Posts Tagged ‘general’


My thoughts on the GRADschool course

November 7, 2012

Having just started the 3rd year of my (3 year) PhD I’ve been thinking recently about what I want to do when I finish.  There’s one job I’m very interested in doing but I think competition will be tight so I know I need to:

a)      Make sure I know what skills I will need for the job

b)      Make sure I actually have the skills for the job

c)      Just check that there are no other jobs I would be equally happy doing

I’ve been trying to work this out for some time but every time I sit down to have a think about it, whether at home or in the office, something interrupts me.  I wasn’t making any progress at all and was getting very frustrated.  Then I heard about a postgraduate course called GRADschool that was aimed at helping postgrads with their career choices and development.

I’ve decided to write my time on this course up as a blog post because well:

1)      I’ve been trying to tell people about it but I tend to get a wee bit over enthusiastic (start waving my arms about wildly etc.) and then people start to look at me a bit strangely…

2)      I’m very much a verbal type of person so writing it down/talking to myself is one of the ways I best take in information etc.  I’m basically using it to reflect on my experience.

But hopefully this post won’t just be useful for me but will be useful for any other postgrads out there considering whether or not to go on the course.

Read the rest of this entry ?


Short blogging hiatus

May 2, 2012

That’s me up there – or at least it feels like it!

Given how busy I am at the moment, with my PhD, some public engagementy stuff and setting up the new Microbiology Twitter Journal Club (check it out here) I’m going to reduce how much blogging I am doing for a bit (hopefully no longer than 2 months).

I will still be posting links to interesting content from other blogs (like this excellent piece from Contagion on tracking live plague bacteria with bioluminescence and this fascinating post by Maryn McKenna on the long-term effects of food poisoning) but my research blogging will slow possibly to a complete stop.

However, come July when I am hopefully like this:

I shall be back!

In the meantime check out the Microbiology Twitter journal club (#microtwjc).  Even if you are not a microbiologist you can still join in (the papers will all be open access) – if you get stuck on something, just ask.  Chances are you are not the only one!


MicrobeWorld need your help

March 18, 2012

For anyone unfamiliar with MicrobeWorld it’s a fantastic resource focusing on the microbiological world.  It’s run by the American Society for Microbiology and is host to the excellent podcasts “This Week in Microbiology“, “This Week in Virology” and “This Week in Parasitism“.  It also has articles on basic microbiology, cool experiments you can try at home, as well as links to news articles, videos and images all on microbiology.  Something for everyone in fact, from small children to professional microbiologists.  (Go on, open it in a new tab!  You know you’re curious!)

So that’s why I think it’s fab but why am I plugging it today?  Well MicrobeWorld have a grant application in the Knight Foundation News Challenge and whilst there’s not a voting system as such by which the grants will be decided (the trustees make the final decision) the Knight Foundation says:

“In evaluating your ability to conduct your project, we will also look at your ability to encourage support for, and critiques of, your idea on the News Challenge Tumblr and elsewhere online.”

So any and all support you can offer them would be fantastic.  You can heart (is this the correct term? *whispers*I confess to having never used Tumblr), reblog or comment on the post.

Please support this great website if you can.


By Gaspirtz licenced under CC-BY-SA-3.0


Darn it!

July 21, 2011

Not only is there a paper out discussing the characterisation of the latest E.coli bug (see posts here, here and here) but the use of badger culling to prevent bovine tuberculosis cases in cattle is also back in the news – all stuff I want to blog about but I MIGHT ACTUALLY HAVE SOME RESULTS!!! (only taken 9 months…) so I hope you’ll understand if posts on these topics are somewhat delayed!

Also – my blogroll is still out of date but thankfully those that have moved have got links on their old pages directing the reader to their new pages. 

I’ll post on twitter as usual when the next post is up (or you can subscribe/add the RSS feed).

*skips back to lab to check on experiment*


Update for April/May

May 20, 2011

So it’s been a little quiet here recently for a various reasons. 

The first was that I had a lovely holiday in the wilderness (there was no phone/internet signal!) being marched up and down hillsides by my other half.  This naturally led to me coming home and researching Lyme’s disease (because I am a true geek!) and that post should be up relatively soon.

The other reason was that I was busy stressing over writing an article for the Wellcome Trust/Guardian science writing competition.  I sincerely doubt I’ll get anywhere as there are too many amazing writers out there but I learnt a lot from it. 

A few of those things:

  1. My first draft is inevitably brain vomit.  I seem to need the vomit out of my head before I can write something coherent.  Note to self:DO NOT GIVE COPY OF BRAIN VOMIT TO FRIENDS – it is just embarrassing!
  2. Speaking of friends – mine are all far too lovely.  They were all happy to correct SPAG (spelling punctuation and grammar for those not familiar with the acronym) stuff but only two passed any critical comment on the content.
  3. Also on the topic of friends – every single person I felt brave enough to inflict my writing on has scientific training to at least A-level standard and generally higher (well except my other half, but I have been wittering on to him about the topic for ages so he probably knows the material nearly as well as me by now).  This is not ever so useful when your piece is aimed at non-scientists. 
  4. Being in a silent room is essential for organising my brain.  It also helps if there is no one else in the room as I talk aloud.  A lot.  I also pace.
  5. When I am ready to throw my laptop across the room it is probably time to put the article away for 24 hours and concentrate on something else.

 Hopefully the experience will also improve my posts on here.

Fingers crossed anyway 🙂


Yes it is still me and I am still here!

February 9, 2011

First off, apologies for being so quiet over the last few days.  I had a big experiment day yesterday  and so spent most of the days before it planning and rehearsing it in my head. 

It wasn’t the greatest of successes…

I ended up with 10 fold fewer cells than I wanted/needed so had to rethink my whole plan on the hoof. 

I’m sure catastrophes like this are all part of doing a PhD… :S 

Anyone out there got any stories to share?  (Uplifting or otherwise)

I’m looking at the proliferation of these cells in response to the bug I work with so will be adding the bug to them on Friday and leaving them for 72 hours before seeing if they have multiplied at all on Monday – wish me luck!

Anyway, blogging should resume as normal now with a paper-related post appearing either today or tomorrow.

You may also have noticed that the site has changed somewhat: I’m having a play around with the design of this blog, now I’m more comfortable with what I’m doing so there may be a few little changes over the next couple of days in addition to the new theme.  (I decided the old theme was far too difficult on the eyes!)

I’d love to know what you think and if you have any suggestions – just comment below (although I do now have an email address for this blog which should appear down the right hand side).