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This is NOT the America I know

This is NOT the America I know

I am an American by birth, although until the age of 34, I never lived in the United States except as a baby. Thus, I am here by choice. And I am saddened by what Donald Trump has done to this country—because this is NOT the America I know.

I did not choose Donald Trump. Continue reading

Posted in freedom, Haiti, immigrant, immigrants, Mexico, science, shithole, Trump, United States | Comments Off on This is NOT the America I know

Run with Science, Dr. Julia Biggins!


Dr. Julia Biggins, Democratic candidate for Representative of Virginia’s 10th District

One of the few positive outcomes of the Trump presidency, is that some people have become so fed up with the quality of those in elected office, that they are willing to leave careers that they love behind in order to challenge and replace some of the appalling current politicians in Congress. Indeed, I h Continue reading

Posted in 2018 midterm elections, anti-science, CDC, Dr. Julia Biggins, EPA, evidence based, no puppet, Pruitt, Research, science, science-based, scientists, stable genius, truth, Virginia 10th District, war-on-science, war-on-truth | Comments Off on Run with Science, Dr. Julia Biggins!

‘I do like kissing games’

After Harvey Weinstein there have been suggestions that we’ve reached a ‘tipping point’, that the genie can’t be put back into the bottle and that our society will clean itself up with respect to sexual harassment. I wish. In the meantime, the low level denigration of women continues, from wolf whistles in the street to offensive casual remarks, as illustrated by the Virgin tweet enquiring if some Continue reading

Posted in Equality, harassment, Harvey Weinstein, misogyny, name-calling, Women in science | Comments Off on ‘I do like kissing games’

In which we look back at top 2017(ish) lab lit fiction

As the old year dribbles to a close under heavy grey skies and relentless rain here in southeast England, just a quick note to point you towards a recent interview of me on US National Public Radio, chatting to host Heather Goldstone about a few science-in-fiction novels that kept me busy over the past year. They’re all either out in 2017, or the paperback versions were.

Listen here!

Continue reading
Posted in Lablit | Comments Off on In which we look back at top 2017(ish) lab lit fiction

How the Financial Sector Hinders Manufacturing

As 2018 approaches, the UK’s economic future seems as uncertain as ever. I think we can conclude with conviction that our country is anything but ‘strong and stable’ and the mantra that Brexit means Brexit has been shown up for what it is: a cover up for complete uncertainty over any future plans whatsoever. However, tempting though it is to make this end of year post a tirade about our political Continue reading

Posted in fund managers, ICI, Science Culture, Tom Brown | Comments Off on How the Financial Sector Hinders Manufacturing

The Alumni Sounding Board

As a no-longer-very-junior Professor, who is (I think) not entirely unreasonable in meetings, I spend a large and increasing fraction of my time serving on scientific advisory and steering boards. If you will permit me one small grumble, I’m convinced that I do this far more than my male colleagues now that many institutions aim for a bit of gender balance on such committees (which is of cou Continue reading

Posted in education, Materials Science | Comments Off on The Alumni Sounding Board

Is the THE aiming for clickbait?

Just before Christmas on Twitter I came across a survey being run by the THE asking

THE is running a survey about whether women should champion other women in academic careers. What do you think?

I duly went to this and answered the questions, but I did this with rising frustration. And clearly I was not alone. Continue reading

Posted in academic sisterhood, early career researchers, Equality, mentors, Women in science | Comments Off on Is the THE aiming for clickbait?

In which we wind down

I’ve been off work for a few days, but the incompatible clash of exhaustion and adrenalin which characterizes my life in academia has yet to ebb. These days it takes a full week to come down from the jaw-clenched crush of forward propulsion that sees me through a busy term.

It doesn’t help that a few outstanding work tasks smuggled themselves home with me: a paper revision; signing o Continue reading

Posted in academia, Domestic bliss, Nostalgia | Comments Off on In which we wind down

Reversing Copernicus


The revolutionary advance in our understanding of the universe, as proposed by Copernicus.

Donald Trump heads the single most anti-science administration that has ever set foot in the White House. It is fortunate that this self-centered, narcissistic personality, who born with a golden spoon in his vulgar mouth, has a Congress that still appreciates the value of science.

Continue reading
Posted in anti-science, evidence based, incompetent, science, science-based, Trump, White house | Comments Off on Reversing Copernicus

Taking the Chair

Robert Mackintosh recently wrote an article in the THE about how to chair a meeting. This is a topic that I have dealt with before on my blog in light-hearted vein – describing those chairs you really hope you never have to serve under, beautifully illustrated in cartoon form on the Upturned Microscope blog – but it is a topic I feel strongly about. And, in part, I disagree with what Mackintosh wr Continue reading

Posted in committee meetings, early career researcher, Science Culture, skills | Comments Off on Taking the Chair

Assertively Asking Questions

Different sources pointed me towards a paper appearing on the Arχiv this week discussing when and why men and women ask questions after a seminar presentation. A brief write up even appeared in The Economist, a sure indicator that a piece of academic research has resonated way beyond its home turf. Asking questions at the end of a public talk (seminar, conference and so on) is bread and butter in Continue reading

Posted in Alecia Carter, conference, seminar, Women in science | Comments Off on Assertively Asking Questions

A Sad Sign of the Times

This past week, my graduate student, my post-doctoral fellow, and I flew out to Philadelphia for the annual American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) meeting. This 2007 meeting was my 20th year as an ASCB member, and marks 20 years since I first attended the ASCB meeting in Washington DC, 1997, when I came to present my research and simultaneously interview for post-doctoral positions.


Shuwei and Continue reading

Posted in American Society for Cell Biology, ASCB, immigration, postdoc, posters, presentation, public policy committee, Research, science, student | Comments Off on A Sad Sign of the Times

Inclusive Leadership

This week I attended an event in the University exploring, broadly speaking, how we can do ‘inclusive leadership’ better. Kicked off by a talk by  Barbara Stocking, President of the women’s college Murray Edwards, who was talking about the various pieces of research her college has instigated and been involved with (Women Today, Women Tomorrow and Working with Men, both well worth a careful read). Continue reading

Posted in Equality, maternity leave, Recruitment, Science Culture, Unconscious bias | Comments Off on Inclusive Leadership

Industrial Strategy and the Pipeline of Talent

It was unfortunate that the Industrial Strategy White Paper was released on the same day as the Royal Engagement became public. It may not have been intended to be published on a ‘good day to bury bad news’, but it was very noticeable that as far as BBC Radio 4 News was concerned, it went from being top of the headlines at 8am – before it was published – to not being mentioned at all in the headli Continue reading

Posted in computing, education, further maths, Industrial Strategy White Paper, productivity, Science Funding | Comments Off on Industrial Strategy and the Pipeline of Talent

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