Shared instrumentation

The notion of sharing scientific equipment is absolutely central to science. In my first days as a young aspiring scientist at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, working on a phenomenon called sponge cell reaggregation, in an invertebrate zoology class this was drilled into me.

The equipment used to ask scientific questions, especially in biosciences, are extremely costly, but they are key enablers of researchers. One needs access to such equipment to conduct experiments and test hypotheses. Using grant money or even institutional funds to purchase duplicate instruments is not only often wasteful, it promotes the sort of silo mentality, more commonly found in other sectors.

The collegiality of scientists as they share instrumentation, without demand for compensation, is one of the characteristics of the profession which really sets it apart from others. It helps create a fellowship that transcends borders, disciplines and even scientific disagreement (which can be vehement).

I’m very proud of the state-of-the-art shared instrumentation at Krasnow, but even more proud of the way our investigators share the tools they need.

Happy Thanksgiving to loyal readers

Here at our Wintergreen house, we’re listening to holiday tunes, baking bread and leisurely making our way through yesterday’s Financial Times. It’s time to say thank you to all of my readers, especially those who have contributed their own thoughts from time to time.

It’s also a good time to give a shout-out for collegiality in science. There’s been a lot of sturm and drang recently among both climate scientists and, to some extent, in the computational neuroscience community. Collegiality facilitates collaboration and is essential for trans-disciplinary science to progress (at least until we all become experts in all fields–a while I think).
Happy Thanksgiving!
Jim

Collegiality in science

One of the most important things in science is to maintain collegiality in the face of a certain tendency among some to view their research as proprietary. This notion of one’s science as one’s “intellectual property” goes against my own grain–it’s at variance with the way my parents practiced neuroscience in their own laboratory at Caltech while I was growing up. So perhaps it’s just my own lack of familiarity with a modern fact-of-life. Perhaps. But it strikes me as very problematic to collaborate and especially exchange ideas with others when one’s body language is a metaphor for a non-disclosure agreement.

Reaching out across disciplines is especially important at an institute for advanced study like Krasnow is. Such exchanges are the crucial catalyst for scientific discovery. And the fuel for such exchanges is collegiality. Without it, one may be successful perhaps to a degree, but one loses the wonderful scientific give-and-take from colleagues who may shy away.

My two cents…

Jim