IMG_1397 copy - me canoeingI’m a circadian and evolutionary biologist with a background in cell and molecular biology and zoology. I’m also a science communicator having worked and volunteered at ZSL London Zoo, the Science Museum, and the Royal Institution of Great Britain. I also have an interest in international development, especially the role of science and scientific industry in the development of Africa, and am involved with two charities who work in this area, TReNDinAfrica and AuthorAID.

The blog

The blog stems from a passion to communicate about what I love: science and the world around us. It allows me to practice writing, editing, and presenting, to improve my communication. I tend to write about stories that grab me – they don’t have to be headline health breakthroughs, they just have to peak the curiosity within me. Obscure topics have run through my research career and have been a central part of my interest in science on the whole. I think curiosity-driven science has an important role to play within our modern world. I hope that here I can tell you some of these obscure topics and stories and share some of the fascinating science that newspapers might not always pick up on. More recently it serves as a sort of repository for my own work, allowing me to explain the story behind papers I’ve been a part of.

The author
Working at the microscope during lecture 1 of the 2013 Christmas Lectures, Life Fantastic. Photography by Paul Wilkinson Photography Ltd.
Working at the microscope during lecture 1 of the 2013 Christmas Lectures, Life Fantastic.
Photography by Paul Wilkinson Photography Ltd.

I have enjoyed science since a young age, but it is only in the later stages of education that I grew to love biology as a science. Through university I gradually focused on evolutionary biology, but still enjoyed subjects as distantly related as palaeontology and cell and developmental biology. I found another branch of biology to love after graduating, circadian biology, and did a PhD in an area where circadian biology and evolutionary biology collide – circadian rhythms in the Mexican blind cavefish.  Though I didn’t immediately progress onto a post-doc, I retained a keen interest in the area while out of the lab, and continued to contribute to books, reviews and current research. I’m back in full time research again, now working at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge.

After my PhD I was keen for a new challenge and I chose to explore an aspect of science I very much enjoyed and considered very important, science communication. Working in science communication was an eye-opening experience and taught me a lot about what ‘science’ means to most people. It showed me that what I think is the most fascinating thing in the world might not be so for many other people. It’s the role of science communicators to take all this brilliant stuff we find out about our world and mould it into something that people can engage with. Like many biologists, my love for the natural world and curiosity to discover was shaped by BBC natural history programmes – great examples of communicating science and nature to vast audiences and continually updating their approach to fit contemporary viewers. I hope this blog can play a part in peaking someone else’s interest in some area of science.

Another passion of mine is the role of science in development. I believe that a productive science and technology sector is crucial for sustainable development and key to this is increasing the capacity of local researchers. I have been involved with two innovative organisations that work in this area: TReNDinAfrica and AuthorAID. I volunteer as a programme coordinator for TReNDinAfrica, consulting on new courses based on the course I trialled in 2015: science writing and communication. For AuthorAID I volunteer as a writing mentor and have had two mentees. One of my proudest achievements to date was when one of my mentee’s papers was published in a prestigious journal.

Follow me in real time on Twitter @DrBatmo


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