Crocheted and Ebroided Bacteria

Elin Thomas creates petri dishes filled with mold, but she’s not using any week-old peanut butter sandwiches. The fiber artist builds her science experiments using a felted wool base, and then carefully crafts individual growths using crochet and embroidery techniques. Most of her creations are set in authentic 8cm borosilicate glass petri dishes, although she also makes free-form brooches and other accessories in a similar style.

How cool is that! Read about it here.

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Most Embarrassing Field Work Fails

I think it’s important to talk about failure. To talk about struggle. To make it clear that none of this is easy, and your struggle is shared by others. No one is perfect, we’re all here to help.

Which is why field work fails are HILARIOUS.

Check out an excellently illustrated list here, or check out a few select ones below. scientist-blunders-fieldwork-fail-jim-jourdane-4-59ad079b5fdc3__700scientist-blunders-fieldwork-fail-jim-jourdane-15-59ad07b75668d__700scientist-blunders-fieldwork-fail-jim-jourdane-17-59ad07baf1981__700

Telomeres are the new cholesterol

Telomeres are the caps at the end of your chromosomes. When they degrade beyond a certain point, the cells start kicking the bucket. It’s a natural part of aging (like the grey hairs I’m getting, and my eye sight going). So I laughed, loudly, when I read this:

““I am a bit concerned about your telomeres,” the doctor told me, evenly.

Raffaele hadn’t literally seen those telomeres of mine. What he’d seen were the results of blood work carried out by a lab called Repeat Diagnostics, in Vancouver, British Columbia, which has become a leader in the burgeoning field of telomere diagnostics. Burgeoning because, as Raffaele posits, “telomeres are the new cholesterol”—by which he means they are (A) something measurable and understood to have explanatory powers and (B) something Big Pharma can aim at in the hope of finding the equivalent of a statin to make them more robust.”

This is crazy to me, and I look forward to seeing how it goes! Note, one way cancer gets around cell death after too many duplications is to elongate telomeres. Not to be paranoid, but I’ve got to think that this is not a good long term solution.

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Writing to reach your audience, where ever you come from

You’re research is only as good as your ability to communicate it.

That is a sad but true statement.

Which is why this awesome initiative, (Writing Support Across Global Research Communities: A Case Study for Public Health) to increase communication is so interesting and worth examining.

Read about it here.

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Defying writing conventions

“A good writer knows the conventions that their reader expects. Then they slavishly follow these conventions 95% of the time so the reader doesn’t get distracted by convention violations and instead keep their attention on what you’re trying to communicate. A good writer also occasionally and very deliberately violates these conventions as a sort of exclamation to highlight and emphasize points.”

Want to help figure out when it’s a good idea to defy and when it’s a good idea to fall in line?

Take this poll, or dread about it here.

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Science editors wanted to debate #scicomm. But they attacked the messenger instead.

This is a signal boost post. Read the original medium post here, but the full letter is replicated below.

500 Women Scientists’ Leadership team sent the following Letter to the Editor to Science magazine following their recent Working Life column “Why I don’t use Instagram for outreach.”

Dear Science Editorial Board,

We’re writing to express our disappointment at poor judgment that led to the publication of publishing “Why I don’t use Instagram for outreach,” which singled out and criticized a successful woman science communicator for her Instagram presence promoting and celebrating science. Science is one of the most highly esteemed journals, yet this article reads like a smear piece worthy of a tabloid. The job of an editor is to ensure the best possible argument comes through, and there is certainly an argument to be made here. For instance, women and underrepresented minorities take on a great deal of science communication, mentorship, and outreach work without recognition or professional reward from their institutions. Though there’s an increasing institutional pressure to communicate about science — whether to increase a university’s public profile or meet NSF’s Broader Impact requirements — many institutions expect that work to be done on personal time without compensation or additional resources. While the piece hinted at these systemic issues, those arguments were undermined when the work of another woman was criticized with an unabashed tone of condescension and without an opportunity to respond.

Rather than address the roadblocks facing women and underrepresented groups in STEM or grapple with the author’s personal misgivings around science communication, the piece was framed as an attack. The tone implied that anything beyond basic research is a frivolous waste of time, belittling meaningful approaches to science communication and public engagement. It offered a false choice between an authentic and relatable social media presence and effective advocacy for institutional change. The kindest interpretation for running this article is a lack of thoughtfulness on the editor’s part. At worst, Science made the choice to run an inflammatory article for the sake of increased website traffic.

The pages of Science are meant to mark advances in scientific discovery. But pinning one woman scientist against another is destructive, irresponsible, and perpetuates unreasonable standards for women and underrepresented groups in STEM. It is antithetical to the open, accessible, and inclusive future that we at 500 Women Scientists envision for the future of science.

— 500 Women Scientists Leadership Team

The Origin of Modern Languages

“Five thousand years ago nomadic horseback riders from the Ukrainian steppe charged through Europe and parts of Asia. They brought with them a language that is the root of many of those spoken today—including English, Spanish, Hindi, Russian and Persian. That is the most widely accepted explanation for the origin of this ancient tongue, termed Proto-Indo-European (PIE). Recent genetic findings confirm this hypothesis but also raise questions about how the prehistoric language evolved and spread.”

Want to know more? Read about it here!

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