Enrique De La Cruz seminars on Wednesday 2/17!

Dr. Enrique De La Cruz will be visiting campus this Wednesday February 17th and will be giving two talks! Dr. De La Cruz is a world expert in cellular biophysics. His work focuses on molecular motors and cytoskeletal protein dynamics. His interdisciplinary research studying the kinetics and thermodynamics of enzymes and polymers that span the central dogma of molecular biology has provided insights of pathology of diseases in muscle, kidney, heart and brain. He has taken leadership positions in several scientific societies, where he sparked several initiatives for diversity in STEM; headed many outreach activities that focus on minority participation in research; and is an active SACNAS member. For this visit, Dr. De La Cruz is also bringing a postdoc, Dr. Eric Johnson Chavarria, who will be speaking about his research in the De La Cruz lab. Details about all talks below:

  • Seminar 1: Eric Johnson Chavarria will kick off the talks at 10:30 am in B115 (JSCBB). His talk is titled: “Automated microfluidics for measuring single bacteria gene expression and actin cytoskeleton force dependence.”
  • Seminar 2: Enrique De La Cruz’s informal seminar will be at 12:00 pm in B121 (Porter). His talk is titled: “Was I supposed to make it?”
  • Seminar 3: Enrique De La Cruz’s research seminar will be at 3:30 pm in Butcher Auditorium (JSCBB). His talk is titled: “How cells use chemistry and physics to break the bones that power their movement.”

Special CU Café Seminar TOMORROW 2/12

Tomorrow Dr. Gabriel Lopez from the University of New Mexico will be giving a talk sponsored by CU Café and BioFrontiers. Dr. Lopez is an accomplished professor of Biomedical Engineering. He founded the NSF’s Research Triangle Materials Research Science and Engineering Center in North Carolina and the Center for Biomedical Engineering at the University of New Mexico. His research in biomaterials and bioengineering has resulted in over 200 peer-reviewed articles and 32 U.S. patents. In 2006, the editors of Hispanic Engineer and Information Technology selected him as one of the “100 most important Hispanics in technology and business.” He was recently appointed Vice-President of Research at the University of New Mexico. More information about his research can be found on his website!

His talk is titled: “Genetic Level Programming of Molecular Assembly of Intrinsically Disordered Proteins” and he will be speaking at 4:30 pm in JSCBB A104 TOMORROW 2/12/16. We hope you can make it!

‘The Finkbeiner Test’

by Curtis Brainard, cjr.org, March 22, 2013
There’s still a gender gap in the sciences, with far fewer women than men in research jobs, and those women earning substantially less, but it doesn’t help when journalists treat every female scientist they profile as an archetype of perseverance.
[Christie] Aschwanden cited a few examples littered with phrases like, “she is married, has two children and has been able to keep up with her research,” and proposed that, as a means of avoiding such gratuitous gender profiles, reporters adopt a simple, seven-part test. To pass, a story cannot mention:

  • The fact that she’s a woman
  • Her husband’s job
  • Her child-care arrangements
  • How she nurtures her underlings
  • How she was taken aback by the competitiveness in her field
  • How she’s such a role model for other women
  • How she’s the “first woman to…”

Read more here…

What do you think about this test, readers? Will this test help us write better articles about women scientists? Do you think it’s okay to mention a woman’s personal life in an article about her career? Why or why not?

Stanford GSE study suggests academic benefits to ethnic studies courses

by Brooke Donald, ed.stanford.edu, January 12, 2016
A high school ethnic studies course examining the role of race, nationality and culture on identity and experience boosted attendance and academic performance of students at risk of dropping out, a new study by scholars at Stanford Graduate School of Education found.
The study looked at ethnic studies classes piloted in several San Francisco high schools and compared academic outcomes for students encouraged to enroll in the course with similar students who did not take it.
The researchers found that students not only made gains in attendance and grades, they also increased the number of course credits they earned to graduate… Read more here!

Welcome back!

Hi everyone! Welcome back for spring semester! We hope you had great winter breaks and are well-rested and ready to dive back into school!

