• 640px-Benzopyrene_DNA_adduct_1JDG
    30 Jan 2015 • Perspectives • 1 Comment

    New Year, New Understanding of DNA

    It’s the time of year for New Year’s resolutions and improving oneself. As a scientist, there are always about a million things to do to become a better researcher, but this year my resolution, and the one I hope all our readers adopt, is to become a better science communicator. Whether this means tweeting better links or publishing more frequently, the role of communication in science can’t be overstated. You don’t have to be a researcher to engage in scientific communication either, and it can be as simple as mentioning something you read or heard to a [&hellip

  • image001
    26 Jan 2015 • Perspectives • 1 Comment

    Seven crucial academic skills parenting teaches you!

    Parenting and academia are not mutually exclusive states. Many academics are parents, we take on different caring responsibilities at different stages in our careers and take on more or less of the parenting responsibilities depending on our family situation. However, parenting is often seen as detracting from our ability to succeed in academia in the zero sum game of work-life balance. Yes parents* can be under significant time pressures and may have their mobility restricted, but the parenting skills we acquire through on-the-job training, constant practice, trial and error, research and pure luck can also help with [&hellip

  • TheClashLondonCallingalbumcover
    23 Jan 2015 • Perspectives • 4 Comments

    One body one problem

    You may have heard on the academic grapevine that I will soon be leaving Trinity College Dublin. As with all moves I’m both sad to be leaving, but excited to take on new challenges. I’ll be around until the summer, but now this is common knowledge I wanted to explain why I’m moving on. And also to make something else really clear – I’m not leaving because I dislike working here! The School of Natural Sciences (and particularly Zoology where I’m based) has been a fantastic place to work for the last three years. The staff are [&hellip

  • charlie
    19 Jan 2015 • Perspectives

    Pathway to PhD: should I do a masters degree or an internship?

    With deadlines looming for attractive PhD scholarships such as the Irish Research Council, current undergraduates often realise that the path to a PhD is somewhat opaque, with many different ways to get there. Finding a PhD is something we have covered already, but a question I often get asked is: do I need a MSc or can I go straight in, or what about an internship? There is nothing stopping you going straight into a PhD from your undergraduate degree, but it can be difficult to be competitive unless you have a flawless academic track record, or [&hellip

  • DSC_0067
    16 Jan 2015 • News, Perspectives • 3 Comments

    Predators: feathered friend or foe?

    On Wednesday January 14th the Pat Kenny show on Newstalk radio station hosted Professor Luke O’Neill (a prominent Trinity College Dublin Immunologist), in a segment exploring the causes of the huge declines seen in European bird populations newstalk.ie/player/podcast. Comments from both Professor O’Neill and Mr. Kenny implicating raptors and corvids in these bird declines provoked a storm on social media. Every Irish environmental NGO has strongly condemned these implications. Professor O’Neill was not in possession of the full facts and has apologised*. Predatory birds are not responsible for severe declines in many bird populations [1] and here [&hellip

  • Leese_CRU-T-shirt_09
    13 Jan 2015 • Perspectives

    Ecology of religious beliefs

    It is well known that your country of birth has a big influence on your religious outlook. That’s why Ireland is dominated by Christians whereas Iran has a mostly Muslim population. Your scientific outlook doesn’t escape from this either. For instance, it’s arguable that the idea of group selection is viewed much more favourably in the US than the UK. Turning back to religion, a group of authors have recently carried out a study on the ecology of religious belief. In their work they were able to predict the societies that believe in moralising high Gods by [&hellip

  • 6a00d8341c761a53ef0120a6330c87970b-pi
    9 Jan 2015 • Perspectives

    Career planning for PhD students

    The Royal Society has published a new set of guidelines for managing the career expectations of PhD students in STEMM subjects (science, engineering, technology, maths and medicine). The publication was the result of a series of roundtable discussions held at the Royal Society with PhD students, supervisory teams and University careers professionals. This blog post from the British Ecological Society provides a good overview of the document and discussion of how it fits into existing career development opportunities for PhD students. With ever increasing numbers of PhD graduates and restricted academic jobs, academic careers are becoming the [&hellip

  • baby Wild Boar
    5 Jan 2015 • Perspectives

    South Africa’s topsy-turvy seasons

      It’s easy to forget that seasons work in different ways in different places. On a recent trip to Kruger National Park in South Africa, I was expecting to see European breeding birds. I was also expecting that South Africa would be enjoying a season similar to a European spring; a simple six-month discrepancy with the northern hemisphere. While I found the European birds, including Swifts, Swallows, Cuckoos and Willow Warblers, I found a rather different type of spring. South Africa has very short transition seasons (spring/autumn) and more extended hot/cold (winter/summer) seasons. Over much of South [&hellip

  • 640px-Jonathan_G_Meath_portrays_Santa_Claus
    19 Dec 2014 • Perspectives

    Christmas wish list

    For our last post before the Christmas break we decided to collect people’s scientific Christmas wish lists from the department. We got a diversity of answers ranging from the realistic to the fantastical. Thomas Guillerme wants a super computer “that runs everything instantly, like if you have to run a loooooooong MCMC, it spits out the results instantly.” Natalie Cooper says “I’d like an automatic marking machine that could grade coursework and exams for me while I eat mince pies and drink tea. Failing that I’d like some friendly elves who would grade them for me while I [&hellip

  • einstein
    15 Dec 2014 • Perspectives

    Literacy Levels

    Scientists and science communicators often make the point that the public are scientifically illiterate and that this needs to change. But why? The line goes that as we live in an age of science so everyone should be comfortable reading, writing and talking about science such is its pervasiveness in 21st century society. Robert Hazen argues for the importance of literacy saying, “A scientifically illiterate person is effectively cut off from an immensely enriching part of life, just as surely as a person who cannot read” (1). However scientific literacy is not something that is easily defined. [&hellip