Twitter

An online presence has become an important professional networking tool, and offers a low-stakes way to connect with the public. The social media giant Twitter has been leveraged for this purpose, and articles at venues such as PLOS Biology and AAAS have promoted Twitter and other social media for use by scientists.  At a time where we increasingly emphasize Open Science and Open Data and manuscript preprints are becoming commonplace (even in biology), Twitter is yet another way to communicate your research quickly.

crawling-out-from-under-a-rock

Me, crawling out from under a rock.

So, I decided to join Twitter (@anna_m_ritz).  I know, I’m slow to the game.  Joining is like jumping off the high dive — social media is something I was used to doing a long time ago, and something I can do again but it’s going to take some work.  I’m getting the hang of it — the following, the liking, the retweeting, the tweeting — and I was struck by some immediate reactions. Naturally, I thought I’d write a blog post.

 

I immediately felt more connected to my scientific community.  Reading tweets about scientific accomplishments (preprints, talks, posters, publications, grants, awards) and frustrations (data availability, proposal rejections, sexism in STEM) put these ideas in the context of happening right now.

Twitter is the place to advertise, even in science.  This means tweeting your recent manuscript, a new postdoctoral position in your lab, or an upcoming talk at a meeting.

There is so much to catch up on.  My list of bookmarked tweets of relevant preprints grows by the day.  I’m comforted by the fact that these preprints are papers I’d see months from now and need to read then. So I’m saving my future self time…?

Most of the people I follow are men. For now.  This is depressing, and came about because I started with following my computer science colleagues who are, let’s face it, mostly men.  I’ve been seeking out women in the field to follow, and hope to achieve a better balance here.

Advertisements

Sabbatical Part 2

We are right smack in the middle of summer — my undergraduate research group is doing great as they wrap up the last few weeks of their projects, with plans to present work at conferences.  Keep an eye out for posters (and even papers!) at some of these venues:

Last week I had the chance to attend ISMB in Chicago, where I met with old and new colleagues in computational biology.  My postdoc Ibrahim Youssef also presented a poster on his recent work on signaling pathway reconstruction algorithms.  The weather cooperated and Chicago was wonderful.

20180707_1145141

View from Michigan Avenue – the ISMB venue location was fantastic.

Sabbatical, you do not disappoint.

Start of Sabbatical

It’s official — my junior sabbatical (technically “junior leave”) has begun.  I’m free from teaching, college service, and academic advising for a whole year.  I’m being paid part-time, but it’s worth it!

In addition to the mountain of research-related goals I’ve set for myself, I also want to get outside and explore more of the area.  I’ve succeeded so far, spending the first weekend visiting colleagues at UC Merced and hiking in Yosemite.

20180519_125624Ok, so not every weekend’s going to get views like this one.  I’ve been also doing some long bike rides in Portland (long for me, at least) — part of the 10 best rides in Portland, a map that has quickly become my go-to guide.  Last weekend I biked to the summit of McKenzie Pass — the views were as good as I had heard, including the vast lava fields near the top.

20180616_135341

So far, the start of sabbatical has been great.

P.S. My summer students are maintaining a blog of their research – The Pathway Not Taken – check it out!

 

Scientists At Work Photos

I always love a good photograph…and here’s Nature‘s 2018 #ScientistsAtWork winner.

More information and other amazing runner-up photos are in the full article: A photo celebration of scientists at work by Jack Leeming.

Prickly Women

The Inside Higher Ed blog just had a short opinion article by M. Soledad Caballero and Aimee Knupsky at Allegheny College about the praise of “Prickly Women.”  A quote from the article appears below.

Why academe should honor prickly women (opinion)

They are known throughout history as the “killjoys,” the “ice queens,” the “hysterics,” the “ball-busters.” They are the “Prickly Women” — the women who don’t let things go, who stand up for themselves and others, and who question the status-quo of structural inequities and outdated institutional practices. They stick out decidedly among the “bro-hood” of academic administration.

Despite the negative connotations and perceptions they incite, Prickly Women have exactly the kind of insight and persistence needed as the crises in higher education continue to mount.

Time-to-parity for women publishing in STEM fields

A recent paper by Holman et al. in PLOS Biology presents a new look at the gender gap in publications for millions of authors from over one hundred countries in over six thousand journals.  You can interact with the data through their  web app.

The gender gap in science: How long until women are equally represented?
Luke Holman, Devi Stuart-Fox, Cindy E. Hauser, PLOS Biology 2018.

The authors present the current author gender ratio, its rate of change per year, and the estimate number of years until the gender ratio comes with 5% of parity.  A few notes below the image…

Here are the first things I noticed:

  1. The estimated percent of women authors “maxes out” at 50% (there’s a Figure 2 that includes fields with a higher percentage of women).
  2. arXiv.org – the preprint server that began as a mathematics and physics venue – has particularly poor percent of women authors.
  3. First author percentages tend to be “ahead of the curve” for each discipline, while last authors lag behind the numbers for all authors.  In many fields, first authors denote who did the most work, and last authors denote who funded the work.  My hunch is that a higher proportion of women get papers as graduate students and postdocs, whereas fewer women make it to senior-level faculty as heads of a lab.
  4. On a positive note, more women are publishing in the fields than before (the rate of change is mostly positive).

The paper’s supplementary figure S3 shows data for Computer Science (from arXiv).  Based on current trajectories, only two sub-categories (Information Theory and Robotics) hope to see gender parity within the next 50-100 years.  We still have a long way to go.