Identifying neurons is not always easy.

What is axonology?

Axonology literally means 'the study of axons'. When I was trying to think of a name that summed up my research interests, axon guidance was a bit too narrow but going up to the level of neurons was too broad. The common factor though was the axon and it's not exactly original but I decided to stick '-ology' on the end to create a tongue in cheek neologism. As happens 99.9% of the time when I do an internet search for what I think is a novel idea, someone had got there first. The term was applied to the pioneering neurobiologists of the 1930s who discovered how axons conduct electrical impulses so I'm in exalted company. In fact I feel a bit unworthy as if I'm trying to imply that my research efforts come anywhere close to theirs. Some of the work on the squid giant axon was done in my home town of Plymouth so maybe it's just another way to embrace my heritage.

What's the point of this website?

My main aim is simply to convey a sense of our research - what we do and why. I don't agree with the amount of emphasis placed on 'translational' research at the expense of inquiry-led, basic science. Some of it is really good and delivers genuine benefits to society but a lot of it is at best mediocre and diverts funding from higher quality research by virtue of meeting political agendas. Enough of the soapbox, suffice to say that this is an opportunity for me to show what we do simply for its intrinsic interest. I think the complexity of the brain, of any animal let alone humans, is little short of miraculous and trying to work out how it forms is both tremendously exciting and daunting. I hope this site conveys that.

Over time I'd like to build this up into a broader look at developmental neurobiology by exploring in more depth the themes linked to our research and adding cartoons, images,explanations and useful links. I'm passionate about public engagement with science and believe that this is a responsibility of all researchers but especially those of use who are funded by the taxpayer. I should add that all the opinions expressed here are entirely my own and do not reflect those of my employers or funders. Likewise, any inaccuracies (hopefully minimal!) are entirely my fault but I'm not taking responsibility if that means you copy it and fail your exam.

I've tried to keep this site straightforward but also make it of use to as wide an audience as possible, non-scientists and fellow researchers alike. It's quite possible though that I've lost you along the way or you can't find what you want, these links will help: