I’ll be co-hosting this STEM Women event with Dr Buddhini Samarasinghe where we’ll speak to Annika O’Brien on her career as a roboticist. Annika is an engineer who works on robotics and also a passionate STEM educator, teaching kids how to program and build robots through STEAMtrax. She will talk to us about her exciting career path as a woman in STEM, what inspires her, and why supporting women in STEM is important. 
Join us live on Sunday 13th April at 4.30 PM Central/ Monday 14th of April 7.30AM AUS. The interview will be available for viewing on our YouTube channel after the event. High-res

I’ll be co-hosting this STEM Women event with Dr Buddhini Samarasinghe where we’ll speak to Annika O’Brien on her career as a roboticist. Annika is an engineer who works on robotics and also a passionate STEM educator, teaching kids how to program and build robots through STEAMtrax. She will talk to us about her exciting career path as a woman in STEM, what inspires her, and why supporting women in STEM is important. 

Join us live on Sunday 13th April at 4.30 PM Central/ Monday 14th of April 7.30AM AUS. The interview will be available for viewing on our YouTube channel after the event.

I’ll be co-hosting #ScienceChat on Twitter on the 9th of April, 2pm PDT USA/ Thursday 10th April, 7am Aussie time. Dr Buddhini Samarasinghe and I will be tweeting from our account @STEMWomen and our amazing colleague Profesor Rajini Rao will be one of our distinguished guests. We’ll discuss how we can improve women’s participation in Science Technology Engineering & Math. We’ll also talk about how we can address intersections of discrimination in STEM. 
The discussion includes 10 scientists from various fields, including sociologist Jessie Daniels, science presenter Julia Wilde (thatssoscience) Modzilla Science Lab Director Kaitlin Thaney, academic blogger Dr Isis, amongst other guests.
Join us using #sciencechat High-res

I’ll be co-hosting #ScienceChat on Twitter on the 9th of April, 2pm PDT USA/ Thursday 10th April, 7am Aussie time. Dr Buddhini Samarasinghe and I will be tweeting from our account @STEMWomen and our amazing colleague Profesor Rajini Rao will be one of our distinguished guests. We’ll discuss how we can improve women’s participation in Science Technology Engineering & Math. We’ll also talk about how we can address intersections of discrimination in STEM. 

The discussion includes 10 scientists from various fields, including sociologist Jessie Daniels, science presenter Julia Wilde (thatssoscience) Modzilla Science Lab Director Kaitlin Thaney, academic blogger Dr Isis, amongst other guests.

Join us using #sciencechat

Allie Stone - Collections Assistant and Imaging Specialist in Insects, holding a cotton woven tunic from Guatemala, an item from the Economic Botany Collections. Jim Boone - Collections Manager, Insects, holding two paradise birdwing butterflies. Constance Van Beek - Preparator, Fossil Invertebrates, holding the bronze cast replica of Sue’s tooth, one of a dozen especially made for the preparators who worked on her. Laura Briscoe - Collections/Research Assistant, Botany, holding a piece of lace knit from Agave americana fibers from the Azores. Kevin H. - Collections Assistant, Botany, holding an original Schuster botanical illustration. Robert Lücking - Collections Manager and Adjunct Curator, Botany, holding a plastic sign covered with lichens collected in a rain forest in Costa Rica. Matthew Lavoie - Collections Assistant, Botany, holding the model of a cane toad from the imaging lab.

thebrainscoop:

My friend Daniel - photographer, biologist, artist, friendliest person ever - is working on a photo project that highlights staff and volunteers of The Field Museum along with their favorite collections items.

Posing with artifacts and specimens brings a certain ingenuity to the object; perhaps it would otherwise be something easily overlooked in a drawer, its history buried in comparative numbers. Singling out individual articles stresses their inherent uniqueness, and we’re drawn in with a curiosity trying to puzzle out why, out of 27 million items in this museum, these particular people chose the specimens in their hands.

