Archive for: October, 2009

Speaking of Research at SFN

Oct 19 2009 Published by under Academia, Activism

"They attacked all of neuroscience when they attacked me" -David Jentsch
This morning Sci attended the symposium on Animals in Research: Widening the Tent, a symposium on how to reach out and garner more support for animal research, and to encourage scientists to speak out. You'd think that would be a pretty easy thing, of course scientists want to support their own research! But it's hard, and animal rights activists are determined to make it that way. It is very hard to speak out on the benefit of your research when you worry about your car being bombed, your children being threatened at school, your home being flooded, your laboratory attacked. When it happens to one of us, all of us feel the fear. And what can we do? For many years now, scientists have just kept their heads down. Keep your head down, don't identify yourself, and maybe they won't come after you.
But that is not helping. Without scientists speaking out in support of their work, the field goes to the small, but vocal animal rights movement, which hijacks our science and does their best to turn the public against us. They have money (PETA alone has a $120 MILLION budget), they have drive, and they have scared us into silence.
And that's not going to happen anymore.

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28 responses so far

On an Inpulse: SFN Neuroblogging

Oct 19 2009 Published by under Academia

Today's post is partially (or more than partially) for Bora, our great Blogfather, and patron saint of Open Access. 🙂
After seeing all the posters that Sci usually has to see according to her itinerary, Sci likes to wander and take in the little things that catch her eye. And when she does this, she usually heads over to Section H, the session catch-all that focuses on the history of neuroscience, science outreach, and basically anything that doesn't fit well into basic science research. She usually manages to see a lot of things that grab her attention, and this year was no exception. But Sci was particularly grabbed by one poster, and by the enthusiastic people standing in front of it.
Jones, et al. "Impulse: an undergraduate journal for neuroscience"

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3 responses so far

Things Found At SFN: Iron, Cholesterol, and Alzheimer's

Oct 18 2009 Published by under Academia

Sci briefly considered just providing a short list of the many awesome things she had seen at SFN this day, for verily, she saw many awesome things. But she's decided that she's tired, the food at the conference is incredibly expensive and she's VERY hungry, and that she's got way too many things to cover. And stuff is going up late, because Sci's LOVELY new netbook doesn't like SFN's wireless very well.
So she's going to cover one cool poster she's seen per day, and keep covering them, even after the conference. So you'll get your SFN longer and longer and longer! And we all know we could stand a few more days of crazy conferencing.
So here we go!
Poster number 1:
HFE polymorphisms affect cholesterol metabolism: Insights into neurodegenerative diseases
So you think to yourself, WTF is an HFE polymorphism, and what does this have to do with cholesterol and Alzheimer's?
A lot, actually.

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6 responses so far

An SFN Open Letter

Oct 17 2009 Published by under Academia

To the nervous guy on the shuttle (and indeed, to any person nervous about giving a presentation in their field),
Breathe. Drink some tea. It'll be ok. In a few hours, it'll all be over.
And remember this: No one knows your stuff better than you do. No one, because you're the one who did it, with your own grubyy little paws. If you're a fifth year graduate student, you may very well know more about your project than your advisor. So do not worry, do not fret. Unless you meet a total jerk, no one is going to try and one-up you at your poster. They will ask you questions, sure. They might ask you stuff that you don't know. But that's ok! They want to make your mind and your project move in new directions. They don't want to cut you down, and they certainly don't want you to fail at your presentation!
So don't feel bad, don't stress. And above all, try very hard not to stay up ALL night before your presentation running it over and over (unless, of course, you really don't know it). Be good little neuroscientists. We ALL know that a night without sleep doesn't help your presentation, even if it was a night spent preparing. Sleep will help you far more.
So breathe, relax. Trust in yourself. You know your stuff, and you need to believe that you know it. So get a good night's sleep, and go get 'em, neuroscientist!

6 responses so far

SFN: The Salmon Come Home to Spawn

Oct 16 2009 Published by under Academia

Sci got a big project out the door today and is feeling pretty skippy! She wanted to have a few beers to celebrate and write something hilarious about erectile dysfunction, but duty calls! To the SFN blogging! And who says you can't multitask? Beer and SFN happen to go particularly well together.
We're skipping Friday Weird Science this week, in order to begin Sci's graceful swan dive into the morass that is SFN. Sci's been getting lots of email from awesome scientists, and she hopes to show up at their posters! And she's also been getting tweets and emails from people wanting some advice, and she can see why.
SFN is big. Ok, Not as big as Experimental Biology. Or that one Microbiology meeting. But for many neuroscientists, it's easily the biggest meeting we've ever been to, and often, it's also the first. And so, Sci's little heart aches in sympathy when she gets an email like this:

Hi Sci,
This is my first time to a meeting and to SFN.

I specifically would like to socialize with people who are working in my area of research...

