science and outreach

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Hi, my name is Millie and I’m an #actuallivingscientist studying how dopamine neurons in the brain respond to different types of stressors, and how these responses may differ between sexes. 
Upper right: hand- pulled glass recording electrode 
Lower right: Plate of brain area (VTA) where I find dopamine neurons to record from. #neuroscience #outreach #scicomm #femalescientist #womeninscience #academia #electrophysiology #researcher #STEM

wind-come-calling  asked:

Your educative and informative work about animal behavior and welfare is outstanding: it has helped me to change my perspective towards animal wellfare topics: I approached them with a very black-and-white mindset before,but through your well-thought and informative posts, I realized that the present situation in animal welfare is much more complex. However, this leaves me with many doubts about what groups truly work towards animal welfare, and therefore are worth supporting.(1/2)

There is any set of guidelines you recommend following for deciding which groups to support?

It really comes down to figuring out what agendas and end-goals you’re willing to support, and what practices you’re okay with, and then doing a ton of research. Not just on their website, but who supports them and who hates them and what recent things have they been involved with. 

Some things to consider when doing that:

Welfare vs Rights rhetoric:

I always say that people who understand the current political meaning of the term ‘animal rights’ will always say they support animal welfare when asked. The animal rights movement is very different than the push for increased animal welfare. So it’s super important to vet the rhetoric of organizations and look at the wording they use. If they talk about inherent rights, any philosophy by Peter Singer, dominion or domination of animals by man, or compare animal use to slavery and rape, those are clear signs they’re more influenced by animal rights ideology than animal welfare science. Good rhetoric talks about welfare assessments, the five freedoms, and generally sounds more like science outreach than a public opinion campaign. 

Involvement with national organizations or community advocacy: 

Are they independent or heavily tied in with a national org? Do they work with local law enforcement to do education, or partner with a local college? Associations can tell you a lot about the underlying ethos of the group and if they’re more practical and focused on welfare or a supporting local subset of a larger, more ideology-based group. 

Policy on issues you support: 

Some animal rights organizations have an end goal of getting rid of all pets and removing them from human dominion, which a lot of people don’t realize. PETA for sure, and also HSUS if you read their messaging closely. Born Free isn’t super anti-pet, but they balance that out by wanting to destroy all zoos and exotic animal captivity, which bothers some people but not others. Some groups are really focused on agricultural welfare improvements and don’t get involved with zoos or pets or hunting. You’ll want to weigh the position statements on the issues you care about against each other and see if you support the way that measures up. 

Professional involvement: 

does the organization actually have people from animal industries employed or consulting? Some rescue organizations will say they’re really into solving, for example, chicken abuse - but they won’t have a single consultant or staff member who has worked with chickens to be able to help them make judgement calls or inform practices of places they’re working with. I’ve run into a lot of small organizations who are super proud of having someone with a criminal justice degree who specialized in animal cruelty on their team, but yet can’t list off a single person with professional animal management experience who is working with that specialist. This information can be hard to find but is absolutely worth calling them or sending emails to ask about, because places that really care about welfare instead of ideology will have informed professionals involved. 

anonymous asked:

y dont u like bill nye and neil degrasse tyson? neil has a podcast called star talk and its pretty funny and informative lol im not attacking, im just curious

I don’t particularly dislike either (although NDT needs to stop with the faux deep science tweets like dear lord). 

It’s just that they suck up all the air in science communication and make it really hard for other voices to come through (I don’t think this is intentional per se, I just think we as a culture only have room for like at max four physics men to tell us what science is at any given time).

Mostly I just want people to stop treating them like they’re the end all be all of science and acting like we don’t need other voices. We need women, and people not in physics/astronomy/engineering, and more people of color (although obvs NDT is black and it’s awesome that he’s as prominent as he is but like, let’s have even more diversity).

I’m just tired of the majority of the work when it comes to science communication/outreach being done by women and yet pretty much the only household names are Bill Nye/NDT/Sagan. Like let’s do better. 

