notes science

Interview for the Portrait of Science

Recently, I had the honour to be interviewed for the Portrait of Science. It’s a beautiful project created by Magdalena Gonciarz to get to know the people who do science (aka the scientists). Check out the project’s Tumblr and Facebook pages!

notes science

My PhD thesis in the blog post format

I miss blogging. I began in 2006 and did it quite actively until 2011—when my posting frequency declined. During my PhD I was still drafting several posts, but ended up only publishing a few. I missed the sharing of ideas and the open discussion that a blog post can give. And this is why I decided to write the introduction of my PhD thesis as a series of blog posts.

Now that I have defended my PhD, I’ll post some sections of the text here. The thesis is accessible at the Bergen Open Research Archive (BORA – UiB):

Bruno C. Vellutini PhD Thesis

Vellutini, B.C., 2016. Comparative development of spiralian larvae. The University of Bergen. Available at:

The first section is online. I’ll post the remaining in the coming weeks. Enjoy, comment, disagree, re-use, etc 🙂

  1. Endless larval forms most beautiful: what a larva is (also at The Winnower)
  2. Larvae as the epitome of evolution (also at The Winnower)
  3. Spiral cleavage, an oblique matter (also at The Winnower)
  4. Segmentation, a question of boundaries (also at The Winnower)
notes personal science


Congratulations Andreas Hejnol for debutting as a Doktorvater (doctorfather) yesterday! It is an honor to be the first of many more to come. And thank you for being the most awesome PhD supervisor I could have ever envisioned! <3

biology notes science

Brachiopods and Japanese art

Morse 1902 - Observations on living Brachiopoda. Brachiopods and Japanese art.

I visited Japan solely for the purpose of studying the Brachiopoda of the Japanese seas, and this step led to my accepting the chair of zoology in the Imperial University at Tokyo. Gradually I was drawn away from my zoological work, into archaeological investigations, by the alluring problem of the ethnic affinities of the Japanese race. The fascinating character of Japanese art led to a study, first of the prehistoric and early pottery of the Japanese, and then to the collection and study of the fictile art of Japan. Inexorable fate finally entangled me for twenty years in a minute study of Japanese pottery. The results of this work are embodied in the Catalogue of Japanese Pottery, lately published by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. With this work off my hands, I turned back with eagerness to my early studies of the Brachiopoda (…) Japan is the home of the brachiopods.

Edward S. Morse, 1902. Observations on living Brachiopoda in Memoirs of the Boston Society of Natural History, 5(8): 313-386.

Citations from page 313, 374 and plate 41.

articles science software

Search PLOS articles using DuckDuckGo

Last year I decided to experiment with DuckDuckHack, the developer plataform for the search engine DuckDuckGo. The idea was to use the instant answers to find scientific articles as a quick Google Scholar shortcut.

It’s feasible, in principle, but I decided to try something simpler. A plugin that uses the PLOS API to search their articles and display in the instant answer box.

To use it you just need to add the word “plos” + keywords (example above). The result is a list of titles and dates of the five most-relevant articles with direct links. Hovering the mouse over a link will show the authors and which PLOS journal. This final format was simplified after the initial pull request and polished up in the second.

Screenshot from 2013-10-19 11:25:05

The code is a simple Perl function that connects the PLOS API to DuckDuckGo, and a javascript function that handles the search response. The DDG community was quite friendly to help out with the code.

Since DuckDuckGo is less used than Google I guess the number of users might be low. Maybe I’m the only one… It would be amazing if it could query the whole scientific literature! But well, I like this little hack. I guess it’s the excitement of connecting services using APIs.