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Timothy Saunders
Group leader at the Mechanobiology Institute, National University of Singapore. Research interest lies at the interface between biophysics and developmental biology. Currently the lab focuses on the role that mechanical feedback plays in robust development.

Not everyone/everything can adapt...

Timothy SaundersJul 16, 2015Comments
A particularly annoying argument I've heard over the past few years regarding global warming is the fatalistic "there's no changing things so we should adapt to the new environment".  James Lovelock and others have pushed such a line. Unsurprisingly, many right-leaning governments have happily brought into this narrative of basically screwing the next generations (i.e. they'll have to adapt) ~  read more

Lies, damn lies, and biological experiments

Timothy SaundersApr 30, 2015Comments
There's been quite a lot of coverage over the past week of stastistics and data representation in biology. A really well-written article in PLoS Biology  outlined the dangers of the oft-used bar chart and how it can be misleading/obscure real data, followed by many comments online and a note in this week's Nature.  As a physicist by training, I can hardly recall a single physics ~  read more

p values are evil

Timothy SaundersMar 05, 2015Comments
or so says (paraphrasing) the journal of Basic and Applied Social Psychology who have recently banned them from their journal.  A commentary in Nature covers some of the reaction.  This seems a bit overkill, but I do think that authors should be made to be much clearer on how they calculated p-values and what other tests they performed to check the validity of the conclusions. ~  read more

Are all your results wrong?

Timothy SaundersFeb 27, 2015Comments
Christopher Korch has been, for 15 years, highlighting how many laboratory cell lines are not what we think they are.  From today's article in Science: "Thyroid lines were actually composed of melanoma cells, prostate tissue was displaced by bladder cancer, and normal uterine cultures turned out to be nothing but breast cancer,"  Somewhat disappointingly, many scientists have chosen to ~  read more

Fed up of those long, dense manuscripts?

Timothy SaundersFeb 20, 2015Comments
Then head over to the Journal of Brief Ideas.  With a 200 word limit per article, catching up on all the latest literature seems a lot less tiresome. However, the lack of peer review and quality control seem like potential problems (beyond the word limit, which is less than many abstract limits!).  Anyway, a fun idea and potentially a useful place for getting ideas out in a quick ~  read more

When is time to hang up the gloves?

Timothy SaundersFeb 15, 2015Comments
There was an interesting article in Nature last week about an NIH proposal to introduce "Emiritus grants" to encourage senior people to wind up their research and ensure an orderly transition.  There is a major problem with grants, with the age of first grant success now over 40 in the US and, somewhat unsurprising, senior academics hoovering up a large fraction of grant money available. ~  read more

Science and public communication

Timothy SaundersFeb 02, 2015Comments
Just a short note to highlight two interesting articles I've recently read about science communication. First, Science Careers has an interesting blog post about scientists receiving both private (i.e. referee reports) and public critiques.  Also, Michael Mann has recently been pushing the Serengeti strategy used against scientists in the public arena. It's important as scientists that we ~  read more

More on women in science

Timothy SaundersJan 22, 2015Comments
Science had an interesting article (and a commentary) a week ago (sorry, I'm a bit busy at the moment) on why some STEM fields have disproportionally few women. Perhaps the most depressing bit comes from the abstract: "We hypothesize that, across the academic spectrum, women are underrepresented in fields whose practitioners believe that raw, innate talent is the main requirement ~  read more

Not just happy with screwing up tax...

Timothy SaundersJan 19, 2015Comments
... Jean-Claude Juncker, the EU Commission President, (who while PM of Luxembourg oversaw a government that happily allowed businesses to use Luxembourg as a tax haven to the detriment of their European neighbours) has decided to pillage European science to pay for his pet EU investment plan. The restrictions on the European Research Council (ERC) seem particularly short-sighted as this has been ~  read more

What gives you cancer?

Timothy SaundersJan 16, 2015Comments
There was an interesting paper recently in Science showing that tissues with high rates of cell division are more prone to cancer. This provoked a lot of discussion in both the science and mainstream media.  While the science seems fine, there has been a lot of misreporting and mischaracterisation of the results, summarised in a commentary today in Science (unfortuntely behind a paywall). ~  read more

Is it all worth it?

Timothy SaundersJan 10, 2015Comments
Just a short note to bring to your attention a somewhat depressing, but well worth reading, article about the scientific career path from John Skylar.  The massive earnings hit that prospective "academics" take in order to reach tenured (and funded) professorship are really quite shocking.  I feel that prospecitve graduate students should always read this sort of article before ~  read more

Word vs Tex - battle continues

Timothy SaundersJan 09, 2015Comments
A funny paper in PLoS One this week, comparing MSWord with Latex for presenting scientific data. Surprisingly, they found that people using Word were much better at copying scientific writing and tables, and the difference between presenting equations was negligible.  Obviously, there are a lot of scientists who disagree with the conclusions.  My experience is that Latex is far superior ~  read more

The Best "Worst" of 2014

Timothy SaundersDec 29, 2014Comments
Retraction Watch has just published their "Top 10" retractions of the year. Unsurprisingly the STAP papers feature but also some mass-retraction stories.  Interesting to read how the darker side of science publishing has developed this year. ~  read more

Watching light...

Timothy SaundersDec 26, 2014Comments
... in slow motion.  A bit late on this one, but an amazing article was published in Nature earlier this month showing the movement of light with a hundred-billion-frames-per-second camera. The approach uses Compressed Ultrafast Photography (CUP) which is a "receive only" method of fast imaging and so doesn't require specialised forms of illumination.  Their results ~  read more

CRISPR Cas9 - the fighting seems about to begin

Timothy SaundersDec 22, 2014Comments
The CRISPR-Cas9 technology is revolutionising biological sciences at the moment, with its immense power to do controlled genome editing.  However, as with many new technologies developed by multiple people/compaines [see mobile phone patents ad nauseum], there is fierce competition over rights.  In the US a CRISPR patent has been awarded to the Broad Institute/MIT but in Europe ~  read more