New Year’s Resolutions for Researchers

As one year comes to a close and the next begins, conversation often turns to New Year’s resolutions. We spoke with three incoming Biophysical Society Council members about their goals for 2018.

Linda Columbus Investigates Cell Membranes With Large New Grants

Linda Columbus, University of Virginia

Less email and more science

As I sit here at the end of another year feeling overwhelmed with teaching, reviewing proposals, and trying to get several publications out the door, I have this strange need to clear my email inbox. What is in this inbox? There are some emails from students inquiring about there final grades, from the company that helps build my course content, TOCs from journals (including Biophysical Journal), several about travel to board meetings and study section, university paper work (effort reports, reconciliations, and pcards), department business, and the list goes on. There are only a few that are directly related to the scientific output of my laboratory.

Not all is awry; we recently moved most laboratory communications to Slack. As one of my colleagues who I introduced to Slack stated “I setup Slack for my group and I LOVE IT!  I just turn off email and do research for hours at a time… keep on top of experiments and don’t get distracted…”  So, Slack can keep me away from email, but it doesn’t decrease the amount of email that I need to handle. Each year in December, I unsubscribe from a ton of mailing lists (if it isn’t moving me towards a personal goal, bye-bye).

This year, I moved towards setting up twitter bots to help me (and anyone else interested in @memprot_biophys ) up-to-date with the literature.  Next year, I will pay the money to expand the posting beyond 10 a day.

Finally, I aim to reduce the number of emails I send by choosing not to respond to more email and by using the phone more often.

Pernilla Wittung-Stafshede, Chalmers University of Technology

Pernilla Wittung-Stafshede 350x500px

As my New Year’s resolutions, I have two things I have thought about:

First, I want to spend more time with my students. Since I started my position at Chalmers, now more than two years ago, I have become involved in many big-picture issues and committees on various levels. I love that and it is important, but the research and the students should not suffer. So my goal is to assure I spend more time with my students discussing data, projects and plans.

Having said that, my second resolution is to push hard for gender equality efforts to take off at my university and nationally in Sweden. We are looking into bringing in Athena Swan-like accreditation. I would love to see something like this begin at my university, as the first place in Sweden. I also will work towards facilitating a national initiative along these lines.

stoked01-heroDavid Stokes, New York University

In past years, I have made many lab-related new year’s resolutions: have regular group meetings, spend more time at the bench, organize the mass of data that has accumulated on lab computers, start using an electronic lab notebook. I find such resolutions generally productive and always feel good when I follow through.

For 2018, major changes are coming whether I like it or not. In December, two new electron microscopes arrived at our institution and the New Year will see me deeply involved in setting up a new cryo-EM core facility. Thus, my resolution is to use these powerful tools to change the way science is done at our institution. It never hurts to think big.


Let us know: What are your resolutions for 2018?





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