Category Archives: Academia

In which I evolve (or possibly, devolve) as a scientist

Last Thursday was a normal day. After a few hours at my desk working on a grant application and a paper revision, I ran to the tube station, threw myself into a train down to the main campus, trudged a … Continue reading

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In which I drift

Today as I walked to the lab from Belsize Park underground station, fallen cobnuts crunched under my shoes, and an obstacle course of shiny brown conkers scattered free from their deflated prickly cases. In the spent edges of Storm Helene, … Continue reading

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In which a new Doctor is born

No, not that Doctor. (Besides, I’m not sure any graduate student would care to regenerate and repeat the experience for all eternity!) My first PhD candidate, Harry Horsley, recently had his viva. Here he is, about an hour before the … Continue reading

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In which we wind down

I’ve been off work for a few days, but the incompatible clash of exhaustion and adrenalin which characterizes my life in academia has yet to ebb. These days it takes a full week to come down from the jaw-clenched crush … Continue reading

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In which life slips past

Time is passing. My baby son has somehow turned four years old, and a very significant birthday approaches in a month’s time for me as well. The seasons are changing. We’ve stopped watering the withered tomato vines, seen the last … Continue reading

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In which I hire

A colleague I respect very highly once likened academic careers to a rocket launch: once you hit escape velocity, you’re safely in orbit. Problem is, achieving this state as a post-doc or untenured faculty is becoming increasingly difficult. Hundreds of … Continue reading

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In which horizons expand

Every career probably has a tipping point. Twenty-seven years after embarking on my PhD, a period riddled with false starts, uncertainties, twists and turns, I sense the shifting of weight beneath me and momentum gathering as I start to swing … Continue reading

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In which I am cloistered

I’ve had to do a lot of working from home these past two weeks, as our Athena SWAN submission reaches its final denouement. (Let’s pause to appreciate the image of “Athena SWAN” as a reassuringly corpulent opera singer with Viking … Continue reading

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In which the calm cowers before the storm

Can you hear it? Yes, that’s the sound of a distinct lack of undergraduates knocking around the place. Even the summer lab students have departed, off for a few weeks of R&R or debauchery before the grind kicks back in … Continue reading

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In which I wave in your general direction

Has it really been a few months since my last post? Holidays are only partially to blame: that covers two weeks. Maybe three, if you count the frazzled week finishing up in the lab beforehand, or the frazzled week on … Continue reading

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