Sabbatical Part 4

This fall has has been filled with meetings of all types:

Meeting 1: Pacific Northwest Quantitative Biology (PacNow QB) Meeting
Who: Organized by yours truly and Derek Applewhite.
What: Regional meeting for faculty, researchers, and students interest in quantitative, data-driven biology.
Where: Hosted at Lewis & Clark College (thanks Clarkies!).
When: September 22
Interested? The meeting has been held annually, and includes a student poster session and faculty/researcher invited talks.

Meeting 2: Computational Biology Workshop
Who: Organized by kick-ass computer scientist Layla Oesper.
What: Undergraduate workshop that brought together faculty from five liberal arts institutions to introduce computer science students to applications in biology.
Where: Hosted at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota (proudly known as the city of “Cows, Colleges, and Contentment”).
When: September 29-30
Interested? No immediate plans for a future workshop of this type, but all the materials are freely available online.

Meeting 3: Consortium for Computing Sciences in Colleges (CCSC-NW) Regional Meeting
Who: Organized by Kelvin Sung and others, including pretty fantastic women in CS: Tammy VanDeGrift, Haiyan Cheng, and Shereen Khoja.
What: Regional meeting for computer science educators at colleges in the Pacific Northwest, with a focus on CS education.
Where: Hosted at University of Washington, Bothell.
When: October 12-13
Interested? This was my first time and I loved meeting new colleagues.  CCSC-NW is usually held in early October every year, and will be held in the Portland area next year.

And then there’s the crazy beautiful weather here in Portland – fantastic view of St. John’s Bridge in North Portland during a hike in Forest Park:




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.


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.