On executive orders and protest fatigue

5 Feb
we-the-people-1-742x1024

Poster by Shephard Fairey / ObeyGiant.com via Amplifier Foundation

This thoughtful post was written by my friend Arne Bakker who works at Stanford. He allowed me to post it here. Pleuni

So, I spent part of my night listening to legal experts of the Stanford Law School discussing the impact of 3 recent executive orders by President Trump. It was pretty impressive, with some of the top legal scholars of the country being present. I learned about Executive Order #1 (by Lincoln), and about an Executive Order actually describing what an Executive Order is (Chicken, meet Egg). And I learned a lot about how these orders are affecting thousands of people inside and outside the US, which brought tears to our eyes and fear in our hearts.

But I also learned from these pretty amazing people what they think we can (and should) do:

***First, there was the positive reminder that after 9/11 the courts allowed many laws impacting civil liberties to pass because of broad ‘national security’ concerns, but that today it looks like the courts are actually resisting the policy changes from the Trump administration. Keeping my fingers crossed for that one.

***Second, there was the heartfelt plea to not just rely on the courts, but to continue calling your representatives to resist these policies and remain active and vocal in your protests. It actually works, people! These top legal experts attributed the recent changes in allowing permanent residents to enter the country and backtracking on some other provisions purely to the quick and vocal response of thousands of people after the Executive Orders went into effect less than a week ago.

***Third, they cautioned for protest fatigue. There is a real agenda for controlling the news cycle with new shock after new shock to wear us out. As someone said, don’t fall for forgetting yesterday’s news because of today’s new shocker. Think hard about what issue you deeply care about and keep track of it, even when the news cycle has moved on. Keep reminding people, give them updates on policy changes, victories and losses where you can. And don’t be upset if someone else knows less about ‘your thing’ and is vocal about a different issue that they care deeply about. Learn from them, since they will keep track of those issues and can share their knowledge with you.

 

If you are interested to read more on the travel ban by Stanford professors, see here: https://law.stanford.edu/2017/02/01/the-new-travel-ban-national-security-and-immigration/

 

Appalled by Trump actions

28 Jan

I am appalled by what is happening in the US since Trump, Pence and the Republican Party are in charge. I believe that women should have access to safe abortions and birth control. I believe everyone has the right to affordable medical insurance. I believe refugees should be welcomed in this country. (Soon, we may need other countries to welcome refugees from the United States!) I believe scientists who work for the government should be free to speak their minds and share their findings with the world. I believe no one should be banned from this country based on their religion. I belief that Black Lives Matter.

I will do everything I can to provide a safe space in my classrooms and my lab for everyone, regardless of their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, immigration status or physical abilities.

3036970-largeblack-lives-matterdaca-mented

In defense of science

28 Jan

I (Pleuni Pennings) endorse the following, which was drafted by Graham Coop (UC Davis), Michael Eisen (UC Berkeley) and Molly Przeworski (Columbia):

We are deeply concerned by the Trump administration’s move to gag scientists working at various governmental agencies. The US government employs scientists working on medicine, public health, agriculture, energy, space, clean water and air, weather, the climate and many other important areas. Their job is to produce data to inform decisions by policymakers, businesses and individuals. We are all best served by allowing these scientists to discuss their findings openly and without the intrusion of politics. Any attack on their ability to do so is an attack on our ability to make informed decisions as individuals, as communities and as a nation.

If you are a government scientist who is blocked from discussing their work, we will share it on your behalf, publicly or with the appropriate recipients. You can email us at USScienceFacts@gmail.com.

If you use this email address, here is a PGP public key for PGP encryption: http://pgp.mit.edu/pks/lookup?op=get&search=0x52C7139DE0A3D350

More women at French mathematical biology conference this year (200% increase)

24 Jan

Two years ago, I was annoyed about a conference (Mathematical and Computation Evolutionary Biology Meeting) on an island near Marseille that had never had more than one female invited speaker.

This year, I noticed that the number of women at the conference has gone up from 1 (in the past) to 3 this year! That is an increase of 200%, and they now have >40% women among invited speakers (3 of 7). 

Progress! 

Here are links to the women’s websites.

 

Compiling a list of REU opportunities for my students

3 Dec

I started looking into opportunities for undergrad students who are interested in biology and bioinformatics / computer science. The list is far from complete. I will add when I have more time!

What is an REU? 

NSF funds a large number of research opportunities for undergraduate students through its REU Sites program. An REU Site consists of a group of ten or so undergraduates who work in the research programs of the host institution.

