On The Differential Of exp(x)

  I take an undergrad class in maths for chemists without A-level maths. The aim of the class is to take someone with GCSE knowledge and get them ready for some of the quantum theory that they’ll be running into during their degree. Now this is a tall order, but it has proved successful in …


Volcanic Ash

The Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology (POST) offer an internship scheme for EPSRC PhD students. I had a go at applying, but didn’t get the place (a pity really). Anyway, the task set to rank applicants was to write a two-sided brief on volcanic ash that would be understandable and accessible to a politician. Just in case it might be …

, there is usually a good copy on the other X. So half of the cells responsible are expressing the appropriate gene, which is enough for the clotting system to at least function. Guys aren't so lucky - if your mother gave you a 'bad' X chromome, you've had it.  And it's not just heamophillia - colour blindness, some types of muscular dystrophy and a syndrome that means that you can't eat fava beans (Hannibal Lecter was clearly not a sufferer).  So are there any genes that exist on the Y chromosome but not on the X (other than the obvious!)? Well, we guys are occassionally blessed with the 'hairy ears' gene.  All of this can, of course, become much more complciated. Sufferers of the somewhat seedy sounding 'XXX Syndrome' have, you guessed it, three X chromosomes. Which means that two inactivated X chromosomes exist in every nucleic cell!

Women Are Mosaics

The cells of all female mammals have a bit of an identity crisis going on – half with one way of going about things, half with another. It’s all due to X-chromosome inactivation ….

GA Antennae

Optimisation Techniques

The featured image is from a little experiment that NASA ran. They tried to write a micro-genetic algorithm that would create an antennae for a particular function on a probe. They got the mess above. BUT, when they made the thing and tried it out, it outperformed the previous ‘man-made’ device. Pretty cool huh? For what it’s worth, I …


Climate Change Fun

I always thought that metrology was really dull. But I was completely wrong! As part of my masters year, we had to study a whole load of climate change simulations and analyse the data (as well as recreate some of the small parts of the model ourselves). It was actually pretty interesting and fun. As …


Disease Modelling And The SIR/SIS Models

Another one of my essays from the BCCS years. This one focuses on a specific paper: ’Modelling dynamic and network heterogeneities in the spread of sexually transmitted diseases’, Ken T.D. Earnes & Matt J. Keeling It should be a pretty thorough walk through the paper, with a few asides of direct relevance to the field of STD …

wild type and peloric fig 2


My PhD programme has us study a wide range of theory and apllied science. It was tough going reading up on a new field every few weeks, but I got alot out of it. Here’s an essay that I wrote as part of a module on ‘Biological Complexity’.   “The need for complexity science when …


Morphogenesis Undergrad Masters Project

I just thought that it might be an idea to pop my undergrad final-year project up online. This was the project that eventually led me to join the Bistol Centre for Complexity Sciences, spark my interest in mechanisms that provide biological form and focus on mathematical/computational biology. It was therefore a pretty important time in …

Photonic Butterfly

Photonics Undergrad Research

My-first-research project was in Toronto, a very formative time for me as a scientist. I was in the lab of Prof. Geof Ozin, a British ex-pat materials scientist. I loved it and really thought that I was going to become a solid state chemist! How things change. Anyway, my project was on biochemically tuneable photonic …