About Me

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I'm an assistant professor of neuroscience at Washington State University in Vancouver, where I use tiny zebrafish (the size of an eyelash!) as a model system to study human hearing loss and how we can prevent it. I'm also a long-time Toastmaster and I teach communication workshops. This blog represents the merging of my two passions - science and communication, which has really become one central passion - the science of communication. There's a revolution in science right now...the idea that we scientists should sometimes leave the lab and talk about what we do, and why we do it, to real people. This blog looks at why we should do this, and how to actually talk about science with non-scientists (and with each other!). Portions of this blog are also featured on Qualia, the AAAS MemberCenter blog site.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Trick, Treat, or Talk

On a fine Halloween day, why not sprinkle a little Halloween spirit into your talk? Dr. Gwenn Garden of the University of Washington did just that, giving us a little light-heartedness at the beginning of her neuroscience seminar today. Dr. Garden studies glia - the cells in our brains that neurons can’t live without. Rather than using a laser pointer to show us features on her slides, Gwenn used her fairy wand-today she was the glia fairy!  Her opening slides also included analogies to candy corn-anyone hungry for some Halloween candy? 

Monday, October 24, 2011

A renewed call to action

I know I said I was going “off the air” until I moved, but I heard a terrific conversation this morning on the local NPR station and couldn’t help sharing a few thoughts…with so much going on right now I sure have plenty of thoughts to share!

Today’s Weekday guest was bioethics professor Dr. Jonathan Moreno from the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Moreno and host Steve Scher talked about serious ethical issues in experimental biology, from stem cells and regenerative medicine to personal genome sequencing. For those in the Seattle area, Dr. Moreno will be speaking at the University of Washington on 10/25/11 at 3:30 PM.

While the conversation itself was fascinating, what really resonated for me (and perhaps some of you) was the repeated call for scientists to leave the lab sometimes and engage the public in honest dialog about what we do and why it is important - how has science transformed our world? These conversations are critical when we work on potential hot-button issues such as stem cells or genetic engineering, but insight into how science works and how the world will benefit is important at all levels.

Not a new message, but still an important one.  If we want the public to understand and support science, it’s up to us to explain it clearly!