Monday, July 26, 2010

200th post: who's really bored and wants a project?

Hello readers! This is my 200th post. I was going to try to save it for something special, but I got antsy and decided to use it to start a call for art project participants. I want to get some creativity going here, and am not having much luck with my own head, so I thought I'd try crowd-sourcing instead! Maybe nobody will bite, in which case I'll feel lame for a while and then suck it up and do the project myself. But whatever, here goes:

I want to find an entertaining infographic/illustration for Chemical BiLOLogy to use up in that "user profile pic" thingymabob. A Google Image search for it was BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORING!!!!!! All generic molecules, people in lab coats, dudes, protein structures, BLAH!! I'm trying, but just not getting inspired enough on my own.

BOHHH-RING!!

Let's put our Photoshop and MSPaint skills together and come up with something better. You can make a collage, draw your own cartoon, whatever. Make sure anything you use is in the public domain however, citing sources. Send images to me at chemicalbilology@gmail.com and I will post them. I will most likely make a dictator-like determination of my favorite(s) and may conglomerate multiple offerings to make my user pic. Don't worry about fitting a certain size, make it bigger rather than smaller and I can shrink where necessary. I will assume that if you submit an image to me, you're giving me permission to use it!

Alrighty, let's see where this goes... if it is a FAIL (because I'm not cool enough to have readers who give a crap and have time...) then oh well.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Nail on head!!!

Namnezia posted today with a quote that sums up everything I have been trying to teach my lab:
Good scientists will gladly let their pet hypotheses evolve or be discarded if evidence shows up to disprove them. Bad scientists will keep looking for specific data supporting their views while ignoring overwhelming amounts of data that don’t support their views.
Grad students, postdocs and everyone who is learning to be a scientist or trying understand what scientists say, take heed!!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Grant strategery: NSF vs. NIH

So, I decided not to resubmit my CAREER award.

It had been reviewed reasonably well, but there are a lot of other things going on that made it hard to get the best possible revision ready in time this year. On the one hand, both me and the reviewers were pretty excited about my Broader Impacts project, and I really want to see that program happen at some point soon. Our preliminary data is coming along nicely and this project is looking really exciting. On the other hand, that data isn't quite to where the reviewers seemed to want it to be. Plus, my Program (which is new this year as it is) is going through a lot of upheaval and almost comprehensively changing staff, meaning there will be no continuity in pretty much the only place you GET continuity in NSF revision review (since the reviewers are almost always a different set of people, unlike NIH where your grant usually goes back to the same group).

Another major issue for me is that trying to shoehorn biomedical research into an NSF-appropriate framework is really difficult. The entire theme of my lab is disease-related. Sure, we develop technology towards understanding disease, and development of the technology itself can be extracted out as a non-health-related goal aimed towards basic understanding of biology. But to reach its full scope, this work really needs to be focused on addressing the needs in human health research. AND to reach its full scope, this work costs a lot of money to do. NSF budgets just don't go big enough to support the kind of work that would need to go into this project. We do everything from chemical synthesis to expensive analytics to molecular biology to cell culture. Each ONE of those aspects requires about an NSF-level budget total. So, to really do this project justice, I think we're gonna have to go with NIH where even with the standard modular budget we will already be at twice an amount that is pushing the limits of reasonable for NSF.

Sometimes no matter how in-the-hand a bird seems, you have to face up to the facts that you can't feed your family on a chicken when there are two turkeys in the bush, at which you have a pretty good shot if you just let go.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Here we are again: being a stay-at-home mom is the new black

The Times in the UK had this really barfy article in their Magazine section this week (link, although it requires a subscription/purchase) about young "Generation Y" stay-at-home moms, the tagline was "Young. Smart. Stay-at-home. The Generation Y mothers." It had this fashion shoot with these hot 20-somethings and their kids, and interviews where they all shared how they never really wanted a job, anyway, and how you should raise your children yourself and not farm them off to others and blah blah blah. Seriously shoe-puking.

Quotes like this were highlighted: "I like the role of the Fifties housewife. These days everyone's in such a rush to cram everything into their lives." All patriarchy-reinforcing perspective bull-shyster and no balance. The whole thing reminded me of Zuska's awesome paragraph-sentence-post, which, while it was about STEM careers more specifically, perfectly captures the feel of these tired, constantly recycled double-speaks designed to keep our opinions herded towards knowing our place.

I'm all for women having the choice to do whatever they feel is right for themselves, including sticking with the work of raising kids and running a household and not other outside work (if they are privileged enough to not need to do so). But what a sanctimonious piece of crap. None of the women interviewed particularly liked their jobs in the first place. How does that provide a constructive perspective on these difficult choices? Not to mention what it inherently says about women who decide not to have children at all. What a waste of time and printspace. Or, maybe not, if your goal is to keep us on the same-old-same-old track.