There’s a visceral connection between Laura’s gaze and that agave lace: she’s looking at it so lovingly and holding it so carefully, as if she’s imagining herself sitting in awe at the foot of the person who painstakingly knit the fibers together and watching the entire process come together. Having seen her knit her own scarves on our way home one evening I can fathom the respect she has for not only the collections but also the people responsible for their creation and care.

Throughout Daniel’s portraits he’s been able to capture so well a humbling sense of gratification and pride, a mood that reflects our joy of being here because of the love we have for this world and its achievements. We’re all bursting with the same sense of wonder. 

Check out more portraits in his series, including questions answered by the featured scientists.

Scientists should not simply stick to doing science. Perhaps we need to extend the scientific method to include a requirement for communication. Young scientists should be taught the value and necessity of communicating their findings to the general public. Scientists should not shy away from controversy, because some topics should not be controversial to begin with. The scientific evidence for the efficacy of vaccines, the process of evolution, the existence of anthropogenic climate change is accepted in the scientific community. Yet, within the public sphere, goaded by a sensationalizing mainstream media and politicians seeking re-election, these settled facts are made to appear tentative. Science is based on evidence, and if that evidence tells us something new we need to incorporate that into our policies. We cannot ignore it simply because it is unpopular or inconvenient.

- Dr Buddhini Samarasinghe, molecular biologist and science communicator, argues the idea that “Scientists Should Stick to Science” needs to be retired. This is an much-needed and punchy piece on the importance of public science. Read the whole thing on Edge.org

Also check out all of Buddhini’s public science outreach on Google+. See other examples of Buddhini’s public science writing at Scientific American, which hosts her Hallmarks of Cancer blog posts, a series designed for a lay audience seeking to understand the common features and complexities of various cancers.

Hey Joe, what do you think of Dr. Randy Schekman's boycott of big Science journals?

Asked by
whoiusedtobe

jtotheizzoe:

For those not familiar, Shekman is boycotting the big science journals because he believes they distort the scientific process.

I think it’s a very interesting move that should draw attention to the risks of only swinging for home runs in science, instead of rewarding researchers for doing smaller, less revolutionary work that may often (but not always) be better science, in terms of being reproducible and widely applicable. When you tell someone that they have to publish in Science or Nature to get tenure, then you run the risk of them going to Lance Armstrong-level lengths of rule-bending to do so. That kind of dishonesty doesn’t happen much in science, but it does happen.

Take China, where a researcher can get a $30,000 bonus for getting into one of the big journals. On one hand it’s a helluva reward, but on the other hand it’s could be called a fancy bribe that puts a lot of really dangerous incentives in place.

But Science and Nature and the like still publish great, groundbreaking science. They are consistently the best journals not because they force people to cheat or cut corners, but because they’ve spent a century or more building that reputation (plus they got in the game early and secured the best names, like Science and Nature).

But what if young professors, with all their options open, published 10 smaller papers rather than spending six years on one submission to Nature that is going to make or break their whole career? I think we’d be better off then.

I have to say, none of this “what if” stuff matters until universities start rewarding researchers differently. This is why your professors have gray hair. And it’s easy for a guy with a Nobel prize to start a boycott … he’s already won the game!

lamestream-media:

“Every intellectual has a very special responsibility. He has the privilege and the opportunity of studying. In return, he owes it to his fellow men (or ‘to society’) to represent the results of his study as simply, clearly and modestly as he can. The worst thing that intellectuals can do - the cardinal sin - is to try to set themselves up as great prophets vis-à-vis their fellow men and to impress them with puzzling philosophies. Anyone who cannot speak simply and clearly should say nothing and continue to work until he can do so.”

