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2004 PEET DNA Barcoding Debate now on YouTube

PEET Barcoding Debate

Thanks to Luke Holman I have just uploaded the PEET DNA barcoding debate that I chaired in 2004 to YouTube. Luke is working on metabarcoding and needed the video as part of his undergraduate dissertation at the University of St Andrews. Unfortunately the University of Illinois video stream is broken so with the help of staff at the UofI he tracked down the recording and they have made it available for download. Conference videos are common now but in 2004 this was quite innovative. To read more about the debate take a look at the series of papers written in Systematic Biology which document the meeting.



Junior Drupal Developer Wanted!


We seek an up and coming junior Drupal developer for a 3-year (full-time) position, as part of a major collaborative effort to help researchers share and manage biodiversity data on the web ( The role encompasses the development of content, theming and functionality for new and existing PHP and Drupal systems and applications. 

Who owns science?


Last night I attended a Policy Lab event at the Royals Society examining intellectual property in Science. The meeting discussed a report entitled “Who owns Science” produced by the Institute of Science, Ethics and Innovation at Manchester University. Speakers included John Alty, Chief Executive of the UK’s intellectual property office; Adam Heathfield, director of science policy for Europe at Pfizer; Charles Leadbeater, author of “We Think” and former advisor to Tony Blair; and Sir John Sulston, who amongst many things is chair of the Institute of Science, Ethics and Innovation at Manchester. I must confess that from the outset I was sceptical about the value of this meeting – at least to me personally, and for its value addressing the issues that a majority of my colleagues face when dealing with intellectual property. After seeing the press this morning I think at least some of that scepticism was justified.

Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2009

On Tuesday evening (27th Oct.) I went to a preview of the 2009 Wildlife Photographer of the Year at the Natural History Museum. This year the exhibition has been moved to a new larger gallery, which makes it much easier to stand back from the crowds and enjoy the images. The photos are beautifully displayed as large backlit transparencies. Coupled with the low level blue lighting, which gives the space the appearance of a fancy wine bar, the exhibition is real treat.

It’s Alive!

It’s Alive!

The server where this site is mounted has been up and down on a regular basis over much of June ‘09. Apologies for this! The lab where the server sits has been moved and building work has meant that the lab’s power supply has been regularly disrupted. For various good reasons that I won’t delve into here, the server is mounted in Rod Page’s lab in Glasgow, and I am based at the Natural History Museum in London. Consequently, it is not easy for me to do much about power outages. My thanks go to Rod Page, Joseph Hughes and Simon Rycroft, who have variously prodded and poked the server into action in my absence.

SciFoo Camp 08 - looking back at 2008, part 2

Amongst the many conferences I went to in 2008, Science Foo Camp 08 (SciFoo) has to be the highlight. This extraordinary gathering of scientists, engineers, geeks and technologists is put together by Nature, O'Reilly and Google, and is hosted in building 40 at Googleplex (Mountain View, CA). The meeting is in its third year and I was lucky enough to be there for 2008. Thanks to a Mac Book Air that I borrowed for the trip, I made notes on the sessions I attended. However, true to form I never got around to summerizing these notes such that they could be blogged. Here (in a slightly edited form) are some comments on the sessions I attended. I've also listed a few of the sessions I couldn't make, because of clashes in the schedule. For some pics, check out the SciFoo tag on my Flickr account:

Bad Blog

2008 was a pretty extraordinary year for me and some of the projects I have been working on. However, I have been very bad at documenting these events. Most of the time I can't even manage 140 characters in a Twitter post, let alone a proper blog post, despite the fact that I can now blog and Twitter away from my iPhone. In recompense I am going to make a few retrospective blog posts looking back at some of the major events that affected my work and me in 2008. This is partly to tell others about them, but is more for the self indulgent reason that I should keep a better record of what I have done, less I forget! Hopefully, this will help me keep one of my New Years resolutions - to become a better blogger.

Blogging from my iPhone

image159389238.jpgFor perhaps obvious reasons this will not be a long post. Suffice to say, I have found a neat iPhone application (iBlogger) that allows me to blog from my iPhone. I now have one less reason not to blog more. Unfortunately my new iPhone gives me several hundred more distractions to stop me blogging. Still, it's a nice to have the option of blogging from my pocket!

Social NotWorking

Last night (Wednesday Sept 25, 08) I attended a Talk Science event at the British Library and took part in a discussion on social networking and Web 2.0 tools in science. Timo Hannay (Web Publishing manager at Nature) gave a great keynote talk ("Scientific Researchers and Web 2.0: Social 'NotWorking'?), which was following by a discussion amongst the 100+ participants, both physical and virtual thanks to Second Life.

Darwin Centre 2

I recently had an opportunity to tour around the new Darwin Centre 2 (DC2) building at the Natural History Museum, London. The building's construction phase is almost over, and it is now about to start being fitted out for public and staff access. DC2 will house most of the NHM’s 30 million+ insect and plant specimens in a 65-metre-long, eight-storey-high cocoon, and provide state of the art labs and office space from most members of the NHM's Entomology and Botany department. The cocoon sits in a glass atrium with workspaces at either end linking the Waterhouse building with the first phase of the Darwin Centre (DC1). The latter houses the NHM's spirit preserved material and the NHM's Zoology department.

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