About Nabila Juhi

Hi, I'm Nabila. I'm an 18 year old science student and this is my attempt to get into science communication. Staunch supporter of women in STEM and prospective biologist. I'll be writing about topics in science that interest me (very generally: microbiology, disease and medical sciences) but I also intend on writing a bit on science history. Any critique is welcome since I wouldn't currently consider myself a writer of any sorts. Thanks and enjoy!

The Obsession With Natural: How We Can Tackle Chemophobia

In 2013, Johnson & Johnson announced they had met their goal in eliminating the formaldehyde-producing preservative, quaternium-15, from their baby shampoo and other products. This was following a rise in people concerned with formaldehyde and its link to cancer – in 1980 its vapour was shown to be a carcinogen in the nasal passages of rats, and since then there have been many studies looking to investigate its carcinogen status. This outcry occurred despite the levels of quaternium-15 being too low to be considered toxic, and despite formaldehyde already being present in blood, and in much larger concentrations in several fruits. Nevertheless, Johnson & Johnson spent millions reformulating their products to ease the mind of the consumer.

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A small update

Hello to the few followers who may read this!

You may or may not have noticed that I haven’t been posting very often, this summer has been busy (if you count the excessive do nothing breaks as keeping busy, oh and jaw surgery) but come October I’ll be in a regular routine, in my own life as well as blogging – that’s the plan anyway.

In October I’ll be moving to Durham to study Biosciences at Durham University, hence why the past month or so has been a little hectic. After I’ve settled, I (optimistically) want to be posting at least once a month, hopefully by next year this blog will have its own niche and my writing will be a lot better.

Thanks for sticking with me. For now, I’ll leave you with everyone’s favourite cat: Salem from Sabrina the Teenage Witch x


Actress By Day, Inventor By Night: Hedy Lamarr

Popular actress of the ’40s and often dubbed the most beautiful woman of her time, Hedy Lamarr had a lot going for her. At the age of 19, she starred in the Czech movie Ecstasy (1933), the first known (non-pornographic) film to show sex, nudity and to have a woman to orgasm. Tame to these days standards, the film caused uproar in the US, and the state of Pennsylvania even banned it once it was finally released. The film got her recognised by Hollywood, but her acting alone didn’t give her the legacy she deserves. On the side of her acting career, she also helped develop a radio communications system wanting to aid the allied forces against the Germans in 1941. Little did she know it would be the foundation for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

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Overcoming the so-called ‘male, pale and stale’ world of STEM

I wrote a piece over at The Biochemist blog about encouraging young girls into STEM, check it out:

By Nabila Juhi, Urmston Grammar School

I was going to find a cure for cancer, seven-year-old me decided. From a young age I’ve always been interested in science. It was perhaps one subject where I felt I’d found my niche: it was logical, I was good at it and it provided me with answers to questions I’d yet to even consider. Coming from an immigrant family, with parents who didn’t continue onto higher education, I was encouraged to stick to it – without any mention of the inequalities of women working in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Perhaps unsurprisingly, statistics about women in the UK STEM workforce aren’t all that interesting for a child still learning her timetables.

Marie Curie ca. 1898 — Marie Curie — Image by © Underwood & Underwood/CORBIS

Like many young women it didn’t take me long to notice the differences. Of course, the curriculum had its obligatory…

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Why Depression Isn’t Just a Chemical Imbalance

Depression has often been simplified to a chemical imbalance in the brain, where the brains of those who are clinically depressed have lower levels of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. It’s what many medical treatments are based on, with the most common on the NHS being selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI’s), which works by blocking the uptake of serotonin by the brain, meaning more serotonin is readily available. However, the idea that depression is caused by too much or too little of a chemical in the brain simplifies the issue at hand and prevents us from tackling the complexity of depression as an illness.

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Feminist Psychoanalysis and Freud

Sigmund Freud is the father of psychoanalytic theory. In the early 1900’s, this was a new field of social science that is based on the unconscious mind. Psychoanalytic therapy aims to make unconscious thoughts conscious, so repressed feelings are released and the patient gains some insight of their own mind. Freud’s theories are notorious for being based the male mind, and how women constantly wished they were men – inevitably receiving a lot of criticism from feminist spheres, in particular a Karen Horney.

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Let’s Talk About Sex: A (smallish) Case Against the Sex Binary

Biological sex in humans has often been simplified to whether or not someone has XX chromosomes, for females, or XY chromosomes, for males. We create this binary in attempt to classify, and better understand ourselves and our identities – however this can often lead to hostile language and the “othering” of the many people who don’t fit this binary. But just like gender identity, biological sex isn’t all that simple.

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Electric Bacteria

In school we are taught that in order for life to exist, respiration must occur: that is, the taking of sugars like glucose and combining it with oxygen to give you carbon dioxide, water, and a small amount of energy. This energy is used to fuel metabolic processes in all life forms – boiling down to the ability to survive and reproduce. But there are exceptions, such as the many types of “electric bacteria” that use energy in the form of electricity.

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Water on Mars – Where it all Began

There is an abundance of evidence, provided to us by NASA’s many missions, that there is water on Mars. Most of this is ice water, but there are tiny amounts in the Martian atmosphere and recently there has even been evidence that liquid water is found on the surface. But how did we come to know this, and what is the significance?

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Guardian of the Genome, p53.

Cancer can arise from infection of a virus or when there is a change in the DNA code in a region that controls the cell cycle. In the cell cycle, there are proteins (coded for by the DNA) which regulate how often the cell undergoes a division, and also sets up checkpoints to fix cell damage if detected. One of these proteins related to the cell cycle is p53, discovered by Professor Sir David Lane and Lionel Crawford in 1979. The gene that encodes p53 was later discovered in 1989 and is now considered the “guardian of the genome”, as a tumour suppressor.

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