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Science and Government, Science in Government

Before pre-election purdah set in, two interesting reports got published, one with more fanfare than the other. The one with more publicity attached was the long-awaited report (Changes and Choices) on options for future international funding by Adrian Smith and Graeme Reid. It is of course impossible currently to predict anything regarding our future relationship with Europe. If and when Brexit h Continue reading

Posted in Adrian Smith, Areas of Research Interest, Jon Agar, Public Laboratories, Research, RSRE | Leave a comment

Berlin Debate – Who owns science?

Yesterday I had the privilege of participating in the 14th Berlin Debate on Science and Science Policy, which is hosted by the Robert Bosch Foundation. This year the invited participants discussed “Who owns science? Reshaping the Scientific Value Chain in the 21st Century“. There was a lot to unpack in that topic but for my formal contribution as chair of DORA (a six-minute opening statement), I t Continue reading

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Bias in Publishing

You’ll have heard the story about women whingeing about how their proudly-submitted papers got rejected by a premier journal without being sent out to referees. Or that the comments they received from referees were unduly harsh, but a male colleague’s paper got through on the nod without multiple resubmissions Just a bunch of females having a moan wasn’t it because they can’t hack it? Well, no. Tu Continue reading

Posted in editors, pipeline, Research, Royal Society of Chemistry, success rates, UKRI, Women in science | Leave a comment

Sounding Board 2

It’s been almost two years since I introduced you to our Alumni Sounding Board, who have been helping us to keep in mind the industry perspective since the very beginning of our curriculum revision. Now that we are deep in the trenches developing the detailed project-based learning activities, we decided it was time to once again call on their expertise, in particular regarding how to priori Continue reading

Posted in education, Materials Science | Leave a comment

First impressions: the DORA-HHMI meeting on research assessment reform

My feet have hardly touched the ground since I got back from the DORA-HHMI meeting on “Driving Institutional Change for Research Assessment Reform” in Washington DC last week, but I wanted to log a few first impressions. I can’t hope to do it justice but please be reassured that the videos of the plenary session will soon be available, and there will no doubt soon be wiser and more considered rumi Continue reading

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Who’s a Crazy Bitch Then?

I was interested to read an article (not such a recent article in fact, but I’ve only just come across it via Twitter links) describing the misogynistic name-calling of senior women in Canadian universities. Headlined ‘The “crazy/bitch” narrative about senior academic women’, the author Jennifer Berdahl, a professor of leadership studies at the University of British Columbia, specialis Continue reading

Posted in Carole Cadwalladr, Equality, misogyny, Miss Triggs, name-calling, Women in science | Leave a comment

Important Takeaways from “The Discovery of Insulin” for Today’s Scientists


Back in 2013 I visited the University of Toronto for a seminar and was given a very special gift by my gracious hosts: a copy of “The Discovery of Insulin” by Michael Bliss, which tells the fascinating story of the people and research that led to the finding that pancreatic extracts contain biologically active material that reduces blood sugar levels, and paved the way for the identification of i Continue reading

Posted in Banting, basic science, Best, book review, Collip, discovery, insulin, Macleod, Michael Bliss, pancreas, Research, reviews, science, takeaway, Toronto | Leave a comment

Seeing Red

Is anger a good spur to getting on and getting by? The recommendation to use it as a positive force came from three eminent colleagues this past week. I had the enormous pleasure of facilitating (I think that’s the right word) a conversation with a trio of presidents of professional bodies who Katie Perry, Director of the Daphne Jackson Trust, had succeeded in lining up: Julia Goodfellow, Presiden Continue reading

Posted in Carol Robinson, Daphne Jackson Trust, Julia Goodfellow, Julia Higgins, Women in science | Leave a comment

In which darkness comes knocking

It’s quite telling that the back end of this blog site is full of recent drafts, abandoned a few lines in. I have ideas, and most evenings, the time, to dash something off. But something, recently, is sapping my creative energy.

A combination of factors is probably responsible. Continue reading

Posted in academia, staring into the abyss, The profession of science, Writing | Comments Off on In which darkness comes knocking

How Many ‘Firsts’ does it take to Change a System?

As the new academic year starts in Cambridge the University Library is  marking 150 years of women studying here, even if admission to degrees came much later in 1948. Collectively we can also note that for the first time essentially half the colleges have female Heads of House (as the collective noun for Masters, Principals, Provosts etc has it): there are 15 of us now, out of 31 Colleges, but St Continue reading

Posted in Equality, gender pay gap, Lucy Marshall, Sally Davies, Sonita Alleyne, University Library, Women in science | Comments Off on How Many ‘Firsts’ does it take to Change a System?

Regency Restoration Part 2 – Who doesn’t love a good old Regency tiled floor?

Really, who doesn’t love a good old tiled floor. So classy.

We have tiled floors in our flat, of course we do. Our Regency flat (yes, I am persisiting in calling it that) only became a flat in the early 1900s about the time that Downton Abby was filmed (see what I did there). So it is a bit hard to tell if these floors are Victorian, Edwardian or Georgian-slash-Regency. Continue reading

Posted in diy, diyqueen, Georgian tiles floors, regency restoration | Comments Off on Regency Restoration Part 2 – Who doesn’t love a good old Regency tiled floor?

Regency restoration – Part 1, use the right product.

I, along with my husband, am the proud new owner of a Regency flat. The pedants among you will quickly point out that there is no such thing as a Regency flat. This is true, but I think I should be given a pass because it is so much easier to say than “a flat in an old Regency-era Terraced building”.

Regency architecture is impressive. Our flat has giant ceilings. Continue reading

Posted in diy, diyqueen, leaving academia, PeelAway., regency restoration | Comments Off on Regency restoration – Part 1, use the right product.

Another Year, Another Speech

Writing and delivering uplifting speeches comes with the territory of being the head of an Oxbridge College. Although my interview for the position at Churchill did not require a dry run of this, to check that I was capable of exhorting the troops appropriately, perhaps it should have done. Over the five years I have been in post now, I have become more relaxed about the delivery, making it possib Continue reading

Posted in Baroness Brenda Hale, Christopher Frayling, CP Snow, education, Freshers, stereotyping | Comments Off on Another Year, Another Speech

What Do We Know about the Research Ecosystem?

While funders make decisions about where their money goes, and PhD students decide what to study, with whom and where before they go on to wander along the career maze; while publishers decide who to publish and universities around the world make decisions based, at least in part, on these same editorial decisions, who looks at the Big Picture? There is a need for more understanding of the decisio Continue reading

Posted in careers, Equality, James Wilsdon, Research, RoRI, Science Culture | Comments Off on What Do We Know about the Research Ecosystem?

Project-based learning and craft-brewed beer

One of the most enjoyable of my curriculum-revision tasks over the last weeks has been my participation in the “P2 team”, that is the Project team for Project-based learning (we could probably have done better with one very long german word for our name, but P2 seems to have stuck). On some days it is not entirely clear to me how (or indeed whether) I am contributing; one of our respon Continue reading

Posted in education, Materials Science | Comments Off on Project-based learning and craft-brewed beer