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Come Fly with Me!

This week the Guardian ran a story which reeked of the Everyday Sexism Laura Bates has charted so excellently. The story referred to the airline TUI which had printed out badges to give to children boarding its flights. On one flight they took great care, apparently, to segregate the badges. Those reading ‘future pilot’ were handed out to the boys; the girls got ones labelled ‘future cabin crew’. Continue reading

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In which I plug: Cat Zero! (Punchline: it’s a great holiday read)

Are you heading off for some well-needed rest? Then do considering packing a copy of Cat Zero, my latest lab lit novel – in which a feminist virologist joins forces with a sexist mathematician to solve a cat plague that might be more sinister than it first appears.

Set in a quirky research institute in leafy North London, the novel sees Artemis “Artie” Marshall, a new lab head, deplo Continue reading

Posted in Lablit, Writing | Comments Off on In which I plug: Cat Zero! (Punchline: it’s a great holiday read)

What is open science?

The question

Wikipedia suggests that open science began in the 17th century, with the start of the academic journal. Some say that open science started in 1957 with the establishment of the World Data Center system, for International Geophysical Year. The system was established with agreement for “free and open exchange of [geophysical] data among nations”.  I’d assumed that open Continue reading

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In which I preserve

I often think about how ancient survival strategies are probably still encoded somewhere deep in our chromosomes, cryptic and dormant but with the potential to be roused by the faintest of stimuli.

For me, recent unrest in the world has woken up some vestigial feelings. Social and traditional media are full of black times, news feeds spewing out calculated falsehoods, threats, abuse, close-minded Continue reading

Posted in Domestic bliss, Gardening, Joshua, staring into the abyss, The ageing process, work-life balance | Comments Off on In which I preserve

Cat Zero – book review

This lablit novel is set in a research institute in north London. The story is centred on a virology research lab and its work.

An old lady dies. A cat dies. More cats die – could it be suspicious? Artie is a young virologist who’s recently started her own lab and is looking to make (more of) a name for herself. Continue reading

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The Typical Image

In any bit of publicity, imagery is hugely important. What should you choose to illustrate your story?

What does a typical audience look like?

As a microscopist, I know all about the challenges of finding a ‘typical image’. Continue reading

Posted in electron microscopy, Equality, gender balance, publicity material | Comments Off on The Typical Image

UGG: The Undergraduate Guide for Graduate School

UGG Cover

It’s been a fast-paced and hectic summer, but I am pleased to have finally completed and published a new e-book/e-manual titled: UGG: the Undergraduate Guide for Graduate School*  

Sensing that many graduate students enter biomedical research graduate programs without really knowing what to expect, and that many undergraduate students are in dire need of more comprehensive information on ho Continue reading

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Getting the Balance Right

Without much fanfare, the allocations across the different research councils have just been announced until the end of the current spending round.  What processes went into making decisions about the distribution between the different research councils is not obvious, or whose decisions these were. Maybe some reader can tell me whether the decision about the split between the research councils was Continue reading

Posted in Biomedical Bubble, Commons Science Select Committee, James Wilsdon, Research, Richard Jones, Science Funding, Strength in Places Fund, UKRI | Comments Off on Getting the Balance Right

What makes for a Toxic Environment?

Toxic atmospheres have been in the news recently in the wake of an NHS report on a low-performing cardiac unit in London. All the articles I’ve read on this are short on detail of what actually happened. ‘Dark forces’ are mentioned, reminiscent of a Tolkien nove,l but they don’t actually give much insight into what – beyond rivalry between two teams – was actually going on. Toxic atmospheres are, Continue reading

Posted in competition, Equality, harassment, head of department, Science Culture, working environment | Comments Off on What makes for a Toxic Environment?

A new scientific archive – launch and reflections

The event

I recently attended the launch of the EMBL archives, in its new purpose-built facility at the heart of the EMBL Heidelberg campus.  Most of the audience were from EMBL but there a few scientific archivists there too, admiring what has been achieved.

At the launch event we had a chance to look round the new facility and see some documents and photos from the archive. Then we heard talks b Continue reading

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Diversity in the HE Sector

When I was a harried mother, trying to maintain some sort of work-life balance while running a research group and keeping family fed and watered alongside my husband, I had no energy left for reading. Aga sagas, chick-lit and general lightweight airport reading was all I could summon the energy to tuck into.  Now my children have long since left home and ‘all’ I have to do is my day-job, my readin Continue reading

Posted in David Willetts, education, Further Educcation, higher education, Sam Gyimah | Comments Off on Diversity in the HE Sector

Preprints in the news

I think Fiona Fox’s recent question about preprints and their impact on science news reporting deserves more consideration. She calls for more discussion of the issue and of possible solutions.

Preprints – good

I’ve invested quite a bit of time in supporting the idea that posting preprints should be a normal research practice in biomedical research. I admit that I was sceptical a Continue reading

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Are universities finally moving towards their #MeToo moment?

I have been away from my computer for over a week, but while I was away a piece I wrote previously for the Guardian HE Network has appeared regarding sexism in academic science. So, for my latest thoughts on this and what we should all be trying to do, follow this link.

Posted in Geoff Marcy, Guardian, sexism, Women in science | Comments Off on Are universities finally moving towards their #MeToo moment?

Why open access makes sense

My colleagues in the Communications are looking pleased and exhausted today.  The Francis Crick Institute’s new website launched this morning. It’s had a complete overhaul of style, structure and content.  I’ve not been closely involved but I know enough to appreciate what a huge task this has been.

I too was pleased to see that our new website has launched, specifically as it ha Continue reading

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Judging on Potential (or Not)

I was trying to lay my hands on a quote I heard recently on the radio about creativity by Wolfgang von Goethe to kickstart this blogpost, and instead (amongst 100’s of others of his quotes) I came upon this:

‘Girls we love for what they are; young men for what they promise to be.’

Written around two centuries ago, this habit of acknowledging the potential of men to become something other (and impl Continue reading

Posted in Equality, Goethe, promotion, referees, Royal Society, Women in science | Comments Off on Judging on Potential (or Not)