We Are Never Just Scientists

During the Women’s March on Washington, a group formed called 500 women scientists. Their mission statement is to promote minorities and women in science and to make the inequality inherent in this system known.  Read about them here.

Along those same lines, for international women’s day, a few female scientists (Krista Bywater, Kristy L. Duran, Rukmani Vijayaraghavan, Claire Horner-Devine, Kelly Ramirez, Jane Zelikova) posted this excellent post on Scientific American about how as women and minorities we are never just scientists.

Please read the post, and consider marching (as a woman, as a minority, or as a white male ally) in the March for Science on April 22.

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Why Your Dog Can Get Vaccinated Against Lyme Disease And You Can’t

Lyme disease: a bacterial disease vectored by ticks that can cause long-term health issues.

It turns out that a vaccine was developed when lyme disease was first discovered to be a serious problem on Cape Cod. AWESOME! FIGHT THOSE TERRIBLE DISEASES!

But anti-vaccine advocates protested that the vaccine caused arthritis (a symptom which was never seen in clinical trials, and there is no evidence linking arthritis to the vaccine) and in the media backlash it was taken off the market.

So although it exists, and your dog can get vaccinated and live a lyme disease free life, we the people cannot. Read all about it here.

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EPA’s Environmental Justice Head Resigned After 24 Years. He Wants to Explain Why.

“To move backward didn’t make any sense.”

In his resignation letter, Ali attempted to make the case for the Office of Environmental Justice by appealing to Pruitt’s interest in economic growth. He described what happened in Spartanburg, South Carolina, which received a $20,000 grant from the EPA to address the community’s abandoned dump sites that were leaching toxic chemicals. The mostly low-income, African American residents of the region experienced high rates of cancer and respiratory disease. Local black leaders leveraged that grant into $270 million from investors and the government to revitalize the city, “creating jobs and improving their environments through collaborative partnerships,” Ali wrote. “When I hear we are considering making cuts to grant programs like the EJ small grants or Collaborative Problem Solving programs, which have assisted over 1400 communities, I wonder if our new leadership has had the opportunity to converse with those who need our help the most.”

Read the rest of it here. And check out yesterday’s post about the budget slashing funding for scientific research, and gutting the EPA budget.

And finally, call your representatives, this fight is far from over (and consider marching for Science in April).

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Seismic Disruption in Medical and Science Research

What is the role of government? Above all, I think this question has been driving the political divide that has occurred since the election last November. It affects whether you think everyone should have healthcare, whether jobs should be brought back, and importantly for us, whether science should be funded.

It’s well-known within scientific communities that governments (This is universally true) are the major source of funding for all academic scientific research. And basic research is important because it expands our knowledge. Science builds on previous science, so there is no way to tell what the work we are doing now will lead to in the future. It doesn’t have to be applicable, it might become applicable in the future, or lay the foundation for applicable research. And because of this lack of immediate profitability, basic science is often not funded by for-profit companies.

So, is it the role of the government to fund science? I think so, because of the argument laid out above. But the Trump administration apparently does not share my sentiments, as their budget drastically cuts science research across all fields of research. Read about it here, or feel free to weigh in on my argument above.

Also, please note, this is why the march for science is so important. It’s not just our livelihoods that are on the line. It’s our future and the future of the next generation.

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9 Tips For Communicating Science To People Who Are Not Scientists

The clickbait title is not my own. But it is the title of an article in Forbes about how to better communicate science with the public.

The too long; didn’t read version is below, and if you’re busy and want to focus on a few, I recommend 1, 6 (“Reflect on what you want (or do not want) on the record days, months or years later and use that as a filter.”), and 9.

1. Know your audience.

2. Don’t use jargon.

3. Get to the point.

4. Use analogies and metaphors.

5. Three points. Studies continue to show that three key points are effective with audiences.

6. You are the expert.

7. Use social media.

8. The myth of “popularizers.”

9. Relate.

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The Woolly Mammoth’s Last Stand

Woolly mammoths once flourished from northern Europe to Siberia. As the last ice age drew to a close some 10,000 years ago, the mainland population perished, victims of climate change and human hunters.

However, a remote island population survived for 6000 years after the mainland had died off. And from a tooth of a male mammoth, geneticists have now deciphered the reason the population ultimately went extinct.

Read about it in the New York Times.

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Do you like Grizzly Bears in the Cascades?

One of my favorite online comics: The Oatmeal, put up a post to try to reestablish grizzly bears back into the Northern Cascades.

It only takes two things: 1) 25,000 dollars (already paid by the author of the Oatmeal and 2) 50,000 comments on the department on the interior website.

Interested? He even gives you specific examples if you’re not feeling particularly articulate this morning (like me). Check it out here.

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Also, check out the amazing story of the mantis shrimp, the awesome angler fish and my personal favorite, the flatworm parasite Captain Higgins.