2018 Archive

Learning to Write in the Sciences:
How Our Communication Practices Shape Future Scientists


How did you learn to write in your field? Did you take courses in science writing? Or have you learned by osmosis, so to speak, picking up best practices of writing as you go along? During this session, Megan Callow, a lecturer in science writing at UW, will present some of the research on the essential relationship between our disciplinary backgrounds and our approaches to writing and communication. Megan will then solicit responses from participants about their own histories with science communication, using this feedback as grounds for discussion about how and whether novice scientists should be taught to communicate. Note: at this session participants will be presented with a written survey containing questions about writing in science. If they consent, participants’ anonymous responses may be used for research. Consent is not mandatory for participation!

Salon XXXI – How We Make a Scientist


An ever-increasing percentage of scientific research in academia is performed by trainees – students and postdocs preparing for the next phase of their career. Recent recommendations from NIH have proposed changes to the current training model in the biomedical sciences, and recent policy proposals like the “grad student tax” (taxable tuition waivers) and unionization efforts across academia (including here at the UW) have highlighted the fuzzy line between student, trainee, and employee. We’ll discuss the variation in training models across fields and countries and the role of funding paradigms in establishing and supporting these models. The discussion will focus on attendees’ own experience training in academia and their perspectives on what, exactly, we’re training for anyways.

Salon XXXII – Movie Night:
Inherit the Dar-wind

Scopes Trial History, Butler Act, and
Scopes Trial Political Cartoons

You are cordially invited to Charles Darwin’s birthday bash! On Feb 12, Charles Darwin turns 209. To celebrate his numerous scientific achievements the salon will be throwing a movie night in his honor. We will watch “Inherit the Wind,” the 1960 period drama inspired by the Scopes “Monkey” Trial, where a high school teacher is put on trial for teaching evolution in a public high school. Before the film we will evaluate some of the film’s inaccuracies, historical context, and statements on McCarthyism and intellectual freedom.

Salon XXXIII – The “Science” of Sex Differences


Last year’s infamous “Google Memo” brought new attention to an age-old controversy on gender differences and their implications in cognitive abilities and job suitability.  Why does belief that men and women are “good” at different mental tasks exist in society?  What scientific evidence exists addressing this?  During this salon, we will discuss the validity and implications of research into the biology of sex differences.  Can this research be handled appropriately in the inescapable context of a biased society?

Salon XXXIV – Un-black boxing NYC crime lab’s DNA matching software

Handout and references

In October of last year, a federal judge granted a motion filed by investigative journalists at ProPublica to make public the previously proprietary forensic genetics software developed by NYC’s crime lab. ProPublica then put the source code on GitHub. What many in the scientific and legal communities had suspected was confirmed: the methods in use relied on questionable statistics and call into question over 1,000 cases where it was used as evidence over a 5 year period. Join Public Health Genetics’ Masters student William Gordon to recount this incredible story blending investigative journalism, the un-black boxing of proprietary DNA evidence, and attempts to address the use of faulty and questionable DNA forensic evidence in the courtroom.

Salon XXXV – The “Science” of Sex Differences:
Translating Across Disciplines

Questions around gender, sex, and sexuality span disciplinary boundaries across the sciences, social sciences, and humanities, but these diverse modes of inquiry are rarely brought into direct conversation. Guest faculty and lecturers Jey Saung (GWSS), Annie Dwyer (CHID), Alys Weinbaum (English), and Dina Greene (Chemistry) will lead a conversation on how their modes of inquiry into questions of gender, sex, and sexuality overlap with one another and with other discussion participants. What kinds of questions do different academic disciplines ask about these topics? How might the humanities and social sciences leverage STEM research within queer, feminist, and anti-racist contexts, and conversely, how might different interpretations of gender and sexuality shape the formulation and interpretation of STEM research? Event moderated by Chelsea Grimmer (English) and sponsored by the UW Genomics Salon.

Salon XXXVI – Let’s Talk Science
… Policy and Legislators Edition


Do you feel like your research has larger societal or policy implications? Would you like to voice your opinion regarding regulations or policies and their effects on your research? Are you interested in figuring out what people are exactly talking about when they throw the term “science policy”? If yes then join us to learn more about science policy, speaking with elected officials, and how to think about research outside of the lab or academic space!

Salon XXXVII – Pipettes to Paintbrushes:
Paint Your PhD Night

Join the Genomics Salon for an evening of art and science as we paint our PhDs! Take a break from the bench to show off the broad strokes of your research.

Salons XXXVIII-XLII – Summer Salon Book Club

The Genomics Salon is planning to host a summer book club on The Eighth Day of Creation by Horace Judson. The book is a history of molecular biology that was written through extensive interviews with many of key molecular biologists and has received rave reviews from the likes of Matt Meselsohn and Mark Ptashne. Mark your calendars for the dates below:
Wed June 27, 4:30pm – Chapters 1 and 2
Wed July 18, 4:30pm – Chapters 3 and 4
Wed August 15, 4:30pm – Chapters 5 and 6
Wed August 29, 4:30pm – Chapters 7 and 8
Thurs September 20, 4:30pm – Chapters 9 and 10

Salon XLIII – After the Science Wars


“Science is a tribute to what we can know although we are fallible,” said Jacob Bronowski, echoing the traditional account of science as having a special robustness—if not immunity—to human imperfections. In recent decades, historians, philosophers, and sociologists have challenged this account through case studies and critical theory that portray the socially constructed nature of science, and these theories of science sparked the acrimonious intellectual battles known as the Science Wars. In this Salon, we’ll discuss the traditional account of science and what can be learned from the accounts of science appearing in other disciplines. Is the traditional account descriptive or prescriptive? Do departures from the ideal of science show this ideal to be more myth than method, or are these rare exceptions that prove the rule? If a myth, could it be a myth to live by? The Science Wars were heated—but did this heat shed any light, and where is the debate now?

Salon XLIV – The Eighth Day of Creation Celebration

It’s been a fun and satisfying experience to read The Eighth Day of Creation together this summer, and we wanted to plan one more book club meeting to reflect on the book as a whole and celebrate having read it! Everyone is welcome to attend, whether you read one page of the book, all 700+, or are just hearing about the book for the first time. We’ll have snacks and drinks and cookie-decorating as a tastier replacement for the ties from the RNA tie club. Additionally, we will reflect on the following series of reflections on the book, from the book’s commemorative edition. In brief, these selections encompass all of the forewords, the epilogue, and the two afterwords that we have not already read.

Salon XLV – White Paper Project

Come and learn how to communicate your research and its significance to policy and decision-makers! The White Paper project will teach you how to write to different audiences and work to connect you with community partnerships so your research can make a larger impact. White papers are short-form legislative document used to explain and support a particular political solution. Join us to learn about this tool for participating politically as scientists.

Salon XLVI – History of Disciplines

Handout and text

This genomics salon will host a discussion on how various university disciplines developed into the distinct categories we find today. Through examining history, we will interrogate the functions of disciplinarity and its impacts on discipline-specific research. How do these histories continue to influence contemporary research? How are these histories relevant to the ways in which we approach our disciplines? How do we do “interdisciplinary” work?