Latest posts

Back to the Middle Ages

The current administration under the direction of Trumph has published a new budget proposal for 2018 discretionary spending. It does not take a Ph.D. in economics to realize that aside from a huge 54 billion dollar increase to the military (and with the exception of Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs), all of the domestic departments have been Continue reading

Posted in budget, cuts, National Institutes of Health, NIH, president, Research, science, Trump | Comments Off on Back to the Middle Ages

Depersonalising the REF

Successive rounds of the RAE and its successor REF have always caused high levels of stress and anxiety. The associated workload is very substantial for institutions (and many individuals); the stakes are high in terms of both reputation and funding. Each round the rules have changed somewhat. Nevertheless, collectively academia has understandably Continue reading

Posted in HEFCE, Research, Royal Society, Science Culture, Science Funding, Stern Review | Comments Off on Depersonalising the REF

Thinking Longitudinally and Long-term

There are many things we take for granted these days that were once mysteries. To take a specific example, relevant to the rest of this post, I’d include the fact that smoking during pregnancy has implications for both the immediate and long-term health of the foetus/child. But this discovery came about because of serendipity in a questionnaire des Continue reading

Posted in birth, children, Cohort studies, Research, Science Culture, social science | Comments Off on Thinking Longitudinally and Long-term

No More ‘Male by Default’ Please

Another year, another International Women’s Day. This year the strapline is ‘be bold for change’. A good motto but many will feel that boldness is dangerous in the face of opposition or incomprehension. Incomprehension is perhaps commoner than one thinks: people stuck in a time warp who genuinely don’t realise how much default behaviour and stereot Continue reading

Posted in confidence, Equality, International Women's Day, leadership, promotion, Women in science | Comments Off on No More ‘Male by Default’ Please

In which we experiment

My three-year-old son Joshua is a bright and curious boy, full of incessant questions and always wanting to get into everything.

The other day he noticed that when he was sucking up juice with a straw, the level of liquid in the cup went down. I pointed to the glass vase of tulips next to him and remarked that they also sucked up water to stay str Continue reading

Posted in Domestic bliss, Teaching | Comments Off on In which we experiment

Five Minutes Peace (and Preferably a Lot More)

Any parent will be familiar with the desire to find a quiet corner where the children can’t find them. Many readers will also know all about the antics of the Large Family, a family of elephants, in Jill Murphy’s tale whose title I have appropriated for the first part of my own title here. We all know that desire for peace, but also – as an academi Continue reading

Posted in diary, email, Science Culture, time | Comments Off on Five Minutes Peace (and Preferably a Lot More)

“Cracking Cancer” on CBC’s The Nature of Things tonight

Tonight’s episode of CBC documentary series The Nature of Things with David Suzuki features an in-depth look at the BC Cancer Agency’s Personalized Onco-Genomics (POG) project, which is exploring the feasibility of sequencing DNA and RNA from cancer cells to help physicians select the best treatment for each individual patient.

Project Continue reading

Posted in Canada, cancer research, genomics, Medicine, science, television, video | Comments Off on “Cracking Cancer” on CBC’s The Nature of Things tonight

Are You Authentic?

‘Be true to yourself’ is a well-worn phrase, almost a mantra. I  know I pepper talks (and writing) with the phrase. I think I know exactly what I mean and had assumed others did too. I do not mean that you should give up all social graces and be blunt in every situation, telling people to get lost (or a more offensive equivalent) because that’s wha Continue reading

Posted in career, choices, decisions, Science Culture | Comments Off on Are You Authentic?

SAVING ONE–my 4th lab lit novel is now available!

books

After a hiatus of nearly four years, my fourth novel featuring biomedical researchers as protagonists has finally been published, and is now available in paperback and Kindle formats from Amazon. Or you can get an autographed copy if you purchase through my website.

In SAVING ONE, I return to the setting of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Continue reading

Posted in Research, science | Comments Off on SAVING ONE–my 4th lab lit novel is now available!

Interview with the author

Those of you who have read all 346 posts on my Reciprocal Space blog will have no need to read this one. You probably already have a sense of what I do and what I’m like – my science, my hobbies, my hobby-horses, and my foibles.

But on the off chance that you’re new here, or are a faithful reader who just can’t get enough, here is an interview I di Continue reading

Posted in Scientific Life | Comments Off on Interview with the author

Building a Humane Workplace

This is the unabridged/unedited version of an article that first appeared a couple of weeks ago in Optics and Photonics.

Increasingly industry has woken up to the fact that diverse teams make better decisions and, by implication, make more money. Although the driver of higher profits does not immediately translate to academia, making better decisio Continue reading

Posted in bullying, Equality, group dynamics, sexism | Comments Off on Building a Humane Workplace

Status Report – February 2017

I said when I started this blog in 2008 that I would not promise to post regularly, so as to avoid the endless repetition of apologies for failing to write. And I’m not about to start apologising now, even though the regularity of my posting is not what it once was – not even close. But I’m disappointed that I seem to have got out of the habi Continue reading

Posted in ICYMI | Comments Off on Status Report – February 2017

In which I make myself useful


Two centrifuge buckets, both alike in dignity?

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that an ageing group leader is, by definition, out of touch when it comes to the lab. After all, we spend most of our time writing grants and papers, fretting about ever-tightening budgets and attempting to navigate an arcane, deeply political academic minef Continue reading

Posted in Kit, Research, Silliness, The profession of science | Comments Off on In which I make myself useful

Let’s Celebrate with UNESCO

Today, February 11th 2017, is the first UNESCO’s International Day of Women & Girls in Science. This is a day to remind ourselves not that ‘you’ve come a long way baby’ in the words of a now infamous advertisement campaign for cigarettes, but a day to celebrate those who have lived their dream and made a career for themselves in science; and a Continue reading

Posted in encouragement, Eugenia Kumacheva, L'Oreal For Women in Science, Science Culture, Women in science | Comments Off on Let’s Celebrate with UNESCO

Podcath part III: sci-fi audio drama edition

Radio drama is making a big comeback in the form of podcasts, with plenty of high quality science fiction to choose from. Here are some of my favourites.

I’ve been a science fiction fan since I first read John Wyndham’s The Chrysalids as a kid. I quickly graduated to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy books (I’m proudly sporting a “Vote Zaphod Be Continue reading

Posted in fiction, reviews, Silliness, technology, why I love the internet | Comments Off on Podcath part III: sci-fi audio drama edition