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Improvising As You Go

Just occasionally one sits down with a new book, starts to read and a great sense of calm, of recognition and of identification with the words in front of you descends. It’s all too rare but is wonderful when it happens. So it was with me when I read the opening pages of Composing a Life by Mary Catherine Bateson, who incidentally (as far as Continue reading

Posted in careers, Catherine Bateson, mentor, Wow | Leave a comment

Terrors transcended

On balance, I prefer laughing to crying but I am not afraid to let my tears flow. Powerful drama can do it, so can stirring music. I may cry when I recall events or times in my life when I have been sad. I can cry when I read about or watch representations of human cruelty. These things are all likely to give my tear ducts a workout. Continue reading

Posted in Music | Leave a comment

In which I enjoy a Northern sojourn

I spend a lot of my time these days up at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead, helping out with undergraduate teaching. It’s marked a new phase of traipsing up and down on the Northern Line to my lab on the main campus, but now that term has started I’ve settled into a routine that seems to work for everyone, myself included.

As a work Continue reading

Posted in Gardening, Silliness, Teaching | Leave a comment

Unconscious gender bias? What do I picture when I think of a scientist?

Recent years have seen a lot of discussion on the blogosphere on gender bias in science. There is no question that awareness is always the first step in heading for a solution.

photo 1-1

Do I have an unconscious bias against women in science? Continue reading

Posted in arts, conscious bias, education, female, feminism, gender bias, gender equality, identity, liberal arts, male, minorities, Ph.D., PI, Research, science, scientist, scientists, Unconscious bias, Women in science | Leave a comment

“Dogged Science”

Ginger at work

No, this is not posed or photoshopped. But it is apparent that Ginger is somewhat less enthusiastic about calculations in single molecule imaging than I am.

Posted in competing interests, dogs, dSTORM, Ginger, humor, Labrador Retriever, Research, science, single molecule imaging, vizsla | Leave a comment

Non-science: Concert Photography in Downtown Toronto

I seem to be morphing, at least part of the time, into a concert photographer.

Kai - letting it rip at First Canadian Place
Toronto singer-songwriter Kai tears the roof off.

Let me explain. Continue reading

Posted in First Canadian Place, Hobbies, Music, on stage, Photography, Toronto | Comments Off

Cambridge Admissions – Dispelling the Myths

Myths abound about admission to Cambridge, despite all attempts to put out some real hard facts (and similarly by Oxford). The interview process itself, which both universities use, seems to be shrouded in particular mystique. Cambridge has recently posted a new video to try to flesh out the reality of what it really is like; Oxford has put out som Continue reading

Posted in education, Equality, interviews, state schools, widening participation | Comments Off

Digital culture: my so-called week

My week, my cultural week, started last Sunday when I found time to complete my listening of Radio 4’s five-part series on Dorothy Hodgkin, an extraordinary scientist who was brought vividly to life through readings of her letters. Hearing the words created an immediacy that I am not sure I would have grasped from the printed page. If you have not Continue reading

Posted in History of Science, Science & Art, TV review | Comments Off

Lifeskills I Wish I Possessed

I have been, briefly, in Brussels observing some ERC panels far from my area of expertise. It’s a very interesting experience, approaching topics one knows nothing about (including not having read the proposals) but watching how proceedings unfold. As a Scientific Council member my role is to see that all is going smoothly, that there are no Continue reading

Posted in bicycles, ERC, Science Culture, sleep | Comments Off

On Columbus’ Origins

Having celebrated this week what is known here in the US as Columbus Day, a federal holiday, I thought it might be interesting to share (rather than review) a novel that I just finished reading — timely enough — about the life of Christopher/Christofer/Christoferro/Christobal Columbus/Colombo/Colon/Colona. The multitude of names signifi Continue reading

Posted in 1492, America, author, Christopher, Codex 632, Colon, Columbus, Columbus Day, Conversos, dos Santos, Genoa, Jewish, Kabbala, navigation, novel, Portugese, Portugese Jew, science, Spain | Comments Off

On a hill

Jenny and I took some friends around the Rotherhithe peninsula yesterday, cutting through Russia Dock Woodlands and finally climbing Stave Hill.

From the top of Stave Hill you can appreciate just how flat London geography really is. The Hill’s not very high—30 feet, according to Wikipedia (and the base is barely above sea level)—but you can e Continue reading

Posted in London, Photography, Walkie Talkie | Comments Off

Spreading the Word, Drop by Drop

There are times when I feel as if I’m talked out about gender. I know what the issues are, I’ve written and spoken about them often enough; I’ve dug up and read through some of the relevant papers (though that hardly makes me an expert in the field) and I’ve put the arguments across in many different fora both publicly and p Continue reading

Posted in Equality, Ottoline Leyser, promotion, Science Culture, speaking out, Unconscious bias, Women in science | Comments Off

In which my palm is crossed with silver: Suffrage Science 2014

Inheritance doesn’t have to be genetic.

This past Thursday at London’s Dana Centre, I was one of this year’s recipients for Suffrage Science. For those of you unfamiliar with the scheme, it was launched in 2011 by the Medical Research Council Clinical Sciences Centre, and involves heirloom jewelry, originally designed by art stude Continue reading

Posted in Women in science, Writing | Comments Off

From a New Viewpoint

I have moved a mere mile or two from my previous home to my new abode at Churchill College, and yet it feels as if everything has shifted: my centre of gravity is this crucial mile further west and everything I do is altered. Walking into the centre of town is now a very different experience, the route changed and consequently the perspectives subt Continue reading

Posted in Cambridge, Churchill College, College Life, Science Culture, students | Comments Off

Debating the role of metrics in research assessment

I spent all of today attending the “In metrics we trust?” workshop organised jointly by HEFCE and the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at Sussex University. It was an open session that was part of the information-gathering process of HEFCE’s independent review of the role of metrics in research assessment, which has a particular focus on how the Continue reading

Posted in HEFCE, metrics, REF, Research Assessment, science, Scientific Life | Comments Off