Project SEED student having a sweet summer
Jun30

Project SEED student having a sweet summer

One of the lovely pleasures I have as a prof is serving as principal investigator of a NIH-funded program to encourage students from underrepresented backgrounds to pursue doctoral training in the biomedical and behavioral sciences. As one aim of the project to encourage student writing skills and engagement with the public and scientific communities, we keep a blog over at the Scientopia network, NCCU Eagles RISE, to chronicle the progress of these wonderful young folks. Today, NCCU rising sophomore Victoria Jones holds forth on her current research experience at the Penn State Medical Center at Hershey. Why do I write about Victoria here? Well, she is a product of the ACS Project SEED program (Summer Research Internship Program for Economically Disadvantaged High School Students). Project SEED, especially here in North Carolina, is a remarkable cultivation program for high school students to pursue research. The level at which these students perform frankly blows me away, regardless of their background. In terms of presentation skills and depth of understanding of their project, I will put a Project SEED student – high school kids, folks – up at the level of any junior or senior college research student, even at the Research I institution where I started my career. I recently judged science presentations from these students and I’d love to have had some of our first-year graduate students see the poise with which these students answered questions after their presentations. While I’m singing the praises of Project SEED students who’ve come to my U, let me also provide you with a link to an essay by Melony Ochieng. This former Project SEED student wrote about her experiences as a travel award recipient for the American Association for Cancer Research meeting in Orlando this past April. Melony won a third-place award from among the 70+ presenters. Yes, yes, yes – like many professions, being a prof is a thankless business. However, we are often touched by gold and have the opportunity to participate in the development of some truly remarkable young people. When I think back about Christine Herman’s exercise the other day on working on what you are passionate about, I realize that helping young people achieve their dreams is what I’m all...

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Go. Dream. Read.

I thought I’d get a real blogpost up before getting on a plane to Chicago today. Alas, not. In the meantime, have you been reading the Just Another Electron Pusher blog across the masthead here at CENtral Science? You must. Seriously. Since Leigh Krietsch Boerner left us for greener pastures, Christine Herman and Glen Ernst have been destroying it like a boss. Go do this dream exercise as Christine suggests. And do play the video to learn about white blood cells – and see her dance! Then, go congratulate Glen on his rescue from an involuntary hiatus. Then, tonight, sit down with a glass of wine and read Christine’s profile of Kawal Tandon, a wine industry chemist. And a hearty “well-done” to our benevolent overlord and C&EN Online Editor, Rachel Pepling, at the home office for putting together these two, fabulous writers to capture life in chemistry from graduate student to formerly-unemployed mid-career...

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More on LGBT in the workplace
Jun26

More on LGBT in the workplace

Well, I sure picked a great week to revisit Linda Wang’s feature in the May 23rd issue of C&EN. Just in time for our Diversity in Science blog carnival focused on LGBT issues in the STEM disciplines, New York became the most populous state to legalize same-sex marriage. The second bit of news this week is a report released by the Center for Work-Life Policy on “the loss to individuals and to the bottom line when organizations fail to create a workplace hospitable to their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees.” The report entitled, “The Power of ‘Out’,” is featured in the July/August issue of Harvard Business Review. You can read the full press release here as a PDF but here are a few main points thanks to my colleague, Pam Spaulding, at Pam’s House Blend: The data, based on a survey of 2,952 respondents, show the consequences when LGBT employees are forced to keep their lives and loved ones a secret from colleagues. Among the findings: •       This is a highly desirable labor pool: ambitious (71%), committed (88% are willing to go the extra mile for employers) and better educated (48% of LGBT respondents have graduate degrees versus 40% of their straight counterparts). Despite a rise in anti-discrimination protections for LGBT employees, 48 percent of LGBT survey respondents reported being closeted at work. Staying in the closet has huge consequences. Those who are out flourish at work, while those who are in the closet languish or leave. •       LGBT employees who are not out reported significantly greater feelings of being stalled in their careers and greater dissatisfaction with their rates of promotion and advancement. •       LGBT employees who are not out are 40 percent less likely to trust their employer than those who are out. •       Employees who remain closeted and isolated are 73 percent more likely to leave their companies within the next three years. This is a group with economic clout and loyalty to gay friendly brands. A recent study estimates the LGBT community’s collective buying power at more than $700 billion in the U.S. alone. This is a constituency with economic firepower companies should not ignore. Of note to ACS members and our other readers is that one of the major funders of the study was Boehringer Ingelheim USA. And if you haven’t yet read Linda Wang’s stories on LGBT initiatives by the ACS, here are some easy links to them in the May 23, 2011 issue of C&EN: Coming Out in the Chemical Sciences ACS Creates a New Subdivision for Gay & Transgender Chemists and...

