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The implications of religion among scientists

I recently attended a meeting in London – ‘Exploring the implications of religion among scientists in the UK and India’, which is a subset of a larger investigation by Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public policy headed up by Prof. Elaine Ecklund. When I received the invitation back in May, I didn’t really quit Continue reading

Posted in Atheism, implications of religion among scientists, religion, stereotypes in science | Leave a comment

Icons, cell biology and comfort zones

I recently returned from a week in Paris in which I attended a great meeting hosted by the French Society for Cell Biology (SBCF) called “Building the Cell,” at the Pasteur Institute and from another seminar invitation at the Curie Institute.
The Parisian icon made from immunostained HeLa cells plated on fibronectin served as the logo Continue reading

Posted in cell biology, Curie Institute, Eiffel Tower, France, Paris, Pasteur Institute, Research, science, scientific meeting, seminar, travel | Leave a comment

Getting the Most out of Panel Discussions

When I set out as a young researcher, conferences had a pretty monolithic structure. There were longer talks and there were shorter talks, but that was it. I don’t even think the first conferences I attended had poster sessions. Talks were usually delivered either with an overhead projector(usually with prepared overheads, but occasionally wr Continue reading

Posted in audience participation, chairing, conferences, Science Culture, time-keeping | Leave a comment

Is the Royal Society Treating Women Fairly?

This year’s announcement regarding successful applicants for Royal Society University Research Fellowships (URFs) has been hailed with deep suspicion by many. Out of 43 awards only 2 went to women and there is no getting around the fact that this is a dismal result. Paul Nurse, the President has published a statement spelling out, not only hi Continue reading

Posted in Equality, interviews, Science Funding, Unconscious bias, University Research Fellows, Women in science | Comments Off

What’s Wrong with Conferences?

September is customarily a busy month for conferences, often with too many interesting ones that clash. What makes for a good meeting? Exciting talks, which you haven’t heard before (so not just lazy wheeling out of the usual suspects by the organisers); lively discussion; comfortable beds, quiet corridors and good food; poster sessions with Continue reading

Posted in clocks, Communicating Science, keynote speakers, poster sessions, Science Culture | Comments Off

Unacceptable (science) education

For some time now I have been a proponent of including researchers – for example, those with a Ph.D. – in teaching science to high school students. While I have no doubt that the inclusion of a motivated and talented body of researchers in secondary school education will be highly beneficial to all involved: high students students, the Continue reading

Posted in advanced microscopy, advanced placement, biology, creative teaching, education, Golgi, high school, microbody, organelles, Ph.D. degree, Research, science, secondary school, super-resolution microscopy, Teaching, the cell | Comments Off


I was taught as a child that if you are walking on a road that has no pavement then you should walk on the side of the road so as to face the oncoming traffic. If the cars are driving on the left, as in the UK, then you must walk on the right.  This was drummed into me as a safety thing. I think the rationale is that you will be able to see (and ta Continue reading

Posted in Crick | Comments Off

One hundred years old

Just a few years back it seemed unlikely that we would ever celebrate our centenary. We were to be rejuvenated exterminated absorbed into a new Institute.  Back in 2007 when this project was announced we expected that 2013 would be the beginning of the new, and the end of the old Institute just shy of its 100 years. But the awesome immensity of the Continue reading

Posted in 100NIMR, Books, Film and music, History | Comments Off

Who Isn’t an Impostor?

Last week I attended the last day of the British Science Association‘s Festival in Birmingham. There was a real buzz about the place and it had clearly been an extremely successful few days. I enjoyed hearing Ineke de Moortel – the Rosalind Franklin Lecture Award winner – talk about solar flares and sunspots in lucid and accessible terms as p Continue reading

Posted in British Science Association, Communicating Science, Impostor syndrome, Paul Nurse, Robin Ince, Science Culture, Steve Cross | Comments Off

Popular neuroscience book suggestions

Neuroscience isn’t really my thing, so when my teenage daughter came asking for suggestions of a good popular book on the subject I took to Twitter. Several people kindly made suggestions, while others asked to be notified of the outcome of my quest. It seems to be a popular subject.

Here, in no particular order are the titles that were offered. Continue reading

Posted in book review, neuroscience, popsci, popular science | Comments Off

In which we need more lab coats in the Commons

Like many commuters serving as a captive audience on the London Underground, I tend to read the free Evening Standard most nights. I enjoy the op ed pieces by Rosamund Urwin, who has always struck me as both light-hearted and eminently sensible – a good combination for any journalist desirous of keeping the attention of exhausted people trapp Continue reading

Posted in Policy, Politics | Comments Off

Fresh Start, Fresh Anxieties

This is the time of year when anxious students-to-be – and their parents – are contemplating their future. Having established that they have got into University X once A level results are known, they have to work out what the shape of their future life will be. Where will they live? What will their accommodation be like? What will be provided by th Continue reading

Posted in Cambridge University, Churchill College, Freshers, Science Culture | Comments Off

We strapped this baby into a chair. You won’t believe what happened next!

Tired and hungry

Posted in caption competition, Don't try this at home, Nonsense | Comments Off

Men are Parents Too

Another shocking headline) graced the pages of the Daily Telegraph this week, albeit apparently only temporarily before removal. ‘Mother of 3 poised to lead the BBC’ it shrieked, a sentence curiously reminiscent of the way Dorothy Hodgkin’s Nobel Prize was celebrated 50 years ago. Back then the Daily Telegraph announced “Bri Continue reading

Posted in Equality, headlines, Laura Bates, Rona Fairhead, tabpp | Comments Off

In which I am still largely at large: another mother in academia

Blogging appearances to the contrary, I am still alive, clinging gamely to some semblance of work-life balance as a new mother in academia.

Not so new anymore, I realize, as Joshua hurtles, one milestone at a time, toward his first birthday. He sways on his feet, unsupported, for long periods of time, yet is still reluctant to let go as he steps a Continue reading

Posted in Lablit, Science-fiction, students, Teaching, The profession of science, Women in science, Writing | Comments Off