Journalism

I’ve been the opinion editor at Research Professional News since 2012, running the comment pages of Research Fortnight and Research Europe.

We cover the places where academia, government and business interact. That includes research funding and policy, higher education, innovation, evidence-based policy, scholarly publishing, industrial R&D, and universities’ place in public life. Research Fortnight concentrates on the UK, Research Europe on the EU.

You can see our latest articles here and a few of my pieces below.

Zone of uncertainty creates risks for spending review
Talk of making the UK a science superpower looks less like a coherent policy than a formula to placate and distract.

Grasping at intangibles
What does it mean for research and innovation when ideas are worth more than objects?

Citizens of nowhere, go home
For Research Fortnight’s 500th issue in May 2017, guest editor Andre Geim wanted a dystopian vision of a post-Brexit UK. So I wrote one.

The nudge manifesto
How David Halpern became the Cameron government’s most influential researcher.

Some of my other pieces for other places…

Replication Crisis (London Review of Books,October 2021)
What’s wrong with science, how did it get that way, and how can we fix it?

In retrospect: The Prince (Nature, July 2013)
500 years after its creation, how does Machiavelli’s masterpiece compare with science‘s view of human behaviour?

Rare specimens (Nature, April 2012)
A handful of plant collectors has shaped the field of botany. Now they are disappearing, and there are no clear successors.

Libertarians with antlers (Slate, September 2011)
What Robert Frank‘s The Darwin Economy gets wrong about evolution

The wisdom of the bees (Nature, October 2010)
Review of Honeybee Democracy by Thomas Seeley

Are humans cruel to be kind? (New Scientist, May 2009 [£])
Why do we inflict pain for no gain?

Into the Landscape of Genomic Evolution (Seed, February 2009)
Podcast to mark Darwin‘s 200th anniversary, looking at how genome sequencing is changing our view of evolution

Does ‘Junk Food’ Threaten Marine Predators in Northern Seas? (Science, December 2008)
Some fish-eating birds and mammals have full bellies but poor diets. Is this why their numbers are declining?

Postmodern evolution? (Nature, September 2008)
A group of high-profile researchers met in Altenberg, Austria, to try and plot the future course of evolutionary theory

Tantalum (Chemistry World, August 2008)
Podcast for CW‘s interactive periodic table

Don’t flush the fish (London Review of Books, July 2008)
The future of coral reefs, or lack of it

Across the curious parallel (PLOS Biology, July 2008)
Languages evolve in very similar ways to species

Get the mosquitoes! (London Review of Books, November 2006)
Review of Genes in Conflict: The Biology of Selfish Genetic Elements by Austin Burt and Robert Trivers.

Calculated risk (Financial Times, January 2005)
The sad family story behind the world‘s most accurate log tables

I’ve also written for Scientific American, Discover, Times Higher Education, Sunday Times, Independent on Sunday, and BBC Wildlife, among others.