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Long Silences and the BSc Profile

Every summer I promise myself that I will start the Fall Semester so well prepared that I will not reach Christmas in a state of organizational meltdown, surrounded by backlogs of reviews, student projects waiting for feedback, unread literature, ungraded homeworks and neglected committee assignments, and suffering from diseases caused by deficiencies of vitamins that are not contained in take-out Continue reading

Posted in education, Materials Science | Comments Off on Long Silences and the BSc Profile

Joining the Dots

I’ve been in Paris this weekend, talking to a ‘Global Cambridge‘ event for alumni. Paris is a city of which I am inordinately fond – one of my unfulfilled dreams was to spend a sabbatical in the city so I could finally gain an ability to speak the language properly – and over the years I have visited it not infrequently both for work and pleasure. My brief stay gave me plenty of Continue reading

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Measurements: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Measuring us seems endemic to academic life now (as indeed to the NHS or local Councils or any other part of our civic society). The Forum for Responsible Research Metrics is charged with coming up with ways to use metrics in our universities in ways that are constructive and relevant. There are far too many potential metrics out there – and there will be a whole set more devised when Jo Johnson’s Continue reading

Posted in KEF, metrics, REF, Research, Science Culture, TEF, The Metric Tide | Comments Off on Measurements: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

To the end

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, there was a Webstory. And that Webstory grew and prospered, at least for a time. And the Curator of the Webstory strove to breathe live into it, but with one thing and another the interval between updates grew longer and longer, until it languished around Chapter Fourteen, and all had given up hope.

Or so it seemed.

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Posted in A momentary lapse of reason, Don't try this at home | Comments Off on To the end

Soul Music

We all have parts of our characters – beyond our work-face – that we feel are important to us. Be it that we like poetry, going for walks or collecting teaspoons, we feel this hobby or habit in part defines us. How much so, what the balance is between personal and professional, is likely to shift during life, not least because there may be periods when the personal gets squeezed out by other aspec Continue reading

Posted in Communicating Science, Desert Island Discs, piano, Radio 3 | Comments Off on Soul Music

In which we’re in business: Cat Zero officially for sale!

Just a quick note to say that my upcoming third lab lit novel, Cat Zero, is now available for pre-order on Amazons near and far (UK and USA)!

Still with placeholder cover featuring the neighbour’s cat Sergei!

There should be a Kindle edition too.

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Posted in Lablit, Writing | Comments Off on In which we’re in business: Cat Zero officially for sale!

Prayer works–or does it? Shall we ask the murdered?

No sooner had I penned my piece exposing the hypocrisy and weak-kneed leadership of Republican Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, when he has made new headlines with another smug, holier-than-thou, awful and divisive statement–that is also wrong.

Following the horrific church shooting in a small Texan town, in which at least 26 people were murdered by rapid gun fire, Mr. Ryan was criticized fo Continue reading

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Joshua is at that delightful age when he is yet too young to be able to reliably, unaided, clean and dress himself, yet old enough to resist getting ready to leave the house in the morning.

When he was younger, he might not have helped me when I was trying to get his coat and shoes on, but at last he wasn’t actively thwarting our attempts to catch the 7.44 from Gravesend, by throwing his other s Continue reading

Posted in Joshua, Me, Nonsense, personal | Comments Off on Days

Getting to Grips with Writing

How did you feel when your supervisor first asked you to draft a piece of writing, whether it was a journal article or perhaps your thesis itself? Excited or terrified? Was it any different the next time and the next? Do you still feel anxious or is it all a piece of cake now? Writing is so integral to the scientific process, yet is also often treated as incidental. Communication skills courses ar Continue reading

Posted in co-author, Communicating Science, communication, Lisa Emerson, Thesis | Comments Off on Getting to Grips with Writing

Paul Ryan, it’s time to go home

It has now been a full year since the elections that brought a morally reprehensible person into the White House. By now, any remaining negligible hope that the man who was elected president might “pivot” and show even a semblance of the type of moral leadership expected from the holder of this position has drowned in the swamp that he so hypocritically vows to drain.

In the course of Continue reading

Posted in Donald Trump, election, hostage video, Jason Chaffetz, Mitt Romney, moral clarity, Paul Ryan, president, Republicans, tax reform, USA, White house | Comments Off on Paul Ryan, it’s time to go home

Higher Education Through the Looking Glass

I feel as if the Higher Education sector has somehow stepped through Alice’s mirror. Everything is topsy-turvy and has been for some time.  It is hard to know where the next attack will come from. Labour peer Lord Adonis started the university football, with accusations about Vice Chancellors’ high pay and a suggestion that academics didn’t work over the summer (I have already attempted to debunk Continue reading

Posted in Brexit, Daily Mail, David Lammy, Festival of Ideas, Research, Science Funding | Comments Off on Higher Education Through the Looking Glass

A danger to science and so much more

Recent polls demonstrate that a shocking number of Americans believe ridiculous conspiracy theories. For example, nearly 1/3 of Americans believe that the Federal Drug Administration in the US deliberately withholds new drugs that target cancer from the American public. In addition, a full 25% of Americans still believe that former US President Obama was not born in the US (the “birther cons Continue reading

Posted in conspiracy theories, Conway, education, facts, Obama, science, science Trump, truth | Comments Off on A danger to science and so much more

It’s Time to Break the Silence

One of the pleasurable duties of being Master of a Cambridge College is getting a chance to talk to a wide cross section of people across the dinner table. This week it was the College’s Scholars’ Feast, a feast which means what it says: it is our annual thank you to our amazing group of scholars, whose numbers swell each year. They are a stimulating bunch to talk to.

I was struck by being asked t Continue reading

Posted in Barbara Stocking, education, Equality, harassment, sexual misconduct | Comments Off on It’s Time to Break the Silence

Why we need to better educate the public about science–and stop bill “S. 1973, The Basic Research Act”

The 20th and 21st centuries have arguably been the “Golden Age” for science in the US and other developed countries. Within a generation we have gone from people routinely dying as a result of simple bacterial infections to the power of antibiotics in preventing most deaths. We have gone from polio, smallpox and even chickenpox to vaccinations that largely eliminate disease in immunized people. Ev Continue reading

Posted in bill S. 1973, biomedical research, CRISP/Cas9, Darwin, education, enzymes, funding, grant review, medical advances, National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, NIH, NSF, peer review, Rand Paul, Research, science, taxpayer advocate, The Basic research Act, vaccinations | Comments Off on Why we need to better educate the public about science–and stop bill “S. 1973, The Basic Research Act”

Thin slicing a thin-skinned president

A wonderful elementary school friend who I haven’t seen for over 40 years recently drew my attention to a Canadian journalist and author named Malcolm Gladwell. I first read his book “Outliers,” a book that examined how the very most successful people in a variety of fields (from computer gurus like Bill Gates, to star hockey players, to airline pilots) managed to climb to the top of their respect Continue reading

Posted in Blink, Gladwell, Outliers, Politics, president, Research, science, thin slicing, Trump | Comments Off on Thin slicing a thin-skinned president