Busy times

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Amazingly we are almost at the end of January and the Christmas holidays are just a dim memory. After a slow opening week everything has just exploded and I feel as though I haven’t had a moment to myself. I have spent a lot of time contemplating our REF result and now that HEFCE have released all of the submissions for our competitors, I am giving some thought to what they did and how we might have improved our own return. Although it’s all over, I remain a REF nerd and have given presentations on the outcome to both the School of Biosciences and the Vet School staff. On top of that I have been writing like a demon- a BBSRC grant was submitted just before Christmas and now I am juggling 3 other proposals with deadlines that are just a few weeks away (or less) and a major proposal that will go to the British Heart Foundation once it is finished. Add to that some acts of good citizenship (reviewing grant applications and course accreditation activities), my administrative duties and getting ready for teaching, and there isn’t much time left in the day.

Teaching begins here on Monday and I start my busiest teaching semester of the year. There will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth in a month or two, when the colossal pile of marking starts to land on my desk. I am trying some new Problem-Based Learning approaches this year with our MSc students. Slightly trembly at the thought but hopefully it will be fun and successful. My fate lies in their hands. This will be the final run of my modules which are supported by the first edition of my book as the new version should be published in the summer. The cover design is finalised (I bothered almost everyone I met over a couple of days with options to choose from and the chosen version is shown at the top of this blog) and I await the typeset proofs for approval. Once those are done I would imagine the book will be available for pre-order from all good book shops.

So what’s going on elsewhere in the Langley-Evans lab? Not all of the action is based at my desk. Our activities in Africa are now at their peak as Muniirah has gone out to Uganda and will begin work on the maternal and infant nutrition study early next week. Paphani has been in Botswana for several months now and has recruited over 250 mother/child pairs so far for his study. He returns in around a month and seems on track to have recruited his whole sample, so then the data analysis will begin. We are also working hard to firm up our plans for further investigation of the Bumps and Beyond intervention in Lincoln and Sarah Ellis will be finalising her protocol for data collection very shortly. We hope to start work in the spring. MAGIC is also at a critical point as most of our data is now collected and the final stages of spreadsheet entry and checking are upon us. The first papers should be written soon.

In the laboratory itself (where the wet work goes on) it is a hive of activity as Alice, Bethan and Grace are all working on their quantitative PCR for their various gene expression measurements. I am promised data is imminent, so hopefully there will be some exciting results to report in the near future. Lujain has some interesting data on the effects of varying magnesium concentration on the growth of human vascular endothelial cells in culture and her project is beginning to take shape.

These are exciting times, as the broad portfolio of research that we are currently operating looks poised to deliver a wealth of results. As anyone who knows me will testify, I LOVE DATA! I can’t wait to get my hands on some numbers, do some stats and some thinking and then generate some more papers and grants. Yes I am busy, but I actually thrive on it. I should stop procrastinating now, post this blog and get back to something else.

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