My journey into science

After reading Terry McGlyn’s post on his path to science on Small Pond Science, I thought I would share mine.

According to my parents I have always wanted to work with animals, and as far as I remember back I wanted to be a vet. I went through highschool choosing the sciences stream, completing modules in maths, physics, chemistry, biology and economics. When I graduated, I entered the lottery for enrollment to the only vet school in the Netherlands.

I was not successful in obtaining a place, with the course always having 3-4 times more applicants than places. Instead of waiting a year and trying again, I chose to go to Belgium, where there were no enrollment limits. I enrolled on the veterinary medicine course at Ghent University and spent the first year having more fun and doing little work. As a result I failed my first year.

The second time round I took it more seriously. I loved the bioscience modules, and started questioning whether being a vet was really for me. At the end of the year I decided I was still interested in animals, but no longer from a clinical perspective.

I moved to University College Ghent to study a degree in Agriculture and Biotechnology with a specialisation in animal health science. I loved every minute of it, and it inspired me to find an MSc in a related field so I could explore my interests further.

I ended up enrolling onto the MSc in Animal Biology and Welfare, which was jointly delivered at Writtle  College in the UK and HAS Den Bosch University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands. This course really got me hooked on animal health science. I had the opportunity to undertake my dissertation research at the 3R Research Centre at Radboud University Hospital in the Netherlands. Being a member of an enthusiastic research group got me hooked on research and led me to apply for a funded PhD place at Writtle.

I started the PhD, and am still at Writtle now. Since starting things have not gone as originally planned. I was offered a fulltime lectureship in companion animal health 18 months into my PhD, took it, gave up the PhD, became a course manager, senior lecturer, and am now waiting to start an EdD at Anglia Ruskin University in September.

I am still hooked on research, but now share that passion with teaching. I consider myself more a researching professional rather than a professional researcher, and I am looking forward to seeing what my bioscience education future brings.

Technological developments

I was cleaning out my storage space at my dad’s house as he is moving and the place has been sold. Whilts going through boxes I came across the following tech: 


The left phone was my very first mobile phone, bought roughly 14 years ago. The right one is the one I am currently writing this post on. It made me reflect for a minute on how fast technology has developed, and how the practice of bioscience education had evolved. Who would have thought 14 years ago that mobile phone would become edicational tools, and students would use mobile devices during lectures to support their learning? It makes me wonder what the future brings…

Writing inspiration

Yesterday I spent most of the day preparing the first draft of a manuscript. This invariably meant that my wife and son had to entertain themselves. They went on a hike with a friend and afterwards the four of us went for lunch at a local pub.

I was struggling quite a bit before I went for lunch, but a good craft ale, some soul food in the form of a great burger, and ofcourse the lovely sunny day, gave me lots of inspiration and motivation to finish the paper. I left my wife, son and friend at the pub and by the end of the afternoon the first draft was ready.

I’m going to leave it for a few days and then have another look at it, but I am pretty happy as is. I might need to go to the pub more often, perhaps Rachael Cayley () over at Explorations of Style needs to do an article on it…

Procrastinators rejoice!

I’m reblogging this because today has been a day filled with procrastination, so it seemed appropriate.

Original blog by #Hull EdD

According to @BBCRadio4, if we procrastinate before starting a task, we’re 16% more likely to be creative. Academics everywhere rejoice. — Dr Joanne Paul (@Joanne_Paul_) March 7, 2016

Source: Procrastinators rejoice!

Impossible List

tick-listAfter coming across a blog by Lee Fallin (@leefallin) I have followed his excellent example and started an “Impossible List” (idea by Joel Runyon). My list is not very long yet, but it will expand over time. With a bit of luck, I will also be able to cross things off it. Fingers crossed!


What are office hours for?

An excellent post by Prof Terry McGlynn:

Office hours are drop-in hours for students to see their professors. How should you spend this time? Is your time supposed to at the whim of students?

Source: What are office hours for?

New book: Making Sense

Making sense cover.jpgIn an attempt to freshen up my materials on academic reading and writing for my undergraduate students, I obtained a copy of Northey and Aderkas’ Making Sense: A student’s guide to research and writing.

What appealed to me was the really back-to-basics approach of the book. It is aimed at students, and covers topics like planning to write, errors in grammar and usage, misused words (anyone remember the effect/affect mystery?), but also addresses the use of illustrations and working in groups.

I am slowly making my way through the book, but so far I must say I am impressed. It is a very accessible textbook, written in a clear and easy to understand manner. It uses lots of examples of good and bad practice and even discusses how to approach writing for exam questions.

All that is left now is to start updating my notes and hand outs. If only I had unlimited time…

Northey, M. and von Aderkas, P. (2015) Making Sense: A students guide to research and writing – Life Sciences (2nd edition). Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-901028-8. Find it here.