Latest posts

Back in the USSR

Last time I was here, I made a comment about how I hoped things were going to get less busy.


Yeah… that didn’t work out too well.

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Posted in Brexit, Me, Nonsense, personal, Spring, Washington, work | Comments Off on Back in the USSR

Being Media-Savvy

I’m a great believer in media training, but the reality is that it isn’t as simple as ‘one size fits all’. Any training will no doubt help confidence and maybe point out your good and bad traits, but how to deal with a media interview about your latest paper in Science is very different from how to handle a Paxman style interrogation about some con Continue reading

Posted in Communicating Science, Gwyneth Williams, jim Al Khalili, Referendum, Science Culture, Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, The Life Scientific | Comments Off on Being Media-Savvy

Grim resolve at the House of Commons on the scientific priorities for Brexit

On Tuesday morning last week MPs, MEPs, and representatives of various organisations with a stake in post-Brexit UK science gathered in the Churchill Committee room at the House of Commons for the launch of  the “Scientific priorities for Brexit” report, published by Stephen Metcalfe MP, chair of the Commons select committee on science Continue reading

Posted in Brexit, Science & Politics | Comments Off on Grim resolve at the House of Commons on the scientific priorities for Brexit

Why Lazy Stereotyping is Damaging

I was very pleased to hear a male academic referred to as ‘not a shrinking violet’ the other day. Not because I was feeling particularly vindictive towards the person concerned, but because I have always thought that this unpleasant phrase was one reserved for women. It’s certainly one that’s been tossed in my direction often enough. I think I feel Continue reading

Posted in Angela Saini, Cordelia Fine, Equality, IOP, Women in science | Comments Off on Why Lazy Stereotyping is Damaging

Science, art and Art

This past week I was fortunate once again to be invited to the award ceremony of the Wellcome Image Awards. Each time I go I tell myself I will submit an entry for the following year, but somehow I never manage to find the time. I suspect my time may now have run out because the standard of entries is so high.

The competition is often dominated by Continue reading

Posted in Science & Art, Wellcome Image Awards | Comments Off on Science, art and Art

Back to the Middle Ages

The current administration under the direction of Trumph has published a new budget proposal for 2018 discretionary spending. It does not take a Ph.D. in economics to realize that aside from a huge 54 billion dollar increase to the military (and with the exception of Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs), all of the domestic departments have been Continue reading

Posted in budget, cuts, National Institutes of Health, NIH, president, Research, science, Trump | Comments Off on Back to the Middle Ages

Depersonalising the REF

Successive rounds of the RAE and its successor REF have always caused high levels of stress and anxiety. The associated workload is very substantial for institutions (and many individuals); the stakes are high in terms of both reputation and funding. Each round the rules have changed somewhat. Nevertheless, collectively academia has understandably Continue reading

Posted in HEFCE, Research, Royal Society, Science Culture, Science Funding, Stern Review | Comments Off on Depersonalising the REF

Thinking Longitudinally and Long-term

There are many things we take for granted these days that were once mysteries. To take a specific example, relevant to the rest of this post, I’d include the fact that smoking during pregnancy has implications for both the immediate and long-term health of the foetus/child. But this discovery came about because of serendipity in a questionnaire des Continue reading

Posted in birth, children, Cohort studies, Research, Science Culture, social science | Comments Off on Thinking Longitudinally and Long-term

No More ‘Male by Default’ Please

Another year, another International Women’s Day. This year the strapline is ‘be bold for change’. A good motto but many will feel that boldness is dangerous in the face of opposition or incomprehension. Incomprehension is perhaps commoner than one thinks: people stuck in a time warp who genuinely don’t realise how much default behaviour and stereot Continue reading

Posted in confidence, Equality, International Women's Day, leadership, promotion, Women in science | Comments Off on No More ‘Male by Default’ Please

In which we experiment

My three-year-old son Joshua is a bright and curious boy, full of incessant questions and always wanting to get into everything.

The other day he noticed that when he was sucking up juice with a straw, the level of liquid in the cup went down. I pointed to the glass vase of tulips next to him and remarked that they also sucked up water to stay str Continue reading

Posted in Domestic bliss, Teaching | Comments Off on In which we experiment

Five Minutes Peace (and Preferably a Lot More)

Any parent will be familiar with the desire to find a quiet corner where the children can’t find them. Many readers will also know all about the antics of the Large Family, a family of elephants, in Jill Murphy’s tale whose title I have appropriated for the first part of my own title here. We all know that desire for peace, but also – as an academi Continue reading

Posted in diary, email, Science Culture, time | Comments Off on Five Minutes Peace (and Preferably a Lot More)

“Cracking Cancer” on CBC’s The Nature of Things tonight

Tonight’s episode of CBC documentary series The Nature of Things with David Suzuki features an in-depth look at the BC Cancer Agency’s Personalized Onco-Genomics (POG) project, which is exploring the feasibility of sequencing DNA and RNA from cancer cells to help physicians select the best treatment for each individual patient.

Project Continue reading

Posted in Canada, cancer research, genomics, Medicine, science, television, video | Comments Off on “Cracking Cancer” on CBC’s The Nature of Things tonight

Are You Authentic?

‘Be true to yourself’ is a well-worn phrase, almost a mantra. I  know I pepper talks (and writing) with the phrase. I think I know exactly what I mean and had assumed others did too. I do not mean that you should give up all social graces and be blunt in every situation, telling people to get lost (or a more offensive equivalent) because that’s wha Continue reading

Posted in career, choices, decisions, Science Culture | Comments Off on Are You Authentic?

SAVING ONE–my 4th lab lit novel is now available!


After a hiatus of nearly four years, my fourth novel featuring biomedical researchers as protagonists has finally been published, and is now available in paperback and Kindle formats from Amazon. Or you can get an autographed copy if you purchase through my website.

In SAVING ONE, I return to the setting of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Continue reading

Posted in Research, science | Comments Off on SAVING ONE–my 4th lab lit novel is now available!

Interview with the author

Those of you who have read all 346 posts on my Reciprocal Space blog will have no need to read this one. You probably already have a sense of what I do and what I’m like – my science, my hobbies, my hobby-horses, and my foibles.

But on the off chance that you’re new here, or are a faithful reader who just can’t get enough, here is an interview I di Continue reading

Posted in Scientific Life | Comments Off on Interview with the author