When School is just a Memory: Science after Graduation

Happy graduation! Whether you graduated last week or twenty years ago, the experience is roughly the same. As soon as you arrive on the far side of the stage, empty diploma folder under your arm, hand still sticky from the Dean’s sweaty handshake, the reality of post-academic life sets in. Perhaps grad school is on the horizon for some and others might be busy prepping for med school. For some of us, though, our years of formal education end after four and we run off to rejoice in our newfound freedom. No more exams, group projects, late nights writing papers, disapproving professors, supervisors and mentors – done with that life forever! We didn’t even bother with the GRE, MCAT, LSAT or a single “Why [insert school]” essay. Now it’s off to enjoy the Real World, which will definitely be better than college.

I’ve found, in my one year of post-college life, that sometimes you can miss academic life. You’ll occasionally look back and think, “I didn’t know how good I had it.” In particular, those of us with a pure love of learning can find ourselves unsatisfied with our prospective learning opportunities or lack thereof. We spent college soaking up mountains of knowledge–and not just from textbooks. University life gives you access to free talks from eminent thought leaders, unrestricted access to myriad scientific journals, and plenty of people around who are eager to argue about that day’s lecture in Cell Biology or Neuroscience. After college, it’s tough to fill that void.

I work at Promega (obviously), a biotech company, so I still have access to journals and there are plenty of brilliant scientists around me. However, I’m still looking for more opportunities to learn and grow. I may be out of school, but the love of science never goes away. Here are a few of my tips for everyone receiving their hard-earned science degree this spring.

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Can’t Go to A Conference? Try Following the #Hashtag

Members of an audience at a scientific conference may tweet what they hear or see, and because these messages are free and open, it has the potential to reach anyone, anywhere in the world. This has profound implications for the communication of science, enabling discovery, discussion, teaching, and learning outside of the confines of the conference itself. Image credit for globe: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center on Flickr. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1003789.g001

Members of an audience at a scientific conference may tweet what they hear or see, and because these messages are free and open, it has the potential to reach anyone, anywhere in the world.
This has profound implications for the communication of science, enabling discovery, discussion, teaching, and learning outside of the confines of the conference itself. Image credit for globe: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center on Flickr.
doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1003789.g001

AAAS included a session on social media at the 2015 annual meeting. This year the #AACR15 stream was so busy, by the time I finished reading a tweet that piqued my interest, it had almost scrolled off the bottom of my feed–a bit like an agarose gel that was running too fast. Scientists are connecting with other scientists on forums like reddit to discuss cloning strategies and transfection issues, and the Global Biological Standards Institute (GBSI) is running a huge campaign to educate life scientists about cell line authentication (#authenticate) through social media.

Social media have decidedly entered the science mainstream with attendees at meetings posting to twitter and Facebook from their Instagram accounts, societies setting up multiple hastags for meetings and popular sessions, and journals tracking not  just the “old-fashioned” Impact Factor, but rather social media shares, comments, retweets and likes of articles. Increasingly social media are the impact factors in science communication.

Live tweeting at meetings is rapidly becoming a way that hot topics are being disseminated far beyond the limited reach of the presentation room at the conference center, and PLOS One recently published an article by Ekins and Perlstein that provides guidance to meeting organizers and attendees for live tweeting events. The article talks about what a hashtag is and how it is used. It is great for novices or experienced social media users who might have missed that one particular twitter abbreviation, but the authors go beyond the technical aspects of tweeting to discuss the promise and potential of reaching a global audience with the leading edge science that is presented at scientific conferences and the richness that can be gained by bringing more people into the discussion.

Have you ever “live tweeted” a talk or event or followed a live tweet stream? Do you have a favorite  scientist “live tweeter” that you follow? Let us know in the comment section below. How are you, as a scientist, using social media?

 

 

 

Articles, Blog Posts, Tweets, New Products and One Page to See Them All

If you are like me, there are just not enough hours in the day. The list of things that I need to get done regularly out distances the time I have to do them in. Keeping up with my favorite blogs, staying in tune with things on twitter and staying on top of new product and features often fall by the wayside because it takes so much time to go to all those pages and find the content I want.

Recently we updated the Promega PubHub page on our website with the hopes that it will help you use the time you spend visiting the PubHub page more efficiently. In addition to latest technical articles from Promega, useful lab facts and the ever-popular cartoons, we now offer a live feed of our Promega Connections Blog posts, tweets from @Promega and a list of new products.

