Call For Social Media Success Stories in Academia
Oct28

Call For Social Media Success Stories in Academia

We’re packing up the world headquarters of Terra Sigillata this afternoon and high-tailing it out to San Jose, California, for the annual meeting of SACNAS – the Society Dedicated to Advancing Hispanics, Chicanos, and Native Americans in Science. It’s a tremendous organization comprised of several of my former students and faculty colleagues from over the years and I’m ecstatic about reconnecting with them. With the initiative of my colleagues – Alberto Roca of MinorityPostdoc.org and Danielle Lee of The Urban Scientist at Scientific American blogs (plus a whole host of online activities) – we pitched and were accepted to present a session on Blogging, Tweeting, & Writing: How an Online Presence Can Impact Science and Your Career. I’ll be discussing how a responsible, online presence on blogs, Twitter, and Facebook can enhance networking opportunities for graduate students, postdocs, and faculty. Specifically, I’ll introduce how I’ve increased the exposure of my students who are RISE Scholars at North Carolina Central University. In this NIGMS-funded grant, I’ve been helping my students capture their research experiences in their own words (with previous review by their P.I.’s of course, to prevent accidental disclosure of unpublished data). The students have been surprised by the level of engagement and support they’ve received in the comments from scientists all around the world. But I know of many other students who use blogs and Twitter to engage with the scientific community in ways that brings them positive recognition outside of their academic and laboratory work. To better prepare for this session, I’d like to gather some advice from you, Dear Reader: Who are some of students, trainees, and junior faculty, who best exemplify the use of social media for career advancement? Are you a student who has had Good Things happen to you because of your social media activities? How did that transpire? If you have any responses, please drop a link in the comments with a brief explanation – or longer if you’d like! And also feel free to recommend the sites and stories of others. I’ll be sure to promote your responses in tomorrow’s talk and direct attendees to this post for future reference. The three of us thank you so much in advance for your...

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Bryostatins: Panacea?
Oct24

Bryostatins: Panacea?

I just had the delightful pleasure of participating in the C&EN Advisory Board meeting late last week. Among the outstanding C&EN writers and editors at the DC headquarters, I got to meet several others who are stationed around the US and the world. One of these new friends based in New Jersey, Bethany Halford, has this week’s C&EN cover story on the marine natural products, the bryostatins. These complex compounds were originally studied for anticancer activities but, as Bethany tells us, are now showing promise in animal models of Alzheimer’s disease. And while Bethany tells us that the first bryozoan source of these compounds was collected in 1968 from Gulf Specimen Co., she resisted the urge to tell us that the company is in Panacea, Florida. (Here’s a definition and etymology of panacea.) Go forth and read. References: Halford, Bethany. Chemical & Engineering News 89(43): 10-17 (24 October 2011) Cover story – The Bryostatins’ Tale Profile on George (Bob) Pettit – Pioneer: Undersea Treasure Hunter Natural product drug development – Drug Development: Taking the Long...

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What does Jonathan Sweedler think of bloggers? #scio12
Oct18

What does Jonathan Sweedler think of bloggers? #scio12

We just learned yesterday from C&EN’s Linda Wang that Dr. Jonathan Sweedler has been named as successor to Dr. Royce Murray as editor of Analytical Chemistry. The next editor-in-chief of Analytical Chemistry will be Jonathan V. Sweedler, James R. Eiszner Professor of Chemistry at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) and director of the Roy J. Carver Biotechnology Center, the American Chemical Society, publisher of the journal, has announced. Sweedler will succeed Royce W. Murray, professor of chemistry at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, who will retire from the journal at the end of this year. Murray has served as editor-in-chief of Analytical Chemistry since 1991. Sweedler, currently an associate editor of the journal, will take over the position on Jan. 1, 2012. Regular readers of Analytical Chemistry have grown accustomed to Dr. Murray’s colorful and lively editorials in each issue. Discussion of one of these, on the “phenomenon” of science bloggers as a serious concern to scientists (“Science Blogs and Caveat Emptor”), was my most highly-read and commented post since we joined CENtral Science. Since the international science communication conference ScienceOnline has been held annually in Dr. Murray’s backyard, we issued an invitation for him to attend last year. We thought that if he could meet these science bloggers, many of whom are practicing sciences and top-tier science journalists, he might learn how positive this community could be for the advocacy of our discipline. He politely declined. But with him stepping down as editor-in-chief on December 31st, perhaps he might have more time to join us this year when ScienceOnline2012 is held at the North Carolina State University ‘s McKimmon Center on January 19-21, 2012. In the meantime, we’d love to hear what Dr. Sweedler thinks of this blogging...

