On Admitting Defeat and Prioritizing

I have a confession to make. I am really, really good at hatching ideas and starting projects, but I am only mediocre at seeing them through to completion. This is most evident in areas of my life that have little to no impact on anyone other than myself (I’m looking at you, all my half-finished knitting projects!), because I have made a conscious effort to learn tools and strategies to overcome this affliction in my professional life.

Sometimes, though….

When do you admit defeat? Photo credit: Richard Stebbing via Flicker

When do you admit defeat? Photo credit: Richard Stebbing via Flickr

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Tuesday Top Ten – April 1st, 2014

I realize that this week’s post falls on April Fool’s Day, but I promise, no trickery here! Just some good reading. Have suggestions for Tuesday Top Ten? Let me know.

Tuesday Top Ten

10. Not cool, SELF Magazine. There’s a lesson in here somewhere about working with the press, but the press should also be upfront about their intentions. Via NBC Chicago. (FYI there is a video news clip that plays as well when you click the link)

9. Investigative journalists, watch out! Some tips on how to navigate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, from Neiman Journalism Lab.

8. Another news clip for you (from CNN), along with some great advice: simply by switching the font on official documents, the U.S. Government could save $476 MILLION, annually. Who’s giving out this advice? A 14-year-old aspiring researcher!

7. Did you hear this week that the word “Yooper” was added to the dictionary? The Guardian has a list of 8 other words that infiltrated the lexicon over time, and some of them will surprise you!

6. Speaking of the word “Yooper,” for the uninitiated, this article on MyNorth.com will help explain the what, how, and why behind it’s addition to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary. For those of you who are familiar with “The UP,” definitely click for the pasty cartoon 😉

5. Ohmygosh adorable! Did you know The Washington Post has an annual “Peeps Show” contest? Entrants create and submit photos of dioramas made with Peeps marshmallow candies.

4. I enjoy hoppy beers, so I was intrigued by this MedCity News article about a new drug to treat type-II diabetes derived from the traditional beer-flavoring agent.

3. I was not aware of this, but apparently you can be detained or imprisoned if you contract tuberculosis and refuse treatment. Yikes. The Last Word on Nothing discusses the details.

2. For every scientist who has tried (fruitlessly) to repeat another group’s published results, this will hit home. ResearchGate is the forum for “live-blogging” (sort-of) your attempts to replicate studies. One scientist has brought a lot of attention to a new way to generate stem cells through ResearchGate. Via Science Insider.

1. People of European descent process and store certain types of fats, and new research shows this ability came from the Neandertals. Via Science NOW.

Tuesday Top Ten – March 25th, 2014

Welcome back! I hope you enjoyed your vacation (I sure did) and are ready for more links! Have suggestions for Tuesday Top Ten? Let me know.

Tuesday Top Ten

10. As a knitter, I have definitely been tempted by the call for penguin sweaters. However, the rescue agency has all the sweaters they need, despite continued passing of the link around the internet. Via The Last Word on Nothing.

9. Facebook is making good on their threat to decrease traffic to business pages. Make sure to change the settings on the pages you like! Via TIME.

8. Could improv classes help you be a better communicator? Stony Brook University is teaching scientists how to use improv skills to better their abilities to give a research presentation.

7. Back-to-back colds are likely caused by two different strains of the virus, says The Wall Street Journal.

6. This one caught my eye, as remipedes are native to the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. I didn’t see any while I was there, but then again, I didn’t dive in any caves.

5. The FIFA World Cup is having trouble with their plan to test for performance enhancing drugs this summer, and this article from The Wall Street Journal lays out some of the major problems they are facing.

4. Nature Jobs Blog talks about “selling” science – what do you think?

3. Next time you see a flock of pigeons, check out their coloring. There may be more dark pigeons because they have an evolutionary advantage, says Science NOW.

2. Did you celebrate Pi day? My workplace had a Pi Day Pie Party!

1. Finally, a great tongue-in-cheek humor piece from The Science Writers’ Handbook about “email fails” and how to avoid them.

Tuesday Top Ten – March 11th, 2014

Next week, Tuesday Top Ten will be taking a short break due to some other pressing matters. That means you’ll have to enjoy this week’s links TWICE as MUCH, so I conveniently doubled up on a couple! Don’t forget to leave your comments on these articles at the bottom of the post. Have suggestions for Tuesday Top Ten? Let me know.

Tuesday Top Ten

10. This was sad to read, but not entirely surprising. The number of NIH-funded scientists dropped this year, says Science Insider.

9. Science Shot covered an interesting study that found not all people experience pleasure from listening to music. The research group even made a quiz that you can take to see if you’re a music appreciator (I am, but that was the result I expected).

