The real, numbers from the March for Science

Rather than make up numbers about the number of people present at the March for Science, the scientist/organizers wanted to “Science the shit out of them”.

Volunteer Kate Gage: “We really wanted to emphasize that it was a march about science and data and evidence”.

Read about the numbers of marchers and their methods here. Also, WELL DONE MARCH!

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Losing a major grant funding PhD scientists

As I’m sure everyone has heard by now, the NSF is cutting the Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant (also known as the DDIG). This is a huge loss for scientific research in the United States.

Dollar per person, of all the NSF grants the DDIG was the biggest bang for the buck. It helped launch innumerable careers, and started many a scientist on the path to full adulthood.

The internet and twittersphere are full of stories about how DDIGs helped careers, but I want to highlight one from Jeremy Yoder. As usual, it’s well written and gets to the heart of the concept.

Also, call your members of congress to object to the continued reduction in funding for scientific research.

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Because Science is not political, should we consider the politics of scientists?

In an excellent post over at Trees in Space, Markus Eichhorn brings up a solid question. He was considering the work of Heinz Ellenberg, a vegetation ecologist. It turns out that before he became one of the foremost scientist in his field, some of his contributions still relevant and well-sited today, he was a Nazi. Or more accurately, he contributed to the Nazi war effort.

Does that matter? Should that matter? Where do we draw the line?

Read the full blog post here.

There is no such thing as a “pure” European-or anyone else

After the migrant crisis from Syria hit Germany, it challenged the Willkommenskultur (Welcome culture). While most Germans swung into action to help settle the millions of refugees coming to Germany, some (self-proclaimed) neo-nazis were quoted as saying the German people faced “the destruction of our genetic heritage” and risked becoming “a gray mishmash”.

Well I have good/bad news for everyone. There is no unique German genetic heritage. There also isn’t a unique French genetic heritage, or Norwegian or Polish or Italian genetic heritage. All Europeans are already a mishmash of repeated ancient migrations. New studies show that almost all Europeans descend from three major migrations in the past 15,000 years including two from the Middle East.

Want to know more? Check it out over at Science. 

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Science wins, keep fighting

GOOD NEWS, THE GOVERNMENT IS GONNA KEEP RUNNING TILL AT LEAST SEPTEMBER!

Better news, the budget that was passed to keep the government running includes a bump in funding for NIH, and no reduction in NSF funding. Now, it’s not all good news, there’s a serious cut to EPA funding, but let’s take the wins we can get!

And keep fighting. This budget is only through September.

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The Immortal Life of HeLa Cells

The problem with research on humans is that everyone wants it, but no one wants to be the guinea pig. Enter cell lines! The problem is that most human cells don’t survive in the lab. In fact, prior to HeLa cells, all cells died within 24 hours or so.

The excellent book by Rebecca Skloot The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, details how the HeLa line came into being, and raises the questions if she should have had consent over what was done with the cells from her tumor. And while I think that it’s misleading to say “Henrietta lived on through her cells” (hence the title of this post), it is worth considering the bioethical quandaries that have resulted from the HeLa lines, and other potential cell lines.

And the new Oprah movie, these questions are likely to be raised again soon.

Read about it here!

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Thanks for Marching

I am not sure how to measure the success of protests, but the March for Science was unquestionably heard around the world. People Marched in 600 locations around the globe to stand up for scientific research in the face of the US President being an unabashedly against science funding/communication/reality. So to celebrate scientist and science enthusiasts standing together, I have collected a few of my favorite videos. Or read more about the march here.

March of the Penguins for Science at the Monterey Bay Aquarium:

The Underwater March for Science at Wake Island:

And a video summarizing some great signs from the March for Science on Washington DC.

And just remember, this is only the first 100 days. Curbing the potential damage this administration can have on the planet will require staying vigilant for the next 4 years. As Aminatou Sow said during the women’s march “I can do this every week”. Bring it.