Hellish Poster Sessions

We recently had a small poster session for our fourth year undergraduate thesis students. The event caused me to reflect on why I often hate poster sessions at academic conferences. I often don’t like these events for a variety of reasons and it doesn’t really matter if I’m presenting a poster, or whether I’m looking at or evaluating posters. Here’s my list of poster session pet peeves in no particular order: 1) Lack of space…

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Put some thought into who you suggest as a reviewer

I realized something profound the last time that I submitted a manuscript for peer-review to a journal. I’m not sure why it took me so long to realize it, but it occurred to me as I was selecting my list of reviewers that this was a prime opportunity to live the values of equity, diversity, and inclusion that I’d like to see in the academic scientific enterprise. I realized that due to unconscious bias that…

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Kicking off a Science Communication Course

This blog post is part of a series about a 4th year undergraduate Science Communication course that I ran during Winter term 2019. My focus in the first week of this course was to initiate a discussion in class about what science communication is, who does science communication, how is science communication done, and why and when is science communication done. In other words, attempting to answer the very high level questions about science communication…

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Personal Safety at Scientific Conferences

Considerations about my personal safety always influence my conference travel, accommodation, and eating plans. This statement probably is not surprising to other women or female-identifying/presenting people. Why is this the case? I am always worried about getting harassed, attacked, or murdered. It sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? Right up until we hear about cases such as the murder of Dr. Suzanne Eaton. She was attending a conference on the Greek island of Crete, took a break…

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Science Communication Course: Topic Selection

This is post #2 in a series where I’ll be talking about a 4th year undergraduate Science Communication course that I ran from January to April of 2019. After defining my learning outcomes and objectives, the next order of business was to decide on the weekly topics that I wanted to cover in the course. I ended up finding a great paper called “Core Skills for Effective Science Communication: A Teaching Resource for Undergraduate Science…

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Launching an Upper Year Undergraduate Science Communication Course

I think that in typical Biology undergraduate programs a fair bit of thought goes into giving our students opportunities to improve their communication skills as scientists, but in my opinion this is usually limited to communicating with other biologists. Some time is perhaps spent talking about communicating with scientists outside of our field of study or discipline, but I think that we are really falling behind when it comes to teaching the skills of how…

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DoctorAl Digest #30

A depressing finding in this study by Dr. Holly Witteman and colleagues “Are gender gaps due to evaluations of the applicant or the science? A natural experiment at a national funding agency.” The main finding “Gender gaps in grant funding are attributable to less favourable assessments of women as principal investigators, not of the quality of their proposed research.” The takehome: “To ensure the best research is funded, funders should ensure the design and execution…

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Burnout and Errand Paralysis

I read a great article last month that has been getting a lot of attention online, and eventually the piece went viral. The essay is on Buzzfeed and is entitled “How Millennials Became The Burnout Generation” and is definitely worth the read if you are a millennial yourself, or work with or teach millennials. I found a lot of the ideas in this article resonated with me despite the fact that I’m part of Gen-X.…

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Cubic Wombat Poop

One of the many reasons why I love biology is when a great and weird story gets told about some kind of living phenomenon. This week I was surprised to learn that wombat feces are cubic. Evidently it’s been known for quite some time that the wombat’s poop is cube shaped and it is hypothesized that wombats use it to mark their territories and the fact that it is cubed means that it doesn’t easily…

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Planning a New Course in Science Communication

Next term I’m launching a new 4th year undergraduate course in Science Communication. I’ve wanted to teach a course on this topic for a while as I think that teaching our students how to communicate science to a range of audiences will be useful to them. Ideally we’ll get to a point where they can enter into dialogues with others about science, rather than having the interaction be one sided. It’s been fun to think…

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