This was a prompt from my wife :)

Lena discovers her Superhero girlfriend has a fear…

Lena woke at 6am, despite not setting an alarm. She rolled over and was greeted to the sight of a gently snoring mass of blonde curls. She placed a gentle kiss on the curls and her heart swelled as she watched her girlfriend sleep; she never knew she could feel like this, so happy, so loved, so content. 

Lena stretched, her shoulders cracking, before rolling out of bed in search of a pair of sweatpants to go with the t-shirt she had slept in; today was a casual day. She swiped a hair tie off the dressing table and padded out of the bedroom, tying her hair up. 

She took a last look at the sleeping Kryptonian and smiled; Kara was not a morning person, despite the perky demeanour suggesting otherwise. There was no way Kara was emerging any time soon, so Lena left her sprawled across the bed. 

Lena’s morning routine had been the same for many years, she was a creature of habit, finding comfort in the repetitive nature starting each day in the same manner provided. 

She headed to the kitchen first, the coffee machine the first stop of the day. Once her cup was filled, the smell of the coffee hitting her nostrils, she wandered through to the mini office she had set up in her living room . Her laptop blinked to life and Lena started her daily routine of replying to everything in her inbox. 

By 8am she had cleared her inbox, so started her presentation for the Science Outreach Programme at the local High School, she was hoping to encourage more bright young girls into the STEM fields. 

The next time she looked at the clock it was 10am. She could hear the shower running and smiled as she realised Kara had finally dragged herself from under the duvet. Lena saved her presentation and headed back to the kitchen with plans to make a start on breakfast, musing to herself it was more like a brunch at this time. 

Pancake batter ready to go, Lena pulled the bacon from the fridge but abruptly dropped the packet on the floor when she heard a scream from the bedroom. 

Lena ran towards the bedroom, a million thoughts running though her mind. Her girlfriend was Supergirl for goodness sake, she doesn’t scream for no reason. 

Upon reaching the bedroom Lena found Kara sitting in the middle of the bed, a towel wrapped around her body, her hair still wet from the shower. 

Lena looked round the room, expecting to find some kind of assailant, but instead found it empty aside from Kara frozen to her spot on the bed, with a combined look of fear and disgust on her face. 

‘What happened?!’ Lena exclaimed, climbing onto the bed, starting to check Kara over for injuries, before realising it was a slightly ridiculous task considering Kara was pretty much indestructible. 

Kara just pointed to a spot in the corner of the room. 

Lena turned to look and saw nothing. 

'Mhhmhm’ Kara mumbled. 

Lena was starting to get concerned about her girlfriend, had she been infected by a kryptonite weapon..?

'Spider..!’ Kara muttered more coherently. 

Lena squinted and sure enough there was a small spider slowly climbing the far wall. 

Lena couldn’t help herself; she giggled. Her Superhero girlfriend, who could bench press a car and fly, was apparently terrified of spiders. 

Kara pouted when she saw Lena giggle and Lena felt her heart melt. She bit her lip to stop herself before placing a quick kiss on Kara’s forehead. 

Lena got off the bed and picked up the empty glass from her bedside table along with the paper she had been reading the previous night before falling asleep. 

She resisted the urge to look at Kara, knowing it would only make her giggle again, and crept over to the spider, placing the glass over it and sliding the paper underneath. 

Having safely contained the spider, Lena walked out of the bedroom to her balcony, and released it. 

Upon returning to the bedroom, Lena saw that the pout was still in place on Kara’s face. She sat on the edge of the bed and took Kara’s hand in hers. 

'You giggled…’ Kara pouted. 

'I’m sorry darling, it was a bit unexpected. You are a Superhero…’ Lena explained, rubbing her thumb over Kara’s knuckle. 

'Spiders, eh?’ Lena continued and raised an eyebrow. 

'I had a bad experience with a giant one back on Krypton when I was younger…’ Kara explained and shuddered at the memory. 

'It’s gone now’ Lena leaned in to give Kara a quick kiss. 

Kara hummed in response. 