So far, CU Café is hosting three events this semester (see below for details) but we might be adding more so make sure you check here/our Twitter feed often for more updates as the semester progresses. Here’s what we have planned so far:

  1. February 17, 2016 – Enrique de la Cruz seminar
    Dr. Enrique De la Cruz is a world expert in cellular biophysics. His work focuses on molecular motors and cytoskeletal protein dynamics. His interdisciplinary research studying the kinetics and thermodynamics of enzymes and polymers that span the central dogma of molecular biology has provided insights of pathology of diseases in muscle, kidney, heart and brain. He has taken leadership positions in several scientific societies, where he sparked several initiatives for diversity in STEM; headed many outreach activities that focus on minority participation in research; and is an active SACNAS member.
  2. April 4, 2016 – Geronimo Villanueva seminar
    NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) and Catholic University of America (CUA) Research Assistant Professor, Dr. Geronimo Villanueva brings experience as a bilingual science communicator (Spanish and English). Dr. Villanueva’s recent research highlights include mapping the “heavy water” (deuterated water, D/H) content on Mars and the first detection of “heavy water” in a comet. He also is the group leader for future Mars studies by the James Webb Space Telescope, a co-investigator of the Exo-Mars Trace-Gas-Orbiter 2016 and has experience with three major space agencies, NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) and Deutschen Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR) the German Aerospace Agency.
  3. April 28, 2016 – Kalai Mathee seminar
    Dr. Kalai Mathee leads a multi-faceted research group focused on molecular pathogenesis in the model organism Pseudomonas aeruginosa that is responsible for the high mortality and morbidity in cystic fibrosis patients. She is as passionate about her research as she is about mentoring students of all backgrounds.

Stay tuned for more details about these seminars and for more information regarding other events. In addition, if you would like to be involved in CU Café, please do not hesitate to send us an e-mail!

Recap of Ahna Skop’s visit to CU on 12/1!

On Dec 1st, CU Café and the Signaling and Cellular Regulation (SCR) Training Grant program hosted Dr. Ahna Skop and her undergraduate student Alex Villarreal at CU Boulder.

Dr. Ahna Skop is an associate professor of Genetics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She did her undergraduate at Syracuse University and her PhD work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison under Dr. John White. She then moved to a post-doc at the University of California Berkeley with Rebecca Heald and Barbara Meyer, after which she returned to UW-Madison as a faculty member. Dr. Skop has won a number of awards, including the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers and the AAAS Remarkable Women in Science Award, and in addition to several other professional associations she has been a longstanding member and now is a board member of the Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS).

During her visit to CU Boulder, Dr. Skop met with faculty in a variety of departments across campus (MCDB, Biochemistry, Physics, and Film Studies) and gave two talks: an informal talk to graduate students and postdocs about her career path and creativity in science and a formal talk about research in her lab at University of Wisconsin-Madison. Alex toured the CU Boulder campus and the CU Light Microscopy Core Facility in MCDB, shadowed graduate students and postdocs in three MCDB labs, and gave a talk to interested graduate students, postdocs, and faculty about his project in the Skop lab. After Dr. Skop’s formal talk, Dr. Skop and Alex attended a dinner with students and postdocs associated with CU Café, the SCR Training Grant, and IQ Biology. The dinner conversation had a few main themes, including knowing your passions and staying true to yourself (instead of following “typical” career paths because that’s what you think is expected of you) as well as how to market yourself for your dream job.

This visit was put together by Sarah McQuate and Lynn Sanford, who are both CU Café members. Lynn is currently funded by the SCR training grant and Sarah was previously funded by SCR.

Women left behind as scientific enterprise grows

by Beryl Lieff Benderly, sciencemag.org, November 30, 2015
The number of researchers at work today throughout the world—about 7.8 million—has grown 21% in the past 6 years, according to the UNESCO Science Report: Towards 2030, published 10 November. “This remarkable growth is also reflected in the explosion of scientific publications,” which increased by 23.4% between 2008 and 2014—from 1,029,471 to 1,270,425 a year—the report adds.
Many of the world’s students are women, including 53% of those earning bachelor’s or master’s degrees, “but their numbers drop off abruptly at PhD level,” the report notes. At that level, men constitute 57% of those completing degrees. “The discrepancy widens at the researcher level, with men now representing 72% of the global pool. The high proportion of women in tertiary education is, thus, not necessarily translating into a greater presence in research.” Overall, “[t]he glass ceiling [is] still intact,” with “[e]ach step up the ladder of the scientific research system see[ing] a drop in female participation until, at the highest echelons of scientific research and decision-making, there are very few women left.” In addition to constituting a minority of only 28% of researchers worldwide, women “also tend to have more limited access to funding than men and to be less represented in prestigious universities and among senior faculty, which puts them at a further disadvantage in high-impact publishing,” the report observes. Read more here…

Ahna Skop seminars tomorrow 12/1!

