“A man may be a champion for truth without being an enemy to civility; and may confute an opinion without railing at them that hold it”
– Robert Boyle – (The Sceptical Chymist)
New From TheCOM™
TheCOM™ is officially TheCOM™LLC! We began the move earlier this year to formalize what had always been true. TheCOM™ was something formed outside of my “official” career to seek and supply support for myself and the “Community” around me. As I move out of the “Education” phase of my career and into the “Professional,” I will continue this Extra-Curricular activity to build and work with “The Community of Minds” that has become such a valuable part of my life. Registering as an LLC simply makes it easier to pursue our goals.
The above video is a peak into our pilot Educative Research™ project, BIOME (Biological Investigations of Multi-level Ecosystems). It was created by one of our undergraduate research teams at Calvin College in Fall 2018. Students were given 30 – 45 min to plan, record and compile a 3 – 5 min video explaining the BIOME project in their own words to develop their communication skills and assess their working knowledge of the project goals and approach. This group was one that went above and beyond with their effort and creativity! (Yes, we gave them a few extra hours to edit and compile.) Enjoy!
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Oh! You may have seen me walking around sporting my “TheCOM™“ sweatshirt and wondered if you could get one. Well now you can, just click here and follow instructions to get yours!
Spotlight Posts From TheCOM™
Science is Communication (Part 1) – A Time to R.O.A.R.
By Bethany Huot – July 20, 2017
This year at The Pub Club we have been focusing on one of the most important aspects of doing science – Communication! While we may view conducting experiments as the “doing” of science, without convincing others to fund our research, no experiments are possible; no science will get “done.” That experiment may be what enables us to move science forward with a breakthrough finding, but how can science be advanced without sharing our findings? Looking through this lens for a second, let’s make a list. We first must come up with an idea, which always involves seeking out and reading literature to guide us in defining important research questions. We often reach out to others in the field for their insights on our ideas. Reading work others have published is receiving communication, and talking to peers is active, two-way communication. We’ve already clarified that once you have a research question you must communicate it well in order to get funded to do the research. Now that you are funded, does the communication stop? Can you get or maintain collaborators without both verbal and written communication? Can you report your progress or brainstorm a problem in lab meeting without communicating? Can you recruit others to your lab if you don’t communicate to them the value of joining? Finally, as we have already said, can your findings advance anything if they are not clearly communicated to those who would use them? Viewed this way we realize that, in fact, Science Is Communication! (READ MORE)
Posts From TheCOM™
Science is Communication (Part 2) – How The Story’s Told
By Bethany Huot – January 15, 2018
You may have heard the saying that how well you understand something is evidenced by how well you can explain or teach it to someone else. There are many things we think we know until we try to express them clearly and concisely to someone else! Even if we are experts on a subject, it is important to take time to think about how to best communicate it.
In part 1 of Science is Communication – A Time to R.O.A.R., we defined Communication as “the successful exchange of ideas or information between two or more people.” We then focused on Why Communication is Important, How to Communicate with a R.O.A.R., and How to Develop Communication as a skill. In part 2, Science is Communication – How the Story’s Told, we will zoom in closer and, as promised, talk about our M.A.D. skills. Message, Audience, and Delivery are the essential elements of using your R.O.A.R. to construct an individual story to effectively communicate specific information. (READ MORE)
Here is an example of how your story can be told with a R.O.A.R. and how no communication is too small to apply this method. This is a PodCast I did with Max Johnson of The Food Fix communicating the Science I did as a Ph.D. student.
Guest Posts From TheCOM™
Reflections on the Academic Job Market
Like many others, I went on the job market for two years before landing in my current position. The first year on the job market I thought I was ready, but wow – I was completely unprepared. One major problem (of several) was that my future research plan lacked a clear vision, and I was not doing a great job of distinguishing myself from others in the field. Another mistake that I made was trying to make my research plan fit into the job ad – this led to me proposing research that I had very little interest in doing and was unexcited about. I strongly advise against this approach! How miserable would it be to do research that you are unexcited about just to get a tenure-track job??? So, I chalk year 1 up to a learning experience.
After this, I got a puppy (seriously), I reassessed, I got feedback from senior faculty at other institutions, and I asked myself what I wanted to do. This soul-searching led to a new and different research plan that I was excited to talk about. I wrote up the new plan and I asked anyone and everyone that was willing to read it and provide feedback. I asked the lab, my advisor, newly hired assistant professors, my friends who do not work in science, my family, etc. I wanted this research statement to communicate my plan to a wide audience and convey a clear message. Here is my first bit of advice: Use your community to get feedback on your research plan! Second, do not get upset if they provide critical feedback; they are working to help you become a better scientist and a better communicator. One resource that was extremely helpful for me is a repository of successful research statements curated by Jeff Ross-Ibarra at UC Davis https://github.com/RILAB/statements. After reading through these statements, I realized … (READ MORE)
Do It Anyway!
By Tiffany Lucas (Guest Contributor to TheCOM) August 21, 2017
Your path isn’t going to be a straight one and you’re not going to be handed a map. I had a highly varied path in my research exposing me to many areas of biology, and I’m comfortable taking a deep dive into the primary literature. I enjoy identifying patterns and connections in science and between people, I am a strong scientific writer, and like presenting ideas to both experts and non-experts. It’s engaging for me to talk with talented scientists, business people, lawyers and patent agents, large industry, academia, and small biotech. Into my postdoc, I worked on developing my grant writing, presenting, and interdisciplinary science skills. I made connections in the biotech community and helped others who needed my expertise in grant writing and due diligence projects. I was very fortunate to be selected for a 6-month full-time position as a Technology Transfer Trainee at Washington University Office of Technology. This was an amazing program developed by Nichole Mercier, PhD, as she recognized the need to transition PhDs out of the lab and into exciting careers. That was a huge turning point for me; I discovered the early-stage biotech community and the passion that the scientists had here. My position as an Investment Analyst with a not-for-profit company, which is focused on supporting and developing early-stage biotech, is perfect for my interests and I’ll continue to grow in skills and abilities.
After leaving my 3.5-year postdoc lab for the technology transfer training program, my former PhD adviser asked skeptically, “Are you ok?” My response was… (READ MORE)
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