How much is 1% of your time? Five minutes each day, two hours each month or two days each year. At the UK Plant Science Federation meeting, I made the case for each scientist to commit 1% of his or her time to outreach.
Funders, politicians, school children and voters all need to hear about the roles of plants and plant science in their lives, and plant scientists are the ones who have to say it!
I had an interesting meeting last week about using online resources and tools for student engagement, and to what extent any classroom activity could be done virtually. Another discussion point was to what extent MOOCs can provide meaningful learning experiences.
This nice video about the JGI's 1000 fungal genome project suggests a good non-traditional lesson plan. In the four minute video, scientists introduce fungal diversity and what can be learned from fungal genomes. I'd use this as a launching-off point to have the class investigate fungal diversity through individual and group projects, with the "goal" being to select a species as a class mascot. (The goal is also to set up a need-to-know environment so students are motivated to read and learn).
Outside of class time, have students individually 1) watch the video, 2) read through the information on the 1000 Fungal genomes project (http://genome.jgi.doe.gov/programs/fungi/1000fungalgenomes.jsf), select a fungal species of interest, and prepare a 3-slide overview about it. (If you like, you can tell them what kinds of information must be included, such where it fits on the fungal tree of life, what kind of interactions it has with plants, and what might be learned from its genome).
Then, in class (or online) groups of students would review the 3-slide summaries of the members, and choose the best-of-group. The group then builds on the summary to produce a 3-minute YouTube video that makes the case for why their species is the most interesting and deserving of recognition. If your class meets physically, you can show the videos during class time, If not, the video viewing and voting can take place online. Finally, the class votes to select the species to adopt, with a small prize going to the winning group.
Posting the videos publically motivates the students to make the content broadly accessible and the overall quality high. Google documents and Dropboxes provide the students with shared workspaces, and by having the groups make these working materials accessible to you, you can assess the contributions of the group members.
If you haven't yet explored the learning opportunities available to students through online resources, I'd encourage you to give it a try.
How and why to use your PhD as leverage to get into teaching. Pros include job security, the joy of teaching, and (somewhat) shorter hours. I'm not sure about the summers off claim - most teachers I know don't really sit by the pool all summer ....
Oh dear! This baby would come in hand for a couple screenings in mind. Shaking, temperature control, multiple readings, injectors... All I might need to test lots of mutants. Don't even want to know the price, but opinions are welcome!!
"Problem solvers, shelf stockers, bench scientists, record keepers, machine fixers, weekend warriors, den mothers, old hands, fresh eyes, mentors, managers. Every research lab has behind-the-scenes specialists without whom modern science could not get done."
Yet another excellent resource from Sense about Science. This one is produced with the help of early career scientists, and written to help early career researchers understand how the peer review process works, some of the limitations of peer review, and the role of peer review in society. Free PDF.
Among other very nice thoughts I stick with this two:
1. "The Standard Model, because it excludes gravity, is an incomplete account of reality; it is like a theory of human nature that excludes sex. Even Kaku has called the Standard Model “rather ugly” and “a theory that only a mother could love.” "
2. "the Higgs doesn’t take us any closer to a unified theory than climbing a tree would take me to the Moon"
Scooped from: Science 26 April 2013: Vol. 340 no. 6131 pp. 446-447 DOI: 10.1126/science.340.6131.446
"Scientists may begin their studies with an eye on a tenure-track position, but these coveted jobs have been vanishing under a glut of science degrees and university budget cuts. As researchers found in a 2012 study in the journal PLoS One, jobs in academia become less attractive to U.S. doctoral candidates as they progress through their studies. "
The Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and the Alícia Foundation developed a General Education science course, "Science and Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to the Science of Soft Matter," which debuted in the fall of 2010. The course uses food and cooking to explicate fundamental principles in applied physics and engineering. (Watch a video about the course.)
Limited to currently enrolled Harvard undergraduates, the class brings together eminent Harvard researchers and world-class chefs.
I recently discovered this amazing PODcast bridging Science and Culinary with a series of scientifically relevant and fun talks. Highly recomended for scientists who enjoy cooking and thinkings out of the box.
Background: RNA sequencing (RNA-Seq) is emerging as a highly accurate method to quantify transcript abundance. However, analyses of the large data sets obtained by sequencing the entire transcriptome of organisms have generally been performed by bioinformatics specialists. Here we provide a step-by-step guide and outline a strategy using currently available statistical tools that results in a conservative list of differentially expressed genes. We also discuss potential sources of error in RNA-Seq analysis that could alter interpretation of global changes in gene expression.
Findings: When comparing statistical tools, the negative binomial distribution-based methods, edgeR and DESeq, respectively identified 11,995 and 11,317 differentially expressed genes from an RNA-seq dataset generated from soybean leaf tissue grown in elevated O3. However, the number of genes in common between these two methods was only 10,535, resulting in 2,242 genes determined to be differentially expressed by only one method. Upon analysis of the non-significant genes, several limitations of these analytic tools were revealed, including evidence for overly stringent parameters for determining statistical significance of differentially expressed genes as well as increased type II error for high abundance transcripts.
Conclusions: Because of the high variability between methods for determining differential expression of RNA-Seq data, we suggest using several bioinformatics tools, as outlined here, to ensure that a conservative list of differentially expressed genes is obtained. We also conclude that despite these analytical limitations, RNA-Seq provides highly accurate transcript abundance quantification that is comparable to qRT-PCR.
This is a good article for young scientists. Sometimes the young and naive don't get the credit they deserve. Be prepared to argue for the credit you are due, and discuss authorship early in the project.
"Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) recommends that researchers decide who will be an author and what order they will be listed in before they even conduct experiments, and that the group revisits the author list as a project evolves. A handshake isn't enough to seal the deal — researchers should keep author agreements in writing."
Anxiety buids up as Europe prepares itself to face the US scientific investment. Will we dare? Will we be able to take that step? Hope so...
"Tens of billions of euros are at stake as negotiations ramp up to shape Europe’s next seven-year research programme. The discussions will cover familiar divisions over applied versus basic research and conflicting national agendas, but the continent’s ongoing financial problems will add an extra measure of anxiety"
Good advice for young scientists on why they should get training in bioinformatics or computational biology, from Casey Bergman, at the University of Manchester. How about #5 "you will publish more papers"!
This story is still hard to believe. Nevertheless worth reading
"For a female scientist, particularly talking to a male colleague, if she thinks it's possible he might hold this stereotype, a piece of her mind is spent monitoring the conversation and monitoring what it is she is saying, and wondering whether or not she is saying the right thing, and wondering whether or not she is sounding competent, and wondering whether or not she is confirming the stereotype," Schmader said.
All this worrying is distracting. It uses up brainpower. The worst part?
"By merely worrying about that more, one ends up sounding more incompetent," Schmader said.
We really enjoyed working with Mike Lean, Professor of Nutrition, on the "Plants, Food and Human Health" article (http://www.plantcell.org/site/teachingtools/TTPB21.xhtml). He spends much of his time on the diabetes ward, and has a very real concern for the prevention of chronic diseases!
As you know, nutrition education only goes so far, so his approach is to nutritionally balance the food people want to eat. And if you eat your pizza with a side order of broccoli, even better.
"Thomson Reuters released the 2011 edition of the Journal Citation Report (JCR) on Thursday, promoting increased coverage of regional journals and listing 526 new journals receiving their first journal impact factor. Far less conspicuous was a list of 51 journals that were suspended from this year’s report due to “anomalous citation patterns.” "