Before we begin, a science thing of note.
Americans for Medical Progress has announced this year’s Hayre Fellows. Over the next year Elizabeth Burnett and Scott Dobrin will work to promote the humane and ethical use of animals in research to the public. According to their website:
Their project, Speaking Honestly – Animal Research Education (SHARE), is designed to guide educators in leading classroom discussions on the humane use of animals in research in an engaging and interactive manner. Teachers will be provided with the necessary tools to discuss the subject employing modern instructional approaches.
Most importantly, rather than championing a specific viewpoint, SHARE will lead students to develop their own opinions based on factual information regarding both animal rights and animal welfare points of view.
In an effort to reach as many educators as possible, Dobrin and Burnett will present and publish data on the methodology and efficacy of this teaching technique, reporting specifically on changes in opinions, attitudes and overall learning.
In addition, they will design a website where lesson plans, video tutorials and the data they have collected can be found, so teachers may create the same educational activity in other classrooms.
I wish Elizabeth and Scott nothing but success. Theirs is a important mission.
But, now on to today’s shenanigans.
I have had the sincere pleasure of getting to meet in person many of my sciblings, former sciblings, and assorted sciencebloggers. It’s always interesting to me to see what people expect me to be like in person. You see, in my mind I see myself like this. The reality, unfortunately, is often more like this:
Video 1: That’s Icy Spicy Leoncie
I’ll never forget meeting Zuska (check out her new digs here) for the first time. I showed up to meet her after 1) getting lost and having to call twice for directions 2) easily 20 minutes late 3) with a white skirt covered in the coffee I had spilled on myself during the drive and 4) having to pee so badly I could barely stand still. The moment she laid eyes on me she said, “Oh, thank God! You’re a total mess!” I could see the relief in her eyes to realize that the domestic and laboratory goddess, although eternally hot, is also painfully mortal.
Unfortunately, embarrassingly mortal.
On Monday I had a research meeting for 9am. I had put this off for a few weeks, but had been contacted several times by a colleague who wanted to meet with me in order to collaborate. Each time I told her that I had too much going on but finally scheduled the meeting for Monday.
But then, at 8am, as I was about to walk out the front door, disaster struck and I had to text her from my iPhone, “Be in at 10:30. Have emergency.”
Now, to most reasonable human beings an abrupt “Have an emergency” email means something like this:
However, my Monday morning emergency looked more like this:
Apparently over the course of the night my new dog Zeek got in to my gym bag and ate a bottle of shampoo. Mr. Isis alerted me to the shampoo bottle and drips of shampoo on the carpet as he was leaving for work. I agreed to stay and clean it up. As I was running the steam cleaner, I began to smell a smell that I can only imagine to be what Satan’s taint smells like. I turned to find my new dog crouched in the corner erupting mounds of horrible, brown flecked bubbles.
I took him outside and it continued – my poor dog transformed into some type of hellish bubble machine. When the bubbles kept coming, wave after terrible wave, I texted my colleague that I had an “emergency.” Frankly, I can think of no greater emergency than a bedroom and backyard covered in shit bubbles.
But, that’s the difference between reality and perception. Reality and perception are not always the same, especially in science. I am currently working on a paper detailing some experiments that we’ve conducted over the last two years. The paper contains a neat little hypothesis and graphs conveniently supporting said hypothesis. Nowhere in the paper is reflected the reality of the failed catheters, the colony of rodents that had to be euthanized because of a housing failure, the first iterations of the experiments that didn’t work because the details weren’t right. All of that happened behind closed doors and no one but the folks in the lab and me will ever know about all of the epic FAILs that went into the successful experiments. Here, the perception and reality are quite different.
But in the blogosphere, the experiments happen transparently. Every success. Every failure. Every argument. Every new friendship. And you get to see it. That makes this place exciting. It also makes it terrifying. Discussions happen at extraordinarily accelerated speeds and failure to engage at the speed of the blogosphere can be interpreted as indifference. I think many of us have to remember that blogging really is an experiment. There is no business model for it. Every endeavor will yield novel data. The real test of any network entity will be what they do with those data.
So, after the events of the last couple weeks, what is the reality of Isis the Scientist?
I’ve had a lot to consider. But, after speaking with Adam Bly today, I get the impression that he is still passionate about trying to continue this conversation and I believe that he is engaging with us, the folks who provide content to the site, in good faith. I think he is vested in seeing this enterprise succeed and in working together collaboratively. I can only take him at his word, and so On Becoming a Domestic and Laboratory Goddess will remain at Scienceblogs. Here, I’ll continue to blog about the practice of being a woman in science. After all, science is culture and all that. If some of the ideas discussed today with the powers that be come to fruition, this could still be a groundbreaking place to watch.
But, I’ve also got to keep this interesting for myself. I think the future for me is going to be bigger than any single place. One thing I have never done well in this space is write about the current trends in physiology and medicine I find interesting. I’d like to start to develop that voice – to share with the public the amazing way the body works in a way not constrained by the tone I’ve set here. I’d also like to experiment with some of the new multimedia tools I find interesting. I don’t know how that will happen yet, or where it will happen. I’ll let you know when and where it does happen.