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Showing posts from June, 2012

Getting Women into Science, EU Directive

All my wonderful lady friends (I'm talking to the non sciency bods here) I need your help.

Please watch the video below and leave a comment on my blog page (at the bottom of this page) letting me know what you think of the video (giving your current job - you don't need to leave your name). Does it make you want to work in science?



Update 18.7.12

Thanks for all the comments! I  forwarded them on to the EU commission that produced the video. They did receive quite a response to the video from across the globe, and a few 10000 blog posts!! Here are a few reflections  -

Science, a people thing - I think this is the blog post I agreed with the most 

From the Guardian - Science: it's a girl thing! A viral fiasco

New Statesman

Huffington Post (UK)  - they ask 'is the video sexist?'

Wall Street Journal - describe it as a porn film

They did take the video down, and here is the website now - http://science-girl-thing.eu/



Should Scientists Be Audited?

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I often wonder if  scientists (working on any project) in a university should be audited regularly.

Audited by an independent person who is independent of the specific project, subject and research group. The scientists in question would have to show that they can trace the ingredients they are using for experiments and prove that results are real (maybe the auditor would sit in on an experiment).

Would it help prevent mistakes, incorrect data, reduce paper retractions and increase credibility of science in general?

Or would it just be a big waste of time, money and be a painful process for everyone involved?

What do you think?

When I worked in industry, we were regularly audited in everything we did. I used to exist in a form of organised chaos, but knowing that anyone could ask to look at anything at any time (and they did), I became super organised.
It's a necessary, and very useful skill to have as a scientist but there isn't any pressure on me within my PhD, other tha…

Why do women's magazines not promote critical thinking when it comes to beauty and health?

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Women's fashion and lifestyle magazines have a bad habit of spouting pseudoscientific guff to their readers in in order to raise revenue through product placement, and advertising.
I like clothes, handbags and shoes but that doesn't make me stupid air-head or any less of a scientist. I want to know what the latest and best in beauty is, but I do not want to read rubbish science and products that claim to provide more than they will ever be able to offer.
I have seen very detailed and thought out articles on important issues like rape, women in the workplace and motherhood. But, when it comes to beauty and health, critical thinking seems to go out of the window and pseudoscience is used to disguise product placement. 
Commercial magazines rely on and exist because of the advertising revenue they get. Beauty product manufacturers must pay well to warrant this kind of treatment and exposure. Should there be more transparency when products are promoted in magazines? I k…

Blog Review! Ed Yong's 'It's Not Exactly Rocket Science' in Au Science Mag

I wrote this 'Blog Review' for the latest edition of Au Science Magazine published in June 2012 (more info below)
Move over books, it’s the Age of the Internet, and blogs are the literature of choice. 
These aren’t the blogs of the Myspace era that shared too much information about teen troubles, break-ups and parent problems. The new wave of blogs are well written, informative, can help keep you up-to-date with the latest and greatest, or quite simply exist to provide entertainment. And as we are Au Science Magazine, I have taken a look at some of the science blogs out there in the crazy land of the Internet. 
Science blogs are often hosted by expert science writers and/or scientists. They debunk the latest news stories, explain the latest research as it is published and, best of all; they are easily readable on a quick lunch break. 
Quite possibly the biggest science blog cheerleader is Ed Yong. An award-winning British science writer who has written for New Scientist and th…

What Does a Biologist Do All Day?

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I'm a molecular pharmacologist, but what on earth does that mean I do at 10am on a Monday?

The vast majority of my PhD in Medical Sciences has been spent in a dark room, counting. Counting breast cancer cells that have moved. YES, moved.

Let's start at the beginning.

I work with breast cancer cells that have been taken from a donor who had breast cancer. Cancer cells can be grown in a laboratory environment if you give them the correct nutrients and keep them at the correct temperature, a cosy 37 degrees, just like in the body. The cells I use were collected back in the 1970s and have been kept growing in the lab ever since.

Cancer cells can be grown on a flat surface (or in a solution), in plastic dishes, like this:


The cells grow in 'media', a solution that contains all the nutrients they need to grow. The media is usually pink as it contains phenol-red, an indicator that changes colour if the pH of the media changes (pH needs to be around 7.2-7.4 for optimum growin…