#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 Ben Titus. His research looks to analyze the genetics of distant shrimp and sea anemone populations.
Tell us about yourself, where you are from, and where you see yourself going.
I am a first year PhD student at Ohio State studying the co-evolution and population genetics of Caribbean sea anemones and their shrimp symbionts. I’m originally from Bowling Green, OH and I completed my BSc from Otterbein University and my MSc from Auburn University. My long-term career goal is to land a faculty position and continue my research.
How did you get involved in your research project?
I got involved studying coral reefs as an undergrad, and that ultimately helped me get into a Master’s program at Auburn University. At AU my adviser studied sea anemone ecology in the Caribbean and Red Sea. After a lot of field work I realized the questions I was most interested in could be answered with molecular techniques. That led me to my current adviser Meg Daly at Ohio State where I have blended parts of my Master’s research into a new research direction.
Why is your research important to you? Why should others fund it?
Coral reefs are some of the most beautiful ecosystems on the planet and are some of the most diverse as well. Most of the biodiversity on reefs are small poorly understood invertebrates that may play an important role in ecosystem function. The sea anemones and shrimps I study act as cleaning stations for reef fish, and are vital for keeping them healthy. Funding my project will continue to shed light on this poorly understood symbiosis!
Do you have a favorite story that came from working on your research project?
One of the shrimps I study is a red snapping shrimp that defends its anemone host from predators. When collecting data on these animals you tend to poke around with your pencil to see how many shrimp are hosting with the anemone. After one dive where the snapping shrimp snapped the lead of my pencil I quickly learned I needed to bring mechanical pencils with me underwater.
Why did you decide to particpate in the SciFund Challenge?
I’ve always enjoyed communicating my research to a public audience and this provided a forum to do so PLUS raise research money for collecting trips. It was a no brainer.
What was the most difficult aspect of building your SciFund Proposal? What was your favorite?
I’ve become so used to scientific writing and using all the jargon that comes along with it. Writing something for the general public, still communicating what you plan to do, while not dumbing it down too much and insulting everyone’s intelligence was the hardest.
It was also my favorite part because now I feel like I have solidified my thought process to a point to where I can communicate with anyone
Tell us something random. Something funny. Something borrowed. Something blue.
I’m a firm believer that you can tell a lot about a person watching them throw a baseball…
Thanks Ben for sharing your science! And to save you time from scrolling up, you can read about his project and contribute here.
Back in February I wrote a grant application through UNM to reimburse money for travel to ScienceOnline 2012. I then wrote a blog post asking for people on the internet to review my grant and provide feedback so I can be assured success. The result was overwhelming as I instantly had many people leaving comments on my grant with really useful feedback.
Today I received word that I won the grant money!
I wish to thank each and everyone who read my grant, reviewed it, read my blog/notebook, retweeted my plea for help, and/or wrote comments. I really appreciate the help you provided and I hope I can count on you all again when I go public with my #SciFund Challenge proposal.
As an added bonus I learned that I scored a 92.544 out of 100 on my grant which just shows that collective knowledge works for the better!
Going to ScienceOnline 2012 was such a unique opportunity and I cherished it regardless of paying for the unconference out of pocket or with grant money. I met so many people who I now regularly communicate with and work with/hope to work with in the near future. I am truly humbled by the experience of ScienceOnline 2012, the efforts to aid me in my research, and the effort to help me secure funding for the unconference.
After all, if it wasn’t for this huge success, I would not have written this post, which I consider my biggest success in blogging.
Again I thank you all from the bottom of my heart!!!
Thanks to everyone who read my grant and provided feedback or one or the other! I really appreciate it. I’ve made a bunch of edits based on all the feedback I received. The grant is due tomorrow and I want to send it through one last round of scrutiny before it gets submitted. So click the link:
ScienceOnline Travel Grant
And if you don’t want to click then check out the original post here (which has the document embedded in it).
At ScienceOnline, Friday afternoon was filled with a variety of fun things to get out and do (everyday had a ton to do, but Friday was especially special). There were a few museum things to do and a bunch of tech demos. All of which can be found here and here (search techno blitz demo and click that). I got to visit the Museum of Life and Science to tour the facility and meet some new peop… friends.
The pictures that I took (and some others) can be found on my photo site. From that page, just click next page and you’ll see the pics I took. Feel free to download the images, as I attribute all my stuff CC – attribution. To view the full size image, click an image to see a slightly larger version (from the thumbnails) and then click the link on the right that says “Full Size Image.” Simple!
It was a ridiculously fun experience. I got to hold a baby alligator, take a picture with a bear (minus the mauling), get up close with a bunch of lemurs, and play with and see a ton of other creatures. The others in the group were great and it was awesome to meet such a great group. I always get lucky and end up with a spectacular group of people to bond with.
Later today (when I get home) I’ll upload my 3 favorite animal pics from the site, just for poops and giggles. Stay tuned… and come back the rest of the week as I collect my thoughts from the conference and jot ideas down here.
Tomorrow is going to be an amazingly fun day. Here is what I plan to do:
- wake up! It will be nice to get around on a full night’s sleep.
- eat! nothing makes me feel better than a full belly!
- Using altmetrics tools to track the online impact of your research – This hopefully will be a discussion that is directly relatable to my web analytics to measure impact studies. I don’t know if I’ll be sketch noting this session, or tweeting the ideas, but regardless of how it gets done, there will be some recap here tomorrow.
- Scientists and Wikipedia – This sounds like a crazy session and I can’t wait to hear what comes out of it. I’m not going to butcher the description here so just click the link and see for yourself.
- Science Communication, Risk Communication, and the role of Social Networks – Seems like this session will be a discussion of how to avoid mass hysteria when bringing scientific information to the public. The first thing that comes to mind is the reaction to the neutrinos results from several months ago. I bet I’ll have something to say here.
