Tag Archives: scifund

#SciFund Rd 3 with Audrey Joslin http://rkthb.co/11909

#Scifund Round 3 is underway and each day I will highlight a new proposal from the Challenge to give you a more in-depth understanding of each participant and their research.

Today I present Audrey Joslin. Her research looks to understand how Payments for Ecosystem Services with regards to water services affect labor practices in the targeted area.

Tell us about yourself, where you are from, and where you see yourself going.

My name is Audrey Joslin, and I am a PhD student in Geography.  The geographic answer is that I was born and raised at 45°33′52″N 93°13′42″W (Cambridge, MN), study at  30°36′05″N 96°18′52″W (Texas A&M University) and am doing my research at 0°00′00″N 78°09′22″W  (near Cayambe, Ecuador).

To answer in another way, I am a very curious person who is fascinated with the world and the people in it. I am concerned about the environment, and also with issues of social justice.  I see people as a part of nature, and am intrigued by how people interact with and shape their environment.  I enjoy learning languages, and speak both Spanish and Portuguese at an advanced level.  During my MS degree, I studied the social aspects of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon.  I switched my focus to the high-altitude grasslands and water management during my PhD because of how important this ecosystem is to the well-being of people, and how overlooked it tends to be in the academic research.

How did you get involved in your research project?

As a geographer, I like to read about interesting places.  I saw a few photos of the paramos, and I decided that I wanted to learn more.  After reading quite a bit about the humid grasslands, I discovered that this ecosystem was the target of several Payments for Ecosystem Services programs, with the most advanced and influential being the Quito Water Fund (FONAG).  I became curious.

Why is your research important to you? Why should others fund it?

There has been almost no research on the social aspects of this program, even though it has been in existence for 12 years.  It is regarded as an example of success by the United Nations Environmental Programme, The United States Agency for International Development, and The Nature Conservancy.  Yet, there has been nearly no research about how this program interacts with people’s lives that are the target for intervention.

Why did you decide to participate in the SciFund Challenge?

I thought SciFund e was an excellent opportunity to raise some much-needed funds. I have learned that it is a challenge to find funding for lesser-known but equally important ecosystems as the Amazon rainforest.
More than that, I thought it would be a good opportunity to receive training in presenting my research to a broad audience.

What was the most difficult aspect of building your SciFund Proposal? What was your favorite?

My favorite aspect has been receiving encouragement from fellow Scifunders, and trading feedback and experience with them on the proposal. That said, the most difficult aspect of the proposal has been creating the video. This is the first that I have ever created.

Tell us something random. Something funny. Something borrowed. Something blue.

The Spectacled Bear is the only species of bear found in South America, and it calls the paramo home! They are notoriously shy, but I hope to see a wild one someday.

Thanks Audrey for sharing your science! And to save you time from scrolling up, you can read about her project and contribute here.

#SciFund Rd 3 with Amelia Hoover Green http://rkthb.co/11859

#Scifund Round 3 is underway and each day I will highlight a new proposal from the Challenge to give you a more in-depth understanding of each participant and their research.

Today I present Amelia Hoover Green. Her research focuses on understanding the degrees of violence (“repertoires of violence” as it is referred) against civilians during wartime.

Tell us about yourself, where you are from, and where you see yourself going.

I’m a political scientist, an expert cookie baker, a data geek, a dog lover, and an Assistant Professor at Drexel University, where I started in the Department of History and Politics this fall. I got my Ph.D. from Yale, but my heart belongs to Swarthmore College, where I did my undergraduate degree. I grew up in Grand Forks, North Dakota and have been thinking about politics pretty much since I could think. (Everyone at home is pretty surprised that I ended up working on international human rights issues rather than American politics.) Where do I see myself going? In the literal sense of that question, I’ll be spending a lot of time in transit the next few years, as I work with interview populations in El Salvador and several US states. More figuratively, I’m excited to get my SciFund project off the ground, because the Armed Group Institutions Database plays an important role in the book I’m writing now. I also expect to continue working with (and for) human rights advocates who need help with data gathering and analysis.

How did you get involved in your research project?

During my first semester in graduate school, I took a course called Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict, from Elisabeth Wood (who later became my Ph.D. advisor). At this stage, I was still planning to research American politics — but the topic wouldn’t let me go. I ended up writing a dissertation on repertoires of violence in armed conflict — and realizing in the course of the dissertation project that political science, as a discipline, was doing a lousy job incorporating the insights of social psychology in its thinking about violence. The Armed Group Institutions Database is basically an attempt to get a handle on the structures that groups build to influence individual soldiers’ psychology and behavior. What’s interesting to political science here is that decisions about whether to build institutions for education, in particular, are highly politicized and often strongly influenced by political ideology.