8. A man with ambitions to be a professional drummer lost his arm, so a researcher kindly made him a new one. This is no ordinary prosthetic – it’s got super drumming powers! Via New Scientist.

7. Nature Jobs Blog had some great tips on how to make your resume and CV stand out.

6. The Science Writers’ Handbook wrote a summary on an incredibly fascinating story – the ghost writer behind the unauthorized autobiography of WikiLeaks mastermind Julian Assange. The full article reads more like a novel, but a gripping one at that. A candid account of how the autobiography became “unauthorized.”

5. “A blood test for Alzheimer’s disease?” The Science NOW headline says it all.

4. I’ve been saying this for years, and now Nature Jobs Blog is agreeing with me: Scientist should be more active on social media.

3. A follow up to the link last week about high-protein diets: The Wall Street Journal digs deeper into the problems associated with high-protein diets.

2. Can you train your brain to like healthy food? Scientists have shown they can train you to prefer certain junk foods over others, so healthy foods are just one more step away! Via Science NOW.

1. With impending drug trials for Down syndrome and Fragile X, doctors are looking into how the intellectually disabled can understand the risks and benefits of enrolling in clinical trials. Via The Wall Street Journal

Tuesday Top Ten – March 4th, 2014

Readers, I apologize. I neglected to publish this post Tuesday! I hope you’ll forgive and forget, and enjoy the links below.

Tuesday Top Ten

10. This 107-year-old woman got fired from a summer job in 1924, learning several years later that this potentially saved her health and her life. Via The Courant.

9. A ranked list of America’s “Top 99 Problems.” This should be good.

8. Ever seen a bicycle-tricycle hybrid? Science NOW investigates this odd contraption.

7. As if you needed another reason to drop cable: your cable box may also be driving up your electricity bill! Read more at The Last Word on Nothing.

6. A new insight into the growth of pancreatic cancer, gleaned from studying tumor cells’ metabolism, just might be its undoing. The New Scientist reports.

5. An interesting app for recording phone conversations! Tape A Call – reviewed by The Science Writers’ Handbook Blog.

4. Send your kids to summer “Disease Detective” camp with the CDC! Sounds more fun than the engineering camp I went to as a young girl…

3. Two new controversial nutrition studies suggest that cutting protein intake may be the key to living a long and healthy life. Via Science NOW.

2. I had an article published this week! I looked into the scientific side of Seasonal Affective Disorder for ASBMB Today.

1. An interesting piece in the New York Times on Tilapia, the “perfect farmed fish.”

Tuesday Top Ten – February 24th, 2014

This week, I found some great links! As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on any of these articles, so be sure to leave your comments below. Have suggestions for Tuesday Top Ten? Let me know.

Tuesday Top Ten

10. As you may know from my “editing services” page, I am a contract editor with Edanz Group China. The COO of Edanz, Benjamin Shaw, was interviewed  by Against the Grain about Edanz and the role of editing services in peer-reviewed publishing – a must read for any academic scientist!

9. Making use of old railway tracks in Cambodia using bamboo trains = ingenious. Via The Wall Street Journal.

8. Should bloggers be offered the same legal rights as journalists? In the age of online news, who should be considered “media?” The Columbia Journalism Review discusses this important issue.

7. An illustrated explanation of the recent deal between Netflix and Comcast, and what it means for us, the consumers of their products. Via The Washington Post.

6. A secret operation to smuggle Mali’s treasured historical artifacts to safety, as reported by Smithsonian.com.

5. “Why Nutrition is So Confusing,” by The New York Times. A look at the science of nutrition, and what it all means for us, the consumers of fad diets and trendy superfoods.

4. Attention, men and women of the armed forces! Scientists are getting closer to developing PIZZA for MREs! Hooray! The Washington Post investigates.

3. Olympic athletes are scooping up the stray dogs in Sochi, bringing them home as newly-adopted pets. While this is great, remember that there’s a lot of amazing pets to adopt right here in the U.S., too (I have two – they’re great office-mates while I’ve been working at home). Via The Wall Street Journal.

2. Another example of a female scientist who may have deserved more credit for a discovery made by her male counterparts, this time: Down syndrome (via Science NOW).

1. Custom medical jewelry? Pretty cool! A former teacher of mine wore this kind of bling to help with her arthritis, but it seems as though patients can use them to manage a variety of conditions. Via Boing Boing.

Introducing: Tuesday Top Ten

Tuesday Top Ten will be a new weekly feature on this website’s blog! Read on to learn more about how and why I’m starting this series.

