Materials Girl: Applications + blogging = decreased rate of labwork

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Posted on behalf of Materials Girl

Fellowship applications are almost done! To quote a confident labmate, in regards to his proposed research, “If [the NSF] doesn’t accept me, they’re jerks*!” (He probably meant to say “sorely misguided”, but was carried away with the emotion.) Ah, if only the government had enough money to fund all of our worthy causes… Academic bailout, anyone?

Despite attempts to avoid the computer, I’ve recently discovered the joy/timesink of other chemistry blogs – of which there are many great ones to choose from. Another grad student stated that he’s the most interested in “crazy, blow stuff* up and post it blogs”. (My engineering coworkers periodically ask when I’m going to start causing explosions. Probably never, unfortunately, unless I defect to inorganic chemistry. However, someone else in our lab did recently get a shower in vacuum pump oil…) Personally, I think any blog is potentially interesting. Regardless of whether or not they relate to science, the topics addressed in blog posts thrive through their delivery – give or take some snark and wit.

One of my favorite posts has been this one, as I’ve always regretted the lack of fitting eyewear for my bridge-less Asian nose. On a more relevant note, another by FemaleScienceProfessor stands out. Here, she ponders the merits and drawbacks of explicitly stating her gender in applications. I have considered that question as a grad student: in the interest of Broader Impacts, should I explicitly state my status as an underrepresented female scientist/engineer? (Side note: my name only implies ethnicity, not gender.) As a proponent of individual merit above all else, I’m not a fan of playing the gender card – I generally rely on expressing my motivation to assist qualified individuals in underrepresented groups. Still, many organizations seek out the extra factor of diversity. How should we convey our membership in underrepresented groups, without detracting from personal merits [that are not based on genetics]?

*Changed by the editor to remove original, more colourful, language