Why is your research important to you? Why should others fund it?

Why is it important to me? Mostly because it’s my baby. I built it, I believe in it, and it’s part of an intellectual community that is making real changes in the ways that we protect civilians during armed conflicts. The part of the project funded by SciFund — six months of paid research assistance — is particularly important because it gives me the opportunity to mentor and collaborate with an undergraduate student. I think that too often we are asked to look at research and teaching as opposing sides in some sort of tenure-track war of attrition. This project directly contradicts that message…which I suppose is one of the main reasons that folks should support the project financially. We’re doing good in so many directions here — producing a public good for political science researchers (the database), making research that has real-world benefits, and at the same time, training a young researcher.

Do you have a favorite story that came from working on your research project?

I have lots of favorite stories. The weekend I spent with my research assistant and her family in Chalatenango, El Salvador, was a real highlight. I went swimming with the kids of the family, interviewed my RA’s mother and older sisters about their experiences during the war, helped an aunt with her English homework, and practiced making pupusas, which if you haven’t had any recently, well, you should. (Pupusas are thick tortillas filled with beans and cheese or (less frequently) meat, and forming the masa just the right way — so as to hold in the filling without being too thick or tough — is an art.)

Why did you decide to particpate in the SciFund Challenge?

There’s a lot of complexity and social science formality in what I do — and that’s a good thing. Many of the conventions that have grown up in political science research are really important to our ability to understand each other and evaluate research across the discipline. Unfortunately, as with any specialty, sometimes our language and processes distance us from the people our research is intended to help, particularly when those folks have less access to education than we do, or when their situations are difficult and dangerous. More generally, when we don’t practice translating our research to everyday language, we lose the ability to talk effectively to people outside the discipline. Which sucks, because I think this research is interesting and important to a lot of non-academics. SciFund is a way to raise awareness (and, yes, money), but it’s also a way to get out of the Professor box for a bit and communicate more broadly about my work.

What was the most difficult aspect of building your SciFund Proposal? What was your favorite?

GAAAAAHHHHHH VIDEO EDITING IS HARD. (But also YAY I LEARNED A NEW SKILL.) My favorite part of the process was coming up on the fly with the sentence “War is bad for your brain” — this is the sort of shorthand that wouldn’t fly in a more strictly academic setting, but it is exactly the right way to express a big concept in my work, which is that there are a lot of factors in war zones that make people more violent, and that controlling violence is really difficult in that context.

Tell us something random. Something funny. Something borrowed. Something blue.

I am really into disaster narratives these days. Have you read _Endurance_, Alfred Lansing’s account of Ernest Shackleton’s ill-fated voyage to the South Pole? I have, and I will never complain about my job again.

Thanks Amelia for sharing your science! And to save you time from scrolling up, you can read about her project and contribute here.

#SciFund Rd 3 with Alex Warneke http://rkthb.co/11798

#Scifund Round 3 is underway and each day I will highlight a new proposal from the Challenge to give you a more in-depth understanding of each participant and their research.

Today I present Alex Warneke. Her research looks at how heavy metal contamination affects the predator-prey relationship of algae.

Tell us about yourself, where you are from, and where you see yourself going.

Hello all! My name is Alex Warneke and I am a first year Masters student in Dr. Jeremy Long’s lab at San Diego State University. Currently, I am just starting out with my thesis looking at how human contaminants like heavy metals and other horrible things that we unfortunately let into our oceans are messing with chemically-mediated interactions between algae and the consumers that eat them. But more on how I became interested in this later. Beyond the lab, I am also quite passionate about public outreach which is why the #SciFund challenge is something near and dear to my heart. Getting people excited about science and research in unique and interesting ways is probably my favorite thing to do. In the future, I am hoping to merge my two loves of science and outreach to work for an NGO at the grassroots level, where I can encourage society to alter their perspectives and behaviors to preserve aquatic ecosystems.

How did you get involved in your research project?

Funny story actually…In the third year of my undergraduate work, I took a Chemical Ecology class with my current adviser. One of the requirements for the course was to create a music video explaining a topic we had learned about in class. This is where it all started for me. My peers and I created a video on Chemical Defenses (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4uBYSx01z8g) and I fell in love with Chemical Ecology (and making science videos). I thought it was so cool that organisms could use natural chemicals to keep predators away.

