Latest posts

Reversing Copernicus


The revolutionary advance in our understanding of the universe, as proposed by Copernicus.

Donald Trump heads the single most anti-science administration that has ever set foot in the White House. It is fortunate that this self-centered, narcissistic personality, who born with a golden spoon in his vulgar mouth, has a Congress that still appreciates the value of science.

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Posted in anti-science, evidence based, incompetent, science, science-based, Trump, White house | Leave a comment

Taking the Chair

Robert Mackintosh recently wrote an article in the THE about how to chair a meeting. This is a topic that I have dealt with before on my blog in light-hearted vein – describing those chairs you really hope you never have to serve under, beautifully illustrated in cartoon form on the Upturned Microscope blog – but it is a topic I feel strongly about. And, in part, I disagree with what Mackintosh wr Continue reading

Posted in committee meetings, early career researcher, Science Culture, skills | Leave a comment

Assertively Asking Questions

Different sources pointed me towards a paper appearing on the Arχiv this week discussing when and why men and women ask questions after a seminar presentation. A brief write up even appeared in The Economist, a sure indicator that a piece of academic research has resonated way beyond its home turf. Asking questions at the end of a public talk (seminar, conference and so on) is bread and butter in Continue reading

Posted in Alecia Carter, conference, seminar, Women in science | Leave a comment

A Sad Sign of the Times

This past week, my graduate student, my post-doctoral fellow, and I flew out to Philadelphia for the annual American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) meeting. This 2007 meeting was my 20th year as an ASCB member, and marks 20 years since I first attended the ASCB meeting in Washington DC, 1997, when I came to present my research and simultaneously interview for post-doctoral positions.


Shuwei and Continue reading

Posted in American Society for Cell Biology, ASCB, immigration, postdoc, posters, presentation, public policy committee, Research, science, student | Leave a comment

Inclusive Leadership

This week I attended an event in the University exploring, broadly speaking, how we can do ‘inclusive leadership’ better. Kicked off by a talk by  Barbara Stocking, President of the women’s college Murray Edwards, who was talking about the various pieces of research her college has instigated and been involved with (Women Today, Women Tomorrow and Working with Men, both well worth a careful read). Continue reading

Posted in Equality, maternity leave, Recruitment, Science Culture, Unconscious bias | Leave a comment

Industrial Strategy and the Pipeline of Talent

It was unfortunate that the Industrial Strategy White Paper was released on the same day as the Royal Engagement became public. It may not have been intended to be published on a ‘good day to bury bad news’, but it was very noticeable that as far as BBC Radio 4 News was concerned, it went from being top of the headlines at 8am – before it was published – to not being mentioned at all in the headli Continue reading

Posted in computing, education, further maths, Industrial Strategy White Paper, productivity, Science Funding | Leave a comment

Long Silences and the BSc Profile

Every summer I promise myself that I will start the Fall Semester so well prepared that I will not reach Christmas in a state of organizational meltdown, surrounded by backlogs of reviews, student projects waiting for feedback, unread literature, ungraded homeworks and neglected committee assignments, and suffering from diseases caused by deficiencies of vitamins that are not contained in take-out Continue reading

Posted in education, Materials Science | Leave a comment

Joining the Dots

I’ve been in Paris this weekend, talking to a ‘Global Cambridge‘ event for alumni. Paris is a city of which I am inordinately fond – one of my unfulfilled dreams was to spend a sabbatical in the city so I could finally gain an ability to speak the language properly – and over the years I have visited it not infrequently both for work and pleasure. My brief stay gave me plenty of Continue reading

Posted in Cambridge, careers, Paris, Policy, Science Culture | Leave a comment

Measurements: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Measuring us seems endemic to academic life now (as indeed to the NHS or local Councils or any other part of our civic society). The Forum for Responsible Research Metrics is charged with coming up with ways to use metrics in our universities in ways that are constructive and relevant. There are far too many potential metrics out there – and there will be a whole set more devised when Jo Johnson’s Continue reading

Posted in KEF, metrics, REF, Research, Science Culture, TEF, The Metric Tide | Leave a comment

To the end

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, there was a Webstory. And that Webstory grew and prospered, at least for a time. And the Curator of the Webstory strove to breathe live into it, but with one thing and another the interval between updates grew longer and longer, until it languished around Chapter Fourteen, and all had given up hope.

Or so it seemed.

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Posted in A momentary lapse of reason, Don't try this at home | Comments Off on To the end

Soul Music

We all have parts of our characters – beyond our work-face – that we feel are important to us. Be it that we like poetry, going for walks or collecting teaspoons, we feel this hobby or habit in part defines us. How much so, what the balance is between personal and professional, is likely to shift during life, not least because there may be periods when the personal gets squeezed out by other aspec Continue reading

Posted in Communicating Science, Desert Island Discs, piano, Radio 3 | Comments Off on Soul Music

In which we’re in business: Cat Zero officially for sale!

Just a quick note to say that my upcoming third lab lit novel, Cat Zero, is now available for pre-order on Amazons near and far (UK and USA)!

Still with placeholder cover featuring the neighbour’s cat Sergei!

There should be a Kindle edition too.

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Posted in Lablit, Writing | Comments Off on In which we’re in business: Cat Zero officially for sale!

Prayer works–or does it? Shall we ask the murdered?

No sooner had I penned my piece exposing the hypocrisy and weak-kneed leadership of Republican Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, when he has made new headlines with another smug, holier-than-thou, awful and divisive statement–that is also wrong.

Following the horrific church shooting in a small Texan town, in which at least 26 people were murdered by rapid gun fire, Mr. Ryan was criticized fo Continue reading

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Joshua is at that delightful age when he is yet too young to be able to reliably, unaided, clean and dress himself, yet old enough to resist getting ready to leave the house in the morning.

When he was younger, he might not have helped me when I was trying to get his coat and shoes on, but at last he wasn’t actively thwarting our attempts to catch the 7.44 from Gravesend, by throwing his other s Continue reading

Posted in Joshua, Me, Nonsense, personal | Comments Off on Days

Getting to Grips with Writing

How did you feel when your supervisor first asked you to draft a piece of writing, whether it was a journal article or perhaps your thesis itself? Excited or terrified? Was it any different the next time and the next? Do you still feel anxious or is it all a piece of cake now? Writing is so integral to the scientific process, yet is also often treated as incidental. Communication skills courses ar Continue reading

Posted in co-author, Communicating Science, communication, Lisa Emerson, Thesis | Comments Off on Getting to Grips with Writing