Karl Popper 1994: Against Big Words

kenobi-wan-obi:

If my blog gets abruptly deleted you can blame the copyright crackdown on tumblr. I’ve received countless emails about posts being deleted and many of the astrophotography I was trying to provide under an informational environment being removed due to copyright infringement even though I credit everything. So yeah so much for that. I guess me being a broke motherfucker from the hood trying to get ppl into science via astrophotography and astronomy was equivalent to someone stealing from an artist and making money off it (never made a cent off any of these pics in my years here but I did make science enthusiasts and future scientists).

Happy International Women’s Day! I’ll do a couple of posts on this over the next day to commemorate this glorious day for both my time zone in Australia and the rest of you in other parts of the world. I want to start with the challenges that lie ahead before celebrating the achievements of women social scientists I admire. Our STEM Women community has been publishing a series of posts celebrating women in sciences, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). We started with a look at the number of Nobel prize laureates. 

We found that in its 113 year history, only 17 women scientists have been recognised amongst 692 Noble Prize winners (though this number counts Marie Curie twice for winning in two different fields). That means that less than 3% of Nobel winners are women. This is not due to women’s lack of scientific contribution, but due to the history and culture of the sciences. No woman has ever won the special Maths prize. While some social scientists have been recognised via the Nobel Peace Prize, only one woman social scientist has won a prize for science: Elinor Ostrom who won in 2009 for the special prize in Economics.

We looked at the way in which women have been used as the symbol of science - two women appear on the back of the Nobel medal - the goddess of natural phenomena (Natura) and the goddess of knowledge (Scientia). So while women can be muses for scientific excellence, our research and innovation remain on the margins of science’s highest organisation. 

We had a phenomenal backlash when we shared this to our other science community, Science on Google+ (three of us who run STEM Women are also Moderators for SoG+). Various sexist arguments followed, ranging from: “Women aren’t as smart as men” to “This probably isn’t sexism, it’s something else (but somehow it’s women’s fault still).” None of these people presented evidence, but rather they relied on biased personal anecdotes.This thread was incredibly counter-productive; rather than engaging with the science presented, people wanted to argue that they don’t think that this is an example in sexism.

I’ve previously written why personal observations that refuse gender inequality don’t count as science, and how this is connected to the sociology of beliefs, attitudes, power and culture. For the record, a plethora of studies refute these arguments. Empirical data shows various historical, institutional and cultural reasons why women’s careers and achievements are not recognised in the same way as men. 

The second image I’ve attached is a quote from Elizabeth Blackburn, who won a Nobel prize in 2009. She has a timely reminder that ties into why we still need International Women’s Day:

This idea that ‘Science needs women’ is really right on target… The ability to solve complex problems is greatly enriched by having different viewpoints.

Read more of our STEM Women posts commemorating this special day on our Google+ page. I’ll be back with more posts on the women who inspired me and more on diversity in social science.

Science Rules Google+!

scienceongoogle:

Science on Google+ is a Community that I help to moderate. With close to 230,000 members, our Community is the largest science community on Google+ as well as one of the top 10 biggest communities on Google+. Social Times also named us as one of the fastest growing communities on that social network, noting that Google+ has a more active membership than LinkedIn, Twitter and Tumblr. The fastest growth ha sbeen amongst people interested in science.

Our Moderation team are all qualified scientists encompassing the major branches of the sciences: Applied, Earth, Life, Physical and Social.

Our aim is to elevate the quality of science discussion on social media, so that we’re going beyond surface level science news stories. We encourage our members to write about peer reviewed science in an engaging way to reach a broader audience. We regularly work to debunk junk science and to dispel myths and hype perpetuated by the media. We also have sections to discuss cross-disciplinary issues such as policy and practice, and a dedicated space for the public to ask questions of scientists.

I curate the Social Sciences stream. If you’re interested in reading, writing or chatting about science, join us! 

Recently I joined Women in STEM, a group of women researchers committed to addressing gender inequality in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Earlier today Dr Buddhini Samarasinghe and I co-hosted the first of our new fortnightly interview series. We’ll be talking with STEM professionals who want to advance gender diversity in the sciences. 

