06/09/17 – Last Friday, The Pub Club used our Community of Minds to develop our communication and critical/creative thinking skills by critiquing our posters. Posters require all three forms of communication – verbal, written and graphical – and so are a great way to capture the essence of the Big Ideas and Key Findings of our research. However, we are all aware that posters can be boring and ineffective for various reasons. To help us prevent this with our posters, we began with Randy Olson’s TEDMED talk on employing the art of Storytelling to make our Communication more effective. Randy points out that our brains are wired to be receptive to information presented as a story. He also provides the simple “And, But, Therefore” (ABT) template for converting our information into a Story format. Randy explains that, as scientists, we tend to present our data as a series of “Ands.” By simply replacing some of those “Ands” with “But” and “Therefore,” we can introduce conflict and resolution into our presentation, which increases interest and retention by our audience.
After watching and discussing Randy’s talk, we assessed our posters for three things: 1) Imagery, 2) Content, and 3) Story line. Does the overall appearance of your poster entice people to take a closer look? Does the Content highlight the Big Ideas, i.e. the Main Research Question and Key Findings of your work? Is the content presented as a story? How many “Ands” vs. “ABTs” do you find?
Next week, we will apply this same concept into developing and practicing our Elevator Pitches. Hope to see you there! A special thanks to Pete, Adam & Ryan for help with setting up for last week’s Gathering. Thanks for being a supportive part of our COM!
06/02/17 – The Pub Club began as an effort to bring the “Conference Effect” home on a weekly basis. Rather than waiting for that one meeting a year to share and discuss ideas with other scientists, we take time to do this each week. However, while the local Community of Minds is a valuable resource, we also need to aerate the idea pool by interacting with other nodes of our greater COM. Conferences are an important part of this process! Of course, a key element of conferences is Communication. Think about it. What are the main activities of scientific meetings? Listening to others share their new findings or methods – Listening is a key component of good communication! Sharing our new findings either as a talk or poster presentation – both forms of presentation include elements of verbal, written and graphical communication. Networking to identify potential future collaborators or employers – to do this successfully, you must have a polished pitch and listening skills!
This June, The Pub Club is putting our Community of Minds to the task of maximizing our conference experiences by developing Networking strategies and honing our Communication skills. We are also opening our Gatherings to all students and postdocs at MSU, especially those within the plant science community, who would like to participate. Last Friday, we focused on Developing a Conference Networking Strategy and Conference Tweeting: Why & How. As we had several first time TPC participants, Bethany started us off by providing a brief background on The Pub Club (TPC) and The Community of Minds (COM). We then got right to developing our Networking Strategies (click here to read more) by breaking into groups based on which conferences we would be attending and going through the list of conference-goers to identify people we would like to meet while at the conference. Bethany challenged us to think about Why we wanted to meet each person, as this will help us later in preparing to introduce ourselves.
We next had a crash course in using Twitter as scientists, and some tips for Conference Tweeting etiquette (click here to read more). Of course, at The Pub Club, we like to immediately apply our skills rather than just talk about them! Each participant snapped a photo and sent a Tweet to @ThePubClub. Some even used the #MyOtherBench hashtag! We also got to see a Tweet shared by TPC PI, Brad Day, who is currently traveling with Miranda Haus to the Ukraine to interact and talk science with people there. We look forward to seeing more Tweets from our COM from #TPCOnTheRoad! By working and practicing together, we were able to begin developing our Conference Networking Strategies and learn how the whole Twitter thing works. This coming week, TPC participants will bring electronic versions of their posters to get input on content & design prior to the final polish and print stage of poster perfection. The following week, we will practice our Elevator Pitches by sharing the Big Idea of our research (using our posters as a backdrop) with each other. The Goal? MSU conference goers will be primed for the maximum conference experience. Watch out conferences – here we come!
05/26/17 – Last week at The Pub Club we had a smaller group than usual, likely due to the Holiday weekend. This gave us an opportunity to introduce a bit of the history of The Pub Club to two of our newer members, Yerlan (Day lab) and Reza (He lab). We discussed the original goal that led to the creation of The Pub Club, and the evolution of the group resulting in our current Mission. You can read more about this on The Pub Club “Mission” page, The “About The COM” page and our “FAQ” page. To hear personal reflections on The Pub Club, check out the “TPC Testimonials” page. We also discussed some of the skill development opportunities TPC offers, including the upcoming Conference Prep Series, which begins this coming Friday, June 2, 2017. See below for more details!
5/19/17 – Our first summer Gathering was spent on the cutting edge of science, as TPC members explored two recent Nature papers published by Xinnian Dong’s lab. Starting with the paper, “Global translational reprogramming is a fundamental layer of immune regulation in plants,” we assessed the data claim by claim. This article begins with a characterization of the Arabidopsis “translatome” after treatment with the Pattern Triggered Immunity elicitor, elf18, and compares it to the transcriptome. The main finding is that gene expression is not predictive of which transcripts are efficiently translated into proteins. They next search for potential mechanisms that regulate which gene transcripts are efficiently translated, and find a conserved, purine-rich motif in the 5′ leader sequence of these gene transcripts. This “R-motif” seems to act as a negative regulator of translation until the proper signal, in this case elf18, is perceived enabling translation. For some transcripts, such as TBF1, both the R-motif and upstream open reading frames (uORFs), act together to regulate translation. We found the data supporting these claims to be thorough and convincing. However, the next article is what really sells the story and shows the potential application of this work done in the model plant, Arabidopsis.
In the accompanying article, “uORF-mediated translation allows engineered plant disease resistance without fitness costs,” the authors show that regulating a known defense gene/protein, SNC1, at the levels of both transcription and translation in Arabidopsis, they can confer protection against both bacterial and oomycete pathogens without a fitness cost. They then use the same approach, only this time with NPR1 expressed in rice, and show similar gains in protection, this time against three important rice pathogens, without a fitness cost.
Thanks to all the TPC members who took time to meet with us “on the edge of science.” Not only did we learn about this exceptional, ground-breaking work in our field, we were also able to develop our critical thinking skills in the process! See you next time!