Welcome to Anna Swan, Mengyuan Yu and Sophie Patel

Three new people have joined the laboratory recently.

Anna Swan is in the final year of her PhD. Anna writes of herself:

I am currently a PhD student, having started in 2010, working on the bioinformatics analysis of omics data from models of articular cartilage with the aim to identify biomarkers for Osteoarthritis. I have focussed largely on the analysis of proteomics data, generated by mass spectrometry, and the application of machine learning to such data. Machine learning, particularly rule-based methods, have been used for both classification of samples and identification of putative biomarkers. I am funded by a BBSRC Case studentship and Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition (Mars).

Prior to starting my PhD, I completed a BSc in Biological Sciences at the University of Reading (2009) and an MSc in Applied Bioinformatics at Cranfield University (2010). I also spent some time working at Genetix (now Molecular Sciences) as a laboratory scientist, working in mammalian cell culture and on the development of a cell imaging platform.

Mengyuan Yu and Sophie Patel join the lab as undergraduate project students. Both Mengyuan and Sophie are final year students studying Environmental Science. Mengyuan will be modelling production and flow of nitrates in dairy slurry, making use of the dairy farm at Sutton Bonington. Sophie will be analyzing camera trap data from the Malaysian rain forest, based on data she has captured from a summer project with Ahimsa Campos-Arceiz at the University of Nottingham, Malaysia.

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London Review of Books: Stefan Collini reviews two books on UK Higher Education

This article is an excellent review of two books on the changes in the UK Higher Education System. It is excellent reading – making coherent arguments on all the points that we as academics know to be true:

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v35/n20/stefan-collini/sold-out

The review is long and well worth reading in full. Here is the final paragraph:

“Future historians, pondering changes in British society from the 1980s onwards, will struggle to account for the following curious fact. Although British business enterprises have an extremely mixed record (frequently posting gigantic losses, mostly failing to match overseas competitors, scarcely benefiting the weaker groups in society), and although such arm’s length public institutions as museums and galleries, the BBC and the universities have by and large a very good record (universally acknowledged creativity, streets ahead of most of their international peers, positive forces for human development and social cohesion), nonetheless over the past three decades politicians have repeatedly attempted to force the second set of institutions to change so that they more closely resemble the first. Some of those historians may even wonder why at the time there was so little concerted protest at this deeply implausible programme. But they will at least record that, alongside its many other achievements, the coalition government took the decisive steps in helping to turn some first-rate universities into third-rate companies. If you still think the time for criticism is over, perhaps you’d better think again.”

Hoax papers in dodgy Open Access journals

Very interesting recent articles about the burgeoning problem of unscrupulous “open access journals”.

Guardian article: http://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/2013/oct/04/open-access-journals-fake-paper

Science article: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/342/6154/60.full

Good to note that PLoS ONE comes out well – they spotted the fraud.

However, it does raise important and interesting questions about the “policing” as it were of Open Access publications. Obviously there is scope for unscrupulous people to set up such “journals” that are really just fronts for making money out of unsuspecting scientists. So who’s role is it to police this? Universities? Governments? Other publishers? Researchers themselves? One certainly wouldn’t want to see the baby thrown out with the bathwater (as it were): the Open Access model has some very clear advantages – and there are highly reputable players (e.g. PLoS or OUP).