Me, about to deliver a keynote

In the first week of April I went to my first in-person conference since all this [gestures at world] kicked off. ACCU is out of my area (it’s a programming conference, and not an academic one), and the invitation to deliver a keynote arrived back in June last year. When making a decision about whether I could do this I looked back at their past list of keynote speakers and hoo boy there’s some big names there – it’s perhaps unsurprising that they’ve had the inventor of C++ (Stroustrup) but they’ve also have the inventor of Haskell (Peyton Jones), and Python (van Rossum). Whoa. AnywayRead More →

Sometime before xmas I was working from home and there was a bang on the door (around school drop-off time). I opened it to find Clive, the curator of TEDxAberystwyth, wanting to discuss lineup, promotion and so on. I’d been heavily involved in the first one as an organiser, on the small team that pulled it together. So I am familiar with the rules of TEDx and have even negotiated the whole “building a TEDx-compatible website” and “booking a room and making it look a bit like a TEDx event” things. The knock on the door turned out to be my “Would you like toRead More →

A couple of weeks ago I was interviewed by Brian Runciman of the BCS for the Gem of All Mechanisms podcast. We talk about gender, obviously, but also pinkification, tech, robots, male allies and more.

I’ve recently finished reading “What Works: Gender Equality by Design”, a book by Iris Bohnet out on Harvard University Press and it’s one of the best books on gender matters that I’ve read recently. I can seriously recommend it. She takes a clear topic for each chapter and looks at the literature on behaviour change and design around that topic, considering a broad range of evidence from psychology, anthropology, economics and business to craft a wide research base from which to recommend behaviour modification strategies to support equality. The general idea comes from behavioural design, which is the field of “nudge” units and subtle designRead More →

I’ve published lots of writing – articles in journals and conference proceedings, mainly. Also quite a few magazine articles and one poem (aged 14, in the Skateboarding magazine RAD, but that’s a different story). Last week our book came out so now I can say I am a published author. It’s taken a while – over a year in total, with 6 authors collaborating online – but today I got the paper copies and so it feels a bit more real. The book aims to be a handbook and a practical guide – so if you are interested in diversity and more importantly interested inRead More →

Surrounded by robots

A couple of weekends ago we (Aberystwyth Robotics) held our annual “Beachlab” event. Usually, this is a hands-on event with robots and activities on the promenade. This year, we had to relocate to the campus because of COVID issues, and the robots were strictly hands-off for attendees. It was a bit like a pop-up robot museum, rather than an interactive display, but hey that’s better than nothing. This was the first outing for our new robotic submarine Afanc (which means “Beaver” in Welsh). Here I am talking about how the sub works: And here I am posing with the submarine whilst surrounded by other robotsRead More →

A couple of weeks ago I featured on the Suffrage Science podcast. This was my first podcast (yay!). It was put together by Kat Arney, who is a science communicator and general all-round awesome storytelling scientific person. Kat interviewed me remotely then somehow managed to edit the hour of audio down to a shorter 30 minute podcast that even sounded like I was making sense. If the embed has worked, you should be able to listen to the podcast here: or you can find it on Apple/podbean/wherever else you get your pods from. Here’s podbean: I always find the technical side of things quiteRead More →

I recently finished Algorithms to Live by (the computer science of human decisions), by Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths. The book provides a fairly detailed popular science account of some major findings from computer science, relating computational algorithms to the way humans solve problems. As an example – how do we fit things in our busy lives? Let’s look at scheduling theory! Or, how should we organise our books and libraries and computer files? Let’s look at the theories behind Caching! As an interloper into computer science I found the book particularly interesting; I know about a lot of CS and algorithmic concepts through workingRead More →

Since Christmas I’ve read two books by Eugenia Cheng and have hugely enjoyed them both. Cheng is a mathematician, author, concert pianist and writer (and, it would appear, all-round awesome human). The first book was called “How to Bake Pi“, and combined a general introduction to category theory with a bunch of cookery tips and recipes. It was a lot more entertaining than that one-sentence description implies, honest. Upon finishing it I immediately ordered a copy for my brother-in-law, who also likes maths a lot (and cake, but who doesn’t). x+y is billed as “A mathematician’s manifesto for rethinking gender”. I have read a lotRead More →

My last blog post was about a few CS-Women socials we’d held in Minecraft. These were pretty good fun, and after 3 events organised by the women students we decided to go large and organise one for the wider student body. Our first was held just before xmas: we had 8 teams of 3-4 + a team of 5 organisers; around 30 people in total. We held the second last night with 6 teams of 3-4 and 3 organisers. The general idea is inspired by the TV Show Taskmaster: set the players (in teams) a series of silly challenges, which they have to complete inRead More →