Science journalist, author and communicator

How COVID broke the evidence pipeline

Nature, 12 May 2021

The COVID crisis exposed major weaknesses in the production and use of research-based evidence. Researchers have registered more than 2,900 clinical trials related to COVID-19, but the majority are too small or poorly designed to be of much use. Organizations worldwide have scrambled to synthesize the available evidence on drugs, masks and other key issues, but can’t keep up with the outpouring of new research, and often repeat others’ work. This story examines how COVID stress-tested the way in which the world produces evidence - and revealed all the flaws.

The other C word

Literary Review, 08 Mar 2021

In the last decade, CRISPR technology it has become one of the hottest fields in biological research on account of the powerful, sometimes controversial uses it could find, including the cure of genetic diseases and crop enhancement. This is the subject of The Code Breaker by Walter Isaacson, which tells the story of the juicily competitive race to develop CRISPR technology.

Where does it all go?

Literary review, 05 Aug 2019

The Centre for Time Use Research at University College London has amassed a unique collection of time-use diaries from over twenty-five countries, including approximately one million days of data. This unique information bank forms the basis for the book What We Really Do All Day, reviewed in this article.

What makes some people happy, healthy and successful?

The Guardian, 27 Feb 2016

The factors that most affect our life chances are revealed as the first group of British babies followed in a remarkable cradle-to-grave study turns 70.

The lab that knows where your time really goes

Nature, 21 Oct 2015

Armed with 850,000 diaries, an Oxford centre is trying to find out why modern life seems so hectic. The diaries offer the most detailed portrait ever created of when people work, sleep, play and socialize — and of how those patterns are changing.

Britain’s birth cohort studies are the envy of the world

Independent on Sunday, 20 Feb 2016

From the dangers of smoking during pregnancy to the need for adult education, one extraordinary series of scientific studies, begun just after the Second World War, has informed cradle-to-grave health policy in this country. So why does almost no one know about them? And is the end around the corner?

Preshistoric proteins: Raising the dead

Nature, 21 Mar 2012

To dissect evolution, Joe Thornton resurrects proteins that have been extinct for many millions of years. His findings rebut creationists and challenge polluters.