Category Archives: You Think You Know Science?

What To Do On Your Forced Day Off


Photo: Reeve Jolliffe (Flickr).

Do you remember the NYC blackout of 2003? The subways were crippled and people set off on hours-long walks to get home over bridges and on any buses they could get a grip of. Yeah, well I was there for it. Right in the shit. And if that weren’t enough, I was just as crippled as those subway lines; my feet bandaged from recent toe surgery. It wasn’t for the weak-minded. And can you believe I stuck around and did it all over again when Hurricane Sandy descended on the city and blew out the power grid in lower Manhattan like so many birthday candles?

But never mind the darkness in the streets. It’s the blackness that creeps over your mind when the 4C centrifuge you’re spinning that precious DNA in seizes up like your AK 47 in the middle of an offensive charge that will induce real panic. So what really happens when the lights go out in the midst of mind-blowing scientific discovery, forcing you to abandon your work? Find out here in my article published at Scizzle Blog.

I Discuss Science Art in a Science Discussion


Art has been a large part of science for hundreds of years; before imaging technologies, any scientific observations had to be drawn by hand in order to preserve the information for future research. This necessity spurned some of the most intricate and beautiful collections of naturalist art we have.

The tradition of Scientific Art (SciArt) persists today, however, with the advent of modern digital imaging techniques, it’s now more the work of artists interested in science than the other way around. This is interesting given the fact that it usually brings a level of interpretation with it, as most artists don’t have a PhD-level understanding of scientific principals and they are usually using science as part of a larger idea.

An exhibit called ‘Common Descent’, on display at Central Booking in NYC looks at the interpretation of science by artists; specifically evolution. In a recent panel discussion about the exhibit, I got the chance to sit down with another evolutionary biologist, Giacomo Mancini, as well as two artists featured in the exhibit, C Bangs and Lynn Sures. We discussed our work and the intersection of science and art and took questions from the audience concerning evolution in the modern age.

The panel moderator, Yasmin Tayag and myself wrote an article chronicling the event for the Scientific American guest blog. By all means, head over and check it out, and check out the exhibit if you get a chance; it’s on until June 8th.

Star Wars: Science Fiction meets Science Fact


Image Credit: Stefan, Flickr

In celebration of the recently minted Star Wars holiday, May the 4th (be with you), the blogging team at the Scizzle Blog put together some themed science lessons. Being part of that team, I have penned two posts that will surely catapult your brain into space. The first, co-written with Chris Spencer, looks at possible evolutionary histories for some of the most notable characters of the franchise. Entitled The Evolution of the Cutest Creatures in Star Wars, you can check that out here.

My second postClones in Space, I Have Placed (can’t you just hear Yoda saying that?), features my debut infographic effort. Displaying the history of cloning technology using Star Wars characters, ships and worlds as a backdrop, it is the perfect visual springboard for titillating conversation on your next date. I’ve even included cloning basics 101 and given you a peak into the future when scientists plan to resurrect extinct species.

Click on through already – I’ve made science fun…

Poll: How do you feel about that degree, smartass?

Top 10 Al Pacino Rants

Some say Pacino developed his brilliant method acting skills after a brief stint at the bench following The Godfather.
image source:

After reading the guest article by posted here yesterday, I got to thinking about my own PhD. I definitely have days where I think it was time that could have better been spent grabbing a foot-hold in the job market, especially since it’s obvious that academia has all but completely slipped my grasp. Industry has never been that appealing to me either, so what does it leave? Well, plenty, but how much of that actually necessitates the seven years of hard labor? Since I haven’t put myself out into the market much to speak of, I’ll have to be content with the skills I’ve picked up and simply say, ‘I guess I’ll find out’ and ‘God. You better hope so’ (*points to heavens, viciously shakes fist*).

But what about you? I know many of you have finished or are in the midst of completing a PhD. Do you think it helped you in securing employment outside of academia or industry? Could you have done it without? If you don’t already have the PhD, are you planning on finishing considering the state of government funding and the ultra-competitive nature of group leader-type positions? In short, would you do it again/are you going to finish?

Chime in with the poll below, and if you’re thinking of applying to a PhD program, take note.

The Practical Ph.D.: Can a Doctorate Help You Find a Job?

** approached me about sharing an article they posted recently regarding graduate studies, employment opportunities and what is right for you as an academic. It takes a thorough and fair look at many things to consider when pursuing higher education and I would highly recommend it to anyone thinking of taking that next step — it’s rarely a short (or cheap) one. Enjoy. — BRENT**

Over the past few years, the value of a college degree has been questioned, though perhaps not quite so harshly as the Ph.D. While criticisms of doctoral study have not been entirely unfounded (Ph.D.s are struggling a bit more in the current job market than they have in years past) the reality is that earning a doctorate in most fields can be a solid career move that offers potential for advancement and can potentially open up entirely new career avenues.

Still, the time and money poured into a Ph.D. can make many prospective students (and current ones, too) wonder if getting a Ph.D. is really all it’s cracked up to be. While there’s no simple answer to that question (it can differ quite a bit based on individual goals and the field of study), a Ph.D. does offer some career advantages that other programs, whether master’s or professional, simply can’t match. With so many resources out there telling you not to pursue a Ph.D., it’s important to also look at the reasons a Ph.D. can be good for you and to explore some of the practical skills a Ph.D. will teach you that will make you a desirable commodity on the job market.

What Will a Ph.D. Do for You?

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Come use your head: Brain Awareness Week NYC

big_brainy_pngThe people in charge are exercising their brains this year all around New York City. In an effort I feel is very much worth while, universities, museums and cultural groups (read: the arts) are taking a moment to involve the general public in a fun-filled educational program.  BraiNY will build upon a worldwide Brain Awarness Week initiative to bring the complexities of the human brain to the forefront in a series of programs that can be digested by children and adults with and without a scientific background.

Universities, museums, and cultural groups are joining efforts to showcase the wonders and mysteries of the brain to people of all ages. The events of braiNY build on Brain Awareness Week, an annual campaign of the Dana Foundation, which includes events in over 25 countries.

This year, for the first time, the coordinated efforts of the braiNY partners will connect New Yorkers to over a dozen events, lectures, exhibits, and demonstrations showcasing the wonder of the brain and the richness of New York’s scientific and cultural resources.

Check out braiNY for a calendar of events and come out to express your support and curiosity. You might just leave with a little more crammed inbetween your ears.