Friday, October 12, 2007

390 goals and 917 points and counting...

He did it!
In the good game where Maple Leafs won 8-1 Sundin did it!! (A wonderful thing that Leafs won since the game before this one ended in 1-7…. Anyway, let’s not think about that now.)

He now has the records of most goals (390) in Toronto Maple Leafs and most points (917) and he is not done! He is also chasing that old record of Börje Salming with the assists, Salming has 620 and Sundin 527 so that might take a while… not that I really care seeing they are both Swedes and really Salming was awesome in his time!

I really, really, really, wish he can finish this season with taking the Leafs to the Stanley Cup Play offs and how wonderful would it be if they went to the finals?!?! I have already given myself a promise that if (I want to write when) they enter the play offs I will head up there and grab a seat in Air Canada Centre to see my favorite team in their building. (I know, it might be too expensive but the dream lives on…)

I mean, can you imagine what it sounded like when this happened there after the game last night? “Capping the historic night at Air Canada Centre, public address announcer Andy Frost drew roars of approval from the more than 19,000 fans when he revealed the selection of the three stars of the game as Sundin, Sundin and Sundin.” And further to emphasise that it isn’t only I who perceive this crazy fandom “Over the last 10 seasons, Sundin ranks fourth among all NHL players in goals (334) and points (787)” (Although, I think might need to update their numbers but well, I’ll let it slide for this time.)

Time to exit the world of hockey and enter the lab, PCRs here I come. Jolly weekend to y’all and good luck England in conquering those French Frogs (no offense people, its rugby!)!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Article and journal decisions

I am trying to write my article and summarize everything I have done so far. I realize that there are a few more results (ok, quite a few) that need to be done before I can say I am finished with this but still my only thought at the moment (apart from the dreadful moment tomorrow when I have decided to present the manuscript so far to my PI for comments) is where to send this? My ego would like to send it to a large journal, just to get some comments on why they wouldn’t publish it?! Then move on to another journal that I think might would publish it and where I would be happy to have it. And then, after that, move into “anywhere as long as impact factor is larger than 3 and people who I write for read the journal”.

I tried to look at different journals and decide what I want to name drop when we eventually talk about it. I guess that is one of the main things I want to sort out tomorrow since it will influence how I argue in my discussion… I assume we will send it to a rather more clinical setting than what I am used to (not pure microbiology that is). In other words, more Journal of Clinical investigation or maybe Journal of experimental medicine although I do realize that both of them have massive impact factors and probably will not be for this research. Otherwise I guess PLoS Medicine or PLoS would work (and not as "would work although they are not as high" because they are), taking into consideration that this project might be considered a little cross over… it is not solely microbiology and not solely clinical.

In fact, I was surprised when people told me at the conference that it was considered a clinical paper since I have no patients or material from humans. Anyway, back to the journal thinking. I am such a snob though that at the moment think it will be my last goal to see if it is publishable in Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy or Antimicrobial agents and chemotherapy. I think those would be kind of safe bets, but then again, I am not sure. This is why my PI will have the final say in all this...

I think it would be fun to someday try and send something to Nature Medicine for example (I know, it is ego and probably very silly to want that kind of recognition). Just because I personally, when I am in a good mood as today, can see the benefits and interest from many people and this especially when talking about treatment of infectious diseases. And then of course that I would be so happy if my research went into one of the Big ones... it would be similar to the dream about studying in Cambridge or getting my PhD degree and then realizing one day that I have a PhD degree (no, never went to Cambridge but a professor from there gave me one of my best memories of conferences and research) and that I am, currently, doing a post doc at a place I never thought I could qualify for when I started my biology studies as an undergrad.

Well, I just wanted to let this stand out here for me to mull over until tomorrow (or more likely next week). The hardest part would be to say “I think we should send it to Nature Medicine” and not get a condescending smile. [Come to think of it, I think the paper I am second author on got sent to Nature Medicine by my PI first so… maybe not completely impossible? If nothing else he might have the guts to try?!] And also, the last paper accepted in the lab was in some of the newcomer Cell spawns so…. Maybe not completely off mark? And if nothing else, the likely hood of me publishing in a grand big journal is never going to be higher than this - in this ‘highly ranked institute’ where I am now so better try. It like that saying “you can’t win if you don’t play”.

Home to practice face “what is the worst that can happen if we submit there?”. And of course, "go for the shot stupid! Don't flap around the ice like that!" (yes, hockey started yesterday!! yey!)

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

women in science

I read a post the other day at Am I A Women Scientist and decided to respond in the comments.
“…I finished my PhD two years ago and did an 'inventory' where my former colleges are today. Of the women, 7 out of 9 (78%) are on a nontenure, nonscience, nonuni track but only 1 out of 6 (16%) of the men. Of the two women still in the scientific field (or what to call it?! t-t?) one is employed for another month and then she will change careers into nursing. So, that leaves me doing a post doc abroad and one woman working as a researcher in t-t. I guess 20% rate (2/10) from PhD to t-t might be considered ok??* If it wasn't for the almost opposite (84%) ratio in the male group...”

*on the other hand I am not sure I am on t-t at the moment… and not what I’ll do later but in all fairness, I am comparing with the men so I have the same situation as them (post doc with publications).

This set off a trail of thoughts in my head and I am not sure that it is relevant either. But no matter if one would be claiming that men are evil or women are meant to be home with children, one must say that there is a difference in outcome a few years after the coveted PhD degree is acquired between men and women (at least in biology from my old department).

I guess in order for it to be significant I should link to those studies that are published showing that indeed there are a difference and unfortunately the difference in ratio between men and women are not in fact decreasing. The ratio men/women with a PhD might decrease but the ratio t-t men/women a few years after the degree is quite stable. (I guess I need to dig up some references for believability?)

Together with this thought process I remembered that I got an email from a friend, female, the other week where she wrote that she is considering returning to science and get a PhD degree. This after being working as a teacher for a few years while her two children have been born and they as a family needed the solid money rather than replying on her husband’s grant applications (yes, he is in research and had his PhD a few years back).

I probably sounded like a cynical women in my reply when I really wanted to say “Yes damn it! Go back! Give yourself that opportunity that we talked about when I chose to start my graduate program.”, and instead sound like a bitter feminist maybe? What I did write was a more nuanced “I think you should be happy with going back. And no, I don’t think you are too old. And I think you should think about what you want to do with your life!” but I think I kind of under minded the whole argument by adding “being a little cynical and scared of being without money I need to point out that I have no idea what the social security for you as a mother looks like when it comes to the funding situation. I’d check it up prior to making a solid decision. On the other hand, I am sure it is ok, it is just me being overly cautious.”Hopefully, I didn’t scare her off the prospect even if this specific PhD position might not have been what she was looking for.

I don’t know. Life is recently turning into much more complicated than I would have liked it, and would like it to be. For example, every now and then I am contemplating how much I am doing this post doc thing in order to prove to other (women) that it can be done, when in fact I think it might be either like reinventing the wheel (there have been and will be other women who have ‘done it’) or making me suffer all in vane since I don’t want to do science after all. Then I remember the happy feeling of testing my theories and looking at my PCRs or, as last Monday, realizing that the mutant I made actually seems to be a solid good mutant.

On the topic of women in science and the historic perspective I would like to point to a new book by the (British) History professor Ruth Watts. Women in Science: A Social and Cultural History (Routledge, 320 pp). Definetly something I want for christmas, especially since the review/comment I read the other day was quite intruging if not depressing in a historical context. In other words, the notion that ” it is getting better, i.e. more women in science, would be due to history and that we are in fact better off today than previos times is not exactly accurate...