I am generally a shy person and I am trying to break the ice this time. Advice on how to make connections and how to find and approach people in my area of research is what I am looking for.
Have you ever attended SFN sponsored socials? Are they useful? What should we expect at a social?
Any general advice to get the most out of the meeting.. It seems like there is a lot and very little time.

I've been there. Believe me. Her first time, Sci felt like a tiny speck in a sea of neuroscience. Or sometimes (depending on crowds) like a salmon swimming the wrong way in the current. But neuro-salmon, we aren't just here to show our flashy pink tummies and research! No, we are here to SPAWN (not literally, well, some people are, I've heard rumors). We are here to network and spawn research ideas, and if we're little grad salmon, we are here to spawn some possible collaborations and post-docs!

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4 responses so far

Blogs Worthy of Note: Edition 5

Oct 15 2009 Published by under Synaptic Misfires

You all know I could never write about blogs I like without hitting this one:

That's right, Drugmonkey.
These bloggers are often controversial, but always interesting. Physioprof and Drugmonkey (or Drugmonkey and Physioprof, or who knows, perhaps DrugPhysioMonkey or PhysiomonkeyDrug, they may be the same person!!!!) provide a lot of cool insight. Not only do you get to read some really interesting stuff on drugs of abuse and politics, you get to read a lot about how life works in academia, how to move up the ladder, how funding and publication works (both the good and bad aspects), and basically all the little things that a grad lemming needs to learn on her way to fame and fortune. I highly recommend their stuff, to least the ins and outs. Also, they're funny. 🙂

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SFN Neuroblogging: Who to Follow

Oct 14 2009 Published by under Academia

So I know it may come as a surprise to all of you, but Sci is not the ONLY person covering this meeting. Though I know I could cover all 15 kabillion presentations and posters my ownself (Sci is VERY fast when on a lot of caffeine), I figure it's best if there are other people there, too. 🙂
The offical list is here, and you should be dropping by the blogs of
Genes to brains to mind to me
Onesci Though I'm not sure what's up with that link...
The shelled walnut, the name of which amuses Sci no end.
Mike Pascoe
and Neuroethics at the core
All good stuff, and all blogging different topics. Sci will be concentrating on a few of her favorite things, like studies on basic concepts, some drugs, some mood disorders, and other disorders like Parkinson's. But she could easily make forays into other things if she finds your poster awesome! So send me your info (let's say by...I don't know...10pm on Friday?), and I'll do my best.
And don't let not being a "neuroblogger" officially stop you from spreading the SFN love! Drugmonkey has a growing list of others who might be blogging and tweeting the meeting. And DM has a habit of finding the coolest stuff (like that $100 electrophysiology setup last year). So check 'em all out. After all, you'll have time, right? Not like you're at the biggest conference of the neuroscience year...

5 responses so far

SFN Neuroblogging: Send Sci Your Info!

Oct 13 2009 Published by under Academia

So yay, Sci's one of the SFN Neurobloggers!!! And this means she will be blogging, every day, about the cool and possibly weird stuff that she sees at the meeting (I hope there will be weird stuff...). Exciting, right?
Of course right!
Well, Sci will be making up her meeting planner in the next few days. She's got a few major themes in mind, but she's open to anything. So if you'd like a special blog post to be all about YOU, email Sci your poster info! Sci might stop by. She might chat you up. And she might be wowed by your totally awesome findings!
So email me your poster info, ya'll know you wanna be famous.

2 responses so far

On the Fist-Bump

Oct 12 2009 Published by under Academia

(This post brought to you by copious amounts of migraine medication and caffeine. I can see through time...) This post is ALSO inspired by a post over at the charming and witty Scribbler50's Behind the Stick. He recently got an awesome writeup and is TOTALLY famous. He deserves every inch of it. Fantastic writer.
Ah, the fist-bump. I saw it approaching in coolness, but it never really made it into its own until the President did it. And now, it's everywhere.

The fist bump heard round the world.

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5 responses so far

Ruth Kirschstein dies

Oct 10 2009 Published by under Academia

Sad news:

Ruth Kirschstein, a trusted advisor and long-time administrator at the National Institutes of Health who helped develop and refine safety tests of viral vaccines for diseases such as rubella, measles, and polio, died last night (Oct. 6) after "battling a long illness," according to the NIH. In 1974, Kirschstein was the first woman to serve as director of an NIH institute -- the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)-- and served as acting NIH director on several occasions. She was 82.

This women is a lab name, mostly because it is in her honor that we have the Ruth Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA), a grant for young investigators of the graduate and post-doctoral variety. Almost every grad student I have ever known has applied for one of these awards, and many have received them. But until now, I never knew who she was. She is clearly an inspiration to an entire generation of scientists. This woman was responsible for many of the vaccine safety standards we enjoy today, most particularly the one used for Polio. This was one incredible women, and I hope that she will continue to affect generations of young scientists. She will be missed.

2 responses so far

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