Month: May 2012

For those about to write project reports…

I have always had a soft spot for this poem by Robert Frost, which is not entirely irrelevant to the task at hand. Good luck to final year students who are shortly to compose reports on their lab or literature projects.

A Considerable Speck


A speck that would have been beneath my sight On any but a paper sheet so white Set off across what I had written there. And I had idly poised my pen in air To stop it with a period of ink When something strange about it made me think, This was no dust speck by my breathing blown, But unmistakably a living mite With inclinations it could call its own.

DDT (not DTT) – good or bad?

In a lecture on Protein Science to 2nd year Biochemists the other day, I mentioned the reducing agent DTT — dithiothreitol — and pointed out that it should not be confused with DDT, a chemical that used to be used to control mosquito populations. Though effective, it was taken out of service because of toxic effects on other species.

Coincidentally, DDT features in science writer Brian Clegg’s latest podcast for the Royal Society of Chemistry. Have a listen (it’s only about 7 min) to learn something about how biochemistry can have an impact on biology.

Why Statistics?

An recent editorial from Science (warning: may be behind a paywall unless you are accessing from campus or via VPN) argues that statistics is important for all branches of science and even beyond — in public policy.

To quote the opening paragraph:

Popular media and science publications sound the drum: “Big Data” will drive our future, from translating genomic information into new therapies, to harnessing the Web to untangle complex social interactions, to detecting infectious disease outbreaks. Statistics is the science of learning from data, and of measuring, controlling, and communicating uncertainty; and it thereby provides the navigation essential for controlling the course of scientific and societal advances.

Final Year Lab Project Poster Session

There was definitely a buzz in the room as the final year lab project students gathered to present and assess their mini-posters.

Not only was there a tremendous variety of project work on display…

…but there was also a great range of styles. Some more successful that others? That was for the students to decide; each had 5 posters to assess and there will be £20 Amazon vouchers for the best ones.

Hopefully all the final years in attendance saw something to take their fancy — or perhaps even to stimulate a new idea.

I was so excited my hands were shaking.