Today’s chat was with Professor Jonathan Eisen, an evolutionary biologist and editor-in-chief of the open-access journal PLoS Biology. Jonathan was a fantastic guest who spoke candidly about the need for male academics to be more proactive in addressing inequality. He gave some practical examples of how women’s participation in science can be bolstered by simple measures, such as by: offering childcare as part of academic conference services; through diversity training for hiring panels; and providing better mentorship for young women in science. 

I gave a shout out to sociology during the Hangout. I noted that while sociologists still face career barriers regarding race, gender, sexuality and other minority relations, we have a shared language to discuss inequality. Sociology is centrally concerned with addressing disadvantage, so we have the vocabulary and training to start conversations about these issues. Most other disciplines don’t talk about inequality at all. This means that women are expected to suffer in silence and navigate career barriers alone. As Buddhini points out, academia represents a “leaky pipe” where the further up you go in an academic faculty, the less women and minorities there are.

Gender and diversity matters should be central to all academic training, at every level, and for all disciplines.

There is a plethora of studies showing inequality is a fact in science. STEM Women starts off from this position and so we ask: what are going to do to move forward and address this disadvantage? 

Join us on Google+ or Twitter and check out our website.

Most people, Dr. Ellenbogen says, think of the sleeping brain as similar to a computer that has “gone to sleep” — it does nothing productive. Wrong. Sleep enhances performance, learning and memory. Most unappreciated of all, sleep improves creative ability to generate aha! moments and to uncover novel connections among seemingly unrelated ideas.

[…]

Some sort of incubation period, in which a person leaves an idea for a while, is crucial to creativity. During the incubation period, sleep may help the brain process a problem.

[…]

Dr. Ellenbogen’s research at Harvard indicates that if an incubation period includes sleep, people are 33 percent more likely to infer connections among distantly related ideas, and yet, as he puts it, these performance enhancements exist “completely beneath the radar screen.” In other words, people are more creative after sleep, but they don’t know it.

Here’s the science to the creative benefits of sleep, aptly called "the greatest creative aphrodisiac." Decades earlier, T. S. Eliot championed the notion of "idea incubation" and even longer ago, Thomas Edison used power-naps as his secret weapon

Pair with the science of what happens when you sleep and how it affects your every waking moment.

(via explore-blog)

(via explore-blog)

“It requires indeed some courage to undertake a labor of such far-reaching extent,” Mendel wrote in his 1865 paper, describing an eight-year experiment on cross-fertilization that ultimately revealed the existence of genes. But “courage,” I would argue, is the wrong word here. More than “courage,” there is something else evident in that work — a quality that I can only describe as “tenderness.”

It is a word not typically used to describe science or scientists. It shares roots, of course, with “tending” — a farmer’s or gardener’s activity — but also with “tension,” the stretching of a pea tendril to incline it toward sunlight or train it on an arbor. It describes a certain intimacy between humans and nature — a nourishment that must happen before investigation can happen, the delicacy of labor that must be performed before the delicacy of its fruits can be harvested.

On science and tenderness – beautiful read (via explore-blog)

(via explore-blog)

[Scientists] found that emotionally charged writing activated areas of the brain which are known to respond to music. Predominantly on the right side, these regions had previously been shown to give rise to the “shivers down the spine” feeling caused by an emotional response to music. The researchers found that when study participants read one of their favorite passages of poetry, regions of the brain associated with memory were stimulated more strongly than “reading areas.” This suggests that reading a favorite passage is like a recollection. When the team specifically compared poetry to prose, they found evidence that poetry activates brain regions associated with introspection – such as the posterior cingulate cortex and medial temporal lobes.

Study finds that poetry enchants the brain much like music does. Cue in Edna St. Vincent Millay, who famously exclaimed, “Without music I should wish to die. Even poetry, Sweet Patron Muse forgive me the words, is not what music is.” (via explore-blog)

(via explore-blog)