Threads, worms and science communication

I thought I had written my last post about epigenetics. But then came along some ‘worms’ and I had to write another one. I have written about worms once before on the Making Science Public blog, in the context of science communication. And this blog post too will reflect on worms in the context of …

New genetics and society: A retrospective

I am in a collecting mood at the moment. When I heard that an article (with Carmen McLeod and Rusi Jaspal) on faecal microbial transplants had finally been accepted by New Genetics and Society, I began to count back and realised I had published quite a few articles in this journal (mostly written in collaboration …

Epigenetics: A blogging retrospective

Looking back over my blog posts, I realised that I have written 15 posts on epigenetics between 2013 and now (some with Aleksandra Stelmach). It’s time to take stock. Epigenetics is the latest in a long line of developments in genetics and genomics that I have studied through the lens of metaphor analysis, from cloning …

Witness marks: On the trail of an epigenetic metaphor

This is a guest post by Aleksandra Stelmach, University of Nottingham, Institute for Science and Society In a previous post Brigitte Nerlich and I briefly discussed the emergence of a seemingly new metaphor used in popular discussion about epigenetic effects of nutrition on offspring and, potentially, future generations. In this post I try to track …

Epigenetics: Between fundamental science and fantastic expectations

One of my heroines in the field of epigenetics is Edith Heard. In this post I will tell you what I learned from her over the years with regard to epigenetic facts and fantasies. (For a good overview of facts and fantasies, watch this video at ‘Cracked Science’). Before I do that, you might want …

From epigenetic landscapes to epigenetic pancakes

As somebody interested in metaphor, art and science, I was just starting to read Susan Merrill Squier’s book Epigenetic Landscapes: Drawings as metaphor (2017) (I am grateful to Cath Ennis for sending me this book), when Aleksandra Stelmach alerted me to a blog post entitled “Epigenetic Pancakes”. It was therefore inevitable that I should write …

The exposome – the what?

I recently came across the term ‘exposome’ (roughly, the sum total of everything we are exposed to) and started to read up on it. But I just don’t know what to make of it… is it merely humbug or is there more to it? In this post I want to summarise a few milestones in …

Epigenetics: Grappling with definitions

Definitions of epigenetics are notoriously slippery. This does not seem to hamper basic research. But it might hamper public understanding. The words ‘epigenetics’ and ‘epigenetic’ have undergone quite substantial changes in meaning over time, leading up to a meaning which is now popular but open to misinterpretation. This history and increasing confusion has been charted, …

Epigenetics and sociology: A critical note

I recently read an interesting article by Michel Dubois, Catherine Guaspare and Séverine Louvel entitled “De la génétique à l’épigénétique: une révolution ‘post-génomique’ à l’usage des sociologies”, which appeared in the Revue française de sociologie, 59(1), 71-98 (2018). Dubois et al.’s ‘critical note’ is intended to introduce French readers to English works that explore the boundaries between …