The Author

blog writer at his desk
Blogger at his desk

June 2019

After blogging from 2013 to 2018, I took a break to finish a book that demanded long hours and travel for research. Now I am back after an interlude of 12 months with my fingers poised over the keyboard. As described on the Home page, the general theme is unchanged but more focused than before and, dare I say, more political. Thank you for reading.


August 1, 2014

When I started posting musings in 2013 I wondered where they would wander, and guessed it would be a wide territory. True. My keyboard clatters to different tunes every week or two, depending on what is currently buzzing in my head. This week it is insects, sometimes science, sporadically health or medicine, often wondrous things in nature, and occasionally I felt compelled by a human interest story. The picture panel below gives a few clues. But my aim to observe rather than campaign or advertise has not changed, and hence I have been careless how many visitors hit my website.


They might be surprised to find more posts about nature than anything in biomedicine, the only subject I can claim any expertise. But a fascination with the natural world reaches back to childhood before I had a career, to a time when the word green only meant a color. The gap that opened at the end of a career quickly filled with a long-postponed passion.

Robert Louis Stephenson wrote it is better to travel hopefully than to arrive, and that’s an apt metaphor for my work. Writing provides momentum for exploring subjects that trigger my curiosity and imagination or help the struggle to understand the dark and sad sides of life. It is satisfying to upload another post, and sometimes a relief, but my goal was realized before I reached the final draft. It’s a bonus if readers enjoy it.

For all the brilliant advantages of being alive in these times, not least this opportunity for communication, there is a deep shadow of apprehension about the legacy we leave to future generations. A lot of diversity in nature has been lost since Alfred Russel Wallace roamed the Indonesian jungle and John James Audubon hiked the virgin forests of North America. Species have vanished more rapidly since my boyhood. As the most invasive and destructive species we are slowly waking from dreams of total conquest over nature to responsibilities for its care, even if mainly driven by self-interest in an era labeled the Sixth Extinction. But there is an irony, and perhaps an obstacle, that this late concern is coming at a time when people are even more disconnected from nature and our food sources because human populations everywhere are drifting to urban dwelling. In cities an appreciation for wild things is mostly a second-hand experience.

That is why Mr. Louv deserves to be read (see below). And it is also why in my imagination I am pulled to the Wild Wood, like the opposite pole of a magnet, where we are aliens. I sympathize with the Rat: “Beyond the Wild Wood comes the Wild World…And that’s something that doesn’t matter either to you or to me. I’ve never been there, and I’m never going, nor you either, if you’ve got any sense at all.” (Wind in the Willows).


January 1, 2013

Hello and Welcome to my Blog.

I retired early to spend more time writing and to recover from what Richard Louv has called ‘nature deficit disorder’. I now enjoy the outdoors as a master naturalist and gardener, and they in turn nourish my literary heart. I write about subjects I know and care about – science, medicine, and wonders of nature.

I grew up in and around London, which sounds too urban to foster a love of nature, but even a few fallow acres inside cities can harbor interesting plants and animals. Later, I had to fit this interest around my academic career.

Starting in Cambridge under Nobel Laureate (Sir) Robert Edwards, I taught and directed research in reproduction, embryology, and aging. I married Lucinda Veeck, the embryologist on the first successful IVF team in America.  We both owe our careers to Bob, as do millions of people conceived with IVF.  Along the way, I was on the faculty of Edinburgh, Leeds, McGill, the Jones Institute, and lastly a professor at Cornell’s Weill Medical College in Manhattan.

Finally and More Important

This blog doesn’t seek advertising revenue, and profits from book sales are donated to charities (Jamestowne Bookworks). It’s very liberating not to worry about money! The personal reward when ideas prompt research leading to writing dwarf any interest in attracting readers and comments, though I appreciate both. 

11 Responses to The Author

  1. Sally mcc says:

    I look forward to more musings, Roger!

  2. Kerlin Beute says:

    Hi Roger,
    Amused by your musings:)
    I read an article on CBC News Posted: Jul 20, 2000 2:40 PM ET; The pill, under development at McGill university, would prevent pregnancy and delay menopause.

