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Musings from the shed.

Rob Elshire

Science and innovation: Where is NZ's master plan? - NZ Herald

This is the Research Science and Innovation (RSI) strategy document that I have been poking at since last year. Thankfully, they have not released a final version. My research has clearly demonstrated that MBIE has not done a proper consultation, the process lacks a discoverable plan, there is no transparency and certainly no responsiveness.

I respect the Honorable Doctor Megan Woods and the hard yards she is doing on behalf of my fellow kiwis. I am completely sincere in this, but if she is correct that people are happier with the second go with in depth consultation for this strategy, the first effort must have been a dumpster fire. If that is the case, a bit of shuffling in MBIE's policy team might have been considered the proper thing to do.

Previously

Previously

Rob Elshire

Guidelines for human gene nomenclature | Nature Genetics

The above article came through via this news story: Scientists rename human genes to stop Microsoft Excel from misreading them as dates.  The main issue here is that scientists are using the wrong tool. Just because Microsoft Excel works with data in tables does not mean it should be used for all data that comes in tables. It is bad enough that making manipulations via point-and-click software is inherently not reproducible, but on top of that Excel changes the data automatically to suit itself.

The solution to this problem is to change the way genes are named so that researchers can carry on using the wrong tool doing science that is not reproducible. The secondary issue is that the `Guidelines for human gene nomenclature' (the standard for naming human genes) is available only to those who can afford it -- either by being part of a large institution with a subsciption or renting / buying the article if you are not.

More via MetaFilter.

Rob Elshire

Are Crown Research Institutes fit for purpose? | RNZ

Short answer: No. Polite answer is much longer. See Troy's interview.

Towards the end, he talks about NZAS calling for a full external review of the science system. In my mind, it is a whole of government excercise which includes the CRIs, Universities, MBIE, various ministries, etc.

Rob Elshire

Rob Elshire

The Most Important Scientist You’ve Never Heard Of | Mental Floss

Worth a read how this scientist figured out the dangers of tetraethyl lead (a gas / petrol additive). This stuff poisoned the people producing it, and many people using it in their automobiles for decades.

He did this as a by-product of determining the age of the earth. The contaminant was found everywhere, fouling his experiments. The industrialists producing the chemical were aware of its affects, but this is another story of profit over people.

Rob Elshire

Italy Sewage Study Suggests COVID-19 Was There In December 2019 - Slashdot

Calling Siouxsie Wiles. Time to put in a funding application. Siouxsie came to our Palmy Bioinfo meeting last year to look for assistance for several of her projects for which there was already some data. One of those was about monitoring Auckland sewers for pathogenic microbes. This seems timely.

Rob Elshire

Universities and Tech Giants Back National Cloud Computing Project

This is in the United States. We could certainly do something similar here in Aotearoa. In fact, this is what we (GFANZ and Catalyst Cloud) have been doing with our public bioinformatics platform. Unfortunately, our University and CRI researchers suffer under a type of vendor lock in foisted on them by the very people who are supposed to be serving them.

Rob Elshire

Ire over lack of Māori academics in Māori research projects | RNZ News

This is clearly a problem. Katarina Ruckstuhl's statement that more students are needed because there are very few Māori working in science is not the answer. Employment for those Māori who have completed their study might be more helpful than putting more into the system with no where to go.

Rob Elshire

Spinoff & Science Communication for WHO

This is really, really cool. I've included some of the work that Toby and Siouxsie have done in communicating the science around the pandemic. That this has been picked up on by the WHO and resulted in a commercial contract for The Spinoff speaks volumes.

Rob Elshire