Or how to write like Zulie Rane

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The silence bothers me when working from home.

Accustomed to an office environment, I often need background noise to focus sometime. Some people use cafe noise playlists. I play chatty YouTube videos. Nothing too impactful that it will distract me, and preferably at least as long as a Pomodoro session.

Recently I discovered ‘study with me’ videos where a YouTuber discusses their goals for a session before simply studying. But most of these are too quiet with only the occasional tapping of keys, turning of pages and sighs.

Most recently, I played one of Zulie Rane’s ‘write with me’ videos…


Plan ahead to walk away and still remain productive

A man walking down the road.
A man walking down the road.
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“I’m taking a walking meeting”

A colleague typed into the chat before they, assumedly, walked out the door.

Walking meetings aren’t new. Five years ago a popular article in the Harvard Business Review described How to Do Walking Meetings Right. But, in those five years, I have never been invited on a walking meeting. And this is despite working for four of them on a picturesque campus where you could easily amble for 30 minutes without completing a loop.

And this year, I have worked from home since March.

As my colleague increased their step count and got some fresh…


Having four children remote learning at home made me more productive

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It sounded like a disaster. A scenario that would have sounded improbable twelve months ago, yet now one familiar to people worldwide.

My workplace suddenly closed and switched to online. Like many, I exited the building with a new laptop and headset, unsure when I would return.

I teach biology at a university, so I also left knowing I had a mountain of work ahead — moving 650 students from laboratory classes and lectures to online learning.

Add to that four children starting remote learning and a partner who also needed to rapidly set up a home office.

This situation…


Hack your teaching to help your students learn better and faster

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The answer jarred me. “You’re the teacher, that’s your job” was its brief message.

I had clicked on a question in Quora where a teacher asked for ideas on how to provide instant feedback to students on their essay writing.

The question is an obvious one. As a biochemist, I see our marking as the ‘rate-limiting step’ in student learning writing skills. We can only mark so many pieces of writing in a set time, and students need feedback in order to improve.

Hoping to find a new online tool or some tips, I had clicked on the question. There…


Workplace actions that yield multiple benefits.

Photo by Leon Ell’ on Unsplash

Movement breaks are common in school classrooms and are now moving into higher education. These brain breaks of 2–5 minutes are credited with improved academic outcomes and engaging concentration.

There is a call to incorporate more of these short periods of non-exercise physical activity into the workplace to improve long term health outcomes. But what do we do on our micro-breaks?

Poses for increased confidence and empowerment

Holding power poses for these periods is an option that may have you motoring through your workday. Power poses were popularised in a TED talk by Amy Cuddy in 2012. …


And female runners deserve more than a footnote

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“There’s always a price to pay for adventure.”

Candice Burt was referring to her injured shins when she posted this. Shins sore and red from smashing against rocks when she completed the Tahoe Rim Trail.

But that was not the only thing she smashed.

Candice Burt completed the 171-mile trail in 60 hours 47 minutes on July 6 2020, smashing the women’s record for the fastest known time (FKT) in the unsupported category. Unsupported means she completed the distance solo, carrying all her own food, gear and water.

When the race she was training for, Bad Water 135, was cancelled…


And what happened when a scientist drew eyes on the back of cows

Painting of an eye
Painting of an eye
Photo by Juan Carlos Trujillo on Unsplash

Why did a scientist paint large eyes on the backsides of cows?

To train lions.

It isn’t a joke that you have missed the punchline on, but a solution to the problem of lions killing the livestock of subsistence farmers in rural Botswana.

This problem results in lost livelihoods for farmers unless they act by hunting the lions — which causes a decline in the animals already vulnerable populations.

Painting eyes on the backsides of cows results in fewer being killed by lions.

Like the eye patterns on butterfly wings that deter birds from eating them, a scientist hypothesised that…


Scientists think coronavirus may be damaging the cells that produce insulin

Photo by Matt Chesin on Unsplash

Finn Gnadt felt well in mid-April. But the 18-year-old from Germany underwent testing for SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus antibodies anyway, after both his parents fell ill after a river cruise in Austria. The presence of specific antibodies, produced by the body after infection, can be used to detect whether someone previously carried the virus.

Despite having had no symptoms, Finn’s results were positive.

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is a novel type of coronavirus responsible for the current pandemic known as coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The majority of individuals infected are asymptomatic or mildly asymptomatic, meaning they do not become…


Twitter still has a place now events and conferences are online

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Twitter is a great place for making new connections, interacting with existing ones, and learning.

If you are new to Twitter or your feed makes you feel like you’re standing just outside a circle of conversation, unsure how or when to contribute, then a conference will provide you with an opener.

A conference is an opportunity for you to provide valuable content to your followers — and to gain more.

But, at a time of virtual conferences, why tweet one when anyone can easily attend anyway?

People don’t have the time to attend all the virtual conferences, events and…


Lessons from the Prime Minister of New Zealand during COVID-19

Photo by Vlad Tchompalov on Unsplash

“Without our science communicators to publicly inform, explain, teach, decode, counter misinformation and debate science matters many would remain in a space where they don’t have [the] information they need, leading to poor choices being made at really crucial times.”

The Prime Minister of New Zealand used these words to describe science communicators this week as she thanked them for their crucial role in society. She emphasised this role in leading public engagement with science is important not just in times of catastrophe.

Jacinda has strongly supported their role, but many have commented that she has delivered a Masterclass in…

Rebecca LeBard

I am a Scientist BSc (hons) PhD and Educator MEd (higher education) | I write about higher education, science, science education and balancing academic life.

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