About a week and a half ago I had the pleasure to join fellow researchers associated with the Carbone Cancer Center at Science Saturday – the monthly outreach event hosted by the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery and the Morgridge Institute for Research. Myself and two other members of my lab helped kids perform a DNA extraction as a hands-on way to teach them about the importance of DNA in human health. In doing this, I learned that strawberries are actually typically octaploid. Instead of having two copies of their genome, like us diploid humans, strawberries actually have 8!
For those that were interested in learning more – we talked more specifically about our research on aneuploidy and chromosomal instability. I have to say, having the opportunity to interact with the public and getting engaging questions about what we do was fantastic and humbling (in cases where my science communication skills were not up to the task). The experience definitely allowed me to develop new methods to communicate my research to a general audience and get the younger generation excited about science!
I learned an interesting word today: Tsundoku (積ん読). It’s a Japanese word that describes the phenomenon for letting reading materials accumulate without being read. I daresay this word perfectly describes my life. This used to be books. Any book. Fantasy, science fiction, philosophy, textbooks – you name it. I wanted it. Borrowing from Mitch Hedberg – I still do, but I used to too. Recently, however, this has manifested in my life as my inability to control the number of research journal articles I save to my Mendeley list. Please send help.
Not much of a post today. I just wanted to share two videos I found recently that highlight the ways in which a couple of scientists tailor their explanations of high-level topics to the needs of their audience – a skill that is fundamental for effective scientific communication.
Let’s face it, reading through a scientific journal article, while enlightening, can be dull. The concise writing is dense and difficult to digest and without the proper training in the subject matter, one can get bogged down by jargon and acronyms and become discouraged and bored. The best written journal articles remain concise but serve to tell the ‘story’ of how a particular result was discovered, but a perfectly drafted ‘story’ takes time which is in such short supply for many researchers. Continue reading Dissecting a Scientific Journal Article