The 2018 VBC PhD Symposium

One little side project I’ve been involved in since last year has been organising the Vienna BioCenter (VBC) PhD Symposium. I’ve attended and helped as a volunteer every year since 2015, though I only wrote about the 2016 symposium on my blog. For those who are not familiar with it, the symposium is held at the Vienna BioCenter in Austria and organised by a group of PhD candidates. We select a theme, invite speakers from across the world, co-ordinate and organise everything. This year’s theme is Metamorphosis – Transforming Science.

The symposium is going to focus on science and change; that includes topics like cutting edge technologies which will change the way science is done, environmental science which can change (and help save) the world we live in and the changing ways that we can communicate in science. So why am I writing about it now? I want anyone who is interested, to hear about it, sign up and attend. Continue reading

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I finally finished reading The Fact of Evolution

A long time and still no proper blog post, just a brief summary of a book for my 2018 reading list.

coverThe Fact of Evolution (2011) by Cameron M. Smith

I finally finished this one! I started reading this about four or five years ago and finished four chapters. Then I went to Austria to do my PhD and left it behind in South Africa. After one of my trips home, I brought it to Vienna with me and read a little more before taking a break to read The Adventures of Peter Gray and De Vita Beata. I can now finally say I have finished reading it!

On the negative side, due to the multiple year time lapse and many gaps, I can’t clearly recall all of the book. All I can say is comes from the ending chapters. That is that the book was quite clear and well-written with several illustrations or tables to help explain things. Each chapter covers a particular aspect of evolutionary theory and it should make a good introduction to those who know little about evolution.

Assessing Scientists By Publications And Impact Factor Is One Of The Most Harmful Scientific Practices

I have a blog post titled Assessing Scientists By Publications And Impact Factor Is One Of The Most Harmful Scientific Practices on the OpenUP Hub blog.

OpenUP is a European Commission project for explaining, discussing and sharing information about open access. The website is not very well set out and difficult to navigate, with some information seeming to be missing completely, but it has good intentions. In any case, I decided to enter their blog competition since there’s an opportunity to win a trip to an open science conference in Brussels which could be nice.

My entry relates to just some of the problems in scientific publishing that are due to the practice of evaluating scientists according to publications and the impact factor. But I will direct your attention there to read more.

New book read: A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived

A new addition to my 2018 book list.

A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived (2016) by Adam Rutherford

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I got this book from my family when I went back to South Africa. I can’t recall whether it was a Christmas or birthday present. In any case, I spent the last two-and-a-bit days in the Czech Republic for a PhD retreat and was able  to use some of the time there to finish reading this book. Overall, I liked it but with some reservations. Continue reading

Cape Town water crisis: My experiences

Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.
-W. H. Auden

When I visited my family in Cape Town a few weeks ago there was one topic which came up every day; water. Even before had I landed there was announcement on the plane that Cape Town was in the middle of a severe drought and that everyone should use water sparingly. This was followed up with posters in the airport and the first tangible signs of how life had changed. I finished up in the airport bathroom but there was no longer the luxury of soap and water. That had been replaced with waterless hand sanitisers, as in my family’s homes.

Continue reading

2018 Book List

One reason I can be glad of the two weeks I spent with my family in South Africa is because it gave me some time to catch up on some reading. It was also hot, so I didn’t actually write anything but we’ll forget that. Let’s start the 2018 book list!

12/05/2018 Added The Conquest of Bread

26/05/2018 Added A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived

7/07/2018 Added one-and-a-half books

29/07/2018 Added The Fact of Evolution

22/09/2018 Added A Wasteful Death and Straight Men

Thank you, Jeeves (1934) by PG Wodehouse

51xuergtiil-_sx322_bo1204203200_I remember my interest in reading the Jeeves and Wooster stories came from a small extract in one of the English comprehension pieces we did at school. There wasn’t much there but there was something about it that made me curious and I was disappointed when I couldn’t find any copies of the books at the time. Continue reading