Collecting Cobras 2

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As a follow-up to the earlier ‘Counting Cobras‘ post, Hugh pointed out this recent opinion article from The EMBO Journal written by Alain Prochiantz.

The author recommends playing the science ‘game’ – for example by trying to publish in the so-called high ranking journals even if they do not necessarily reflect novelty and importance, because this is important for obtaining grant funding. Interestingly the idea of developing side projects appealed to me – the concept of planting seeds that, although would probably not get published in stellar journals or even accepted by peers short-term (see “You should stop science”, “you are making a fool of yourself”), but nonetheless with time might grow and branch out into research with high impact.

Other notable comments were the idea that “…there never really is a golden age [in science research]” and ” …it was not better yesterday but [..] it will be better tomorrow, provided that we never forget to defend the “Value of science”.

and finally…”Science remains a game, a game that must be taken very seriously, but nevertheless enjoyed”.

I suppose it’s trying to keep that balance – to play the game enjoyably!?

Collecting Cobras

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Interesting article last week – “performance-driven culture is ruining scientific research‘ – in the Guardian that has led to much discussion amongst the post-docs. All about the impact factor (IF) metrics – an arbitrary measure of how high (…or low) a journal is ranked. The article argues that a fixation on IFs, together with the Research Excellence Framework (REF) excise, detrimentally affects the diversity of Science research. The article starts off with an interesting anecdote about collecting cobra snakes during British rule in India…

Interesting also to see the range of comments after the article, ranging from – Science should be no different from other areas of work where performance led metrics are used  – to there needs to be a change in culture, would Darwin’s or Einstein’s ideas have emerged in a performance led scientific culture? Oh, and someone else noted the cheesy stock photo (above) as a common sight in all labs!

 

Let there be light

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Often we need to measure light intensity for our experiments and we use this little gizmo to do the job – a LI-COR light meter. Measuring light intensity is quite complex, but I find this explanation from GroWell (Hydroponics & Lighting) to be very useful:

Photons are counted in micromoles (µmol). One µmol is 602 quadrillion photons! I can’t even imagine a quadrillion!

I took a measurement of outdoor light intensity in Glasgow in February – reasonably bright, fast moving clouds, occasional cloud cover, temperature around 4oC. As you can see there were around 160 x 602 quadrillion photons hitting the sensor per second.

When there was no cloud I got readings up to around 600 umol – light intensity really does rapidly change….moving to the shade of a building I recorded around 45umol

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When we grow our plants in environmentally controlled growth cabinet we set the light intensity to around 130-150 mol. I suppose this is equivalent to a reasonably cloudy day in Glasgow! Plants will be used to much higher levels of light intensity though….how do they adapt to such rapid shifts in light?

 

 

Tubus Tubulus

 

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Figure(d) Tubus sp. from left to right; Tubus grandis, T. eppendorfis, T. minieppendorfis, T. pcr spp. flatlid and T. pcr spp. roundlid. Botton right; aggregates of T. pcr

 

Just a bit of fun on this remarkable day – 1st April 2015 – the first description of some new lab species that show remarkable developmental plasticity…..

https://lopsidedlablife.wordpress.com/2015/04/01/innovations/

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20 years of the the RNA Journal

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Cover Art: Group in Sea, 1979, by Philip Guston

The RNA Journal is twenty years old and as part of their anniversary around 130 researchers in the field of RNA biology have contributed some of their personal reflections of working in this area. Contributors include Douglas Black, Michael Rosbash and Alberto Kornblihtt.

I’ve browsed through some of the essays and one that caught my attention was ‘Thoughts on NGS, alternative splicing and what we still need to know‘ by Kristen Lynch. Here she emphasises the need to determine the functional consequences of alternative splicing for an organism, and as she pointedly says ‘To truly appreciate the full impact of alternative splicing on biologic processes, and argue against those who wonder if it might all be “noise,” we need to do better. The question is how to achieve this goal’. [Note that NGS in the title of the article refers to Next Generation Sequencing]

As a relative newcomer to the field of AS, I think it’ll be useful for me to delve into these articles – they seem to be a refreshing way to learn how quickly research into AS has ‘evolved’ as well as providing an honest outlook as to what areas seem to be a priority for future work.

The cover art in interesting too – it is entitled ‘Group in Sea, 1979, by Philip Guston‘. He was an American abstract expressionist painter.

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Welcome

Bower Building chimney, University of Glasgow - view from just outside the lab
Bower Building chimney, University of Glasgow – view from just outside the lab

I suppose ‘It’s About Time’ we actually posted something!

It’s taken us a while but hopefully this is the start of an interesting way to disseminate what we get up to in our labs and provide a sort of diary of our activities.

During the establishment of this blog we’ve talked a lot about how time and seasons seemed to be a huge influence on artists and songwriters (I’ve been introduced to the delights of Fairport Convention & The Incredible String Band, for example) and I’m sure that this will be a subject of future posts – Time and the passage of Time sure seems to get under our skins, no?

Anyway, welcome to our blog! We are chronobiologists and we like splicing!