Latest posts

Laying Ghosts to Rest

Many years ago I was invited to give one of the keynote talks at a conference in the USA. I was  young and I was flattered. It was a Conference on Polymer Physics held on the east coast of America. It was a big deal to go, not least because it was the first time I had been away for a week from my young children (then aged 2 and 4) and I was really Continue reading

Posted in conferences, Equality, Science Culture, self-confidence, sexism | Leave a comment

Stop re-writing Confederate History : this includes you Simon Jenkins

shelby foote civil war

Simon Jenkins published an opinion piece yesterday in The Guardian entitled With every sneer, liberals just make Trump stronger. Jenkins derides those who deride Trump and his supporters and he thinks that Trump missed a trick in criticising the left:

He failed to fully address the one aspect of the riot where attacking the left might have had tr Continue reading

Posted in Charlottesville, Confederacy, racism, Simon Jenkins | Leave a comment

Choice not Dogma

Last week a writer for the Financial Times joined the club of those journalists who seem to think there is some awful plot out there to force young girls to study science. Not so long ago it was Cristina Odone, who wrote an article in the Telegraph headlinedMy daughter shouldn’t have to study science‘ followed up by ‘Too many girls ar Continue reading

Posted in Angela Saini, Cristina Odone, education, journalism, stereotyping, Women in science | Leave a comment

We the people have to keep striving for equality and justice for all

We the people of America, we have a problem with racism.

we the people

Like many of you, I watched the events in Charlottesville, from the safety of my home, in horror, tears and blinding anger. Ostensibly, these folks are angry that a statue of Robert E Lee is being removed – because somehow this is erasing their history. Continue reading

Posted in Charlottesville, racism, USA | Leave a comment

On a Short Fuse

I am frequently astonished by the chutzpah some people possess: the willingness brazenly to ask someone else essentially to do their own work so that they, the asker, can make cash. An email that smacked of this landed in my inbox recently. It told me that the sender, DH, was ‘a writer (self-development + business) and contents planner’. He was int Continue reading

Posted in Equality, Mary Beard, name-calling, Philip Hampton | Leave a comment

Beware of the monoculture (why diversity is good for crops and tech companies)


In the 1930’s, the USA along with a number of other countries, went through a massive economic depression. This was in no small part due to a lack of diversity. Those amber waves of grain, which had only been recently planted, were a monoculture. There was a drought and then, as happens in the Great Plains, a whole lot of wind and the wh Continue reading

Posted in diversity, google memo, monoculture | Leave a comment

A student’s guide to finding and securing a desirable PhD mentor in the biomedical sciences

Several years ago I wrote a satirical article titled How not to get a lab job.” In that piece, designed primarily for graduate students who were looking for post-doctoral positions, I tried to use real-life examples based on the types of letters and applications that I received to humorously illustrate what not to do in looking for a position. By Continue reading

Posted in anxiety, career, career in science, education, faculty, graduate program, graduate student, how to find a mentor, laboratories, labs, large lab, mentor, mentors, mentorship, new investigator, PhD students, position, post-doc, postdoc, postdoctoral fellow, productivity, publications, Research, rotations, science, scientific career, stress, success in the lab, university, vetting | Leave a comment

The Sound of Silence

There is the blissful silence away from email because you are lounging on a warm beach somewhere (or up a cold and wet mountain, according to taste) with your smart phone resolutely turned off. But the silence only lasts as long as your resolution lasts, before the hideous sounds or noisy vibration of your phone kicks in. But that isn’t quite the s Continue reading

Posted in email, jerks, power games, Science Culture | Leave a comment

What Genre Do You Write In?

I’ve been reading a surprising amount about conehead crickets recently. An insect I had never previously encountered but which crossed my path, metaphorically, twice in one day due to my bad habit of reading multiple books simultaneously. On my Kindle I’ve been enjoying A Sting in the Tail by Dave Goulson, a book recommended to me by Mary Beard as Continue reading

Posted in bumblebees, Communicating Science, Dave Goulson, mark cocker, Science Culture, Writing | Leave a comment

So who is she then?

Well, here we are at the end of our promised series of “The Materials Scientist, Who is She?” workshops. Before I give you the answer to our eternal question, first let me tell you what worked well with the logistics: We proposed three different dates and let the colleagues choose which to attend; this was a good plan because there was Continue reading

Posted in education, Materials Science | Leave a comment

You’re Crazy, It’s Impossible

Many people get told messages like this.  You’ll never manage this, you’re insane to try that, don’t even think about starting the other…..every reader will have their own particular bête noire version of these phrases thrown at them as a put down. Perhaps it was something you were told at 11 – ‘girls are no good at maths’ for instance, or ‘boys ar Continue reading

Posted in #Ididitanyway, Bernhard Schrefler, Science Culture, Womanthology, Women in science | Leave a comment

Transparency and the Gender Pay Gap

The gender pay gap has been much in the news with the revelations about the pay of the BBC’s superstars. Whatever you may feel about the level of remuneration for Chris Evans compared with Andrew Marr, whether you believe one is worth more or less than the other, I think it is clear there is little transparency in the process by which the ‘co Continue reading

Posted in BBC, Equal Pay Review, Equality, Glynis Breakwell | Comments Off on Transparency and the Gender Pay Gap

Are Things Getting Better for Postdocs in Cambridge?

As a recent article in Nature pointed out, housing costs in Cambridge are a significant issue for new recruits to the university. As a city it suffers both from its proximity to London – well within commuter belt, as the busyness of the peak time trains attest – and from sitting at the centre of the thriving Cambridge cluster. It isn’t only the uni Continue reading

Posted in accommodation, North West Cambridge, Office for Postdoctoral Affairs, Research, Science Culture | Comments Off on Are Things Getting Better for Postdocs in Cambridge?

The meaning of sixty

I recently celebrated my sixtieth birthday. I had a very nice birthday party in a local pub with several friends and family members. Having plied them with food and drink I thought I’d earned the right to give a short homily about being sixty.  Here it is. At the end are a few photos from the evening. Continue reading

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In which we are snapped

Rohn Lab July 2017
Current Team Wee-Wee: Jane, Johannes, Dhan, Harry, Monika, Me, Kristina

I’ve been meaning to make a lab website for a long time now, but you know how it is: ten million other things intrude, higher priority items forever bumping lower ones down the queue. Even though I don’t yet have anywhere formal to put it, I thought it high time Continue reading

Posted in careers, Research, students, The profession of science | Comments Off on In which we are snapped