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Showing posts from November, 2012

Seeing Cells

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Science images are becoming commonplace on social networks. But how are these beautiful, artistic images made and what use are they in research?

I've taken quite a few images throughout my PhD. So many my university computer struggles under the weight of them. I've been taking microscopic images of cells to understand how the cell cytoskeleton allows them to move. And it has been one of the most interesting and favourite parts of my PhD project.

There are a number of ways of creating these images. The images all represent one or two components of the cell. Cells need to be fixed (in a fixative, like methanol or paraformaldehyde, to preserve them and the proteins and structures inside the cell). Different fixatives can be used depending on what it is you are looking for and how you are looking for it. Fixatives stop all movement, any reactions happening in the cell(s) and preserve and protect from degradation.

Once fixed, you can 'probe' the cells for what you want to l…

Is the sherry that makes you merry going to make you heavy?

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Alcohol and weight gain are two things associated with the season of merriment also known as Christmas. Most people pile on a few pounds over the festive period but is it really down to the sherry?
A recent story highlighted  the hidden calories in booze and warns of high calorie intake from alcohol in the US population.  It makes a good point, people forget that drink contain calories and therefore may unintentionallybe consuming more than they realise, leading to an increase in dress size. The NHS choices website from the UK also have a section about booze, weight and hidden calories. 
If you didn't know, alcohol is made from sugar and starch and is extremely calorific. On the scale of calorie content to volume it comes second only to fat itself. There are around 500 calories in a bottle of wine, which if you are female is one quarter of your recommended daily calorie intake. You can use this handy drinks calculator (which includes different brands and mixers) to work out the calo…

Social Media and the PhD

These are the slides I used for the session on social media and the PhD at the PhD Journey Conference in Aberdeen. 


 If you are interested in learning more about social media you might want to look at my:

online tools for conferenceshow to use twitter

Online Tools for Academics at Conferences

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I am presenting a session at the #PhDjourney conference about social media and the PhD on Wednesday. I will post my slides and information after the talk, but as I was preparing I thought I would put together a list of useful online tools for keeping up with what is going on (and remembering what has happened) at conferences.

Please add any suggestions and thoughts.



Facebook - conferences usually have a facebook page, which can be useful before the conference to connect with people and learn more about what will be happening at the conference (and useful for keeping up to date, when full programmes are announced). Find the page by searching facebook for the conference, or looking for a facebook link on the conference website. Facebook is of limited use during the conference as you will only be able to see official updates from the organisers and/or posts from people you know at the conference. A facebook can be a good way of sharing blogs and other posts after the conference.

Twitter - …