During the past year, I have taken part in an experiment in which I have been the experimental animal. I was awarded a fellowship that gave me the opportunity to take a sabbatical from science and spend a year in the School of Literature and Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. The School of Literature and Creative Writing is internationally renowned, and past students include household names such as Ian McEwan, Kazuo Ishiguro, Trezza Azzopardi and Tracy Chevalier. I have a keen interest in creative writing and had written a few short stories. This was a formidable but thrilling challenge. During my adventure, I realized that, in many ways, I was coming home.
This is a preview of subscription content
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $8.25 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
Osbourn, R. V. Marius the Epicurean. Essays in Criticism I, 397–398 (1951).
Bowyer, P., Clarke, B. R., Lunness, P., Daniels, M. J. & Osbourn, A. E. Host range of a plant pathogenic fungus determined by a saponin detoxifying enzyme. Science 267, 371–374 (1995).
Papadopoulou, K., Melton, R. E., Leggett, M., Daniels, M. J. & Osbourn, A. E. Compromised disease resistance in saponin-deficient plants. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 96, 12923–12928 (1999).
Haralampidis, K. et al. A new class of oxidosqualene cyclases directs synthesis of antimicrobial phytoprotectants in monocots. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 98, 13431–13436 (2001).
Bouarab, K., Melton, R., Peart, J., Baulcombe, D. & Osbourn, A. A saponin-detoxifying enzyme mediates suppression of plant defences. Nature 418, 889–892 (2002).
Qi, X. et al. A gene cluster for secondary metabolism in oat — implications for the evolution of metabolic diversity in plants. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 101, 8233–8238 (2004).
Sesma, A. & Osbourn, A. E. The rice leaf blast pathogen undergoes developmental processes typical of root-infecting fungi. Nature 431, 582–586 (2004).
Faure, J. et al. A laser–plasma accelerator producing monoenergetic electron beams. Nature 431, 552–556 (2004).
Rhie, J. & Romanowicz, B. Excitation of Earth's continuous free oscillations by atmosphere–ocean–seafloor coupling. Nature 431, 552–556 (2004).
McCabe, C. Sexing Up Scientese. Guardian (5 Feb 2004).
Syder, D. Maxwell's Rainbow (Smith/Doorstop Books, Huddersfield, 2002).
Osbourn, A., Pirrie, J., Nicholson, J., Holbeck, K. & Hogden, H. (eds) See Saw. An Anthology of Poetry and Artwork around Science by Children from Rockland St Mary County Primary School and Framingham Earl High School, Working with Matthew Sweeney and Jill Pirrie p 64 (the SAW Press, Norwich, 2005).
Osbourn, R. V. Discovering Walter Pater (the SAW Press, Norwich, 2005).
I would like to express my gratitude to my mentor C. Scott (School of Literature and Creative Writing, University of East Anglia) for his continuing encouragement and support, E. Morgan and G. Szirtes for their thoughtful comments, the Science Photo Library and all those who took part in the SAW projects. I would also like to thank the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA) and the Sainsbury Laboratory (my employer at the time) for giving me the opportunity to take this sabbatical, and the Branco Weiss 'Society in Science' Fellowship Foundation for supporting my continuing interests in interdisciplinary activities. Finally, I would like to thank my parents, with whom I have had many new and valuable conversations over the last year.
The author declares no competing financial interests.
About this article
Cite this article
Osbourn, A. The poetry of science. Nat Rev Microbiol 4, 77–80 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1038/nrmicro1321