“The Publications (Pub) Club”
What’s in a name?
“Publications” are the center of the science world. As students, post docs, or PIs, published science is both our foundation and our motivation. We read them, write them, review them, and scour them endlessly as resources to our research. We strive to publish well and often, and look to be cited frequently to raise the impact level. It is from this one undeniable truth that “The Pub Club” name was derived. Our name is the shortest way to summarize the mountainous world we as scientists fight to climb and our “Mission” to make it easier.
What is our Mission?
Merriam-Webster states that a “Mission” is defined as follows: “a pre-established and often self-imposed objective or purpose” and “a specific task with which a person or a group is charged.” The “purpose” of The Pub Club is to support and assist post docs, grad students, and undergrads in reaching the “objectives” they, their committees, and their PIs have set for their time at University and beyond. Because history has shown that science is done best in the context of community, The Pub Club seeks to build small communities of scientists working in close proximity on similar or complimentary areas of research. Our main Mission objectives are best summarized as 1) Meeting on the edge of science & 2) Filling the Void.
How do we accomplish our Mission?
The “motto” or “task” of The Pub Club is “Meeting on the Edge of Science.” In essence, this means using every tool at our disposal to stay on the Cutting Edge of Science. One aspect of this involves staying abreast of the breakthroughs in scientific discovery, methodology, and technology. Another aspect is contributing to science on the edge with our own discoveries and contributions within our respective fields.
As being a scientist on the edge requires a Diverse Skill set, our second task at The Pub Club is to “Fill the Void.” The Void is defined as the gap between the skills we have and those we need to be successful as scientists no matter what our chosen career path may be. No matter how big your discovery, it only can make an impact if it is effectively communicated beyond your lab bench!
What are some of these tools?
The Meeting: The Pub Club is grounded in the Community of Minds (The COM) concept. Building community requires regular meetings between its members, the most frequent of which is The Pub Club’s Friday Gatherings. These weekly, informal Gatherings provide post docs & students with access to professors, peers, and professionals to share information on scientific breakthroughs, to generate and exchange ideas, to solve problems, and to discuss topics relevant to being successful scientists. Properly run by “active participants,” The Meeting also provides a chance to learn basic leadership, budgeting, organizational, and communication skills.
The Mug Club: Each month, a guest speaker is invited to share their research or to speak on a specific topic. One desired outcome is to establish connections with other labs to build our greater COM, and to ignite and fuel discussions in the weeks to follow. Another desired outcome is to access the expertise of professionals who can help us develop our Diverse Skills to help us Fill the Void.
The Website: The Pub Club website provides easy, convenient, and efficient access to resources, information, and other members. The site provides a single location, a “Hub,” from which members can access RSS feeds of 6 publications and a “Higher Ed” jobs board, “resources” for career prep, teaching, methods and tech, and more, as well as published papers, peer “forums” and “posts.”
The Newsletter: Every week a newsletter called “Keeping up With The Hub” is produced and sent to members, non-members, and Mug Club’rs to assist us in “Meeting on The Edge of Science.” The Newsletter is a sub-tool of both The Meeting and The Website, its purpose is not to replace either but to support and promote participation in both.
The Python Group: This is a spin-off bioinformatics study group that also meets once a week to provide a support system for those of us wanting to build our computational proficiency.
Every time a member publishes a paper, gives a presentation, achieves their degree, or receives an interview or job offer our “Mission” is being met.
The concept, framework, and function of The Pub Club are firmly rooted in the beliefs and practices of some of the greatest minds in scientific history. One of the first “Pub Clubs” was formed around 1640 in the midst of a European civil war and developed during the time known as the Restoration, which transitioned into “the Age of Enlightenment.” This group, known as the “Invisible College,” devoted themselves to the cultivation of the “new philosophy,” meeting to promote discussion on the scientific advances of the day and to think of new experiments. These scientists met in two groups once a week, gathering in various locations around Grisham College and Oxford. Original members included John Wilkins, mathematician; Robert Boyle, chemist and physicist; John Wallis, mathematician; Robert Hooke, physicist and astronomer; Robert Moray, scientist and spy; William Petty, anatomist; Christopher Wren, architect; Elias Ashmole, antiquary and ardent alchemist; and John Aubrey, antiquary. In 1662, the “Invisible College” was brought out of the shadows and given official standing as “The Royal Society.” Soon, similar societies were formed in other countries. The German Academy of Sciences was given a charter in 1687 by the Emperor Leopold I, the Institute of France was formed in 1795, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1840.
In the mid to late 1800’s another group was founded as an exclusive gentlemen’s club, not uncommon at the time, which met once a month from November 1864 until March 1892. The nine members of the “X Club” were from the upper crust of society at the time and were highly respected in both their fields and positions. Even so the members never outgrew the usefulness of their dinner club, and only stopped attending when age and health required it. The nine members were as follows (notice the spectrum of their fields): John Tyndall, experimental physicist; T.H. Huxley, biologist; Herbert Spencer, sociologist and philosopher; Joseph Dalton Hooker, botanist; Edward Frankland, chemist; John Lubbock, banker, ethnologist, and entomologist; William Spottiswoode, Queen’s Printer and amateur mathematician; T.A. Hirst, mathematician; George Busk, retired surgeon, comparative anatomist, and microscopist. These men dominated scientific society and became the most influential advisers to government. They attained these positions by electing each other to office and also by making use of a highly effective networking system. Members of the club were popular lecturers, published in top journals, and wrote textbooks; they also became officers in “The Royal Society.”
Today, groups like the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the National Academy of Science (NAS), the American Society for Plant Biology (ASPB), and others continue in this tradition through annual conferences while also incorporating modern technology, such as blogs and Twitter, to keep the global scientific conversation alive. Two of my own conference experiences served to initiate and develop the idea that would become The Pub Club. The first experience was a 2011 Gordon conference at which I saw a friend and colleague transition from severe depression to a new excitement and invigoration for his research after receiving input from top scientists in his field from all over the world. It struck me that this invaluable resource of the Community of Minds for which we travel around the globe to engage in once or twice a year was also available every day across the hall just waiting for us to tap into it. While submerged once again in this atmosphere at the IS-MPMI conference in 2014, I became determined to bring this environment back to my lab, the other two labs on the fourth floor of the Molecular Plant Science building, and MSU itself. As stated in the post “A letter from the founder,” it is my hope that participating in The Pub Club will inspire new questions, ideas and collaborations resulting in stronger science. I also hope The Pub Club will make our work at the bench more focused, more efficient, and more productive.
Want to know more?
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 using the form below.