave a comment

Now I am Five*

This week I was stalking people. Professionally of course. As a Trustee of the Science Museum a group of us were invited to do some ‘Gallery Observations’ of visitors to get a sense of how they interact with the exhibits. Of course stalking is too strong a word, but observing we most certainly were.

Continue reading
Posted in anniversary, audience, Blogging, Communicating Science, Science Museum, Writing | Comments Off on Now I am Five*

In which I lose my way

An autumn breeze flutters the paperwork on my desk: a credit card bill; a daily report from my son’s nursery (complete with meals, sleep times and nappy composition); a manuscript I’m proofing for a colleague – all held down by a paperweight commemorating the Silver Edition of Lehninger’s Principles of Biochemistry, swag fro Continue reading

Posted in staring into the abyss, The profession of science | Comments Off on In which I lose my way

Choosing an Oxbridge College

As one cohort of students are celebrating (or coming to terms with) which university they’ll be heading off to this autumn, another cohort are considering their Year 12 results. For this latter group, decisions loom about UCAS forms. Which universities provide what they want in terms of course, cost, location and ambience? And for those who are con Continue reading

Posted in A levels, academia, admissions, Cambridge, Churchill College, education | Comments Off on Choosing an Oxbridge College

Flushing out the culprit

Over the years in academia, I’ve learned a trick or two about good administration. And here I am, rising to the task: a serial leaver-of-paper on the men’s departmental toilet seat needed to be taken care of.

Administrative note

At first, I wrote the note without the bottom two lines — but then my administrative training kicked in: “Final warn Continue reading

Posted in academia, administration, cleanliness, humor, Research, science, toilets | Comments Off on Flushing out the culprit