    This pill was under development in 2000.
    What ever happened with it? Is it still under development?
    Kerlin, Amsterdam

  3. Howard Fitz-Gerald says:

    Please add my email address to receive your very interesting up date blog.
    Cheers howard

  4. Sara says:

    Hi Roger,
    I couldn’t get a hold of you any other way but I love the blog! I hope you saw the news today. I want you to be so proud of my patient Moaza al matrooshi. You were my inspiration and between myself and Helen we managed to do something incredible on Tuesday ! You are always in my thoughts and when Moaza appeared in my office in April 2014 I knew we would do it… of course there was a lot of politics and beaurocracy but given a challenge I will never give up so, when for obvious reasons Leeds were reluctant to move with what should have been their glory (but there was nothing either Helen or myself could do), we involved Claus in Copenhagen. I realised that I was never a true academic but I so wanted to do something that would make a difference ! It’s an amazing step and hopefully propels your earlier work forwards to make a real difference for sick children worldwide .. sending my warmest regards and I hope this finds you smiling ! Have a wonderful Christmas and I hope you are well ,
    Sara J Matthews
    Consultant gynaecologist and Subspecialist in reproductive medicine
    London, UK

  5. Hi Roger Gosden, as a fellow brit and sufferer from NDD, I read your musing on Robert Morris with interest, and would like to gently push back on the statement that the Mianus River Park website reflects little of the efforts to keep the area pristine… the successful joint public-private effort to purchase Treetops from under the developers’ digging machinery alone illustrates how people cared… and today’s Friends of Mianus River Park are often acknowledged for their volunteer contributions to Park maintenance and preservation… actually we in the Friends have a signed copy of `A Surgeon’s Story’ from Pam Walker in appreciation of our work… and as a member of the Board of the `Friends’, I am actively pursuing all sources I can find to document Robert Morris’ amazing vision as forefather to the Park’s presence…
    John Lawrence

    • Roger Gosden says:

      Hi John. Always glad to hear from a fellow patient with NDD. I wonder if you also share my joy of wilderness spaces that North America offers compared to the compared to the tiny (although precious) nature preserves that exist in England. I’m glad to hear of your interest in Dr. Robert Morris as I became absorbed in his story while working on the book with Pam. I have to admit I don’t understand the other part of your comment about the website. I checked what I wrote about the preservation of the Mianus River Park, and it is entirely complimentary. My only gripe is when I visited about three years ago there was no mention that it’s existence is probably owing to Morris, but perhaps the signboards and website have been updated since then. The following is a transcript of what I wrote. Best wishes for the Friends. “I was amazed to learn that much of the original estate survives intact as a public recreational area of woodland trails for walkers, hikers, and bikers called the Mianus River Park. It is as Morris would have wanted, and vindicates his devotion to its protection. However, when I visited the park’s website and read the information board at a trail entrance I found the history was incomplete because there was no mention of how it avoided being swallowed up by developers, or who was responsible.”

  6. Hi Roger, yes indeed, I came here from Australia some years back, partly to fulfil marlboro fantasies, and the land so enchanted me that I stayed….meanwhile no worries about your statement… I hope the current Friends’ site would more than meet your exacting but thoroughly appreciated standards, though we need more on Dr Morris, which I hope to upload soon….!
    we have done much to improve some entrances and trails, and are looking at making limited but attractive inroads for disabled people as well to some of the more accessible parts… a wilderness addict beyond just NDD, I have great affinity for how much people need the peace and tranquility the park offers in this increasingly crazy world…and our thanks go out to all those that have made such resources available to posterity…..

  7. Lena says:

    Hi Roger,

    Following the success of the movie ‘Hidden figures’, I would like to contribute what little I can to highlight the contribution that Jean Purdy has made to developing IVF.

    To this end, I request your kind permission to use your photograph of Jean Purdy and Robert Edwards.

    I am available at the below email address.

    Many thanks and regards


  8. Dear Roger

    I’ve been reading your blog and came across your illuminating article on Jean Purdy in Taylor & Francis. Might we be able to speak about your research?

    My email below. Thanks in advance for your reply.

    Warmest wishes,


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