Learning about being a scientist, from a non scientist!

Leah Samuel at STAT writes a bit about biomedical research. So, to better understand the world of the lab, she spent 10 days at the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole Mass.

And she summed up what she learned in this article.

TL;DR version

  1. Lots of stuff gets used only onc
  2. Scientists kill things
  3. Things kill scientists
  4. Findings don’t always mean answers
  5. Fashion is an afterthought

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New Science Communication Goal: Become a Comic Book Hero

I don’t need to be Ironman, or the Hulk. Although it would be cool to be Beast, or Professor X, I’d settle for being a scientist comic book hero!

Like Dr Sheiner, a research fellow at the Wellcome Centre for Molecular Parasitology at Glasgow University. She can be found in a new comic published by the Centre entitled Toxoplasmosis. It’s the latest in a series of comics the centre has been producing in recent years as a way to help explain what it does and why it is important.

Read more about it !

And I’m putting it out there… I’d be happy to be a comic book hero.

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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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The deficit model of STEM recruitment

Over at Small Pond Science, there is a thought provoking post about how to truly ‘diversify STEM fields.

If you want to truly diversify, then we need to stop trying to fill in the holes based on perceived deficiencies. Instead, we need to focus on training complete scientists. We need to fundamentally change our mindset about what a successful student looks like in a way that doesn’t reflect systemic inequities — and then enact a training and recruitment agenda based on that mindset. We can continue investing our time and resources trying to get URM students to look more competitive against white students from private universities.”

Interested? Read more here. 

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Science for the People

The March for Science has gained scorn, ridicule, and enthusiasm since the inauguration. Confused? Concerned? Want to help anyway?

Check out Science for the People, a new organization who’s primary goal is :

  • Growing an international organization of STEM workers, educators, and activists who work to serve the people — ­especially in poor, oppressed, and marginalized communities

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They give an excellent overview of the controversy and go into lots of interesting detail about the march, and what their goals are specifically.

 

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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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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