Guest Post: Caretakers of the Deep

2016 Deepwater Exploration of the Marianas
Tube worms. Image courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, 2016 Deepwater Exploration of the Marianas

How do you imagine a coral reef? Have you had the privilege of seeing one through your own dive mask, or have you sat in the comfort of your living room watching beautifully shot images set to dramatic full orchestra soundtracks?

Healthy coral reefs are a festival of colour, shape, sound, and activity. They are full of interesting characters, each playing their part in the functioning of the ecosystem – from the sponge that filters out harmful viruses from the water column to Continue reading

Guest Post: Caring for Creation on the Coast

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© Lee Abbey

It’s been a scorching summer and you may have found yourself down at the beach a few times. But how much do you know about the wildlife that lives on our beaches and in our seas? Last year I was introduced to Sea Watch: a programme that encourages the public to help those who work in the field learn more about the species that use our seas. Exmoor National Park were running a Sea Watch Training Day for anyone interested and had asked Lee Abbey to host it. As a member of the Lee Abbey community, and soon to be their Environmental Coordinator, I got the opportunity to join in. Continue reading

Guest Post: Doing Faith and Science Like It’s 1718

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I was seated in the Bell Memorial Union at California State University, Chico, on a beautifully sunny fall day, interviewing one of my students, Giovanni, 19, who grew up in a devoted Catholic family and attended one of the finest Catholic high schools in the Silicon Valley before heading to Chico State.

These conversations always fascinate me because so many emerging adults—those 18-30 year olds among us (perhaps even reading this blog)—are declining to affiliate with any religion. When asked which box to check in response to “What religion are you?” 35-40% will mark “none.” I want to find out why. One key reason, noted by David Kinnaman of the Barna Group,emerging adults are becoming “nones” because they see the church as “antagonistic to science,” unwilling to take in, or take on, its insights and challenges. Continue reading

Guest Post: The military, rogue soldiers and the immune system

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Regulatory T cells have prevented damage to a transplanted skin graft caused by other immune cells as can be seen by the skin being intact (red) as well as the vessels (green). The blue colour stains all the cells present in the skin. © Sim Tung, 2016

“Are there any supplements I can take to help my immune system?” “Will going vegan boost my immune system? Or what about organic food?” These are just some of the questions I get asked when I tell people I am a PhD candidate in immunology.

Those who aren’t yet bored of hearing about my PhD normally ask heavy questions that require technical answers. After all, how do you explain your field of work without throwing in the big fancy words? I myself can barely understand jobs in Finance or IT – cue Chandler Bing failing to explain ‘data-reconfiguration-and-statistical-analysis’ to his Friends for 10 years.  Anyway, in these moments it feels pretty awesome to see someone get excited and curious about science instead of Love Island. Continue reading

Guest Post: A Human Particular

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© Fiona Rich

The mist wisped its way over the sea towards the shore, curling over the beach and on to the promenade.  A deepening haze softened the contours of the beach huts and the cliffs behind.  I walked more slowly, feeling my way ahead.  The air was unusually still.  Scanning the beach I glimpsed a shape there.  It seemed to be blue and white; an abandoned deckchair perhaps?  Coming closer I could see it was a figure stretched out in the sand. Probably one of those giant puppets from yesterday’s carnival.  Then I heard a faint moan.  I approached cautiously.  As I drew closer I could see wide canvas trousers and a short jacket with brass buttons. A scene from my childhood floated past me.  It was a wet day and I was asking when it would be dry enough to play outside.  ‘Is there enough blue sky to make a pair of sailor’s trousers?’ my mother asked, looking up at the sky.  So perhaps this figure was a sailor?  He seemed rather small.  There was seaweed hanging from his body.  Had he nearly drowned and been washed ashore?  I hesitated, being somewhat squeamish and also aware that I was on my way to a rehearsal. Continue reading

Guest Post: Not a Clock Maker – Randomness and order in science and faith

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© Dominic Morel, freeimages.com

When we think of God’s creative activity, Christians are sometimes reluctant to think that randomness and disorder may form part of his toolkit.  Motivated by an honourable desire to only associate him with the very best and most perfect means, we limit his creative activity to Victorian clockwork. But I disagree. Continue reading

Guest Post: The Incredible Beauty of Cells

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Cropped from original. Credit: Annie Cavanagh. WellcomeCollection. (CC BY-NC 4.0)

I am an ex-cell biologist. Whilst I was a PhD student, it felt like cells were involved in every aspect of my life. I would grow cells, study cells, read about cells, spin them in centrifuges, look at them down a microscope, and visit them at 2am to take timepoints for particularly gruelling experiments. When I spoke to my relatives, the question ‘How are you?’ was often followed by: ‘How are your cells behaving?’. Continue reading