The Hub

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.


Lake Michigan, MI. 2015

As we are all aware, or should be, “Communication” is becoming a big deal in today’s science world. Not only is it important for publishing our work and getting research funding, but we must also be able to modify our language to clearly articulate the relevance of our work to policy makers and the public. Because of this high level of importance, we dedicate workshops to it at conferences, we bring seminar speakers in to teach about it, and practice it in various classes. The good news is, learning to meet this increased and important demand to better communicate our science does not have to be this scary thing that we pretend isn’t there; learning it can be fun!

7/9/2016 Round Table – Re-imaging Grad Training – Soft skills key, big question is HOW?

This year, The Pub Club is going to be building on what founder Bethany Huot began last year. In combination with TPC’s #MyOtherBench (click here) campaign, we have started a Twitter hashtag and list called #TPCOnTheRoad. The purpose is to make it easier for members to share their valuable conference experiences and other science related travels with their colleagues back home and around the world. We will then do as Bethany did in 2016 and turn these Tweets into timeline stories of the events using Storify (click here) to allow those who couldn’t attend to benefit from the experience. Bethany’s Storify on Sharon Long’s presentation was “Scooped” by The Kamoun Lab and in the 10 months since IS-MPMI Congress  has been viewed over 8200 times! Participating in our OnTheRoad campaign also benefits the “Tweeter” as it allows them to practice pulling out “The Big Idea” of the science and to refine their skill at making a coherent science point in 140 characters or less.

TPC will be helping you in your efforts in the following ways: -READ MORE-

“The Other Bench” Returns!

A quick and partial look at “The Other Bench” moments of my 2016 summer followed by a post I wrote going into the summer of 2016.

7/12/16 Left conference to meet with Eva Farre & Stacia Rodenbush to talk FRI_UT, STEM Ed and The COM
The Willamette River OR, 2016 Relaxing before a day of Paper writing in between conferences

For me, the summer of 2016 included conferences in Austin, Texas and Portland, Oregon. While in Austin I got together with FRI Director, Stacia Rodenbush, and MSU’s Eva Farre for our own little “Other Bench” chat about research and education. Around and between conferences I used my “Other Bench” time to get the creative paper writing juices flowing. I enjoyed sharing my “Other Bench” experiences with all of you and look forward to doing so again in the summer of 2017!

Summer is finally here again.  The trees are full and green, the flowers are blooming and the birds sure seem happy about it.  Did you notice, or were you too busy at your lab bench?

One of the most common answers I have heard over the last 6 years of graduate school (I know, it’s a long time, I’m leaving soon!) is “I have to work.” (Update: I received my PhD in Dec 2016)

What are you doing this weekend? I have to work.
Want to come to pizza for dinner on Friday night? No, I have to work.
Coming to Pub Club? I would, but I have to work.

I could go on, but I think you get the point! I have made a point of carefully guarding my evenings and weekends during my time here, knowing that my brain needs time to relax to maintain and maximize my focus and creativity at work. I heard recently that your brain works differently when you are focused on a problem vs when you brainstorm. While focusing is obviously an essential component of thought, it can often lead to traffic jams and frustration.  You may have heard it as “the forest for the trees” analogy. 

05/22/15 Alex and crew show you can enjoy your time at the Lab Bench and be productive.

Sometimes we become so focused that we develop a mental “tunnel vision” and can no longer see the bigger picture, and often the answer lies in the forest outside that tunnel.  Thinking creatively, on the other hand, allows our brain to access more of our knowledge to come up with innovative solutions and new ideas. Alternating between the two types of thinking can be a powerful and effective way of making progress with a difficult problem, ultimately making your time at “the lab bench” more productive.

This morning I did a quick search to find a reference for this. As I have a day full of bench work to do, I didn’t have time to find it, but I did find a couple of other interesting articles, one by Frank Addante, Founder and CEO of Rubicon Project and one by Paul Hammerness, MD and Margaret Moore in The Harvard Business Review under Time Management. If you would like to read the full articles, click on the titles below:
5 Daily Habits That Will Boost Your Creativity and Focus
Train Your Brain to Focus

The common theme between the two articles is that our brains need down time in order to operate the most efficiently.  While we may view taking time away from the bench to go for a walk as a waste of time, our brains keep working during this time without us even realizing it.

Cyril of TSL takes a walk with friend and colleague Bethany Huot

Sheng Yang knows this, as sitting outside of his office I have often seen him leave his computer and go for a walk.  He uses this time away from his “bench” to gain a better perspective of something he is working on.   Again, I could go on, but my lab bench is calling so I better get to work.

I leave you with a challenge: this summer, get to know “the other bench.”

When you find a good one, snap a selfie of you at your “other bench” and share it with the rest of us @ThePubClub, #myotherbench (or you can email it to The Pub Club at if you don’t Twitter!).  With these we will be building a summer gallery on “The Hub” and don’t forget to take a pic at your conferences or vacation! You never know what new, ground-breaking discoveries you may find exploring the beautiful outside world.  Perhaps in taking a minute to smell the roses (we have a beautiful rose garden here at MSU), you may return to your lab bench or writing that much more inspired.

For the summer of 2017 I challenge you again to seek out “The Other Bench,” refresh those creative scientific processes and share them with your community here at The Pub Club via the sources listed above. This year I promise to do better at actually getting The Other “Bench” in the pictures. 🙄 I might even ask a passing student, colleague or fellow conference goer to take the picture… what a conversation starter! One last thing, whenever you can, get friends and colleagues to join you on “The Other Bench.”

Bethany & Li at the 2016 IS-MPMI Congress

Have a great summer, can’t wait to see all “The Other Benches!”


The Pub Club Has Reached a Milestone!

The Pub Club has reached a milestone, our 100th Friday Gathering and our 100th newsletter. To commemorate this accomplishment, we reached out to those who have interacted with our endeavor and asked if they could find the time to share their reflections of these interactions with you. This week we took those insights and produced our 100th edition of “Keeping up with The Hub” newsletter as well as posting them on our New page, TPC Testimonials. If you would like to “Keep Up” with what The Pub Club and TheCOM are up to, you can subscribe to our newsletter on this very page. To all those who have supported TPC and all its members for the last 3 years, we Thank You! To those who took a minute to continue that support with a “testimonial,” we Thank You again and look forward to the next 100 with you.


NEW Posts From The COM


By Bethany Huot

06/21/17 – Jacqueline Monaghan, Bethany Huot & Adam Seroka share #SciTricks.

While at ICAR 2017, Adam Seroka and I were talking with Jacqueline Monaghan, who is an Assistant Professor at Queen’s University. She shared that, as a new professor, one of her favorite things to do when visiting other labs is looking for ideas to better organize her lab or new lab tricks she can adopt.

Tip #1: Use foil rather than twist ties or twine to tie Arabidopsis inflorescence for bulking seed. It is much faster and a bit gentler on the inflorescence stems.

Tip #2: I often collect and flash freeze plant tissue in liquid nitrogen. Thanks to Payam Mehrshahi (@payammehrshahi), I can keep my samples nice and… (READ MORE)


The Pub Club

If you are interested in more information on The Pub Club or the possibility of “Meeting on The Edge of Science” by gathering with those in your lab community please contact Bethany by clicking here & filling out the form.