Rivka Isaacson is something of an authority on the novelist and philosopher Iris Murdoch (pictured above). She has delivered papers about her at conferences, published two peer-reviewed articles and contributed a chapter to a book. She now feels “part of a community” of Murdoch scholars and is often asked to chair relevant events. Many in that community are surprised to learn that her academic post at King’s College London is not in the English or philosophy department, but in chemistry.
One of the hardest challenges we face as scientists is describing our work to friends and family from different walks of life without completely baffling them. We all love what we do and given the opportunity we could rant about our research for days. However, when you’re trying to explain why exploring the basic biology of the cell is important for society, people may not always understand right away. It’s easier if you are researching a hot topic or can use household words such as cancer or diabetes, but trying to explain why the actin dynamics of the early Drosophila embryo is just as interesting doesn’t always go smoothly.
Five years ago, the “ground opened up” beneath Richard Mann. Then a junior postdoctoral researcher at Uppsala University in Sweden, he was in the middle of a two-month visit to the University of Sydney in Australia and was due to give a seminar about a research paper that he had published recently. The paper was by far the most significant of his fledgling career, and the culmination of 18 months of hard work.
Want to be the most interesting person in the room? Well, whether you’re introverted or extroverted, it doesn’t really matter: There are things one must do to have the kind of captivating conversations that will attract others to your social circle.
He was the academic lecture hall equivalent of a heckler. Last month, during the Q&A session after my keynote at the Preparing Science Professionals symposium at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, someone asked about an embattled subject in academia: life outside the lab. I’m a big proponent of life outside the lab—or, as I […]