Wanting to continue on in this field (because it was awesome), I mulled the topic of chemical defenses over in my head for a while. For my graduate work, I knew I wanted to do something 1. With chemical defenses and 2. That looked into how we as humans were interfering with the oceans. After a substantial review of the literature, I realized that the chemical contaminants ending up in our oceans are doing more damage than we might know. I had read that many algal species could absorb these contaminants at levels that were not toxic to the algae. This got me thinking… how would this effect the natural chemicals that some species already have to defend against their predators and how would this interfere with this basic predator-prey interaction? Thus, my masters research was born.

Why is your research important to you? Why should others fund it?

Growing up in Southern California, the ocean has always been a playground for me. I was literally SCUBA certified at the youngest age you can possibly be certified at and I can still vividly remember the first kelp forest I ever frolicked through. It was pristine and beautiful and ultimately a life-changing experience. Eight years later, I still play and work in those same kelp forests, but they’ve changed and it hasn’t exactly been for the better. Pollution in our oceans is a problem plain and simple… and just because you don’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there. I am hoping the research that I am doing will further our knowledge on how human pollutants are altering aquatic ecosystems and help to inform managers and improve risk assessments. More importantly, I hope that I can help educate people around me and engage them in what I am doing so that they too can be invested and realize that our actions do matter in bigger ways than we might think.

Why did you decide to particpate in the SciFund Challenge?

As I said before, I love getting people involved and excited about Science. #SciFund is allowing me to do just that. Yes, getting money to do my research is definitely a cool thing and this is way more fun than all the other grants I have been writing. But at the root of it all, I just want people to believe in the work that I am doing and want to get involved too.

What was the most difficult aspect of building your SciFund Proposal? What was your favorite?

Most difficult, I would have to say…Coming up with rewards. Holy cow…trying to think of cool things that people will actually want AND can’t get anywhere else…that mess is hard. Favorite thing…DEFINITELY putting together my #SciFund REMIX video. I LOVE to rap about Science and I love to dance. This video allowed me to do both. My little brother makes fun of me for it, but haters gonna hate. I just hope that people will enjoy it and actually learn something. And at least I know now…if Marine Ecology doesn’t work out as a good career path…the Music industry is waiting. Move over Kanye West. 

Tell us something random. Something funny. Something borrowed. Something blue.

Top 3 people I would give anything to have lunch with: 1. Sylvia Earle (renowned ocean explorer) 2. Eminem (the second best rapper of all time) 3. Dr. Seuss  (the first best rapper of all time).

While I believe Eminem is an excellent lyricist, I disagree about his lyrical flow, sound, and hip-hop beats. Thus I’d put him a lot lower on the all-time rapper list. But anyone who would give up their ankles to have lunch with Dr. Seuss is ok with me!

Thanks Alex for sharing your science! And to save you time from scrolling up, you can read about her project and contribute here.

#SciFund Expenditure!

Today I bought some goodies to help me analyze and control my experiments:

  1. light timer to control the lights for the plants. Over the thanksgiving break I was unable to come into the lab and since I doubt anyone else was in here, I’m sure the plants saw no light for 4 days. This will remedy that!
  2. A Macro/wide angle lens.
  3. A zoom lens and tripod.
  4. A microscope objective.
  5. Deuterium depleted water (from Sigma).

I bought the iPhone accessories to make my data collection process more efficient. Since they were relatively inexpensive it wasn’t a big gamble.

#SciFund Rd 3 with Michelle Spicer http://rkthb.co/11883

#Scifund Round 3 is underway and each day I will highlight a new proposal from the Challenge to give you a more in-depth understanding of each participant and their research.

Today I present Michelle Spicer. Her research examines a century old experiment long forgotten, involving an experimental forest in Pennsylvania.

Tell us about yourself, where you are from, and where you see yourself going.

I am a first year ecology Masters student at Lehigh University (in Bethlehem, PA). I also went to Lehigh for my undergrad, in a program called IDEAS (Integrated Degree in Engineering and Arts & Science), concentrating on chemical engineering and environmental sustainability. Originally I am from Horseheads, NY (Editor’s note: YAY!!!), a tiny little town close to Ithaca. After my Masters, I plan on heading off to a different school to do a PhD in ecology–hopefully doing more research on forest dynamics. Also, I plan to return to Costa Rica to do more tropical ecology research.

How did you get involved in your research project?

As an undergraduate, I was always curious about the mysterious Lehigh arboretum…and then senior year started an independent study project  on the arboretum’s next-door neighbor, the LU Experimental Forest. I was looking at invasive tree species there, fell in love with the forest, and continued into the Master’s program to work more on it with my advisor, Bob Booth.

