the community site for and by developmental biologists

About: Tom

I am programme director for anatomy at the University of Liverpool. My research is centred on understanding the development and evolution of the vertebrate nervous system. In particular, we work on the cerebellum, on sensory neurons, and on adult neurogenesis. Deep in the annals of evolutionary history, I read Cell Biology at the University of Durham and subsequently received my PhD from the University of Oxford in the evolution of homeobox genes in animals. Following this, I moved to King's College, London where my interest in the nervous system was honed, and before Liverpool was a lecturer in neurobiology at Queen Mary, University of London.

Posts by Tom:

YEN 2016 review

Posted by on June 26th, 2016

My informal review of YEN this year is by necessity a bit rushed but, for what it is, here it is. Most reviews are very short and pithy/jealous and only exist for some of the talks where, for a combination of good and bad reasons, I paid attention (I have tried to make this review[…]

YEN 2016 – register now!

Posted by on May 4th, 2016

Young Embryologists’ Network 2016 As a neglectful member of this parish over the last few months/years (insert standard academic administration/teaching workload complaints here), I have the great pleasure to come out of my slumber to drum up interest in one of the best things about being (a developmental biologist) in London: If you have[…]

Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellowship opportunity

Posted by on December 11th, 2015

Applicants are invited for the Leverhulme Early Career Researcher Fellowship 2016 to be hosted in the Butts lab at QMUL, where the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences will agree to sponsor the application and provide the necessary 50% salary support. The lab works on the developmental genetics and evodevo of neurogenesis in the vertebrate brain. Any talented[…]

On women

Posted by on July 16th, 2015

I first wrote this for an anonymous blog. After a nudge, I have decided to publish it here. Parts of it have been embellished to make the point in the name of journalistic integrity. Please forgive me if I cause any offence. None is intended.   This is the first entry of this blog, and[…]

YEN 2015

Posted by on May 18th, 2015

My review of the Young Embryologist Network London Meeting 2015   As I write this, I am currently listening to the third very impressive senior PI talk in a row addressing ‘how to succeed in science’. This one is from an incredible woman who came through the German system, did a PhD at the EMBL[…]

”The revolution is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You have to make it fall.” – The Nurse review of science funding.

Posted by on April 10th, 2015

The following is my response to the Nurse review on scientific funding call for evidence: Now he has lots of free time(!) having stepped down from running the Royal Society, Sir Paul remains the biggest name in scientific establishment, or at least the first name in the section marked ‘scientists’ in David Willett’s former[…]

PhD studentship in evolutionary developmental genetics of neural progenitor proliferation

Posted by on November 23rd, 2014

A fully funded studentship (fees and RCUK-level stipend) open to EU students is available under the supervision of Dr Thomas Butts in the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences at Queen Mary, University of London. The studentship is to study the evolution of neural development within vertebrates, particularly in relation to the control of neurogenesis. Within this broad area of interest[…]

On inspiration

Posted by on August 11th, 2014

I write this article in the beautiful city of Vienna at the European Society for Evolutionary Developmental Biology meeting 2014. This is a meeting that happens every two years and I have been to every single one since the inaugural meeting in 2006 in Prague. As a card-carrying evolutionary developmental biologist, I began my career[…]

‘‘Transit amplification in the cerebellum evolved via a heterochronic shift in NeuroD1 expression’’

Posted by on August 4th, 2014

They are a mouthful, paper titles, sometimes. This is exactly the sort of title that would have made me ignore it in the days when I worked on the evolution of Hox genes. But I now find myself frequently justifying to people who work on evolution why the nervous system deserves attention, and of justifying[…]

The Young Embryologists Meeting 2014

Posted by on July 26th, 2014

I have been a postdoc in London, alas at King’s College London (more on the reason for this regret in future), for 5 years now. There are some great things about London that overcome the horrendous prices and the relentless advance of painfully (un)cool hipster culture. If you are a bit of an obsessive developmental[…]