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Book review bundle

I was inspired to start this post by Beth‘s 2014 book list, and to finish it by Stephen‘s – although my list spans 20 months rather than 12! Bad blogger. Beth also invited me to join a newly-formed book club a few months ago, which is a first for me. I was ambivalent at first, thinking that I don’t seem to get around to read Continue reading
Posted in blog buddies, book review, movie review, personal, science | Leave a comment


When I still lived in the UK, New Year’s Eve was always a really big deal for my friends and me. We usually went up to Edinburgh for the huge Hogmanay street party, which involved being out on Princes Street from about 10pm until 4am, pushing our way through massive crowds, drinking cheap wine from plastic pop bottles, kissing random men in k Continue reading

Posted in drunkenness, Getting old, personal | Leave a comment

Impressions of Australia

I have been struggling to write something about my trip to Australia in August, my first visit to that great continent and undoubtedly a highlight of 2014. In my determination to get away from the rather banal what-I-did-on-my-lecture-tour-and-family-holiday trope, I ended up loading the first draft with too much historical and philosophical baggag Continue reading

Posted in Australia, science, travel | Comments Off

Losing a Mentor

There are usually only a handful of people in anyone’s life who can honestly be said to have had a radical impact on how that life turns out. Yesterday I learned of the death of one of my key mentors, Professor Ed Kramer who was one such person in my own life. I feel desperately sad at his passing. Not only an amazing and inspirational scient Continue reading

Posted in Ed Kramer, inspirational. mentor, polymer science, Research | Comments Off

Empathy, stereotypes and Merry Christmas

Around this time of year, I find myself in public places like grocery stores constantly be wished “Merry Christmas.” This, of course, does not at all bother me (although being Jewish I recognize the significance of the holiday, I do not celebrate Christmas), and my standard response is “Merry Christmas to you, too.” Emails i Continue reading

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Holiday Snaps (lazy blogging)

In my usual way, with the Christmas break in full sway, I’ll more or less finish of the year with some lazy photo blogging. First up: Toronto’s Eaton Centre with the 1937 camera:

Black Friday, Eaton Centre, Toronto

And here’s Jill Barber, the mystery holiday chanteuse I alluded to previously:

Jill Barber, First Canadian Place, Toronto

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Posted in Christmas, concerts, downtown, Film, Hobbies, holidays, Jill Barber, Photography, Toronto, travel, Vancouver | Comments Off

A Professorial Guide (Updated)

In the run up to Christmas I feel I should be posting something light, frothy and cheerful. But somehow a diet of the REF, the Strategy and Innovation review which prompted my last post, as well as more domestic upheavals and concerns have knocked any frothiness out of me. So I’m going to cheat and repost and update something I wrote as Chris Continue reading

Posted in departmental committees, professors, Science Culture | Comments Off

How to pass your PMP exam

It’s been a while, eh?

Today’s the first day since early September that I’ve woken up without a long list of specific things to accomplish, and it is blissful! I’m on my sister-in-law’s sofa with a big cup of tea, and I don’t have to do anything but this or be anywhere but here ALL DAY. Heaven! Continue reading

Posted in blog buddies, career, conferences, furry friends, personal, science, why I love the internet | Comments Off

It’s All about Science Policy this Week: the Good and the Bad

There has been much activity on what could loosely be termed ‘Science Policy’ this week, including both the long-awaited/significantly delayed BIS Science and Innovation (S+I) Strategy document (entitled, optimistically ‘Our plan for growth’) and the outcome of the REF2014. I will leave discussion of the latter for another d Continue reading

Posted in Phd student training, Science Funding, Sir Mark Walport, Sir Paul Nurse, Strategy and Innovation | Comments Off

Vanity project

I haven’t written a book. And this is it.

Cover photo

Well, I did write it of course. Continue reading

Posted in Scientific Life | Comments Off

500 dead bumblebees – the chemical blitz of modern farming

Globe thistle

Earlier this year, Sheila Horne was walking at Hacton Parkway, a public park and conservation area in Havering, East London. April is normally a good time to see insects in their prime so she was very surprised to find many dead and dying bees near the path. She alerted local naturalist, Tony Gunton who identified the insects as bumblebee queens f Continue reading

Posted in buff-tailed bumblebee, buglife, bumblebees, common carder bee, conservation, epoxiconazole, flusilazole, fungicides, Guest posts, Hacton Parkway, imidacloprid, insecticides, neonicotinoids, pollinators, red-tailed bumblebee, thiamethoxam, tony gunton | Comments Off

On moving on from The Lancet’s egregious error

In the midst of the terrible summer war between the Hamas movement in Gaza and Israel, The Lancet published a rabidly anti-Israel letter entitled “An Open Letter for the People of Gaza” that accused Israel of intentional genocide and Israeli doctors of essentially being part of this genocidal activity — and of course squarely plac Continue reading

Posted in "open letter to the people of Gaza, academic boycott, anti-semitism, Dr. Horton, genocide, Israel, Israelis, Manduca, Medicine, Palestinians, Research, rockets, science, terror, The Lancet, war | Comments Off

Should I Be Discombobulated?

If I were Mary Beard I’m sure I could tell you about my particular current predicament with grace and self-deprecating humour. As it is my reaction is a severe case of impostor syndrome when perhaps I should be swanning around with delight. But yet to talk about such delight makes me feel in danger of exhibiting unsuitable over-confidence ver Continue reading

Posted in portraiture, role models, Science Culture, Tess Barnes, Women in science | Comments Off

Creativity – mixing it up

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve had cause to celebrate dramatic creativity in various forms, mixed and mingled. I’ve seen one film and two musicals; two with a biographical bent and one with a (fictional) scientific bent.

Two weeks back I went to my wonderful local cinema, The Phoenix in East Finchley, to see Hockney as part of an ev Continue reading

Posted in Film, Film and music, Music | Comments Off

On Sponsorship and Kindness

Academia is intrinsically competitive, full of the need to win grants – which necessarily implies winning out over nameless others – gaining promotion and trying to beat others to a hot result at the expense of colleagues in the game. Does that mean the best science gets done? Almost certainly not. Being competitive can lead to a race to publicatio Continue reading

Posted in criticism, early career researcher, Equality, Science Culture, support, Women in science | Comments Off