Meeting with Supervisor

This is a 'graph' of the one hour meeting I have just had with my supervisor. Fairly typical. The big drop occurred after we had a little search on Pub Med. I am now exhausted and need a large lunch to keep me going. If you want to know more about my supervisor, she is on the fabulous Naked Scientist podcast  this week, talking about medicines from Cannabis.

Wine and Grapes Will NOT Prevent Sunburn

I was really disappointed to see this article written in The Telegraph, ' 'Drinking Wine Could Help To Stop Sunburn' this week. A really glaringly obvious example of really bad science and bad churnalism. The article states, 'Drinking wine or eating grapes could protect you from sunburn, according to a new study that found a chemical in the fruit can limit cell damage.' Alongside this very appealing picture of a glass of wine in the sun. Nice, well then, let's all go outside and have a glass of wine in the sunshine and feel good about ourselves. Sound too good to be true? It probably is. The article refers to a study published in Agricultural and Food Chemistry (not free access). The study tested some grape extracts (polyphenolic fractions, not wine) on some skin cells in a dish. They then exposed the cells to some UVA and UVB rays. They found that some of the extracts reduced the numbers of damaging reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the treated vs untreat

the life of science

I have been talking to friends and others about careers in science. This started me wondering about a science career. The vast majority of people I have spoken to have had to move for postdocs and jobs. Do you have to be a nomad for a few years before you can 'settle' (and even then you might be required to uproot yourself and move at the drop of a hat) to have a career in science? Is the only way to get a 'good' career to be prepared to go wherever the wind takes you? And how many other careers require that kind of flexibility? Is it unusual? To have a good career in anything do you need to be prepared do down tools and move on (but is it 'unusual' in other careers, whereas in science it is more the norm)? I am not talking about 6/8 months away at a time. I am talking years. If it is, this sounds like a perfect career for me. I love change. I thrive off it. I love meeting new people and seeing different places (no matter where it is). But can I do it? I am in

Science Communication Conference 2011

Last week I attended the British Science Association, Science Communication Conference 2011. I was granted a bursary to attend, covering transport, accommodation and conference fees - which was nice, as without it I would not have been able to go! I was really looking forward to meeting people involved in science communication across the UK (& world) and some of the people I have spoken to through email & twitter. Creating networks when you are based so far away from the main source of the action can be difficult, social media does help enormously - but it still never beats meeting someone and having a conversation in person. The conference seemed the perfect opportunity to do this. So, off I went to London town with a bag full of Au magazines  to share. I was really pleasantly surprised to find that quite a number of people had already come across the magazine and were interested in the project. That made conversation easy! As I was at the conference on my own I had no option

Launching a Magazine

Blogging has taken a back seat recently, whilst I along with a team of others at the University of Aberdeen launched a new science themed magazine. I think I am in a very lucky position here at the University of Aberdeen. I mentioned this idea of a science magazine last September to the public engagement team and since then they have very kindly sent anything they came across (including people, interviews, events, stories) in my direction. I organised a meeting with 5 others that had mentioned creating a science magazine to the public engagement team. We met, clicked and then set on a mission to create the magazine. Without working as a team this would have been impossible. We have written stories that we think are interesting, but the science is not over-hyped. We do not shout about the latest cure for cancer, but we discuss how compounds in the cannabis plant are being tested for their therapeutic potential. We do not say there is life on Mars but we do talk about how we are expl

Why I dislike the term Scientist

What does the word 'scientist' mean? Really mean? Who can call themselves a ‘scientist’? Someone who studied a 'science' subject at degree level? But what if they became a HR manager and worked in a non 'sciency' company, are they still a scientist? Do you need to have a science PhD to be called a scientist? Or be actively doing science research? But what about all the people that work in science without 'sciency' qualifications? Are they still scientists? Apparently the word scientist was coined by William Whewell in 1834 at a meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, to describe a group of people all studying different scientific disciplines (I have to admit, I haven't found any solid sources for this but you can read more about the term scientist here ). The word scientist can be used by anyone. The description of someone as a scientist in my view is pretty meaningless; it tells you nothing about the person. I think ther

The Skeptic Guide

I am compiling a list of interesting skeptic people/events/blogs to post on the Aberdeen Skeptics in The Pub Facebook site. I am giving a talk about other Skeptic groups, activism and the role of Skeptics in The Pub (if there is one) for our next event .  A lot of the people that come to Aberdeen Skeptics in the Pub are not on Twitter and I wanted to give out a list of skeptics 'things'. This is what I have so far - please help me grow the list! The Skeptic Guide: Home of The Skeptic (magazine), blog, skeptic news & events (lists all Skeptics in the Pubs in the UK and abroad) Scotland: There are Skeptic events in Dundee ( ), Glasgow ( ) and Edinburgh ( / also for independent skeptical news and commentary in Scotland. Aberdeen Skeptics in The Pub - Follow the Facebook page for events and news. Twi