Pondering the disruption of crowdfunding: It’s not a panacea.

On my train to work, I routinely am requested to donate money multiple times (and not just by the homeless guy outside the station). One comes in the form of a new project with a homemade advertisement up in the train station – and in the corner is a ‘find us on Kickstarter!’ logo. I’m then asked by my regular podcast to support them through Maximum Fun through either a subscription or one-time support.  The author of the article I’m reading asks for support through Patreon. By the time I get to work, where I could potentially pull out my banking information and support any of these initiatives, I’m thinking less about actually doing so and more about the new phenomenon of crowdfunding, wondering how effective this new phenomenon is. Not to mention, there’s no way I can support all the wonderful creators that solicited me during my commute. Plus, I realize I’m beginning to tune out the requests.

Don’t get me wrong – there’s a time and a place for crowdfunding. It can support a new business during its most vulnerable time and can provide small injections of funding when all you need is to test an idea. But it does best for people actually producing something and for ‘sexy’ topics of the day. Yet, indiscriminately choosing crowdfunding (or any other sort of funding) without consideration of which funding strategy is best can really hurt your cause, causing groups to shift their mission. So let’s think about the science of fundraising and how crowdfunding fits into a larger fundraising landscape. How is it changing the relationship between those who need support and the typical people who fund them? Read More

The Invisible Disability: The diabetic academic manifesto

Whenever I fill out a job application, there are those little demographic questions at the end and I’m always a bit stymied. They ask if I have a disability that should be taken into account. I don’t, but in the world of academia I feel like I should say yes. I’m diabetic, and post-PhD it’s starting to become a tangible hindrance for the first time in my life.

Ever the optimist, I tend to dismiss the cases in which the fact that I have a chronic disease directs my decisions. But lately, the cases have piled up to the point I need a cathartic moment to vent. And while a personal subject, I hope my thoughts can be either enlightening or instructive to those thinking about personal health in the ivory tower. Because that’s part of the problem – something held close because it’s personal keeps the issue out of public discourse, which is precisely where solutions might someday emerge.

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A Guide to Tweeting at Scientific Meetings for Social Media Veterans

A year ago, David Shiffman published How to live-tweet a conference: A guide for conference organizers and twitter users, an informative and exhaustive guide to using twitter to help promote scientific conferences. Since then, I’m certain you’ve internalized his lessons and become a veteran of the science twitterverse. Now that you’re among the top twitter users in your field, it’s time to address how that changes the way you use twitter to interact with your peers.

How do you know if you’re a twitter veteran? There’s no real, concrete rule but, being that this is a guide for scientists, let’s say that a veteran twitter has significantly more followers than the average twitter user attending the conference. If you sampled the number of followers that each conference attendee on twitter had, you would fall outside of the 95% confidence interval. For a huge tech conference, this might mean you have hundreds of thousands, even millions of followers. For a small, regional conference in a relatively narrow field, this could be a couple of hundred followers.

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The Pizza of Privilege: My Experiences with Anti-Semitism in Academia

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Anti-Semitic graffiti similar to this has been found on U.S. universities. This comes from a private residence in New York. Photo credit: Alex Silverman/WCBS 880.

Since I joined Southern Fried Science in 2009, I’ve written almost 1,000 blog posts. This post has unquestionably been the most difficult one for me to write. Although I’ve always enjoyed sharing and debating my opinions (even when they’re unpopular in certain circles,) I’ve never been comfortable discussing negative personal experiences. And yet, I feel that the topic of anti-Semitism in academia , something that is in fact much more pervasive than most non-Jews believe, is too important for me to remain silent any longer. More than 40% of Jewish students reported being the victim of some degree of anti-Semitism at their college or university. This can range from mockery to exclusion to  the Michigan State student who was beaten while his attackers made the Nazi salute last summer.

I want to state upfront that it is not my intention in writing this post to start a “which minority group is the most oppressed” competition, nor am I naive enough to believe that my post will be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back and fixes these issues once and for all. I also want to state that while I could write a whole book about my experiences with anti-Semitism in the context of my personal pro-Israel advocacy, this post is not about that, other than to say that while not all criticism of Israel and Israel’s policies and actions can be considered anti-Semitic in nature, some of it certainly can.  Finally, it’s important to note that while not all of these examples are necessarily anti-Jewish specifically, all are anti-someone-different-from-me and contrary to a culture of diversity and inclusiveness. My goal is simply to continue an important and ongoing conversation about academic culture by sharing my personal experiences, and perhaps to bring another group into that conversation.  Please feel free to share your own experiences in the comments section.

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10 Tips for grad students to make the most of a scientific conference

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Presenting research at the International Marine Conservation Congress in Victoria, BC.

Presenting research at the International Marine Conservation Congress in Victoria, BC (2011).

I just returned from the Society for Conservation Biology’s International Congress for Conservation Biology. It was a great meeting, and I learned a lot. It also marked a milestone for me, as although I am just starting the 3rd year of my Ph.D.,  the ICCB was the 20th scientific conference I’ve attended. Inspired by this milestone, by Josh Drew’s recent post on the subject, and by the excellent graduate student networking workshop held at the ICCB, I wanted to share my tips and tricks for graduate students to get the most out of a conference

Please note that while these tips have served me well and are generally applicable to professional meetings in the sciences, they may not be appropriate for every field or every person’s goals for a conference.  Additionally, some may be considered quite basic, but I assure you that I’ve met people (particularly graduate students attending a conference for a first time) who don’t know them. I welcome a discussion in the comments.

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