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Brits! You can buy my book now

“Introducing Epigenetics: A Graphic Guide” is out NOW in the UK. It’s also available for pre-order everywhere else, and will be released on March 14th in the USA and on March 20th in Canada and elsewhere. Links to all major vendors are available here – or ask your friendly local independent bookstore!

I’ve also set up Continue reading

Posted in furry friends, photos, publishing, Writing | Comments Off on Brits! You can buy my book now

The president needs a civics lesson

President Trump needs a civics lesson. First I would suggest that he reads 1st amendment of the US Constitution. I know this might be hard for a president who doesn’t read but it is a short read. Alternately, he could maybe request that Bill O’Reilly read it out loud on his show if this is easier for him.

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Posted in 1st amendment, Muslim Ban, Trump, Trump executive order | Comments Off on The president needs a civics lesson

Cultural Values in a Time Warp

At the start of the year I wrote about my frustrations with the slow pace of change, specifically with regard to the situation for women in science in academia but also more broadly. This week I am forcibly reminded again how slowly our society changes and this time it’s the case of how it impacts on young children. Impact on them means impact on t Continue reading

Posted in Barbie dolls, education, Equality, gender stereotypes, self-belief, toys | Comments Off on Cultural Values in a Time Warp

Last Saturday:



Photo taken outside the Trump building. I borrowed the sign from a lovely group of people I met at the march

Up next: March for Science (the Vancouver chapter)

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Posted in activism, Canada, current affairs, feminism, personal, photos, Politics, science | Comments Off on Last Saturday:

Narcissistic Personality Disorder in the White House

Full disclosure: I am not a psychiatrist.

But it doesn’t take a board certified psychiatrist to see ominous parallels between the behavior of the recently elected president of the United States and a mental illness known as Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).

The Mayo Clinic describes NPD in the following way:

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Posted in crowd size, inauguration, narcissistic personality disorder, Politics, president, presidential elections, Trump, US | Comments Off on Narcissistic Personality Disorder in the White House

The ABC of panel scoring: Anchoring, Bias and Committee Procedures

Academic life is particularly full of rank ordered lists, even if they are frequently not transparently available. From undergraduate examinations to professorial promotions, from REF (and in future TEF) marks to grant-awarding panels, the scores matter. Anyone who has ever been ‘scored’ will worry about the accuracy of the scores given; anyone who Continue reading

Posted in committee meetings, decisions, rank-ordered lists, Research, Science Funding | Comments Off on The ABC of panel scoring: Anchoring, Bias and Committee Procedures

No escape from the geeky scientist phenotype–or is that stereotype?


Professor John Nerdelbaum Frink, Jr., scientist from “The Simpsons.” A familiar stereotype.

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Posted in doddering fools, exxon, Geek, humor, intoverts, nerd, phenotype, Research, science, scientist, spotify, stereotype, the simpsons | Comments Off on No escape from the geeky scientist phenotype–or is that stereotype?

In which we sort ourselves out

Writing space: the final frontier

When you move into a new house, you unpack about 90% of your belongings in the first months. And then, of course, there’s that lingering tail that seems to get put off indefinitely.

This asymptote of neglect can be indicative: if you haven’t opened a box for a few years, it’s likely you never wi Continue reading

Posted in Domestic bliss, Lablit, Writing | Comments Off on In which we sort ourselves out

Mentoring Matters, but for Whom?

In response to my recent post on New Year Frustrations, I received a tweet complaining that in this particular person’s university female postdocs contractually could not receive mentoring. That statement can be read in two ways: either that female postdocs are being actively disadvantaged in comparison with their male counterparts (which would be Continue reading

Posted in advice, appraisal, early career researchers, postdocs, Research, Women in science | Comments Off on Mentoring Matters, but for Whom?

Synaptic Transfer and Interdisciplinarity

I spent much of the Christmas break admiring my new granddaughter’s constantly changing and newly acquired skills as she progressed from 8 weeks old to 10; the sense of new synaptic connections being made was very strong as her hand-eye coordination improved and she began to get some sense of one limb being distinct from another. So, reading Brigit Continue reading

Posted in Communicating Science, david mitchell, David Rowan, Interdisciplinary Science, Unconscious bias, Virginia Valian | Comments Off on Synaptic Transfer and Interdisciplinarity

In which I bring Lego to lab meeting

Our floor recently initiated a monthly lunchtime meeting as an informal feedback conduit. Although the individual labs all work in one mammoth communal room, the research that goes on is disparate. The key to propelling your project forward might be someone else’s knowledge, or a helpful reagent stashed unbeknownst to you in a fridge just one Continue reading

Posted in Research, Scientific thinking | Comments Off on In which I bring Lego to lab meeting

ICYMI No.10 – New Year’s Resolution

Along with many of my academic colleagues from across the nation, I was asked by the Times Higher Education to set down at least one new year’s resolution for 2017.

I drew inspiration from Richard Hamming (whom I wrote about way back in the glory days of 2009)…

By the way, now that I have reach number 10 in this “In case you missed it&# Continue reading

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Hard Day’s Night

Last year was mental.

Back in December 2015, with about about 10 days’ notice, a colleague and I flew to Orlando on a Sunday lunchtime, ran a meeting Monday morning, and flew home Monday night.

That was just the start. Continue reading

Posted in personal, work | Comments Off on Hard Day’s Night

New Year Frustrations

I spent some of my time off around New Year attempting to start as I mean to go on by tidying my ‘home office’. In the run-up to Christmas, as exhaustion took over and time ran out, I had increasingly just been dumping piles of paper precariously on the edge of my desk as I rushed in from meetings. No sorting; no tidying; no order. So January 1st s Continue reading

Posted in Equality, GCSE, Glass Cliff, Laura Bates, Women in science | Comments Off on New Year Frustrations

In which horizons expand

Every career probably has a tipping point. Twenty-seven years after embarking on my PhD, a period riddled with false starts, uncertainties, twists and turns, I sense the shifting of weight beneath me and momentum gathering as I start to swing to some bright but unknown Other Side.

Nothing has materially changed about my job description or status. Continue reading

Posted in academia, careers, Research, The profession of science | Comments Off on In which horizons expand