Dr. Ahna Skop from University of Wisconsin-Madison will be visiting campus tomorrow and giving two talks! Dr. Skop studies the molecular machinery behind cytokinesis and cell polarity in C. elegans. Her lab has defined key links between the endosomal pathway, the cytoskeleton, and membrane trafficking in both cytokineses and cell polarity, particularly in respect to anterior PAR protein complexes. Her lab uses functional genomics, proteomics, and microscopy to identify key proteins and their roles in these two phenomena. Additionally, Dr. Skop is a proponent of deriving art from science and scientific outreach via art. More information can be found at her research website. Finally, her undergraduate student, Alex Villarreal will also be giving a talk about his research in the Skop lab! Details below:

  • Seminar 1: Ahna Skop Informal Seminar for students and postdocs – “Too creative for science” in Porter B121 at noon. Bring your lunch!
  • Seminar 2: Alex Villarreal will be speaking about his research in JSCBB B331 at 3:15! His talk is titled “RNA regulation during mitosis.”
  • Seminar 3: Ahna Skop Formal Seminar – “The mystery and beauty of asymmetric cell division” in Butcher Auditorium at 4 pm.

Microaggressions Matter

by Simba Runyowa, theatlantic.com, September 18, 2015
When I was studying at Oberlin College, a fellow student once compared me to her dog.

Because my name is Simba, a name Americans associate with animals, she unhelpfully shared that her dog’s name was also Simba. She froze with embarrassment, realizing that her remark could be perceived as debasing and culturally insensitive.

It’s a good example of what social-justice activists term microaggressions—behaviors or statements that do not necessarily reflect malicious intent but which nevertheless can inflict insult or injury. Read more here…

CU Café Presents: Acceptance v Tolerance

Last week, the annual Diversity and Inclusion Summit was hosted at the University of Colorado Boulder and CU Café was honored with an opportunity to participate a host panel discussion entitled “CU Café Presents: Acceptance v Tolerance.”

The panel discussion was moderated by Dr. Loren Hough of BioFrontiers and Physics and it featured two members of CU Café, Sarah McQuate and Kaylan Haizlip, both post-docs in the biological sciences. The panel was rounded out with the addition of two CU faculty with expertise in campus diversity issues, Dr. Tiffany Ito and Dr. Laura Border. During the panel, we encouraged the audience to participate for the entire duration of the discussion, which focused mainly on identifying tolerance and acceptance in the context of the classroom and community environment. Sarah proposed the best analogy for these two concepts and it was expanded on throughout the discussion.

“Acceptance is being invited to the party and getting asked to dance. Tolerance is being invited, but no one is talking to you once you get there.”

Attendees were encouraged to define both terms, share personal experiences, and suggest changes that could lead to creating a more inclusive, accepting campus at CU. After a rousing conversation, the conversation moved to the idea of quantifying microaggressions in order to explain the lack of the feeling of belonging at the University.

In the end a final consensus was that people feel accepted when:

  1. You talk to them.
  2. You welcome them personally and professionally.
  3. You are open with them.
  4. You smile at them.
  5. You acknowledge their existence.
  6. You value them and their contributions.

We practiced being open with each other in small groups and found that a sense of belonging is great! When it is not there, the emotional toll is palpable and leads to unrest. Bottom line from the panel: Be aware of your intentions towards others and be genuine in your interactions for the betterment of yourself and the community at large.

Now it’s your turn! How would you define tolerance vs. acceptance? Can you share personal experiences with either? How could we start to make a college campus more accepting? Please share you thoughts in the comments section below!