Happy Scientists

It's Friday and although I will be working over the weekend, I am feeling pretty cheerful. Lab life can get you down sometimes, a never ending stream of failed experiments, things to do, late nights, early mornings and a lack of appreciation. Personality clashes, politics and unwanted work are themes from any work life. But, sometimes, labs can be the most fun place to be, a source of comedy, fun and practical jokes.  Here are some things that have made me SMILE and kept me HAPPY over the past 2.5 years. The people you work with can keep you going.  Please share your sad times and good times (practical joke tales encouraged) and keep laughing. When it all goes horribly wrong (does it get any worse than boiling western blots with students?!).......   Someone might give you a special gift   Look away!   You might win a prize   Supervisors can make or break you....   Someone always has cake   You never know when

Making Lab Life Easier With Technology

Working in a laboratory can be stressful, and cause tension (see my post about lab post-it notes and the radio ). Can new technologies help make life easier, by saving time and enabling easy sharing of work? Or is sticking with old-fashioned paper methods better? ( I have already posted about how I like the idea of e-lab books) I get really annoyed that labs are at the forefront of new discoveries, new science and THE FUTURE, but often work in an old-fashioned way with paper notes and old equipment (my computer is currently on its last legs, I am pretty sure it isn't going to survive 'the thesis'). In the lab I work in, we are pretty old-school. Order numbers and prices are found on a computer, written down on paper and then put back in a computer. Excel files and written lists are used to keep track of what comes in and where it is kept in the lab, but these are not available to update on a computer. But saying all this, in general, it seems to work well.. so why c

Experimental Biology 2012

Last week I was in sunny (actually, it rained) California for the Experimental Biology 2012 conference.  I was blogging on behalf of the  American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB ). I saw lots of interesting science, met a Nobel Laureate, had a good chat with other science communicators and shared a few copies of Au Science Magazine too. Here’s a summary of what I got up to and some links, if you would like to read more! All the posts were on the Au Science Magazine website EB2012 Has arrived ! The Art of Science Communication Storify: The Anatomy of Communication – Interacting with different audiences hosted by the American Anatomy Association Storify: APS Science Blogging Session with Jason Goldman, Dr Isis, Pascale Lane and Danielle Lee Visualising Complex Biology: From the Creating Networks session Monkeys, Beach Balls and Twinkies: Teaching enzyme kinetics using analogies Fighting Drug Resistant Tuberculosis Effectively Communicating Your Scien

How to use Twitter

If you ever meet me in person I can, sometimes, sound like a broken record. I am somewhat.. persistent.. in my efforts to get every single PhD student I meet on, and using, Twitter. Surprisingly, although my generation is labelled as being, 'social networkers' the vast majority of people I know and meet are not on Twitter. Facebook yes. Twitter no. Twitter is for weirdos and celebrity stalkers. Oh my friends, how much you are missing out. Do you know that Professors are on Twitter? PIs are on Twitter? Post-docs are ADVERTISED and links made for post docs in the future are made through Twitter. (Sometimes I get a *gasp* at this stage, especially if the person I am talking to is a final year PhD student). Next question, so how do you DO it? How do you USE it? What happens in Twitter world? My response.. Twitter is what ever you want to make it, and it is up to you how you use it. You could use it to talk to the other three people in your lab and your mum. If you wanted to.

Eating More Chocolate Makes You Skinny

Answer this question for me - How many times a week do you consume chocolate? Can you (a) remember how much chocolate you have eaten in the last 7 days? Was it the same amount as last week? (b) Do you know you ate 5 Mars bars, a Twix and a bar of Cadbury's while watching Titanic 3D last night, feel that might be a little excessive and lie to me? If you are skinny would you happily say 'Oh I eat about 6 bars a week'? If you know you are not so skinny would you lie about your consumption? What do you think other people would say in answer to this question? Would you trust their answers? This is the exact question that was asked to participants in a study looking at the relationship of chocolate consumption and BMI. Did they take into account any of those scenarios or questions I just asked? No. A well timed (just before Easter) news story appeared EVERYWHERE this week, claiming that Chocolate 'may help keep people slim' (headline from the BBC ). T

Prove it in 30 Seconds

Can you explain an aspect of our world in motion in 30 seconds? My friend and fellow PhDer Gina Maffey can.. If you enjoy the video, please 'like' it on youtube to help support her in the  British Science Assiciation's Prove It! competition. It was filmed on Aberdeen beach. You can find more about Gina here  and she is on twitter @ginazoo and is also part of the Au Science Magazine team :-) This competition was set for National Science and Engineering week and is open for anyone to submit an entry!

Cosmetic Science - Looking Behind the Formulations

Beauty is big business. You may snigger at the promises in cosmetic adverts but in reality the majority of cosmetic manufacturers take science very seriously. Procter and Gamble, the biggest consumer goods company in the world, invest $2bn yearly into research and development of consumer goods. L’OrĂ©al, the biggest cosmetics company in the world, employ over 3,000 researchers around the globe and have a grant programme specifically designed to support female scientists. Science is at the heart of these companies, and it shows in their financial reports. They encourage and invest in scientists and research in the hope of making the next great breakthrough. The biggest areas of growth for the cosmetics industry are developing markets, male cosmetics and the ever-ageing world population. The L’Oreal annual report from 2010 estimates that the global cosmetics market is worth 144 billion Euros and of that, 32% is skincare. If these manufacturers could crack the science and inven