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On being a teenager with high-powered science & medicine parents

Yes, folks, today we have a major exclusive – what I believe is the first interview with Monica Berg, daughter of outgoing National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) Director, Jeremy Berg, PhD, and breast cancer imaging expert, Wendie Berg, MD, PhD. A little background: we wrote about Dr. Berg back in April after he had received a 2011 American Chemical Society Public Service Award in a ceremony on Capitol Hill (C&EN article here). The gentleman that he is, he wrote to thank me and we had a bit of a discussion about the family’s pending move to Pittsburgh. Wendie was recruited to the University of Pittsburgh and Jeremy was named associate senior vice chancellor for science strategy and planning for their School of Health Sciences. As detailed in this very nice University of Pittsburgh Medical Center press release from December 2010: In moving to Pittsburgh, Dr. Berg is supporting the professional aspirations of his wife, Wendie A. Berg, M.D., Ph.D., an influential imaging expert who led a major clinical trial investigating the roles of ultrasound and MRI as adjuncts to mammography in breast cancer screening. She will join the Department of Radiology, School of Medicine, as a professor in March 2011. Britt Erickson has a nice article in the current issue of C&EN on Berg’s NIGMS legacy but it is currently firewalled to non-ACS members (sorry!). Despite his amazing leadership of NIGMS and its $2 billion research and education portfolio, author and editor of Stryer’s Biochemistry, and still actively publishing, Jeremy has also been engaged with the scientific blogosphere. His insights on research funding trends and analysis of NIGMS grants data are often shared on the blog of my neuroscience colleague, DrugMonkey, where Jeremy is also found as a commenter. When the announcement of the Berg family’s relocation came out, Drug wrote: Many of us are in dual-professional and even dual-academic partnerships these days. There are struggles and compromises that are almost as varied as the number of couples involved. Here’s a member of a partnership taking what looks, to all appearances, like a bit of a downgrade in support of professional opportunities for his spouse. No matter what the variety of reasons in their household, this has good optics. Another classy bit of legacy that Berg brings to the table. We folks often speak far and wide about the job and life challenges for us as couples and parents. But in my exchanges with Jeremy and a chance mention that his daughter had accompanied him to the Capitol ceremony, I realized that we tend to never hear from the children of these dual-professional families. And as I sat...

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“Alex, I’ll take ‘Public Chemistry Literacy’ for $1,000”
Jun21

“Alex, I’ll take ‘Public Chemistry Literacy’ for $1,000”

Trebeck: “Okay, Public Chemistry Literacy for $1,000. . .” “The answer is, ‘Absolutely nothing.'” Ding! Contestant: What things on Planet Earth are “chemical-free”? Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Tonight in the United States (and maybe even in Canada), the legendary game show, Jeopardy!, will be dedicated to questions on chemistry in celebration of 2011 as the International Year of Chemistry. Here are the details from the IYC website: Jeopardy!, one of North America’s leading syndicated game shows, will feature questions related to chemistry and IYC in an episode airing in the United States and Canada on June 21, 2011. With its 9 million daily viewers, Jeopardy! provides the perfect venue for publicizing the IYC’s message – to celebrate chemistry and the contributions that it makes to society, and to increase the interest and public appreciation of chemistry. Watch Jeopardy! on June 21 and play along with the contestants to test your knowledge of chemistry. The show can be viewed in the United States on ABC-TV (check local listings for air times in your area). And for those of you playing along at home, @CASChatter will be live-tweeting beginning at 7:30 pm EDT. Perhaps I shall as...

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