Daily Archives: January 23, 2012

An up-close look at Duke’s lemurs

The Duke Lemur Center has the largest group of lemurs in the world outside their native Madagascar.  Tours are given Mondays through Saturdays (details here), and they give you the opportunity to get a very close look at the little prosimian primates. You’re never going to get a better opportunity without actually going to Madagascar.

A lemur enjoys an afternoon snack at the Duke Lemur Center.

A lemur with a leafy green afternoon snack at the Duke Lemur Center.

Free-ranging lemurs at Duke

Out in the woods: Lemurs who respond well to training get to run free (within limits) when the weather is sufficiently warm (above 40 for three straight days).

Sign at the Lemur Center: "Caution: Animals will bite"

Be advised.

Broadening participation in the STEM disciplines: Insights from a diverse group at Science Online

In many native languages, there’s no word for science.  It’s not that there’s no science in those cultures; it’s just that science isn’t differentiated from the rest of life. That’s a beautiful concept and an enviable one, considering the problems our society has in getting people even to think about that scary thing we isolate from the rest of our lives and call science.

The point arose, courtesy of Dr. Cynthia Coleman, a member of the Osage tribe (Musings on Native Science), at the Science Online 2012 conference in Raleigh last week. But you don’t have to seek out another culture to find perceptions about science that differ profoundly from those of faculty members and researchers.  It’s right there in the classroom.

“… [D]on’t tell someone their struggle isn’t real or dismiss them. Studying is hard, so is balancing work-life issues. … This stuff we call science may come easy or quickly for you, but some students may have to struggle to get the info.  Point them to university resources to help them study.  No matter how odd or unbelievable or unlikely you think these confidence-conflicts may  be, the sure fire way to turn a student off to the discipline (and to you) is prove that you can’t be trusted to take his/her concerns for doing well seriously.”

— Dr. Danielle Lee, The Urban Scientist

The discussion was convened by Dr. Lee; its starting point was broadening participation in online science communication and communities. Dr. Lee’s insights are on her blog and are well worth reading.

It was encouraging both to see a good turnout and to hear a very engaged exchange among a diverse group of scientists and communicators.  The key takeaway: We all (including you, us and everyone else) need to be doing more to understand and engage those who are in our STEM programs (whether they’re struggling or not), those who are opting out for other careers, and especially the many potential engineers and scientists who got discouraged early on and won’t even think about it now.

We can’t expect them to come to us.  We have to go to them, and they’re online.  We should be, too (that’s not the only place we need to be, but it’s one where we need to have more of a presence).  Check out the list of bloggers at Minority Postdoc or the blogging collective Scientopia. Or consider the e-mentoring opportunities at MentorNet.  The opportunities are out there, and they’re as accessible to you as they are to your colleagues here and counterparts at other universities who are already involved.  It’s a matter of us being as engaged in reaching out as we want our students and potential students to be in opening their minds to the possibilities of being our students, our colleagues and, ultimately, our successors.

N.C. A&T to host NEH workshop Feb. 22

N.C. A&T State University will host a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Regional Workshop on Wednesday, February 22.  It will be open to faculty members from N.C. A&T, other historically black colleges and universities in the area, Appalachian State, UNCG and Wake Forest University.

Dr. Mark Silver, NEH Senior Program Officer, will present a session focused on tips for writing award applications, specifically for faculty awards, fellowships, and summer stipends.  There will also be a mock peer-review panel and a question-and-answer session.

Mr. Darrell Stover, Program Director from the North Carolina Humanities Council, will give a brief overview of current Humanities Council programs.

After the workshop, visiting faculty will have the opportunity to speak individually with Dr. Silver for 15 to 20 minutes regarding individual research proposal concepts.  N.C. A&T and Bennett College faculty members will have the same opportunity the next day, Thursday, February 23rd between 8:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.  All faculty members requesting a meeting must submit a one-page executive summary of their project in advance.  Requests for individual meetings must be indicated at the time of registration; executive summaries will be due to Nora Shively (nshivelyncatsu@gmail.com) no later than Monday, February 6.

On-site registration will begin at 8:30 a.m., followed by workshop sessions from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.  A continental breakfast and hot lunch will be provided.  The location of the event on the A&T campus will be announced soon.

Registration is open for N.C. A&T faculty members.  Faculty from area HBCUs will be able to register beginning Friday, January 27.  Faculty from Appalachian State, UNCG, and Wake Forest will be able to register beginning Tuesday, January 31. Space is limited to 70 individuals.  To register, go to http://www.ncat.edu/~divofres/services/training.php.

Students invited to FBI Bioterroism workshop

From the N.C. Association for Biomedical Research in regard to their previously announced event on Tuesday, February 28:

“NCABR’s Academic Biosecurity Workshop, presented in partnership with the FBI, will address potential biosecurity risks, information and skills needed for a successful attack on a research institution, and warning signs to look for. It will promote the early reporting of suspicious activities and will solidify relationships between law enforcement, research institutions, community stakeholders and academia.

“To ensure an optimal workshop experience, we’d like a cross section of participants that is as broad as possible. Would you please invite appropriate students from your institution by sharing this email? The workshop is completely free to attend.

“For more information and to register, please visit the workshop webpage: ncabr.org/fbi.”

Of engineers, outsourcing and jobs leaving the U.S.

“Apple’s executives had estimated that about 8,700 industrial engineers were needed to oversee and guide the 200,000 assembly-line workers eventually involved in manufacturing iPhones. The company’s analysts had forecast it would take as long as nine months to find that many qualified engineers in the United States.

“In China, it took 15 days.”

The problem with bringing jobs back to the United States isn’t just a matter of cheap foreign wages.  A very thorough article in The New York Times explains the complexities and hard realities behind the simplistic soundbites emanating from politicians.