Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com

Science in London: The 2018/19 scientific society talks in London blog post

About me

Creative Commons
So far only one post on my blog is licensed under a Creative Commons license. All others are not. The one that is, is How to make it easier for people to find your jobs - help yourself to that one :)

Work - science communication
Diabetes UK - (2003-2012)
I worked at Diabetes UK for eight years as a Science Information Officer part-time and had a second part-time role there both as Islet Project Co-ordinator and also as a Research Liaison Officer. Much of my job was involved in collecting and making sense of a variety of statistics to do with diabetes (from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) and elsewhere) and updating our science information. I also spent a delicious amount of time scrutinising medical claims made by iffy companies, which also fed into my interest in skeptical blogging.

My areas of specialism were islet cell transplantation and warning people off dodgy stem cell transplants abroad. Plus new technologies (insulin pumps, artificial pancreas, weird and wonderful ways to monitor blood glucose levels). Primarily I answered science enquiries about diabetes from members of the public, colleagues and healthcare professionals, also worked very closely with our Press team. Sadly our Science Information Team was made redundant in 2012.

Evidence | health | health claims | diabetes & endocrinology | stem cells | islet cell transplantation | statistics

CHI+MED (computer human interaction for medical devices)
UCL (2010-2011) / Queen Mary University of London - (2011-2016)
My job title is Public Engagement Co-ordinator and I've been doing this since 2010 (part-time, often jointly with the job at DUK). It might sound like I do a lot of co-ordinating but lots of the job is writing and curating information for our website (linked below), blog / Twitter feed and newsletters. So there's still a bit of science communication there.

The project was funded by the Government, specifically the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC, one of 7 research councils) for £5.7m, running over 6 years at four universities and two hospitals. We're looking at the design of interactive medical devices (such as chemotherapy infusion pumps) to see how that design could make them safer. It's a pretty cool project.

CHI+MED | medical device design | patient safety | human-computer interaction | public engagement

CS4FN since ~2012
Teaching London Computing (2013-2015)
CAS London (2016 onwards)
QMUL - Queen Mary University of London

CS4FN is Computer Science for Fun, a magazine created by Prof Paul Curzon (my boss) and Prof Peter McOwan at QMUL with the intention of woohooing computer science a bit more for school aged children. There is / has been / was a perception that computing is 'just spreadsheets' or 'just really boring and for nerds' and Paul and Peter wanted to highlight the creativity involved in computing, its links with other disciplines (think bioinformatics, CGI in films) and - yes - jobs, but also just enjoying computing for your own interest and a sense that you can make stuff yourself. I help make sure that 20,000+ copies land in schools. 

Teaching London Computing developed jointly with the PGCE / Computing Education department at King's College London. With a new computing curriculum on the horizon (now in existence) many computing teachers were rather anxious about the changes and in need of support and a refresher course in Python. We put together some CPD courses aimed at GCSE Computing, and A-level Computing, teachers - these consist of subject knowledge refreshers as well as pedagogical support (how to teach the information, as well as the information itself). As we like fun in computing we also have workshops where a particular theme can be explored without using computers ('unplugged computing') and these include games, puzzles and even magic tricks. You can teach kids the concepts of programming by getting them to create a robot face using very basic equipment.

CAS London is part of the UK network Computing At School, supported by the BCS. CAS London is also supported by the Mayor of London / Department for Education and the project is about expanding the reach of Teaching London Computing by supporting 'master teachers' who will teach and support other teachers. Conceptually similar to franchising I suppose.
If the dates don't seem to match it's simply that I've been working on two jobs, mostly at the same place, mostly simultaneously. CHI+MED was a discrete project that ran Oct 2009-Jan 2016 and which I joined in Jan 2010 - that has now finished. Teaching London Computing took shape in 2013 and has now blossomed into CAS London. I've been working continuously at QMUL since 2011.

I enrolled for a PhD at the Institute of Psychiatry and School of Pharmacy in neuroscience (have an MSc in it), particularly in lipid biochemistry stuff, though it became clear that I was mostly blunting the cutting edge of science. Learned how to fix some pretty heavy machinery though, but eventually decided I preferred writing about science rather than actually 'not' doing it.

Other stuff
I'm fairly obsessed with people being able to find information that they need and my interests are largely centred on patients being able to access, and importantly - be able to make sense of - peer-reviewed published articles. I enjoy curating stuff and although I don't have formal librarian skills working in the library at Diabetes UK (see above) means I know my way around some aspects of it. 

Allied to that, I'm also keen on people who are trying to get into science communication have access to information about all the different kinds of jobs and different sectors. When I started I spent a lot of time making sense of the 'landscape' (it's a pretty massive field and has expanded rapidly in the last ten years). I run @ScicommJobs to help people hear about jobs but mostly to collect job descriptions into a database for longitudinal comparison, should anyone wish to make them :) 

I also enjoy a bit of light tech blogging and have written a number of posts about Twitter, including curating tweets, finding old tweets and pointing out how ineffective a Twitter block actually is.

Working at Diabetes UK (hearing from people who'd been told about miracle cures for diabetes) and reading the Bad Science forums pushed me into skeptical activism and I've reported a number of misleading adverts to the Advertising Standards Authority and a couple of companies to Trading Standards (one of which was shut down). 

Me on the web
Twitter | Quora | LinkedIn (don't click on it unless you're logged out or I get a message telling me that you've looked, which is just creepy for both of us - edit: due to excessive spam I've effectively killed my LIn acccount by removing most of it and pretending that I used to be in semiconductors and am now retired! It's been very effective. I am neither retired nor involved in semiconductors.)

Sound, rather than music, is one of my favourite things, though I am pretty fond of music. I particularly like the Radiophonic Workshop sounds of the 70s which was the backdrop to my childhood and I like what Jad Abumrad (of Radiolab) is doing with sound. I'm a big fan of film music / scores as well as the way sound is used in films.

I'm also rather fond of economic botany or ethnobotany - the ways in which people use plants for a variety of reasons. Again from working at Diabetes UK I have a strong interest in the use of herbal medicine - not because I think it's a wonderful thing but (usually) because I think precisely the opposite. Don't forget a massive amount of pharma drugs come from plants (either directly or modified, they also come from soil bacteria and all sorts of weird and wonderful things) so plant chemicals definitely have physiological effects but they are not a utopian panacea, alas. Sometimes herbal preparations work very effectively, but that's because some charlatan's doped them with a prescription-only (or worse, a withdrawn formerly-prescription-only) drug. Eek.

While I'm not a hacker or a maker I am a fan of those who are and like things like Dorkbot and Maker Faire. Rather like William Morris' patterns - he knew what to do with acanthus leaves, also Iznik pottery.

Currently plotting
For work: I'd like to do a film festival series on ergonomics and human factors and their depiction in films. I've been to a few lovely science communication in film events and after watching 'The Dish' at a work-related event the idea coalesced. Watch this space, well not *this* space but I'll probably put something on the blog about it. 

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Comment policy: I enthusiastically welcome corrections and I entertain polite disagreement ;) Because of the nature of this blog it attracts a LOT - 5 a day at the moment - of spam comments (I write about spam practices,misleading marketing and unevidenced quackery) and so I'm more likely to post a pasted version of your comment, removing any hyperlinks.

Comments written in ALL CAPS LOCK will be deleted and I won't publish any pro-homeopathy comments, that ship has sailed I'm afraid (it's nonsense).