Latest posts

Being Stern about Portability

Most people seem to think the Stern Review of the REF (Building on Success and Learning from Experience), published today, has done a fine job, with (if my Twitter stream is to be believed) the exception of the issue of the portability of outputs. The interpretation being put on it is that this will somehow disadvantage early career researchers (EC Continue reading

Posted in ECRs, Lord Stern, REF, Research, research outputs | Leave a comment

Keeping Track

I am a great believer in Post-it notes.  Every room in which I work (perhaps embarrassingly there are three: in the Department, the College and my home in the Master’s Lodge) has torn off Post-it notes scattered around and a selection of virgin pads of different sizes to hand. This is how I scribble down those tasks I mustn’t forget to do. I don’t Continue reading

Posted in office tidiness, post-it notes, Science Culture, to do list | Leave a comment

Why Side-line the Women?

‘I bumped into my supervisor on the stairs when I was with X [my fellow postdoc]. I might as well have been invisible, he didn’t address a word to me. It really hurt.’

So wrote a young female postdoc during an extremely miserable couple of years working in the USA. Continue reading

Posted in job share, mommy track, motherhood, part-time, Women in science | Leave a comment

Politicians, Leadership and Academia

We now have a new Prime Minister. A woman. I well remember  a young relative saying to me as Margaret Thatcher stood down ‘Was it possible to have a male prime minister?’ Well yes, and history tells us this is rather commoner than a woman.  Over the past couple of weeks looking at our political ‘leaders’ fail to lead has been an unedifying process. Continue reading

Posted in emotional intelligence, interpersonal skills, leadership, Science Culture, TEF | Leave a comment

Paid overtime for post-docs? Implications!

A new rule issued by the US Department of Labor, scheduled to go into effect on Dec. 1, 2016, is likely to have a major impact on the structure of the biomedical research enterprise in this country. This rule, which was designed to provide help to those at the lower end of the pay scale, has raised the threshold that absolves employers from paying Continue reading

Posted in biomedical research, funding, grant, lab, labor, NIH, overtime, post-doc, post-doctoral fellow, postdoctoral fellow, principal investigator, Research, salary, science, stipend, wages | Leave a comment

Dressing for Success?

Women’s attire is so often the focus of media attention. I expect the relative merits of Andrea Leadsom’s and Theresa May’s wardrobes will be dissected as front page news for weeks, along with Angela Eagle’s. Focus on the importance of clothing in the job market was recently highlighted in research from the Paris-Sorbonne University, which ap Continue reading

Posted in job interviews, professionalism, Science Culture, suits, Women in science | Leave a comment

Pride and Prejudice and journal citation distributions

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a researcher in possession of interesting experimental results, must be in want of a journal with a high impact factor.

It is also true – and widely understood – that journal impact factors (JIFs) are unreliable indicators of the quality of individual research papers. And yet they are still routinely used Continue reading

Posted in Academic publishing, Citation distributions, impact factor, Open Access, scientific publishing | Leave a comment

Science Funding from Europe and Commissioner Moedas

I went to Brussels this week for a Plenary meeting of the European Research Council’s Scientific Council. It was a strange week to go. As I sat on Eurostar and stared out at the passing countryside I strongly felt, what am I doing here, do I belong, why will they want to see me and, perhaps most strongly, WHAT HAVE WE DONE? As a scientist I was one Continue reading

Posted in Brexit, ERC, funding, Research, Science Funding | Leave a comment

Important conversations and confusing journals

A few weeks back I was a roomful of senior librarians, having Important Conversations about Publishers (ICP). More recently I sat and listened to a number of ICPs at the UKSG Conference – bookended by talks from Ann Rossiter and Cameron Neylon, each with important things to say to publishers.  So far so momentous: the tectonic plates of schol Continue reading

Posted in Journal publishing, Scientific literature | Comments Off on Important conversations and confusing journals

In which I snap

OCD Antibody Box

I’m not a neat freak or anything, at home or in the lab, but sometimes, enough is enough. Behold the new arrangement of our lab’s stash of fluorochrome-conjugated secondary antibodies. Is it not a thing of beauty?

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Posted in Research, Scientific thinking, Silliness | Comments Off on In which I snap

Graduation into Uncertainty

Graduation. That rite of passage that indicates the student moves on into the wider world. This past week has seen many hundreds of Cambridge undergraduates pass through the Senate House and emerge with their BA’s (or other appropriate degree(s)). So many students graduate each year, each presented individually with the correct – one hopes – Latin Continue reading

Posted in Brexit, Equality, EU Referendum, michael gove | Comments Off on Graduation into Uncertainty

Father’s Day

One of the few issues on which my parents both took the same, apparently unwavering and absolute position was that of the sanctity of the secret ballot. Vote, my father said. No vote, no voice, he said. People died for your right to vote, he said. If you don’t vote, he said, don’t complain. Continue reading
Posted in Life, Mock Election, Referendum | Comments Off on Father’s Day

Forgetting Compassion

Last Thursday I sat next to the Government’s Chief Scientific Advisor, Sir Mark Walport, at a College dinner. We discovered we were exact contemporaries in Cambridge, both coming up in 1971 to a world utterly different from the one we found ourselves in that day. In 1971 there was a spirit of optimism loose, at least in the circle I inhabited. We w Continue reading

Posted in diversity, ERC, EU, Jo Cox, minority, Remain | Comments Off on Forgetting Compassion

We’re #1 with “Saving One!”

It’s been a crazy 30 days since I submitted my LabLit novel, “Saving One,” to Amazon Kindle’s new publishing program, Kindle Scout. I would like to

Screen Shot 2016-06-18 at 10.49.03 AM

Saving One is #1 in HOT & TRENDING!

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Posted in Amazon, Ethics, Hot and Trending, kidney, kindle, Kindle Scout, lab lit, Lablit, medical ethics, medical thriller, polycystic kidney disease, Research, science, suspense, twins | Comments Off on We’re #1 with “Saving One!”

2015 Top Ten

I know it’s already halfway through June, but here are my ten favourite photographs of 2015, in no particular order. Strangely, no motorsports made the list, unless you count the tractor.

1. November – Ascot Royals at First Canadian Place, Toronto
Ascot Royals @FCP, Toronto
One of a number of lunchtime concerts that I photographed at First Canadian Place. Continue reading

Posted in Hobbies, Photography, sports | Comments Off on 2015 Top Ten