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Supporting chemistry education in public schools
Oct13

Supporting chemistry education in public schools

Dear beloved, good-looking, and erudite readers of Terra Sigillata, Our blog is once again participating in a drive for DonorsChoose, an online charity established to fund small, public schoolteacher-initiated projects that are not otherwise supported by their school districts. The annual DonorsChoose Blogger Challenge – Science Bloggers for Students – is a friendly competition among blogs and blog networks to use their reach to put our collective money where our mouths are. As public school budgets are cut and cut, we have to maintain the quality of scientific experiences for our young people. Your generosity can help! How does it work? You click on my donor challenge, “Chemistry With Kroll,” or on the graphic above. You see projects that I have selected to represent for our annual drive. You choose to donate a few doubloons to a project or two that move you (i.e., donors choose, get it?). No donation is too small (Okay, $1 is the smallest). When the project is funded, fulfilled, and executed, you get feedback from the teachers and students – pictures and notes that I challenge you to not bring a tear to your eye. Not all of these projects are for science directly; some are to fund just the basic tools needed to get teachers to a point where they can teach science. Most are in high poverty areas of my home state of North Carolina but I’ve added a few others from around the country. I’d love for you to support my projects but please feel free to donate to any project anywhere on the DonorsChoose site! I’ve participated in this project in 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009 (click years to see my previous giving pages). You fine people have given almost $14,000 to support 39 projects that have reached 4,100 students. Pretty amazing for a little blog effort, eh?   Heartiest thanks and accolades for physical chemist, philosopher, and ethicist, Prof. Janet W. Stemwedel, for getting the ball rolling on this effort way back in the summer of 2006. Here’s her post for this year explaining the whole blogger challenge. And if you care to tweet about this, Janet has established the hashtag...

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On journalists copy-checking with scientist sources
Oct12

On journalists copy-checking with scientist sources

Should science journalists solicit scientist sources to fact-check article content prior to publication? Or do scientists have no more right to do so than, say, politicians previewing the latest criticism of their policies. I have to admit that I had not quite anticipated the magnitude of interest in these questions when I first wrote about the topic in late September at my Take As Directed blog on the PLoS Blogs network. The backstory: I had been watching an episode of Vincent Racaniello’s excellent netcast, This Week in Virology (TWiV), from the the International Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (ICAAC) in mid-September. The first 35 minutes saw Vincent and Rich Condit turn the tables to interview Chicago Tribune science and medical reporter, Trine Tsouderos. Trine is perhaps best-known of late for her coverage of the faulty link between XMRV and chronic fatigue syndrome as well as the suspension of Dr. Mark Geier, a physician using a chemical castration drug to treat people with autism. Trine mentioned in the interview that she often runs passages of complex science from her articles past the scientists she had interviewed for the piece. She doesn’t do so for approval or in any way to affect the tone of her writing but rather to be sure that she has interpreted the scientific findings accurate (my words, not hers). The post was tweeted over 100 times and accumulated 110 comments from some of the top names in science journalism. A follow-up post asking for scientist’s to comment on their experiences brought further widespread interest. By and large, most journalists agreed that very cautious pre-publication consultation with scientist sources was acceptable and often necessary, but with the ground rules well-articulated in advance. Others held that fact-checking is best done by interviewing a third-party not involved in the study being reported, a practice I see often, particularly for embargoes articles that give the writer enough advance time to conduct the interviews. A vocal minority held that a journalist should never ever run any content past a scientist interview subject. The Guardian discussions Shortly thereafter, the science desk at the Guardian hosted an op-ed by chief online editor for Nature, Ananyo Bhattacharya, who strongly supported this minority viewpoint. Aptly entitled, Scientists should not be allowed to copy-check stories about their work, Ananyo suggests that the story suffers particularly in the case of highly controversial topics. Guardian writer and blogger Martin Robbins pointed out in the comments that scientists can often be as ego- and spin-driven as political figures. Yesterday, the Guardian hosted a counterpoint view from Drs. Petroc Sumner, Frederic Boy, and Chris Chambers from the School of Psychology...

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