The titular observation was the beginning of a good twenty minute rant from YHN during a lab meeting a few years ago after one of the technicians said something along the lines of “well, but I’m just a tech”. I forget the precise circumstances but it was in the context of some doctor-credentialed person or other not paying attention to the knowledge and expertise of the technical staff. This pissed me off then and many years later I still get irritated by these situations.
I write today in praise of the research technician and, especially, the TurboTech™.

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The titular observation was the beginning of a good twenty minute rant from YHN during a lab meeting a few years ago after one of the technicians said something along the lines of “well, but I’m just a tech”. I forget the precise circumstances but it was in the context of some doctor-credentialed person or other not paying attention to the knowledge and expertise of the technical staff. This pissed me off then and many years later I still get irritated by these situations.
I write today in praise of the research technician and, especially, the TurboTech™.

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Science Mnemonics

April 22, 2008

A mnemonic device can be described as:

…a memory aid. Mnemonics are often verbal, something such as a very short poem or a special word used to help a person remember something, particularly lists. Mnemonics rely not only on repetition to remember facts, but also on associations between easy-to-remember constructs and lists of data, based on the principle that the human mind much more easily remembers insignificant data attached to spatial, personal, or otherwise meaningful information than that occurring in meaningless sequences.

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PIs Working At The Bench

April 21, 2008

Dr. Jekyll and Mrs. Hyde (or, as I like to call her, Dr. J) has a post up about the very interesting topic of PIs who continue to work at the bench physically performing experiments in their own laboratories. She was very impressed by the time-management skills and dedication to benchwork that this requires:

[A]ny tenured PI still doing experiments probably has some seriously efficient work habits, in addition to a deep-seated love for the benchwork. Hats off to you, Unnamed PI.

Needless, to say, PhysioProf has some opinions about this topic.

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PhysioProf was just minding his own business, clicking around visiting some of his fellow ScienceBloggers, when he stumbled upon this scurrilous attack by Sciencewoman:

Dear PhysioProf,
You’re wrong. Here’s why.

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PhysioProf was just minding his own business, clicking around visiting some of his fellow ScienceBloggers, when he stumbled upon this scurrilous attack by Sciencewoman:

Dear PhysioProf,
You’re wrong. Here’s why.

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[The motivating context for this has been removed because subsequent developments made it obvious that it was such a unique event that my post would violate the confidentiality of all concerned. In both minor and major ways. -DM]
I keep meaning to talk about “member conflict” SEP review and there is no time like the present.

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[The motivating context for this has been removed because subsequent developments made it obvious that it was such a unique event that my post would violate the confidentiality of all concerned. In both minor and major ways. -DM]
I keep meaning to talk about “member conflict” SEP review and there is no time like the present.

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I just started reading a piece in Nature Reviews Neuroscience entitled, “Choices in Neuroscience Careers”, and by the second paragraph I was totally enraged. Some huge-ass PI dude named Tamas Bartfai had the following advice for grad students and post-docs concerning choosing an area of research and laboratory for their training:

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Karen Ventii
Karen Ventii of the Science to Life blog recently announced that she will be the editor-in-chief of a newly hatched science magazine at her local University. A comment brought my attention to the Berkeley Science Review which first published in 2001 (first editorial) with significant contribution from Jessica Palmer of bioephemera. This is the first I have run across this idea and it sounds really intriguing to me.
The implications of more direct outreach from scientists to an interested public are topics I have discussed before in the context of how scientists might blog and potential ethical considerations for scientist-blogging. Topics I solicited reader input on as well. Other than that, I’ve tended to leave implicit that which I’ll make explicit.

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This week’s fax from the Center for Substance Abuse Research at the University of Maryland touches on an issue of continual interest, namely the determination of “how addictive” different drugs of abuse may be. As I have mentioned a time or two (or three) before, I believe this is an area where the scientific research tends to skirt a key issue. From my perspective, this is one of the hardest questions to answer on the basis of the available human data and the animal models tend to drive right over the essential concepts.
This week’s CESAR fax (sign up here) reports rates of discontinuation, continued use without dependence and dependence for most major drugs of abuse. These data can help us to answer the question of “how addictive” are various recreational drugs.

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The great sociological philosopher Eric Cartman provided a bit of gentle guidance on acceding to the wisdom of authority in one of his more famous works. A somewhat lesser philosophical talent offers similar advice in a comment posted to a recent discussion on pseudonymous/anonymous blogging at bablab. The commenter suggested that:
South_Park_BlogAvatar1.jpg

… there are a lot of areas, even in science, where experience (from which real authority derives) matters. An undergraduate who has never been to the field and an experienced geologist can go up to the same geological formation and have the same tools and the same list of tests and procedures. They can both do similar things to the sediments, and they can end up with totally different conclusions as to what they are looking at.
They both have the same argument, structurally, logically, but with different conclusions. The experienced geologist, however, is much more likely to be correct.

An excellent rationale for prioritizing scientific contributions on the basis of the contributor’s credentials, is it not?

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There are times when all other concerns in life kind of fade into the background for a little while. It can be big or small. For good reasons or for ill. And FSM knows I tries to stay away from teh politicz on this blog. Sure, Ed’s already rocking the story and he has a pretty big platform. It is not enough.
This is sick, and every blog in the US should be talking about this.

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I ran across a very interesting post and related discussion at A Lady Scientist, a nice blog written by a graduate student in biochemistry. The issue under discussion is whether there should be a principle of “solidarity” among trainees–grad students and post-docs–in public venues such as seminars and journal clubs, pursuant to which trainees do not challenge one another publicly, so as not to show each other up, or embarrass one another. The answer is a resounding, “Fuck no!”

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You may recall a prior communique in which I mentioned an upcoming project of the Borg.

The overlords are up to a new project which is intended to get some of our (meaning SB) readers to tell the rest of our (meaning SB) readers what hot stuff they should be reading on the SB. This can be viewed a little like the “top 5 most active” and “top 5 most emailed” sidebar links, only with a little more thoughtful input from readers. Readers as in a select subset of contributing regular readers, rather than the google-horde that stops by for pictures of whassername or the other horde that stops by for the stench of calamari.

You may also have noticed that the “TopFive” box on the main Sb page now features a section for “Readers’ Picks” that replaces the previous category of “Most Emailed”.
There’s more! and the TopSekrit info is Revealed! below the fold.

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