Why is your research important to you? Why should others fund it?

This forest really offers a unique research opportunity–we know what was planted there a century ago, but then it was forgotten and left to its own devices until last year; this way we have a clear before-after picture of this dynamically changing forest experiment. We can learn so much by studying these long-term changes, especially concerning how well different tree species can resist competition; in a changing climate, invasive tree species will be expanding into new habitats, and the insight we gain about this forest’s growth can help us make better forest management decisions. The experimental forest also holds great potential for integration into future undergraduate research and environmental classes, since it is a natural outdoor laboratory.

Do you have a favorite story that came from working on your research project?

I distinctly remember the overwhelming excitement I felt when my advisor first mentioned the arboretum/experimental forest in an ecology class.  The previous summer, I had done research in the tropical forests of Costa Rica, and was interested in doing forest ecology at Lehigh when I returned. I had heard mention of the arboretum before but could not find anything on it when I searched. A month later, when it was brought up in class, it was like love at first sight–I could not wait to uncover some of the mystery surrounding the place! Today, I am even more enthralled by the place, and look forward to delving into these questions.

Why did you decide to particpate in the SciFund Challenge?

I think what I am doing in the experimental forest can really resonate with the public. It’s exciting–I am uncovering the mysterious history of these trees by filling in the questions of what happened? how did it happen? and when did it happen? between 1915 and today. The idea of actually bringing my research to the public–and having them be a part of it by funding me–is thrilling. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our studies that we forget other people might care about it too! SciFund is a great way to share what you are discovering with the public, as well as network with other scientists doing interesting projects.

What was the most difficult aspect of building your SciFund Proposal? What was your favorite?

Making the video was definitely the most difficult aspect of the SciFund project. I have never done any type of video project, and it turned out to be incredibly time consuming! However, I am very proud of the final outcome, and would say that sharing it with colleagues and friends when I finished was the most rewarding part of the proposal process.

Tell us something random. Something funny. Something borrowed. Something blue.

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” (The Lorax, Dr. Seuss)

Her project is interesting to me because my D2O experiments follow a similar arc. In the 1930’s-60’s there were a lot of experiments involving the effects of heavy water on life. Somehow the interest in that science ceased and there are almost no experiments between 1970 and now about the effects of water on life. Then I come along and open it all up again! It’s like I’ve discovered a hidden wardrobe and have stumbled upon Narnia. Good luck with your project Michelle!

Thanks Michelle for sharing your science! And to save you time from scrolling up, you can read about her project and contribute here.

#SciFund Rd 3 with the Darie Lab http://rkthb.co/11806

#Scifund Round 3 is underway and each day I will highlight a new proposal from the Challenge to give you a more in-depth understanding of each participant and their research.

Today I present Alisa Woods and the Darie lab! Their research looks into the development of a diagnostic test for autism.

Tell us about yourself, where you are from, and where you see yourself going.

Dr. Woods is a research assistant Professor from Long Island, NY. Our group is from all over the world. Katie, Kelly and Jarrod (our undergraduates) and are from upstate NY, Dr. Darie is from Romania, Dr. Roy is from India and our PhD students are from Poland (Izabela), Cameroon (Armand) and India (Sapan). We want to develop our research so that we have defined biomarkers which we can then correlate to behavioral measures in autism.

How did you get involved in your research project?

Dr. Woods is a neurobiologist and Dr. Darie is a biochemist so it was normal for us to gravitate toward studying the biochemistry of a behavioral disorder.

Why is your research important to you? Why should others fund it?

Our research bridges the fields of biochemistry and psychology. It is truly interdisciplinary which is unusual. We also feel that if we are successful we may be able to develop the first biological clinical diagnostic for a psychiatric problem.

Do you have a favorite story that came from working on your research project?

We’ve done a lot of crazy things to keep our research going. Basically, we’re willing to go to enormous lengths to continue this project. It’s hard to think of a favorite story.

Why did you decide to particpate in the SciFund Challenge?

Because we have been applying for grants and it is very difficult in the current economy. We are still trying but we really need money to continue data collection now.

What was the most difficult aspect of building your SciFund Proposal? What was your favorite?

We had absolutely no idea of how to create a video and none of us are that great on camera.

Tell us something random. Something funny. Something borrowed. Something blue.

Dr. Darie came from Romania to his PhD studentship in Germany by hitchhiking. He got a ride from a truck driver. We think that’s kind of interesting.

Thanks Darie Lab for sharing your science! And to save you time from scrolling up, you can read about thier project and contribute here.