'Can you rescue me from all future spiders?’ Kara questioned seriously.

'Of course my love’ Lena smiled, 'consider me your own personal spider removal service.’

'My hero!’ Kara giggled. 

'Some heroes wear capes…’ Lena responded dramatically, ’…some wear… Superhero themed underwear!’

She pulled down the top of her sweatpants to reveal the boy shorts she was wearing underneath, adorned with Kara’s family crest. 

Kara burst out laughing and pulled Lena down onto the bed, kissing her, the spider (and brunch) forgotten. 

Trying harder!

Gradblr challenge day 2~

I’m trying to use this challenge to get motivated and work on my NSF grant application. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that I will win the grant, because my field is not really tailored to it. But I’m trying! I started the application, and I reached out for some science outreach/communication/leadership opportunities that will hopefully look good on the app. Nervous but tentatively hopeful. All in all, I know I shouldn’t expect to win, but it’s good experience and practice anyway. Not getting my hopes up will be hard, though.

Stuff I already got done:

  • laundry including sheets, towels, bath mat, and lunch box
  • most of the hw due today, just minor edits

Goals for the day:

  • talk to my PI about the outreach seminar, also about data. Email her about the seminar if she’s not here.
  • finish my stats hw and start on the next hw, start practicing for the final with the formula sheet
  • stay focused during stats class (evening classes are the worst)
  • do some more work on the NSF app, make a timeline for getting it done

Yeah, Bill Nye talking about Carl Sagan and his influence on Bill’s career gets tonight’s spot. No one will complain.

Scientists of Tumblr...

I need to hear all your wonderful advice and personal experiences again. I want to hear any and all opinions on this. I take part in an outreach programme specifically aimed at high school kids, and a big part of it is letting them ask questions about a career in science, but also providing advice and perhaps answers to questions they didn’t know to ask.

We have a good range of advice and stories here, but naturally, we want more. So, to try and get some advice from this great community, here are some starting questions:

What do you wish you had known in high school about being a scientist?

Is there anything you think would have made you pursue science more eagerly if you had heard it earlier in life?

Did you accidentally discover you liked science in college? If yes, what do you think made it exciting in college vs. high school?

Or did you always love science and know it was for you?

Seriously, anything you want to share with me will be useful. Thanks in advance tumblr!


The story of Pangaea told as a popup book

BLM Colorado Intern Conducting Research on Public Lands Wins Big at Science Fair

Tayler Rocha, a high school intern for the Bureau of Land Management-Colorado San Luis Valley (SLV) Field Office, recently presented her research findings during the SLV’s monthly staff meeting. As her research shows, Rocha is quickly becoming a youth to watch for great success! For the second year in a row, she received numerous awards and honors for her science fair project, which was designed to answer management questions targeting wildlife, riparian and wetlands issues on BLM-managed land in Colorado’s San Luis Valley.

Tayler Rocha collects macro-invertebrates at San Luis Lakes as a part of her science fair project about endangered southwestern willow flycatcher habitat.

This year, Rocha’s project recommendeds strategies for managing endangered southwestern willow flycatcher habitat based on results from her research. She compared habitat characteristics on burned versus unburned lands as well as on occupied versus unoccupied habitat within the BLM’s Simpson/ McIntire property. The property was recently designated as critical habitat for the SWF, and a 900-acre wildfire in Spring 2013 provided the perfect opportunity for her study. Rocha received mentorship from Loree Harvey, an SLV seasonal employee, along with Monte Vista School District science teacher and other BLM employees.

Tayler takes water samples as part of her research.

Rocha’s project has not only taken her to Colorado’s statewide Science and Engineering Fair, but will also be instrumental in the future management strategy for the critical habitat. She has been a seasonal employee or volunteer for the wildlife program for the San Luis Valley Field Office for four years, and this is her second science fair project focused on assisting the BLM with management strategies for this important habitat.

Tayler Rocha proudly stands by her science fair project that analyzed critical habitat for the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher at the 2013 Regional Science Fair.

