November Scientiae: Trick or treat!

Hello, and welcome to the November edition of Scientiae! The month of October was filled with tricks and treats galore; costumes were donned, and a rollicking good time was had by all. Or at least most. Or some. Anyway, read along to find out who got treated, who got tricked, and who's still figuring out what costume to wear to the ball.

(Note: I've included all of the posts for the October Scientiae as well. Oddly enough, I was able to fit them all into this month's theme, so thanks to you all for writing such malleable posts!)

Being a theorist is a treat! So says new blogger The Tinkering Theorist, over at Theory vs. the Real World. For instance: "My favorite thing about being a theorist is that you can ignore things you don't like." If only we could do that with certain colleagues.....sigh.

I want candy....eye candy, that is. Sadly, my department is a that area. But not so in Candid Engineer's lab! Who knew science and engineering guys could be so hot? Hey, Candid Engineer, do you have any openings in your lab? Just kidding....maybe.

Candid Engineer also reminds us that failure can be a treat, too. Well, if you have the right mindset, that is....not every experiment can be a success, so accepting that allows you to roll with the ever-present setbacks in experimental science more easily.

What would Halloween be without some Evil Mad Science? Jenn at Fairer Science links to some fun scienc-y tricks for Halloween, courtesy of the Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories. I don't know about you, but now I'm hungry for some Edible Googly Eyes!

When Isis the Scientist gives advice, it's always a treat! This month, the fabulous Dr. Isis weighs in on fashion (how to go from schlumpy jeans-and-tshirts-grad student to Stylish Soon-to-be-Post-doc) and on preparing to meet potential collaborators. Remember this: "Reading publications is totally hot and you should be doing it anyway." UPDATE: Isis is now part of the ScienceBlogs community! Yay, Dr. Isis! So you may now continue to read her fine advice at this new blog address.

Alexis at redheadedstepchild loves doing tech support! For her, it's truly a treat. But what do you do when the job you love has such low status in the tech world? A very thought-provoking post about loving what you do. Alexis, best of luck to you in your job search---I hope you find something that you truly love, again.

Pat at Fairer Science reminds us that setting a good example is always a treat, and she's setting a good example by joining the Army of Women, who are committed to not just cure breast cancer, but to eliminate it altogether.

A good conference is always a treat, and one of the best ones out there (in my humble opinion) is the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. I went again this year, and the highlights for me were the fabulous keynotes and the fact that I had Baby Jane and Mr. Jane with me, and that I didn't have to hide the mom/wife part of me at the conference. (and the blogger meetup, of course!) Definitely a treat!

Veronica over at Girl With Pen! reminds us that when presidential candidates demonstrate their lack of understanding about scientific issues, it's not a treat for anyone. Specifically, should funds for a new projector for the Adler Planetarium in Chicago be considered "a pork project"? Even when the planetarium is used in outreach programs to interest kids in science? Read Veronica's piece and decide for yourself. (Thanks to Deborah for sending me the link!)

Rivikah at Life and Then Some doesn't like tricks. Which is why she prefers analysis over algebra when it comes to math. And as it turns out, her preference for certain areas of math is reflected in her personality as well. Who knew math could predict one's personality so well?

Rivikah also wonders if some of the tricks she's tried in her lab classes are ultimately helpful or harmful. Should she have all of her examples well-prepared in advance, or do students learn from the mistakes and false starts of their teachers? Should she leave out simple algebra steps or go over each step in the solution in detail?

Tricks of various forms are on Podblack's mind this month: pseudoscience movements in education and in dealing with learning disabilities and other disabilities; the bittersweet moment of seeing most, but not all, of her students graduate the equivalent of high school; and how to survive multiple research trips (ah, the joys of travel).

Penny tipped me off to an interesting post at Sociological Images, with pictures of some books for sale at the NASA John Glenn Research Center in Cleveland. I wasn't sure where to classify this, originally, but I went with "tricks" because it's unfortunate that we still, in 2008, have to preface "engineer" and "scientist" with "woman", because our default image of both is still male.

Alice at Sciencewomen got a big ADVANCE grant (yay, Alice!)...and then had to become media-savvy veeery quickly. She has some tricks for dealing with the press in such situations. My favorite advice: "Don't be afraid to ask the reporter/interviewer to call you back in 30 minutes. Then don't fritter that time away doing other stuff or agonizing about what you're going to say or visualizing yourself screwing up the interview. Instead, consider spending the time writing down those short snippets. And visualizing how eloquent you are." Don't think it can't happen to you---be prepared!

"The biggest mistake that I had made when I was in grad school doing my Master's degree was that I got sucked into for working for Lady Advisor." So starts the tale told by Missy Ph.D. over at The Journey to a Ph.D. The lesson here is that sometimes you have to walk away from a tricky situation, even if it means going without a salary for a while, if your work is suffering. Sounds like it worked out just fine for Missy, yay!

