Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Scientists as role models

Chris Gunter has a thought-provoking piece in Genome Biology: "Science: It's a Role Model Thing".

The message I took home is that Scientists need to be unafraid to be themselves. We get really excited about dorky things. We have hobbies. We are obsessive about the topic we chose to study. We are skeptical, critical, and demanding. We laugh. We are imperfect. We learn from our mistakes (hopefully).

One of the reasons I continue to blog about a wide array of topics, is because I want to remind myself, and my readers that Scientists are not somehow super-human and out of touch (I guess you all can correct me on that). We might have strong convictions, and we might have an adjusted sense of normal,  but we have friends, and families, and are curious about more than our tiny corner of research (well, most of us are anyway). I am a Scientist because I love what I do. Science a part of of me. Maybe it is a part I can't turn off, but there are many other parts that make up the whole of who I am.

To be a good role model, we should not hide our personalities, or our interests. We don't need to avoid any mention of being a person outside of lab. We mustn't portray ourselves as robots.

In the immortal words of Dr. Seuss:
"And so... I think that there are some things I do not wish to be. And that is why I think that I just wish to be like ME." 
- Dr. Seuss
I Wish That I Had Duck Feet


Alexis Rudd said...

EXACTLY. This is why I think scientists should be less closemouthed about the fact that they are humans. Vulnerability and transparency are strength.

mathbionerd said...

I agree. One of the biggest drawbacks, however, to showing vulnerability is, I think, that the public likes certainty. When we show that we have levels of confidence, but not certainty, it is sometimes interpreted as untrustworthy. I'd like to change that mentality.