This year, Rocha received top honors at regional and state science fairs as well as the International Science and Engineering Fair. Over the past four years, she has consistently placed in the top three spots at the regional and state science fairs and even received a full-ride scholarship to Drexel University based on her research for the 2013 International Science and Engineering Fair.

Last November, Rocha applied to the highest-level research competition for non-college students, the Intel Science Talent Search. The competition is only open to high school seniors, and approximately 2,000 students nationwide enter each year. Students compete for top prizes, to include a week in Washinton D.C. to tour the nation’s capital and meet the President. Rocha was selected as one of 300 semifinalists. No student from the San Luis Valley has ever made the first cut, and only a handful of Colorado students in the last decade have made it this far. The BLM San Luis Valley Field Office proudly celebrates her success!

-Jill Lucero, Wetlands Biologist in BLM SLV; Alyssa Radcliff, Wildlife Biologist, BLM SLV; Kyle Sullivan, Public Affairs Specialist, Front Range District; and Courtney Whiteman, Public Affairs Specialist, Colorado State Office


Professor Iain Stewart narrates a visit to one of the most famous geological sites in the world, Hutton’s Unconformity. This one site showed extremely solid evidence of long-term geologic processes - deposition of sediment, rock formation, folding, faulting, erosion, and more rocks deposited on top. It was enough to convince early scientist James Hutton that the Earth had to be extremely old and therefore photos of it show up in almost every geology textbook.

Bill Nye Talks About Canadian Oil and the Certainty of Climate Change

Yesterday, Bill Nye touched down in Toronto to attend the International Astronautical Congress, an annual gathering where space enthusiasts (where, as Nye says, the nerd factor is “turned up to 11”) share research papers. Since his mega-hit show, Nye has taken the reigns of the Planetary Society, an organization founded by Carl Sagan in the 1980s that focuses on science advocacy, research, and outreach.

As the CEO of the Planetary Society, Bill Nye is clearly using his powers as a celebrity scientist for good. During a keynote speech at the University of Toronto last night, he discussed a project the Planetary Society was developing to conquer the possibility of an asteroid hitting Earth. Their solution? Laser bees. These “bees” are tiny robots that surround an offending asteroid and by using mirrors, “focus sunlight onto a spot on the asteroid” that can “gently move it.”

Anyhow, I caught up with Bill Nye before his speech to chat about Canada, the tar sands, and the Harper government’s muzzling of scientists. 

Bill Nye: I’m hip with VICE, I’m down with the VICE.
VICE: Oh awesome, that’s good to hear. Let’s jump right into it then… Climate change has been immensely politicized. How do you respond to outside influences, like industry and government, that try and control the message of the scientific community?
The government in Canada is currently being influenced by the fossil fuel industry. [Prime Minister] Stephen Harper is a controversial guy in the science community because [of] the policies, especially in western Canada, with regard to the production—that’s the verb they use, “producing,” but you’re taking old earth and burning it. [The production] of tar sands, oil shale… is there tar shale? Is there sand goo? Whatever.

I used to work in the oil field, albeit much farther south, in Texas and New Mexico. Oil is noxious, but it’s not that noxious as stuff to spill on the ground. However, when you start taking this tar sand and oil shale, where you’re you’re strip mining many, many tons of earth to get to this stuff, and then you have to burn a lot of it to make it soupy enough to pump. The environmental impact is huge!  And there was some trouble with some train cars, and some explosions.

A town exploded.
Yeah. This is all stuff that could be controlled, but part of it, at least for me as an engineer, is that the extraction methods in that part of the world are so aggressive, it’s so hard to get this stuff to [a point where it’s] useful. The bad news, writ large, is that we’ll never run out of fossil fuels. There’s so much stuff, so much coal, so much tar sand oil shale everywhere around the world that we’ll never use it up. But we will use up the really easy to burn gasoline, easy to burn diesel fuel.



We’re talking earthquakes and tsunami waves today for obvious reasons, so let’s add in a good video summarizing the basic science of tsunamis.