3 Down: Self-Reflection and Science Communication

Cheesesteak count: 3

First things first. I’ve managed to fit in 3 cheesesteaks so far, which puts me right on track. First was Ishkabibble’s last night which claimed to have the Original Chickensteak. While it may have been a good idea, the execution left something to be lacking (I had it with broccoli and provolone – go for the whiz if you go). Jim’s is across the street, and maybe be a better choice. Second, I had the vegetarian cheesesteak with mozzarella from Govinda’s Takeout. It is a short train ride down Broad street from the Convention, and was the best vegan beef I think I’ve ever had, with some definite soy sauce flavors. Last, I had the vegan Philly Steak from HipCityVeg, which was also very delicious, and now I’m not sure which veg “cheesesteak” was tops.

The BPS Career Center today was teeming with people of all ages hoping to shake things up in their lives. I think the most important message to take away is that self-reflection is an important tool for career happiness. Of course, it is easy for us scientists to just take the next step without thinking about it, but with the dwindling grant money and professorships, a never-ending post-doctoral phase is often the result. If more scientists practiced a bit of self-reflection, they may find academia is not the ideal career choice for them. Just like good science, career choices should be approached with foresight, cost-benefit analyses and lots of background reading. Although it is easier to repeat experiments without really thinking about it (& take that next career move), we quickly learn that shortcuts don’t save time and that sometimes-unpleasant deep thinking will help us in the long run. As life is the ultimate experiment, don’t be owe it to ourselves to put a little thought into it?

For those of you that attended the excellent Science Communications lecture, you’ll know that we had some real superstars among us today. Paul Offit has his own wikipedia page, is big in supporting vaccines against the onslaught anti-science lobbyists and has been on the Colbert Report. Derrick Pitts has His own wikipedia page, is a astronomer at the Franklin Institute here in Philly (supposedly is an amazing place and I would like to go at some point while I’m here) and has ALSO been on the Colbert Report. Maiken Scott is a science reporter at the public radio & news station WHYY and has interviewed John Nash and Christopher Reeves. ANYWAY, it was a compelling and passionate panel. The main point for us scientists to take away is not to shy away from public discussion of science and to always promote understanding. Use simple language, don’t try to explain anything too complicated right away (or your audience will get that glazed-over look), and if you aren’t comfortable with the reporter’s work, don’t agree to do it. As one of the guest bloggers for BPS, I agree that it is important for all of us to help convey scientific concepts to laymen and not to back down when someone says something unscientifically-sound (ie ridiculous). I, for instance, suggest the Socratic Method as a way to encourage people to question their current wrongly-held beliefs, but thats just me.

What do you guys think?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s