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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

2016 Top Ten (plus one)

It seems ridiculous that my last post on Occam’s Typewriter was my favourite ten photographs of 2015… posted in June of the following year(!). That’s some top-shelf procrastination right there, folks. So, as partial remedy, I’m posting my picks of 2016 right now – New Year’s Day, 2017. Getting the new year off to Continue reading

Posted in Hobbies, motorsports, nature, Photography, racing, travel | Comments Off on 2016 Top Ten (plus one)

2016 in pictures

Rather than attempting to sum up the tumultuous year just past in words, let me simply share with you some of the photographs that I took in 2016.

The image below is an embedded album from my Flickr account. I’m not sure that it does very much so it’s probably best to click on the image. This will take you to the album on Flickr where y Continue reading

Posted in Fun, Science & Art | Comments Off on 2016 in pictures

ICYMI No. 9: Preprints and Embargoes

I’m rather late getting round to this but, for the record, here is a piece I wrote for Research Fortnight in late November on the challenges that preprints pose to embargoed press releases of research reports.

The tl;dr version (though the piece is only 800 words!) is that the benefits of preprints very likely outweigh the convenience of emba Continue reading

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The History of Keeping the Damned Women Out

It is easy to forget that what is your daily life today is tomorrow’s history: history is not just about the great white men long dead and buried. A talk I attended a few weeks ago vividly brought this to life for me. The talk was by Nancy Weiss Malkiel, one of the first women hired as faculty at Princeton back in 1969, a university where she has b Continue reading

Posted in Churchill College, coeducation, education, Equality, Nancy Malkiel, Princeton, Women in science | Comments Off on The History of Keeping the Damned Women Out

In which an era ends

She was decent and hard-working. She seldom complained, even when she got herself into a jam.

She witnessed my awakening as a writer, from tentative, cliché-prone beginner to confident, stripped-down wordsmith capable of earning money and book deals.

Continue reading
Posted in Lablit, Nostalgia, Work/life balance, Writing | Comments Off on In which an era ends

The Autopsy, and what next?

I began this blog on Nov. 13, less than a week after the elections. It was too painful for me to continue. Not that there are many bright spots on the horizon that have appeared over the last 6 weeks, but the time has come for me to put this blog to rest and move on. So here it is, no less painful, but blunted slightly by mankind’s ability to Continue reading

Posted in Democrat, environment, Hilary, polls, Republican, science, transition team, Trump, US election | Comments Off on The Autopsy, and what next?

The Cost of Education

There are many myths about the University of Cambridge (and indeed Oxford), based on historical misinformation, literature and a general feeling that it is ‘different’ from the rest of the world. Novels like Brideshead Revisited – admittedly referring to Oxford rather than Cambridge, but we are generally lumped together – must have something to do Continue reading

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Professional Bodies in the Diversity Frame

All male invited speakers at conferences or a senior leadership team that contains not a single woman are common across the employment landscape. In the physical sciences and engineering the problem is particularly acute because the numbers of women who start off in the sector are unacceptably low. On the back of this the Institution of Engineering Continue reading

Posted in Royal Academy of Engineering, Science Council, Science Culture, Women in science | Comments Off on Professional Bodies in the Diversity Frame

Weird things from publishers part 94

Many of the things that publishers do are perplexing, frustrating or reek of exploitation (it’s arguable that even the act of selling us subscriptions falls into the latter category) . I wrote earlier this year about a perplexing and frustrating example. Here’s some more.

A two-faced article

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Posted in Journal publishing, Open Access | Comments Off on Weird things from publishers part 94

Beyond the Silo Mentality

I have been fretting about the challenges of appropriately evaluating interdisciplinary work for many years. My specific beef has been about grant assessment in the Research Councils at the interface between physics and biology, because that is where my research expertise sits, and I have seen – and heard about – too many instances of what would ap Continue reading

Posted in HEFCE, interdisciplinarity, Interdisciplinary Science, REF21, Research | Comments Off on Beyond the Silo Mentality

Evasive Tactics?

If my last post discussed an important point that doesn’t typically receive much notice – although I’m glad to say the post, and its accompanying repost on the THE website both did – this current one is meant simply as a piece of fun. I write from Brussels where I have been attending one of the ERC’s Scientific Council plenaries. I am amused by the Continue reading

Posted in Brussles, ERC, Science Culture | Comments Off on Evasive Tactics?

Do You Want to be Described as Hard Working?

I visited Oxford this week to talk to the Women in Physics group, mainly made up of students and postdocs (not all of whom were women). Tea and excellent scones were provided to stimulate good discussion. I was duly grilled as the voice of experience and asked to provide advice about career progression and setbacks. I want to highlight one particul Continue reading

Posted in job-hunting, letters of reference, Madera, Women in science | Comments Off on Do You Want to be Described as Hard Working?