- In the afternoon I’ll be on a special behind the scenes tour of the Museum of Life and Science. I am super excited about this and expect tons of pictures from this event.
- Then there is a banquet in the evening, where I hope to meet tons of great people and have another nice collection of business cards with links to share.
I’ve met some cool people and exchanged information with some. As kind of a thank you for sharing with me and let’s do something together, I’m going to share the names of the people who’ve provided me with contact info, tell a little of what they do and send them some hits! What a great world it is…
- Perrin Ireland (@experrinment) – www.alphachimp.com Perrin is the scio12 science scribe-r and taught a bunch of us the ways of sketch noting, which is basically visually representing ideas in a sort of storyboard way. It’s the most beautiful brain dump I’ve ever seen. I’ll have a few of these by the end of the conference and I’ll be sharing those with you all.
- Brian Glanz (@brianglanz) – opensciencefederation.com Brian was in my session about ONS and approached me afterward to talk about the viability of ONS for all scientists. I think there are some good things in our future…
- Amy Teitel (@astVintageSpace) – vintagespace.wordpress.com I met Amy this morning and we talked at length in the afternoon. She’s a promising blogger/writer that has tons of fascinating stories about the history of space flight. I promised her awesome business cards. Follow her on twitter and talk with her to show her that Twitter is useful after all.
- Walter Jessen (@wjjessen) – walterjessen.com I also met Walter this morning. He promised to introduce me to someone and I really want to know who this person is. The mystery is killing me. We talked a lot about ONS and open science and how cool it really is.
- I also met a woman named Deb at the Museum of Natural Sciences. I didn’t get her last name, but her and her colleagues are doing some pretty awesome outreach experiments with the local community. I told her about ONS and she seemed really excited to setup something in this regard for her program. We’ll be talking I’m sure…
Tomorrow I expect to meet a ton more people and get a ton more cards. At which point I will share more links with you all. Until then…
…that I plan to expand upon in future posts.
Talking with everyone about open science face-to-face is super exciting. It’s one thing to hear all the activity online, but to see that others are as excited about this stuff as I am is sheerly amazing. And from this excitement many ideas have come to surface. Not all of them are hashed out, but they are all worth mentioning and hopefully expanding upon. Here are some things that have been mentioned:
- Making ONS viable for the common scientist is a pretty big hurdle. Not only is it already challenging to get PI’s to allow young scientists to go open access, but it is overwhelming to get into with all the options available. The viability of ONS is extremely important to me and I think WordPress is going to be key.
- An overlooked key aspect of ONS is the fact that every part of a project is traceable. From the data you can discover the methods to how the data was acquired and analyzed. How many scientists look at a figure and wonder how a researcher reaches those conclusions? I’m guessing a lot, and ONS removes the question marks.
- Signal to noise… posting all data and methods creates a lot of information in one location. How are others supposed to find the meaningful results in the sea of data? This is one of the reasons that I wrote the post about effective design and navigation in a notebook. If users can’t find the information they need immediately, then the information is almost useless. Curating and organizing this data takes time, but in the end is worth it and makes you a much better scientist!
- I think citizen science can be incorporated into ONS. Why should notebooks contain only science done in labs? Why can’t notebooks be used to engage not just the scientific community, but also the local or global community?
- Engaging the scientific community, in general, is a major obstacle. Why do people frequently comment on blogs and websites, but scientists refuse to leave comments on peer reviewed papers or fact based web pages? What is the barrier and how can it be removed?
- Mark Hahnel (of FigShare fame) suggested a site that lists the success of ONS. onssuccess.com anyone?
- And as an umbrella to that, why isn’t there a site that is a repository for all the open notebooks in the world. A live feed of posts from these notebooks seems very feasible and could be a way to organize the movement of open notebook science. opennotebook.org could be a thing…
- Curating notebooks is a major concern to me. Scientific data is obviously important, and the internet is a very dynamic place. Trusting that resources will be around long term is a concern and even more so for the self-hosted guys (like myself). Can there be a place that guarantees the longevity of notebooks? Talking with Brian Glanz of Open Science Foundation has revealed that business seem to have more sway in universities than understood, because otherwise why wouldn’t libraries take up the cause?
I’m sure there is a lot that I’m forgetting, but these were the biggest ideas that I can think of. Some of this stuff is in need of a solution. This will come in time, but I hope to be part of the solution.
In addition to that, the spirit of the conference has given me two very interesting ideas:
- An unclass about open notebook science. The idea of the unconference is to spark discussion amongst peers and I think in the context of ONS this can be done in a class. Right now there is no wrong way to do an open notebook, so the first unclass will have to be a discussion about what are the core values of ONS and open science in general. The students would then be given complete freedom to choose the notebooking medium that they want, and classes would engage discussion about what are the benefits and downfalls of their chosen medium. Discussions would then evolve into problems with ONS and successes of it as well. This could be really awesome since there would be a mini community of notebookers and they could all learn from each other. It would be a small scale case study of the proliferation of notebooks! I think I’ve convinced myself to do this now!
- A class or two on effective communication in science. A lot of this notebook is geared toward inclusive information, and by that I mean I always explain things as simply as possible so that anyone can understand what I mean (or at least I try to). I would like to talk about principles of design and writing that I’ve learned over the years from being a graphic designer and a blogger and apply them to the scientific setting. Teaching this to the next level of scientists will ensure that the future of science is in good hands. In much the same way that journals brought a change in scientific culture over 400 years ago, these principles can take science to a whole new level. Everyone here at ScienceOnline gets it, why doesn’t the rest of the scientific community?
As always feel free to leave your thought below. I completely encourage criticism of any sort!