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Author: Dangerous Experiments | Views: 1125 | Comments: 12
Last by 27 and a PhD on Feb 24, 2011, 3:46pm
29andaPhD is a PostDoc with a degree in Biochemistry and Biophysics who is currently on the hunt for a real job. She blogs at 29 and a PhD and she can be found on twitter as 28andaPhD.


One of the most awesome experiences of grad school (besides landing the coveted spot for the interview, getting into your favourite lab, or finishing your degree sooner than planned) is passing the qualifying or comprehensive exam. For short, I'll call it qual. In a way this exam is designed to not only test your capacity to create new and test an idea, by teaching yourself new concepts, challenge paradigms, establish a new line of thinking, but to “filter”, in a way, the incoming talent of the department. Passing the qual, in a way, serves to welcome you into some sort of club, where students (usually) don't take any more exams, that of senior grad students who are held up as the best and brightest within a department. It was understood that if you passed this rigorous examination you had fought hard and earned your spot in the department. At least that's how it seemed to the 24-year-old-super-scared me.

This is my story about passing th . . . More
Author: Thomas Joseph | Views: 1528 | Comments: 11
Last by Cricket42 on Oct 13, 2010, 1:56pm
I remember the first time I was asked, in an official capacity*, to review a manuscript. I was excited because I had finally been asked by my peers to partake in one of the essential elements of publishable science ... the peer review. I was also extremely nervous. Would I review the manuscript with the same attention to detail as the other reviewers? Would I miss critical elements? Would I make a fool out of myself and recommend acceptance of a paper which was clearly junk (or vice versa)?

Fears aside, I proceeded with the review, which given all my anxiety took far longer than it needed to. In the end, I think I handed in a good review**, and I've been following a similar pattern of reviewing ever since then. Since I'm fresh off my latest review (a rejection, unfortunately) I figured now is a pretty good time to put my thoughts down on paper (the intertubez).

1. The first issues to consider will come when you get the email asking you whether or not you'd be able to do the review. First, do you have the time? IIRC, the typical reviewer reviews about seven papers and change a year (I'll have to find the data on that, but it was blogged about recently), which comes out to less than one a month. When I accept a review, I figure that it'll take me about an afternoo . . . More
Author: Lab Mom | Views: 2115 | Comments: 6
Last by Bryan on May 23, 2012, 12:14pm
Over on my personal blog I have been lamenting the fact I live in a 100 year old house and absolutely hate what a money pit it has become. To put in perspective how long ago 100 years really is, I looked up a few facts about life in 1905 (the year my money pit was built) .

"When this house was built Teddy Roosevelt was president, there were only 45 states in the Union, most people still drove a horse and buggy, and milk cost 14 cents per gallon. It was the age of the Victorians. Automobiles, the railroad, radio, the world series, airplanes and indoor plumbing were all in their infancy. Albert Einstein still hadn't finalized the theory of relativity, and William Bateson suggested the term "genetics" for the very first time. The average weekly salary was $12.98 and the average life expectancy was 47 years. Child labor and racial segregation were prevalent and women wouldn't be given the right to vote for another 15 . . . More
Author: Dangerous Experiments | Views: 3157 | Comments: 7
Last by LeStonga on May 09, 2011, 9:40am
Sean Marshall is a science communication practitioner living in Ireland. He produces and presents the Science Chat podcast and associated blog. He blogs and podcasts mainly on issues and topics related to science communication, education and outreach. He also writes (fiction) and plays electric guitar (noisily). Sean can be found on twitter as @arthurpdent42.

