Networking for Scientists Part I: How I Learned to Talk to Strangers

When thinking about career opportunities in science (and in any field really), solid networking skills can be the key factor in determining where and how you’ll be spending your next holiday.  Networking breaks down into two parts: small talk/meeting people and establishing/maintaining job-relevant connections.  Neither of these things are rocket science, but can be particularly difficult depending on your personality. I realized early on that if I wanted to stay up on the latest, unpublished results, if I wanted to find out what other labs were working on, or if I wanted to know who was looking to fill a position before it was listed, I would need to master this skill.  It took lots of practice, but I now consider myself pretty darn good at this networking thing.  I even used the same strategies I used in the science world to build a network in the local music scene and it worked!  In this post, the first of two parts, I will address small talk. Continue reading “Networking for Scientists Part I: How I Learned to Talk to Strangers”

Loneliness Can Wreak Havoc with Your Health, but More Than 372 Friends on Facebook Doesn’t Mean a Longer, Better Life

Image of a crowd.
A large group but some still lonely.

Research over the past several years has shown that loneliness can be hazardous to your health.

As an introvert, I’ve struggled to square this news with my occasional preference for time alone over, say a party with 250 of my closest friends.

We introverts may spend more time alone than would an extrovert, but that does not make introverts lonely. Now John Cacioppo, a social psychologist at the University of Chicago has described more precisely the aspects of isolation that may cause health concerns, as well as the biological mechanisms responsible for negative health effects due to loneliness. In an article in Science, recently, Greg Miller reviewed Cacioppo’s work. We learn here that it’s the experience of loneliness that can be negative, as opposed to the number of social contacts a person has. Continue reading “Loneliness Can Wreak Havoc with Your Health, but More Than 372 Friends on Facebook Doesn’t Mean a Longer, Better Life”

Introverts Aging, Gracefully

The recent article (June 18, 2009; 1) entitled “Life Force Linked to Body’s Ability to Withstand Stress” caught my attention. Always interested in ways to live a longer, healthier, lower-stress life,  I thought this research might provide a path to nonagenarian status.

The second sentence began “Especially in aging women …” . Right, I aspire to someday make “aging woman” status. It continued “ …low levels of the personality trait extraversion may signal that blood levels of a key inflammatory molecule have crossed over a threshold linked to a doubling of risk of death within five years.” In simpler terms, the results showed that persons with low extroverted tendencies (introverts) had higher levels of a marker for inflammation, and thus a greater risk of death.

Hold the phone! Could my dream of living beyond my grandparents’ lifespan (or at least to make my final house payment) be dashed simply because I’m an introvert? Continue reading “Introverts Aging, Gracefully”