Tuesday Top Ten

It probably does not come as a surprise that I enjoy learning. Humans are naturally curious, and scientists are exceptionally curious. In graduate school, there would be times when I sat in a particularly engaging lecture or discussion with my lab group and paused to think how awesome it was that it was literally my job to be there, soaking up information and feeding my quest for new knowledge.

This love of learning can sometimes be a double-edged sword when it comes to surfing the internet. Brief visits to my blogroll or to Facebook can sometimes result in getting side-tracked by a cool article, and a quick Google search can spiral out of control into several hours spent reading about a topic. That being said, I often find really awesome, unique news stories that I wish to share. Not wanting to bombard my Facebook friends and Twitter followers with an insane amount of links, I have decided to summarize the ten best articles I find each week into a list, published on this blog, and let you, my readers, discover new and interesting articles on your own time.

I know many bloggers provide such features, and I always enjoy seeing the links that others stumble across on the web. I hope this feature becomes a part of your weekly routine. Let me know if you have any suggestions or articles you think I should share. Here’s my inaugural Tuesday Top Ten list – enjoy!

10. Last week, AAAS hosted their annual meeting in Chicago. This little blurb about the link between fungi and daguerreotypes caught my eye – wish I could have been there for the researcher’s talk!

9. What do Leonardo DaVinci, evolution, and hernias have in common? This article from Slate has the answer.

8. Some theories on why writers are the worst procrastinators (via The Atlantic). I can identify.

7. Is is better to have more science coverage, or better quality reporting of science? I side with The Washington Post editor interviewed in this article, but what do you think?

6. A double! Two articles, posted on NASW, discussing the use of the Oxford comma. I’m a proponent, FYI.

5. Think that being a freelance writer will give you more freedom (or free time)? That may not be the case, as explained by Noah Berlatsky in Salon.

4. Can making a contract with a friend up your productivity? Oh, and the utility of owl-shaped timers. Published on the blog at The Science Writers’ Handbook.

3. The Smithsonian Magazine talks about the science behind “the munchies.”

2. The legalization of marijuana in several states has led to an uptick in news articles about use of the drug. This article from The New York Times provides a comparison of drunk driving vs. driving while stoned, and discusses which causes more of a danger to those on the road.

1. Finally, how a medical device engineer ended up creating the most unusual, nerdy, awesome tool for drinking wine. Hint: you can drink from a bottle without removing the cork! Unusually good reporting from Buzzfeed.

#dailydeskwork Photo Journaling – Join Me!


In honor of today, which marks the start of my 3rd month working from home as a writer and editor, I’m starting an Instagram and Twitter hashtag, #dailydeskwork. Every day this month, I’ll post a picture of my workspace using that hashtag, and I’d love for you to join me! No matter if you work from in an office, in a lab, from home, or on-the-go, post your best shot of your daily work environment from now until February 21st.

If you just want to follow along, you can subscribe to my Twitter and Instagram feeds, and search the hashtag #dailydeskwork to see others’ pictures!

Happy (and productive) Workday, everyone!

Building a Professional Network: My experience thus far

If you’re a business-minded person, you might find this post a little basic, but learning to network has been one of my main focuses (and biggest challenges) since graduating at the end of November. This is a little post about my experience, and maybe it will inspire and bring hope to some other struggling scientist trying to find a career outside of academic research.

Networking is challenging, but ultimately worth your time.

In graduate school, I tried to prepare myself for leaving academic science from the moment I identified that my career goals pointed elsewhere. I went to all the free seminars, all the career development discussion panels, all the career fairs. I spoke with people whose jobs I admired and tried to get advice and information. I thought I was soooo prepared. I was not.

I applied for job after job, searching the online postings and having daily email alerts from various job boards clutter my inbox to the tune of 25 messages per day. I had an entire folder on my desktop devoted to resumes and cover letters, and I spent hours each day writing, re-writing, submitting, and agonizing over why I had yet to hear back. I got attached to certain job posts only to get an email saying that they decided to pass me over in favor of other candidates. After months of this, my scientist instinct told me, “Hey, this experiment is not working. This experiment will not work. You need to find another way to get your desired result.”

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Advocating Science: It’s Our Job

Every year during the holidays, scientists the world over are leaving their lab-caves and venturing out into the real world to interact with friends, family, and the general public. They’re lured away from experiments, grants, manuscripts by the promise of parties, food, and fun.

How will you share science this holiday season?

Inevitably, there comes the moment when they are asked by a non-scientist, “So, what exactly is it that you study?” *SCREEEEEECH* Stop. This is a crucial moment! Before you answer, consider the following three scenarios:

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