post doc experience

Wet Wet Wet!

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Now there are two types of leak on a boat. There is the leak below the waterline where seawater enters the boat and there is the leak above the waterline where rainwater enters the boat. One might imagine that the former is the more serious but this is seldom the case unless it is a catastrophically large leak. Seawater leaks do no more than accumulate a little water in the bilge and generate some damp. They can be managed by occasional bilge pumping. Rainwater leaks however are the real enemy that transform life afloat from mild hardship to abject misery. Everything gets soaked. Books soak up water and expand like toilet rolls that have been accidentally dropped down the loo, computers, radios and televisions commit hari-kari in hours, bedding doubles in weight and mugs taken from the shelf are found to be already filled.

Eddie’s boat had both kinds of leak.

It was just about possible to find a position where one could sleep without being dripped on by moulding one’s body into the right shape and not moving all night. Even then you have to be prepared for the ‘stealth leak’. This is the leak that accumulates on a ledge or other interim surface and builds until its pregnant meniscus rises to the limits of captivity, the surface tension ruptures and a torrent of cold water descends onto the sleeper/computer/book below. A joy to experience.

I thought I could withstand this existence for three nights a week but the combination of discomfort, lack of sleep and too much driving meant that every time I returned to the boat my resilience was eroded. The damp was permeating my body and it felt as though I had entered an accelerated aging programme. The boat was turning me into Eddie.

It was clear that I would have to make alternative arrangements, but there was another problem – trouble was brewing in paradise.

Researchers say YES to Commercialisation

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Teams representing the cream of UK university talent have been competing in regional heats across the country for the past three months.

In the face of this stiff competition, three teams of postgraduate student and research scientists from Newcastle University have succeeded in being selected to compete in the BiotechnologyYes final this December.

Newcastle University teams are becoming regular contenders for the top prizes and we have high hopes for this year’s entries.

Last Year's Winners: Team Allez and Team Fybre having fun after the final

BiotechnologyYES is an annual competition, now in its 14th year, which aims to help the UK’s early career bioscientists gain the skills and contacts necessary to turn research into a commercial reality.

Young scientists competed for places in the final, mentored by a team of advisors including financiers, intellectual property experts and spin-out company heads.

In the running for prizes and fame this year, are:

  • Team Aquaestus (pronounced a-quest-us):

Miguel Angel Galindo, Jennifer Hannant, Joseph Hedley, Jonathan Pate and Andrew Pike. Their Product Bio-ad Pro was developed to conserve heat through the use of a biochemical obtained from a bacterium. Once added to liquid Bio-ad Pro maintains a steady equilibrium and dissipates heat at a slower rate compared to conventional cooling processes.

  • Team Atmosphane:

Andy Goodhead, Joseph Harwood, Ernest Chi-Fru and Carla-Leanne Washbourne. Atmosphane will exploit methane clathrates, using a novel bacterium and biostimulant, to provide low cost methane as an alternative to traditional fossil fuel.

  • Team Ecosphere:

Susan Fitzer, Mohammad Mehedi Hasan Khan, Helen Pagett, Rebecca Herdman and Liadi Kola Mudashiru. Ecosphere uses a second generation antibiotic called iBiotic2G to reduce methane from ruminants. Thus increasing cow meat yield and milk yield and lowering meat to market period. iBiotic2g has a molecular size too large for absorption in ruminant stomachs and therefore avoids resistance build up to antibiotics and passing this resistance onto humans.

All of these teams are sponsored by local business woman and entrepreneur Caroline Theobald whose company Connect North East specialises in bringing together high-tech companies and investors.

Watch this space in the New Year for an update on how our teams got on at the December 14th final in London!

 ‘When one of the judges got his cheque book out I knew we had nailed it.’ Jennifer Hannant; Aquaestus 

‘At one point I thought this was a real business, but it wasn’t.’ Jonathan Pate; Aquaestus

 ‘Environment YES demonstrates the numerous career paths available to research scientists, presenting entrepreneurship as a realistic long-term occupation’ – Carla-Leanne Washbourne; Atmosphane

‘It was very intensive during the Oxford workshop, it was hard work but altogether a very enjoyable and beneficial experience. Plus the food was good!’ – Rebecca Herdman; Ecosphere 

Job Vacancy – Scientist/Researcher – Winton Capital Management

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Employer Name: Winton Capital Management
Business: Quantitative Hedge Fund
Website: http://www.wintoncapital.com
Vacancy Job Title: Scientist/Researcher
Closing date: 30/12/2009  
Description: Winton seeks applied scientists who have experience working with large, real-world data sets in a first-class research environment. The role involves: processing and analysing large datasets; using applied statistical techniques and creating systematic trading strategies.
Person requirements: Applicants should have commercial/post doc experience. An interest in financial markets and programming skills in SQL, C++, Python, Matlab or R are an advantage.
Degree requirements: A PhD in an Applied Science (Statistics, Physics, Econometrics, Machine Learning, Computer Science, Computational Linguistics etc).
How to apply: Apply online
Specific location: Cambridge
Type of work:    Information, Statistics, and Research
   Scientific Services, Life Sciences, R&D


Location category:    Eastern England / Anglia