Scientists Simplifying Science

The week that it was – 8th to 14th May, 2017

in ClubSciWri by

This Mother’s day, going beyond the commercial reasons behind existence of such a day, CSG and Club SciWri celebrate the mothers of many a scientific discoveries. Let’s use this as another opportunity to remind ourselves of gender inequalities that exist around us in academia and beyond, and appreciate efforts by groups like Million Women Mentors in STEM, and Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association.

Earlier this week, Europe reassured that they still are away from far-right ideologies. And not only this comes as a reassurance in the wake of US, UK and Turkish elections and growing Nazi-like inclinations in India, the newly elected French president, Emmanuel Macron has also assured support to climate change researchers. Europe, is probably, going through its best time to regain its older glory in scientific research and development by collaboration. Why collaboration? To translate grand ideas into reality – like the bipolar disorder researchers have analyzed roughly 9000 human brains worldwide.

For us to remember in our race for power, by Ipsa Jain (her work at IpsaWonders, on Facebook and Instagram)

That also calls us, the scientists into action for making sure that we are able to convey our messages correctly to public – it is an art to not over-simplify science and yet be able to reach masses, through the power of words. You might even want to consider applying for a summer school in learning the art of science communication by ASBMB. And if you need inspiration, get some from the geniuses like Carl Zimmer.

Patience is a virtue for innovators, one that hasn’t changed since the last 30 years, when the first 3D printer was made, or when Daniel Martinez first noted that hydra do not die to the present day often heard biotech startup failures or the success of newer drugs in increasing the life spans of HIV positive individuals to near normal.  Not every idea is necessarily successful, rather growing while learning from the failures is the skill that we need. In this current age, nothing values more than data. The amount of data that an organization can gather and analyze marks its success. It will be interesting to see how governments work around the big private enterprises that virtually monitor most of us. And there is someone else too, who is getting unsettled with data sharing – science publishing houses. Nature news reports that publishing houses are building strategies to cope up with the increasing trend of sharing paywalled papers. But until that happens, as sad it might be, you can technically get into legal troubles by sharing scientific research articles. Do your bit by speaking up for open access research – OpenCon is one such platform to get yourself educated and heard on open access.

Choose a mentor first, lab next – it helps to ensure both personal and professional growth. But unfortunately, since this isn’t followed by many yet, a lot of us stay confused how will our research advisors react to our possible decisions of transitioning into industry. Read Catherine Sorbara’s opinion on how industries do not care to get academic recommendation letters. Beyond graduate schools, future employers will want to have references, not recommendation letters. And they aren’t the same thing – see what’s different! Know what and how to discuss matters with employers and colleagues. A loose word can cost a lot. And know how to keep your focus on your existing job while you plan your transitions. Accessing these resources to learn is much easier these days. Be spoiled for choice rather to know what you would like to pursue among the list of online courses. Those working in bio/pharma discovery should consider Global BioPharma Summits to stay abreast the rapidly changing trends in the field.

Skim through the works of 41 international biomedical researchers who just got awarded by well-known philanthropies – it might help you as well to know what are the topics trending in the field. 26 biotech startups  in Karnataka, India are awarded funding by the state government. I hope that has gotten your brains active and you are ready to fish out where you see yourself in the coming years.

And then there are freelancers who can mix and match quite a few of these together, quite successfully, eventually with practice! Wonder if you have the right credentials to do it all? Count your relevant experience rather.

Those aspiring for MSL positions, might also consider attending the 2017 MSL Society Candidate Career Conference in North Carolina, USA from June 10-11 – Use the opportunity well for networking with hiring managers. Those who are lost on how to prepare for the HR interviews, here is a great resource. See what are the skills that the big pharma companies look for in their new recruits. Those who are not yet sure if a formal MBA course is what they are interested in, but still might want to gain some education into it, might want to consider the micro-MBA course at UCSD this summer. For the enterprising entrepreneurs, here is a dose of inspiration from Regeneron, on their path from basic research to commercialization.

Now we understand knowing which job suits you the best isn’t an easy job. But one has to start somewhere, sometime! At the same time, know the tricks to look and apply for jobs outside academia, if that is where your heart is.

And since I promised the last time that I will keep you all updated on the out-of-lab activities that you can indulge in this summer – check the live radio streaming worldwide, you might like some light music running while you are busy with your experiments. And because many of us at CSG are also keen on building a library of Goodreads in Science, there is one out by Prof. Jennifer Doudna and her former postdoc, Samuel Sternberg on gene editing by CRISPR, called ‘A crack in the creation‘.

And let me leave you with a food for thought – While India in her pre- and early post-independence days created the stalwarts in science from the likes of Raman to Ramachandran, how does the country still struggle coping up with scientific development when compared to many of her peers like China? Does the answer lie in simply better management of resources and adding accountability? If so, how might that be achieved? Read Prof. Gautam Desiraju’s latest opinion surrounding this.

Featured images are by Ipsa Jain, a Ph.D. student at IISc. She wants to gather and spread interestingness. She prefers painting and drawing over writing. She posts on Facebook and Instagram as Ipsawonders.

About her featured cover image: (From left to right) Shown are Sally Ride, Ada Lovelace, Maria Sibylla Merian, Henrietta Swan Leavitt, Hilde Mangold, Barbara McClintock in celebration of Mothers of Science by Club SciWri.

About the author:

Somdatta Karak works with Club SciWri as a project coordinator and Corporate Liaison. She is a doctorate in Neuroscience from Georg August University, Göttingen, Germany and has been a Teach for India fellow (2014-16). She loves putting her analytical skills to build newer and more sustainable solutions, enjoys traveling and communicating and takes every opportunity to expand her horizon.

You can reach her here.

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