So many people, I mean soooo many people have been saying to me over the past few weeks (in Ireland - unsurprising as that's where I live) that how can people be talking about climate change and global warming when this year and last year we've had such snow as hasn't been seen in these parts for years. Of course, the fact that we're having some really cold weather with plenty of snow doesn't contradict global warming. Global warming is a climate change effect that can cause many types of weather anomaly, and an overall increase in global temperature doesn’t have to cause locally warmer weather, it’s a bit more complex than that, and you have to understand how climate relates to weather. . . . More
Author: Dangerous Experiments | Views: 2211 | Comments: 14
Last by katie_phd on Mar 17, 2011, 9:57am
This week's guest blogger is Image Goddess who is a PhD Scientist with a multidisciplinary background. She has a degree in a field within the biological sciences and is currently enjoying life after graduate school. She blogs at


When you're in graduate school, especially in the biological sciences, your life is your dissertation work. You live it. You breathe it. If you're like most doctoral students your dissertation work is everything. You are in the standard doctoral student mold created by the system you have to go through to get that coveted degree. And because your whole life is focused around getting your degree, after several years all you can think about is getting done and moving on. But you're often afraid to think about it. Where are you going to move on to? That's the big question. You've spent years dedicating yourself to obtaining this degree, to your research, but now what? And frequently, you don't want to think about it un . . . More
Author: Thomas Joseph | Views: 1989 | Comments: 12
Last by Thomas Joseph on Jan 12, 2011, 2:11pm

Coruscant - an ecumenopolis

What are sci-fi movies trying to tell us with images, and themes, like the above? The term ecumenopolis comes from the combination of the two Greek words ecumene and polis -- in other words, a city made of the whole world. It is featured in Star Wars (as an example) as the planet of Coruscant (pictured above). Watching the movie one may note that there is no visible greenery on the planet, no visible water, and even major landscapes are dwarfed or have been wiped out by buildings. It is a theme that has been mentioned numerous times in science fiction, and a listing can be found in Wikipedia. While it seems like a thing of fantasy, the view of North America from space at night suggests otherwise (see below).

An ecumenopolis in the making?

My thoughts turned to such notions as I was reading the following article, which is definitely worthy of a read. The article discusses the issue of mesopredator release, which is when small- to mid-sized predators are released from the pressures of their own predation by large-sized predators. Since they are no longer pre . . . More
Author: David Manly | Views: 9498 | Comments: 5
Last by Evie on Nov 27, 2010, 2:12pm
Plants never quite held an interest to me. I understood their vital roles in the ecosystem, I admired their beauty and their survival in the harshest of climates, and I spent a long time learning how they grow, evolve and reproduce.

But, they never were able to keep my interest compared to animals, which is why I studied zoology and not botany.

However, there are a few species of plants that I do like, and here they are:


From the family Droseraceae, these plants look and act in an interesting way. At first glance, they appear to have some dew on the ends of their long leaves. But, like most plants, looks can be deceiving - they are true killers.

The droplets of dew are not dew at all, but a sticky substance known as mucilage that will trap any unlucky insect that happens to be attracted to the glistening globs.

Once the insect touches down to sample the fake dew, the true marvel of the Sundew is revealed. The plant then contorts its tentacles to the centre of the leaf, and traps the insect with a barrage of sticky globs of mucilage.

Once the insect is cornered, there is no escape.

It is survival of the fittest at its best.

*This entry conta . . . More
Author: Psycasm | Views: 10798 | Comments: 41
Last by mamta on Feb 08, 2011, 5:14am
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I consider myself a skeptic, and I've often wondered how I can tie my skeptical bent with my interest in Psychology, while remaining true to the format of this blog. I don't like to sit here and write essays, nor do I like to sit here and push a particular agenda. I do like to sit down, ask a question, find an answer, and try to apply it.

And so, when last musing upon this topic, I realized that I'm in the field most capable of debunking such woo. Perhaps information, in and of itself, is useful - should you be confronted by one afflicted with an 'open mind' . Furthermore I'm on the side of light - Science! and so have special +1 debunking abilities. While the purveyors of Woo also lay claim to domain on the brain and mental abilities, we have replicability and statistical analysis.

Initially I thought this post would be a bit of fun. Poke around the old journals and find some acid-trip hypotheses and from the '7o's. Naturally I checked the 'peer review' box when searching...

Oh. Em. Gee.

I found this gem from the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine:

Over decades, consciousness research has a . . . More