Appreciation post: ‘junk’ labs

This is a simple appreciation post for junk labs in general and my junk lab in particular. A junk lab arises organically from research that regularly requires new, bespoke equipment with limited funding and a reasonable amount of technical know-how. If this new stuff is built from old stuff, that's usually easiest. So it's a … Continue reading Appreciation post: ‘junk’ labs

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Smoking in the scanner?

There is a new paper out in Scientific Reports, titled "Investigating the neural correlates of smoking: Feasibility and results of combining electronic cigarettes with fMRI". This is a study that have managed to combine actual smoking with functional MRI (fMRI). Most studies looking at brain processing of smoking run into trouble with MRI. This is … Continue reading Smoking in the scanner?

Art+Science

I have been thinking about art lately. The University of Sheffield's annual Festival of Academic Writing is coming up and I have just finished reviewing a few papers and grant applications. Mostly, this has made me consider how scientists can suffocate enthusiasm for even the most exciting finding in a single passive paragraph (never mind … Continue reading Art+Science

Reblog: “We need to stop calling professional development a “pipeline”

Excellent post by Small Pond Science on why 'pipeline' is a problematic metaphor for the scientific career path. When we talk about increasing the representation of women and ethnic minorities in STEM, the path towards a professional career is often characterized as a “pipeline.” The pipeline metaphor is so entrenched, it affects how people think … Continue reading Reblog: “We need to stop calling professional development a “pipeline”

Reblog: “Collaboration – seek and ye shall find?”

Collaborators are highly valuable for a researcher. For many of us in experimental fields, they are the only way to get enough data to fulfil the publication demands each year (a requirement that warrants a separate, full blog post in its own right). But how does one get good collaborators? The Think Ahead blog has … Continue reading Reblog: “Collaboration – seek and ye shall find?”

Reblog: “I fell into this by accident”

I planned my career, but not all went exactly as I envisioned. Opportunities emerged, unexpected findings were too interesting not to pursue, new studies arose from old ones, new collaborators came up with exciting suggestions, and pints with colleagues often turned into interesting, half-crazy ideas that somehow worked. As a result, I have worked across several … Continue reading Reblog: “I fell into this by accident”

Reblog: How do we know what we know?

“All hypotheses emerge from assumptions, whether we recognize them or not.”

Ambika Kamath, a graduate student at Harvard University working on lizards and how their habitat, behaviour, and morphology influence eachother, has written an excellent blog post in the wake of a human dimorphism debate. The post is not about human dimorphism, but instead highlights how our assumptions can shape experimental design and therefore results. It can be easy to accept oft-cited facts without critical thought, particularly if they are in line with personal opinion.

Ambika Kamath’s post is reblogged below, and I encourage you to read it.

Ambika Kamath

Over the last few months, there’s been a slow-boiling battle underway between Holly Dunsworth and Jerry Coyne about the evolution of sexual dimorphism in humans, surrounding the question of why male and female humans, on average, differ in size. The battlefield ranged from blogposts to twitter to magazine articles. In a nutshell, Coyne argued that “sexual dimorphism for body size (difference between men and women) in humans is most likely explained by sexual selection” because “males compete for females, and greater size and strength give males an advantage.” His whole argument was motivated by this notion that certain Leftists ignore facts about the biology of sex differences because of their ideological fears, and are therefore being unscientific.

Dunsworth’s response to Coyne’s position was that “it’s not that Jerry Coyne’s facts aren’t necessarily facts, or whatever. It’s that this point of view is too simple and is obviously biased toward some stories, ignoring others. And…

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