Many areas of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths) are hyper masculine and reward people for bad behaviour. Many of the environments we work in are, at present, hostile and unforgiving of difference.

I can share that there are islands of hope and people are making strides to fix things…

It’s that time of year again, well, with a few more days added on for good measure, that I celebrate getting that bit older.

a flower well lit on a black background

This year has been a rollercoaster through the mist, with the underpinning oppression of the global pandemic on all our lives. …

Today is my last day.

Not my last last, of course, but my last day at Imperial College London. Which in some ways does risk making it my last day.

This prompts some personal reflection.

As an academic, we wed a huge amount of our identity to our professional life…

Bullying and harassment is hugely problematic in any place of work or learning. It causes actual and immediate harm, it creates trauma, and it sustains a culture where a limited few are allowed to survive, let alone thrive.

We know that bullying and harassment happens in University settings. This can…

Photo at near sunset. Tree siloutetted. People as shadows standing near.

Expressing my feelings towards 2020 is tough.

Let me give it a go.

It’s been a year.

Time has stood still.

Time has marched forward.

I’ve been lucky, broadly. Also, I remain privileged.

Things have been done.

People have done things.

People have learnt things.

New adventures await, hopefully.

The world has burned, and continues to burn.

Bad people keep on getting good things.

Mediocre people stand by and do nothing.

Sycophants continue to carry favour.

The pernicious march continues.

Will 2021 be better? Perhaps.

Let us hope.

There are good people. There are good things.

Some people are awesome.

There is hope on the horizon.

A cluster of discussions recently have highlighted how quantitative assessment in academia risks systematically creating toxic hyper competitive environments, undermining our credibility in making decisions, and fundamentally undervaluing individuals.

Let us take a couple of ideas to explore this theme — cheating & academic misconduct; and academic metrics.

Cheating & Academic Misconduct

There are…

Imperial College London has recently introduce an £80 application fee its MSc and MRes programmes, to little fan fair. Together with >1161 other members of the Imperial College community I have asked them to remove the fee. Why?

The (weak) case for a fee

The ‘legitimate’ case for an application fee would be to make people…

In higher education, there is a curious and important fascination with evidence based policies. I’d like to explore how this value might have limited worth.

As a scientist and engineer, I am keen that we use evidence to inform our decisions. However, we must consider what “the evidence can tell…

Dr Ben Britton

Atomic sorcerer, based at UBC (Canada). Plays with metals. Discusses academic life. Swooshes down ski slopes. Pegs it round parks. (Views my own)

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