Airports,… and more airports.

I’m on the road, on a much needed rest from all things electronic trip. So… blogging may be light for a bit. So far all is well, except for the small inconvenience that all the suitcases were lost. In fact 2/3 the passengers on our flight lost their suitcases- and I’m wondering how such things happen. Didn’t the pilot notice that the fuel economy on the flight was just a little TOO good???

Up until now Charles de Gaulle in Paris was my least favorite airport … but today, I’ve just got two words for you:

Heathrow Sucks.

My heartfelt apologies to my British readership. I mean SERIOUSLY 2.5 hours to get around the airport (including a bus AND a train) and all the checked bags lost??

On Writing: Part V… Step 1, .. It’s all about the figures.

A while ago I started a series on writing that I’ve been meaning to come back to. I’d been on sort of an extended hiatus from reviewing papers, just because I had a bunch of grant deadlines in the spring- but the few papers I’ve reviewed recently have made me think about paper writing organization of data and figures, how to decide when you are ready to write, the content of the different sections, what order I write things in, and so on… and so on. An endless topic for blog posts.

Anyway. The process of writing a paper begins long before you actually sit down to type the words into the document itself, at least for me. Continue reading

How much of a feminist are you… or more correctly… am I?

A few days ago I was having lunch with DrMrA and the BigA, while the BigA was on a break from testing out of the next grade level at math. We’ve been pushing her in math- because she is not challenged in math at school…and we know that eventually she needs to be better than the boys to just as well. This last is a sad fact that I wish weren’t the case, but it is.

During lunch us grown-ups thought we were talking over her head about recent events involving prominent women and feminist conversations that I’ve been eavesdropping on here in the blogosphere, but the BigA was actually paying quite careful attention. And she came out with the question:

Mommy, what is feminism?

This is an important conversation to have with my eleven year old daughter.  I’ve been going through a lot of soul searching about my own particular brand of feminism lately.  I’ve always thought of myself as a feminist- as someone who wishes for and works for equal rights and protections for women ( Ahem… ah- because I am one, a woman I mean), but I realize there are lots of different levels of this.

Maybe I don’t always go the distance that I should or could, and that’s been bugging me quite a bit. Continue reading

Kicking and Screaming into the Online Age…

My friend Martin Fenner has a post up at his blog at Nature Networks, about convincing scientists to become familiar with and ACTUALLY use online tools, services and such, and this post and topic struck a chord with me.

See, since I started blogging, experimenting with Facebook, Twitter, Google (docs, apps, sites, reader… and maybe ?wave?, what WILL they think of next) etc….  I’ve realized the enormous power of the online community, online tools, online conversation for gathering information, for discussion, and for frequent communication between isolated small groups – and how much more powerful it could be if more of the scientific community participated in it.

But it’s not easy to drag what I affectionately call the Ol’ boys (and girls, basically everyone senior to me) into this new-fangled way of communicatin’. This was really in my face a few weeks ago when I was at the ASM General Meeting in Philadelphia… and I mentioned to several people Continue reading

Twitter IS good for something…

I’m following Sciencewoman on twitter… and she tweeted about the Science Creative Quarterly yesterday… and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE THE SCQ.  The first time I found the part of the SCQ (esp. the Order of Science Scouts Badges) I was sitting in bed with my laptop, DrMrA sleeping next to me, and I was laughing so hard that the bed was vibrating and tears were streaming down my face.  Yes, you know you are a geek when you’ve earned three or more of those hilarious badges. I not even telling how many I have.

Well, the Order of Science Scouts of Exemplary Repute and Above Average Physique website has been completely renovated… new badges and all. I’ve earned a couple already….

The ‘I use twitter to spread science badge’


And the I’ve accumulated this one- the ‘I somehow convinced someone to part with a lot of money for science’ badge:


But this one (that I’ve had practically forever) will always be closest to my heart:


In case you couldn’t figure that one out it is the ‘works with feces‘ badge…

New Investigator Woes

Professor in Training has a post up this morning about her woes as a new investigator on federal grant proposals, go over there and read. She asks three important questions- which I could answer as a comment on her site- but I fear it would become post length- so in the interest of efficiency I’ll just write a post and get it over with!

First PiT, I feel for you, having been through several years of continuous submitting and resubmitting- I get it. It’s frustrating, it’s low pay off, it kinda hurts at times when it feels like someone made a judgment on your work …. without really reading it… and screwing up important details in their summary. But- remember, reviewers are people too- and as a wise colleague told me recently- let’s make sure we write it so a tired and overworked reviewer will understand it.  I fear there will be quite a bit of this tired/overworked reviewer business going around with the current round of challenge/ARRA/Obama-grants. But overall my point to you is- don’t take it personally- and now pick yourself up and get back on the darn horse!

But now on to your three questions- which I approach with the qualifier that I have only been on your end- and not on the reviewing end.

1.  Evidence of prior funding, does this matter and how? Continue reading

Gettin’ a Reputation…

I gave birth to two babies during my training (well…, 3 if you count the thesis as my baby in another sense). I was the first graduate student to become a parent in the lab where I did my thesis work (I’ve written about this before I’ll dig up the link for you), and only the second lab member to have a baby while in that particular lab.  Despite my fear of how this might go with my thesis advisor- he/she handled the whole situation quite wonderfully, and since that time he/she has had multiple employees on maternity leave simultaneously. When you get a reputation for family friendliness…you get a reputation…

That seems to have rubbed off on me… Continue reading

Who should be an author?

Sometimes I like to write about history- i.e. things I’ve learned that you might be able to benefit from. Other times, I like to gather your collective opinions about one topic or another because it helps me firm up my own. This is going to be one of those posts.

I always thought I had pretty firmly set up in my head the guidelines that I follow for including someone as an author on a paper. Lately, circumstances have forced me to confront (again!) the fact that different people have different, and sometimes vastly, vastly different ideas of what contributions constitute criteria for authorship on a scientific paper. This has been an uncomfortable examination of my own standards and those of others.

Let’s just start with my own view. Continue reading