Mensches, Mentors and Badasses: My Science Valentines
Thank you, Hallmark, for your made up soul-crushing holiday that brings tears to middle school kids and single squirrels everywhere. On behalf of scientists, I hereby reclaim your crappy holiday as a celebration of folks who are mensches, mentors and all around badasses.
This, dear friends, is our official day to share some love with the overlooked masses of folks who value teaching, reading, reviewing, mentoring, blogging, breathing and other “extraneous things” that we often aren’t paid to do. These are the patients who thank you for your work when you know you are getting so much more from talking with them than you can give back. These are your non academic friends who who have boat loads of kleenex and gin for your awesome grants that only eked into the 20th percentile. And for everyone else who helps you walk thru life and choosing kindness and encouragement. This is a week to celebrate your people. Your posse.
Before you raid CVS for all the candy that will go on sale February 15th, I hope you’ll join me by dropping a Scientist Valentine on The Edge for Scholars giving a shout out to those who have gone above and beyond.
Marina Picciotto. Yale Neuroscientist, mom of Iso, Editor Journal of Neuroscience, woman who is always slightly askew in her photos. How is it that we have only known each other for two years and you can talk me out of my insanity tree so quickly? You are human valium. You are humble beyond your amazing accomplishments in science. And you know what’s right. That’s a BFD, friend.
Katherine Hartman. Vanderbilt Dean of something I always mean to look up,
scary kettlebell fanatic, mother of four, boss at The Edge for Scholars. During my post-doc, my chairman said to me, “The sooner you realize that no one <above you> cares about your opinion, the easier your career will be to navigate.”
My boss wasn’t trying to be mean, but he said what I think we all fear. That toeing the line is more important than being honest and your value is only as strong as your next grant score. Dr. Hartmann goes against that grain unapologetically. Creating this space is a big deal. Opinions, truths and news put forth by academics who want to help is a crazy ass idea. I applaud you for recognizing the value of this endeavor. Happy Science Valentine’s day to you, Katherine Hartman, Vice Dean of Chancellor-type things. Keep swinging, Boss.
My students. The day I forget that being a trainee is the hardest job in the world, I need to quit. We ask so much of our students: to soak up a massive amount of information, perform miraculous experiments, be present in the lab and be persistent when despair is so easy. My students amazing me with their brilliance, hard work and the powerhouse women and men they have become. I hope to be as cool as y’all when I grow up.
Sherry Hollands. Science enthusiast, political junkie, person I trust with my life and my hair, mother of five, My BFF. Sherry is not a scientist. But she loves science, facts, truth and is an information sponge. She keeps me from getting too precious, guards those she loves with ferocity, thinks we need way the hell more science funding and will tell you all about it. I wish there were a bazillion Sherrys in the world. People who left school long ago, but who value academics. Every academic needs a Sherry who will push you off you computers and into local and national debates. The Sherrys of the world will network you in your community, have you talk to everyone who has an issue you may know a thing or two about, and tell you that it’s you job to have reasoned opinions both about and beyond science. She will also never give you bad bangs. Thank you for pushing me and for that body dump pact we have, Sherry.
Hope you all have a happy Scientists Valentine’s Day and share some love with the folks who are fighting the good fight.