Latest posts

If music be the food of love, rock on

One of the problems of having so many websites is knowing which particular wibble goes to which one.

And generating enough content to keep them fed, of course.

Confessions has been neglected of late—not because I want to, or am uninspired, but because it’s difficult to find subjects that are ‘safe’, considering the day job. Especially seeing as the HR person at work stalks me o Continue reading

Posted in cider, magirism, Me, Meta, Science-less Sunday | Leave a comment

Travelling Hopefully to 2.4% GDP

David Willetts, for a number of years the Minister of State for Universities and Science, now an FRS, President of the Advisory Board for a think-tank (Resolution Foundation) and writer (most recently, A University Education), has just published a pamphlet about The Road to 2.4%.  All the three main parties (in England) are supportive of an uplift, a substantial uplift, in the amount of funding fo Continue reading

Posted in David Willetts, Dominic Cummings, Fraunhofer Institutes, Richard Jones, Science Funding | Leave a comment

Working Together for Equity

This week I was honoured by the THE as the winner of their ‘Lifetime Achievement’ Award during their annual awards’ ceremony, for my work around gender equality issues.

THE Lifetime Achievement Award

Photo courtesy of THE. With me are John Gill (L), their Editor and Atul Chauhan, President and Chancellor of Amity Education Group who sponsored the Prize.

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Posted in champion, complicit, Equality, Lifetime Achievement Award, UCU | Leave a comment

How Silly Are You (or Pompous or Forthright)?

What’s wrong with being called gutsy? The new book by Hillary and Chelsea Clinton use it as a term of approbation, but it didn’t find favour with Emma Brockes in the Guardian. Why?

‘It’s partly that descriptors like “gutsy” seem to protest too much, partly that they feel slightly infantilising, and mainly, I think, that they have become disembodied marketing terms used to launder self-promotion as Continue reading

Posted in adjectives, Equality, gendering, RateMyProfessor, Unconscious bias | Leave a comment

In which I defend the birds-eye view

Lovely massive tree. But what about that small boy in the corner?

Is science about obsessing over one tiny daub of paint? Or is it about standing back and appreciating the entire picture?

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Posted in academia, Research, Scientific method, Scientific thinking | Leave a comment

Doing Your Bit

When you have vulnerable people being harassed, what can you do? And I mean you. I have written a lot recently on my blog about the importance of bystanders. To learn more, I attended a recent training session regarding Bystander Interventions run under the auspices of the University of Cambridge’s Breaking the Silence Campaign. The University launched this in 2017. Amongst other things it allows Continue reading

Posted in Bystander, education, Equality, harassment, intervention, toxic | Leave a comment

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 | Comments Off on Bias in Publishing

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 | Comments Off on Sounding Board 2

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

Posted in science | Comments Off on First impressions: the DORA-HHMI meeting on research assessment reform

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 | Comments Off on Who’s a Crazy Bitch Then?

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 | Comments Off on Important Takeaways from “The Discovery of Insulin” for Today’s Scientists

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 | Comments Off on Seeing Red

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