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A breath of fresh (scientific) air

As I sat yesterday in a student career development workshop, and listened to the fears and anxieties surrounding the prospects of a career in academia – or in any scientific field, for that matter – I felt a million miles away from the outstanding Gordon Research Conference (GRC) from which I had just returned.

Northern railway trail, Andover, New Hampshire

On the Northern Railway Continue reading

Posted in Andover, basic science, career development, Gordon Research Conference, GRC, lab, New Hampshire, postdocs, Proctor, professors, Research, science, students | Leave a comment

Well-rounded Students – What does it Take?

WS Gilbert thought it was ‘comical…that every boy and every gal… is either a little Liberal or else a little Conservative’ in the words expressed by that bored sentry PC Willis. The politics would be different now, but we in England and Wales still seem to live in a system where every boy or girl, at least those who aspire to A levels a Continue reading

Posted in A levels, British Academy, education, International Baccalaureate, Royal Society, Tessa Blackstone, Vision report | Leave a comment

The Flying Squad*

An imposing, white-painted beehive stood in the middle of the room. Emblazoned across the front in large black letters was one word – POLICE.

The police keep bees?

Continue reading
Posted in agri environment schemes, bee hive, bees, flower rich hay meadows, Flying Squad, Guest posts, higher level stewardship, honeybees, Margaret Couvillon, nature reserves, pollinators, Thomas Thwaites, waggle dance | Comments Off

Leadership by Gravitas or Passion?

A couple of years ago I blogged about my feelings about leadership and role models. The difference is clear and whereas then I felt OK about being considered one of the latter I had issues with regarding myself as a genuine leader. I was brought to reconsider the topic by a request to talk about leadership in academic science by the London Business Continue reading

Posted in committee meetings, innovation, leadership, Science Culture | Comments Off

Leadership by Gravitas or Passion?

A couple of years ago I blogged about my feelings about leadership and role models. The difference is clear and whereas then I felt OK about being considered one of the latter I had issues with regarding myself as a genuine leader. I was brought to reconsider the topic by a request to talk about leadership in academic science by the London Business Continue reading

Posted in committee meetings, innovation, leadership, passion, Science Culture | Comments Off

A momentary lapse of reason—Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Fourteen


The Police

It was always trying, visiting Mary’s mother. Most Saturdays Slater would rise early and sit in the box room he liked to call his study with a pile of academic papers, perhaps a lab notebook or two or a student’s thesis, and catch up with everything he hadn’t been able to do during the week. He’d emerge briefly around 1 Continue reading

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I fought the law

Jury service
Nobody commit any crimes any time soon, mkay?

Posted in Don't try this at home, jury service | Comments Off

An Education in Education (and Policy)

For the last three and a half years I have been chairing the Royal Society’s Education Committee. Under Secretary of State Michael Gove, education in England has been going through a tumultuous time (other parts of the UK have been going through their own periods of turmoil). Consultation after consultation has poured out from the Department Continue reading

Posted in education, michael gove, Royal Society, Science policy, SCORE | Comments Off

World Cup SNOUT

ginger  world cup fan

Caption, please?

Posted in doggy, Football, humor, World cup | Comments Off

Embedding the Gender Agenda

I feel as if I have been involved with gender issues forever, but this is just the bad habit one has of reimagining personal history. Probably acting wisely, in fact for most of my professional career I just got on with my physics trying not to focus on the fact that, as a woman, I was invariably in a small minority in any given room. Not infrequen Continue reading

Posted in committees, Equality, minorities, Unconscious bias, Women in science | Comments Off

More about Everest pioneer Griff Pugh

I’ve got a piece out today over at The Conversation about Griffith Pugh, who I mentioned a couple of days ago. I won’t post it here in full, I think. There weren’t enough edits to make it worth posting a pre-edit version, and if you read it at their place there are some nice photos as well. Anyway, here’s the opening couple Continue reading

Posted in History, Physiology | Comments Off

Ring the bell for tea, Kitty!

My family and I are big fans of Jane Austen. We particularly like the mid-1990s BBC version of Pride and Prejudice featuring Jennifer Ehle and a rather youthful-looking Colin Firth. Having seen the series a gazillion times, the hysterical voice of Mrs. Bennett (Alison Steadman) shrieking at her daughter “Ring the bell for tea, Kitty! Continue reading

Posted in bell, bells, botanical gardens, carillon, chimes, Eijbouts, Jane Austen, Lauritzen, Music, omaha, Pride and Prejudice | Comments Off

Two more days to vote for the unsung hero of Everest

 

A couple of days ago the June e-Newsletter from the Physiological Society dropped into my inbox. Among other stuff it contained this:

 

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Continue reading
Posted in Blog-ology, History, Physiology, The Life Scientific | Comments Off

Things I learned at a funding agency’s “community engagement” session this week

  • “Your stupid new metrics are irrelevant to my field of research”
  • “It’s not fair that chemists get bigger awards, even though I acknowledge that their research is much more expensive than that of the other fields that fall under your agency’s mandate”
  • “You can’t make me change the way I format my CV! Continue reading
Posted in career, grant wrangling, science | Comments Off

The REF: what is the measure of success?

Science has been extraordinarily successful at taking the measure of the world, but paradoxically the world finds it extraordinarily difficult to take the measure of science — or any type of scholarship for that matter.

That is not for want of trying, as any researcher who has submitted a PhD thesis for examination or a manuscript for publication o Continue reading

Posted in Assessment, impact factor, REF, Scientific Life | Comments Off