Mrs Whatsit at I Love Science, Really is probably going to be a drip. From the science pipeline, that is. And she's at peace with that, mostly. But she still can't help feeling guilty. She says: "This is ridiculous, I know, but I feel like I'm letting down womankind by leaving research. How are we supposed to get more women in the upper echelons of science if we all just keep leaving? It makes me feel like I'm part of the problem. I should suck it up and stay. But, I get the feeling that I would be miserable." A tricky situation, to be sure: is it possible to *not* feel guilty about our life choices, no matter what they are?

Patchi at My Middle Years reminds us that being a career scientist and having small children is a tricky balance under the best of circumstances. Sometimes, even a "minor" issue with your toddler can throw off your entire day (sing it, sister!). She reminds us, though, that flexibility and an ability to go with the flow can get one through even the least productive, most frustrating of days.

Friday Afternoon Writer is feeling the tricks and the treats lately: she's juggling several projects at work along with PhD research, some of which she loves (what a treat!); but at the same time, her funding situation is....changing....and she is having some issues with a manager (certainly tricky).

Many bloggers took this month's call for posts as a chance to reflect on both what they love about their jobs, and advice to others to get the most out of their careers (while staying sane). The next few posts fall into that category.

Academic over at Journeys of an Academic has some great advice for graduate students, and great reminders for the rest of us as well. My favorite quote from her piece: " I love being surrounded by thoughtful people, even if I disagree with them." Well said!

Fia over at Academia and Me also reflects on the tricks and treats of the scientific academic's life. The financial and employment uncertainty is certainly tricky, but she points out that the flexibility of schedule and diversity of tasks and skills make the job a real treat. (Fia, hope that post-doc pans out for you!)

Karina, an ecology grad student who blogs at Ruminations of an Aspiring Ecologist, shares her tricks for surviving grad school (exercise! careful budgeting!), and the treats that go along with her field (you get to play outside! I'm jealous.). If I were giving out prizes for creativity, Karina would certainly get one for using *all* the letters in Tricks and Treats in her post. Well done!

Kate at a k8, a cat, a mission weighs in on this topic as well.. Her take? Let's stop tricking young women scientists into thinking that science is a meritocracy, that there are no problems in academia, and that feelings of unworthiness stem solely from themselves, and talk truth about the good *and* bad of academic careers. Of course, she also points out the treats of her job: getting to spend afternoons with her daughter and Thinking Big Thoughts being two of the better perks.

Kate also talks about her lack of a filter between what she thinks and what she says/does---which can lead to tricky situations, no doubt. But in a silver lining sort of way, she's figured out how to "use these unfiltered missteps to [her] advantage", and that's definitely a treat.

Finally, ScienceWoman discusses a recent letter in Nature magazine, in which two scientists make the case for more family-friendliness in academic science (treat!), only to, in the last paragraph, undermine their entire argument....or so it seems. Was that a trick? A rhetorical device? Or a call to arms? Read (the post and the comments) for yourself and decide.

So ends another edition of Scientiae. Thanks to everyone who contributed and/or sent posts my way, and a huge, huge THANK YOU for being so patient with the delays. Happy reading, everyone!


More like this

It's late summer, and the harvest is bountiful, and so with the contributions to Scientiae. Thanks to all of you who submitted such fabulous posts. Some of you even wrote two posts! It must be that back-to-school enthusiasm. As you know, this month's theme for Scientiae is "Unleashed", chosen…
Welcome to the August 2009 edition of Scientiae, the blog carnival of "stories of and from women in science, engineering, technology, and math." [Apologies at the outset for missing the submission from ScienceWoman, co-blogger at Sciencewomen, entitled, "Unhurried summer mornings"] I'm honored to…
All month the Scientiae train has been loading at platform 37.7*, and now we're pulling out of the station on a wonderful journey on the rails. I'm picturing a Harry Potter-esque train running through the Scottish countryside, complete with cozy compartments and carts full of goodies, comforting…
First about those carnivals: *The deadline for submission to the second installment of the Diversity in Science carnival is midnight (EST) tonight. It's being hosted at Thus Spake Zuska and this month's topic is "Women Achievers in STEM - Past and Present." I myself am trying to get a post up…

Yayayayay, Jane! What a fun carnival, and thanks for including me! Hope you're feeling better...

Looks like a fantastic carnival. My treat for the month will be catching up on all the wonderful posts I missed earlier. Thanks for putting this together and hope you are feeling much recovered.

Thanks, Jane! My treat for today is reading all the posts without having to hurry or having to justify why on earth I'm reading so many blogs.