There is a #womeninscience meme bouncing around the Twitts today. Click the link and you’ll see some of the conversation, even if you are not a habitual Twitter user. Please consider joining in with an observation about, well, anything related to the life of women in science. On the Twitts, on your blog, Facebook or in the comments here or elsewhere.

I have an older post that I wrote some time ago to introduce some of the women who have contributed to the science that I talk about on the blog. This post originally appeared 24 Jul 2008.

A comment left by a reader some time ago took exception to one of my posts highlighting another blogger.

wow, that is some excellent PR for a grad student to get for free. perhaps you could spotlight a female grad student as well…?

The ensuing discussion planted the idea for this post. Read the rest of this entry »

Science Enemies

September 13, 2010

Dr. Becca has a hilarious story up over at LabSpaces.

My history with Science Enemy goes back around 10 years, when I was presenting my first ever conference poster. She was very interested in my work, and, wanting to be sociable, I casually asked her whose lab she was in. My friendly query was met with an indignant “MINE,” and it’s there I believe the rivalry began. I of course tried to remedy this faux pas with “Oh, it’s just because you look so YOUNG!!” (and truly she did), but my conciliatory words fell on deaf ears; it was on.

Go read because there is one part you will have in your mind forevermore.
But it makes me think. A very long time ago I was interested in memory, from the long-term / short-term and other nomenclature debates, to interesting cases from H.M. forward to the experimental literature. And one part of that interest that was always good for entertainment was the TemporalLobeMemoryWarz. This was a war played out most hilariously every year at the Society for Neuroscience in the late eighties/early nineties or thereabouts. Zola-Morgan, Squire, Mishkin, Murray, Gaffan, Moss and assorted other players would bring their latest arguments for how they had proved how many angels could dance on the head of a pin exactly what behavioral task in monkeys or humans (or rats, a bit of spillover into rats let us not forget) revealed which amazing new fact about the temporal lobe memory system (hippocampal formation and overlying cortical regions such as PeriRhinal! ParaHippocampal! whoo-whoo!). And they would take shots at each other.
Then they would go back to their labs and publish some papers and create new experiments to prove their hated rivals wrong. Next fall, the cycle would repeat. More data, more potshots and more hot air about memory.
Quite obviously there were big egos involved. Some of the key players are, by near universal acclaim, grade A egotists. And even if they are not, boy, they sure came across that way.
However, I got the firm impression that science, and our understanding of all the functions of the temporal lobe memory structures, was advanced by this process. I’d estimate more so than if it was some boring epiphenomenon that only one lab was interested in pursuing or if everyone stood around doing independent work and politely golf-clapping each other.
Science Enemies are not always a bad thing, even if Dr. Becca’s is a wackaloon.