PubHub2

We know that your time is valuable, and if you are interested in the articles and more from Promega, there is now one page to see it all.

#Overlyhonestmethods

Frustrated scientistThis week @dr_leigh started a highly popular Twitter hashtag #overlyhonestmethods that has brought hundreds of scientists across the globe out of the proverbial Twitter woodwork. Some of us here at Promega Connections have been reliving our bench science careers and following the hashtag with great interest. Someone will call out a new post to the hashtag, and we will chuckle and start telling stories of our research careers. It’s amazing the things I am learning about my colleagues. Scientists are careful and detail-oriented folks, but the practice of science on a daily basis can be frustrating, especially when you come in the next day to find that none of your colonies grew or that you forgot to add the Taq to your PCR. This hashtag has been a delightful, fun way for scientists around the world to connect, express their common frustruations and laugh a little before returning to the serious work at hand. Continue reading

When I Grow Up, I Want To Write #PewPew Hashtags

Artist’s rendering of Curiosity using its ChemCam. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

I’m not generally a space nut, but I do get a huge kick out of the work we’ve done to put rovers on Mars. I’ve felt pride and loneliness on behalf of the earlier rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, and cheered the unexpected longevity of their missions. They always felt so plucky and can-do; sort of a robotic extension of the American spirit on a daunting new frontier. Who’s a cute little robot pioneer doing incredibly valuable scientific exploration? You are! YOU ARE!

Earlier this month, hours after Mars Curiosity navigated it’s “seven minutes of terror” and successfully landed on the Red Planet, I laid in bed, having just soothed my daughter back to sleep. All that soothing had had the opposite effect on me: I was wide awake. I decided to try to wind myself back down by staring at the small illuminated screen on my phone and catching up on some tweets. What can I say? It makes me drowsy every…single…time…zzzzzzz. As I scrolled through my Twitter feed, I saw tweet after tweet from my friends and connections heralding the latest interplanetary achievement by NASA. Curiosity was on the ground! Successfully! They did it! The mood was nothing less than jubilant and awestruck, and I found myself getting completely sucked in. Yeah, this WAS super cool! I mean, we built a SKY CRANE? There was a guy with a MOHAWK? Whooo-hoo! USA! USA! USA! Continue reading

Under the Weather? Twitter Knew Over a Week Ago

I’m not feeling very well today, which stinks because it’s Friday and I had some really fun plans tonight. Instead, I’ll probably end up staying home for a quiet night with my husband and daughter and some takeout food, and an early night to bed. I’m not complaining too much, though, because let’s be honest, you enjoy those quiet nights when you have a one-year-old toddler! But a recent article in New Scientist makes me wonder if, had I been paying close enough attention to Twitter, I could maybe have known over a week ago that I would’ve been under the weather today, and save me from having to tell all my girlfriends I’m probably pooping out on them tonight. Continue reading

Networking for Scientists Part III: Tips and Tricks for Online Social Networks

It’s 2012. Odds are you’re on a social networking site. And if you’re not, you need to be! At least for your job search. There are two kinds of social networkers: those who post every tiny detail that happens in their lives and those who do not. For the job search, you want to be somewhere in the middle. How you tailor your online profiles is very important. While you can keep the most stringent privacy settings, you never know who you know and you never know who will see what you post. An often overlooked fact about the internet that you should always remember is that everything you post is public! Always expect that potential employers WILL Google you.

That said, social networking can be a very powerful tool for the job search. Continue reading

Fascinating evolutions and a juicy confession

2009 New York Film Critic's Circle AwardsI have a confession. Please don’t tell my husband, but I have a crush. I am head-over-heels in love with…words and language. Boy, that feels good to get off my chest. What, did you think I was going to confess I was dating George Clooney or something? I already tried that, but he was just so clingy.

This luscious lexical love affair has gone on since I was probably two, and I’m still smitten. I’ve always been the “word girl.” No joke, they tested me in kindergarten and I apparently had a fifth grade reading level and seventh grade vocabulary. My parents and teacher sat me down and asked me how I’d feel about skipping the first grade and I stopped brushing my Barbie’s hair and said, “That’s a fascinating proposition, let me ruminate on it and I’ll get back to you.” Continue reading