Auburn University NSF REU Site in Computational Biology

http://www.auburn.edu/cosam/bioinformatics/nsf_reu.htm

Deadline: March 1st, 2017

Integrated Science For Society Boston College

http://reu.bc.edu/

February 1st, 2017

BRITE REU Boston University

HTTP://SITES.BU.EDU/BRITEREU/

Feb 17th, 2017

Cornell

http://bti.cornell.edu/education/internships/

Unclear if open this year (2017)

City College New York

https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/biology/nsf-reu-summer-program

Unclear if open this year (2017)

From Genomes to Phenomes — Exploring Function Across Scales

http://www.clemson.edu/centers-institutes/culsoc/research-experience.html

February 5, 2017

NSF REU in Bioinformatics and Computational Neuroscience, Cold Spring Harbor

http://www.cshl.edu/Education/NSF-REU-in-Bioinformatics-and-Computational-Neuroscience.html

Unclear if open this year (2017)

Computational Genomics Undergraduate Research Experience, Charleston

http://omics.cofc.edu/

February 15, 2017

REU at the Intersection of Mathematics and Biology, Florida

http://research.fit.edu/reu-biomath/

Unclear if open this year (2017)

Undergraduate Research Experience in Genomics, Proteomics and Bioinformatics Florida A&M University 

http://www.famu.edu/index.cfm?REU&Introduction

Please submit Application Forms before March 21, 2016.

Genetics and genomics research, Jackson Labs

https://www.jax.org/education-and-learning/high-school-students-and-undergraduates/learn-earn-and-explore

Thursday, February 2 – Application deadline

Note to self: Continue searching here:

https://www.nsf.gov/crssprgm/reu/list_result.jsp?unitid=5047&d-49653-p=3

American Museum of Natural History

The American Museum of Natural History hosts two summer National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduate Site grants – Research in Biology: Evolution and Systematics and research in Physical Sciences: Earth Sciences and Astrophysics. 

This year’s REU program will run from May 30 to August 4, 2017

The Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), offers paid summer internships for qualified undergraduate students to conduct research projects with AMNH scientists in either evolutionary biology or physical sciences. Students receive a generous stipend and living and transportation expenses; housing is provided at nearby Columbia University. In addition to hands-on research, students participate in a series of weekly meetings at which they discuss their research, present informal progress reports, and engage in discussions and seminars regarding scientific research, graduate school, and research career opportunities. At the conclusion, they deliver oral presentations of their work and prepare publication quality research papers.

All REU students must be U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals or permanent residents of the U.S. Students must be entering or continuing in an Associates or Baccalaureate degree program following this summer internship. As part of the National Science Foundation’s commitment to broadening participation in STEM fields, we especially encourage students who come from community colleges, undergraduate-only institutions, and minority-serving institutions to apply. 

Students may apply directly at our website:

http://www.amnh.org/our-research/richard-gilder-graduate-school/academics-and-research/fellowship-and-grant-opportunities/undergraduate-fellowships 

The application deadline is February 6 2017 for both programs.

Genome Sciences U Washington

http://www.gs.washington.edu/academics/summer/index.htm

Love Trumps Hate

9 Nov
Today in the biology department at SF State.

Today in the biology department at SF State, our students and my colleagues reminded me that Love Trumps Hate. 

Canvassing in Nevada

24 Oct

Last weekend I went to Reno, Nevada, to canvass for the Democrats.

Ready to canvass in Reno, Nevada!

Ready to canvass in Reno, Nevada!

We drove to Reno on Saturday morning, then spent the afternoon knocking on doors and talking to people, went out for a simple dinner and checked into our hotel. On Sunday morning, we drove back and made a little detour to drink coffee on the shore of Lake Tahoe. It was a fun road trip!

How does canvassing work?

As expected, we found the campaign to be well organized. After we arrived at one of the campaign headquarters in Reno, they explained to us what we were going to do. They gave us a list of addresses with names of people who lived there. Our list contained 87 addresses. It took us almost four hours to knock on all the doors! To everyone who wanted to talk to us, we asked then whether they were planning to vote for Clinton, for Catherine Cortez Masto (she could become the first Latina in the Senate) and Chip Evans (Congress). We then asked if they knew when and where they planned to vote and we explained how easy it is to do early voting in Nevada. In Reno (Washoe County), you have from Oct 22 to Nov 4th to go to any early voting location in the county, and there are many such polling stations, for example, in the library or the supermarket. Finally, if people were supportive of the Democratic candidates, we’d ask them whether they’d be interested to volunteer.

Who did we talk to?

I had never really thought of how canvassing is done, but I somehow assumed that it would consist of convincing people to vote for Clinton and not Trump. However, I had only one conversation on Saturday where I explained why I support Hillary, and Trump was hardly mentioned at all (what a relief!) