The indomitable Dr. Charles Roseman and I have a commentary out in Scientific American. In it we discuss the ever-controversial topic of sex and gender. We present a question first framework, as the questions should drive the ways in which we operationalize sex. We contend that a strict sex binary is useful in some circumstances (evolutionary questions about sexual reproduction or utilizing historical demographic data, for example), but in others it is inadequate (e.g., associations between the sexes, hormones, and athletic performance).
We also discuss why non-human comparisons are not particularly helpful in the current debates, and suggest that “Scientists like us would do well to embrace intellectual humility and listen carefully before deciding that any one definition of sex is useful for understanding the living world.”
Thank you to Kate Wong for working with us on this commentary
Growing up, my family made regular trips to Borders Books (yes, that still existed in my childhood). The first thing I did upon entering the story was run to the magazine section and check out the latest issue of Scientific American. I loved the accessibility of the articles and clear, engaging graphics. Scientific American instilled my love of science early on; however, never did my 10-year-old-self imagine writing for Scientific American much less having an article be the cover story.
Well, today the article I wrote with Dr. Sarah Lacy hits the stands, AND it is the cover story! A massive thank you to Kate Wong for approaching us to write the story and working with us to produce the final version. We also want to thanks Samantha Mash for the gorgeous artwork both on the cover and the inside spread. Thank you also to the whole production crew for pulling together the figures and layout.
This has been wonderful and overwhelming. Thank you to all the friends and family who have supported us through this process and continue to support us through the social media frenzy.
Part of my work with the Sausage of Science podcast was developing the #Hackademics mini series. This series of episodes focused on the unspoken issues and rules within academia – issues and rules that need to be brought to light, need to be talked about.
We have covered imposter syndrome, preparing for and coming back from fieldwork, and science communication to name a few. Though the podcast has a broad, accessible reach, it does not have the weight of a peer reviewed publication in terms of being a citable and respectable resource. As such, my podcast co-host, Chris Lynn, and I decided to turn the #Hackademics podcast mini series into an academic journal special issue. With the blessing and wonderful support of Bill Leonard, editor in chief at the American Journal of Human Biology, this has become a reality.
One of my contributions to this special issue was a paper on mentorship. This is a topic near to my heart and near to my career. I have experienced poor mentorship and I have experience good, nurturing mentorship. I work exceptionally hard on making sure my mentees have a good mentorship experience with me – I am not always successful, but I work at it.
In this paper, we centralize information on what good & poor mentorship looks like, how good mentorship is critical to professional and often personal success and fulfillment, how to find mentors, and we provide recommendations for rewarding mentorship as well as accountability for poor mentorship. When it comes down to it, no one teaches us how to be mentors or how to advocate for good mentorship. We hope this paper helps in providing resources and a path forward for a more nurturing and equitable academia.
The paper is still behind a paywall, for now, but below are pdfs of the tables (one on mentorship resources, another on mentor-mentee expectations) and sample mentorship plan/guide. These are incredibly useful, and we hope anyone reading this will get something important from them. Also, please feel free to contact me for a pdf of the full manuscript – happy to send it!
I thought this interview was going to revolve entirely around that study, but it didn’t! It was perhaps one of the most wonderfully wide-ranging interviews I have ever been a part of. I touch on a number of topics that are near and dear to my heart, and I am so grateful to Kat and Livia for giving me the time and space to discuss them.
Seeing the focus on women scientists in Ruby’s Lab Manual SJCPL, specifically Rada Ragimbekov, wanted to collaborate on putting together an event for Women’s History Month. We decided to hold a Meet a Scientist panel discussion event for children featuring a diverse group of women scientists.
Each of these women during this even shared their science, the educational journey, the challenges they have faced as women in science, and words of wisdom. I think we all left that event inspired by the strength, persistence, and creativity of these amazing women. It was one of those activities that many my shrug off as silly extra service, but I consider it potentially one of the most impactful parts of my job.
I am always on the look out for fun ways to demonstrate to my niece the diversity of women in STEM fields. Luckily, there are so many kind and generous folks in STEM who are willing to do the heavy lifting, and often in beautifully creative ways.
Here are two Women in STEM coloring books to share with the budding scientists in your family!
It is exceptionally difficult to describe the feeling of watching someone taking something small you did and turning it into something wonderful that benefits others. It is overwhelming in the best way.
This is exactly what happened with Ruby’s Lab Manual. I just made this manual for my niece, and then it it exploded and traveled far and wide on social media. And then…Morgan Munsen, Notre Dame graduate student and member of Science Policy Initiative, garnered all her intelligence and organizational abilities to secure funding and build science experiment supply kits to be delivered along with the Spanish translation of the lab manual to 150 children (grades 1-6) at St. Adalbert’s School.
I tear up every time I think about how this small idea was transformed into a beautiful and generous act. Notre Dame wrote up a story about all of this, and they say it far better than I ever could. But, this is what science in action looks like. This is what science outreach looks like. We need more of it.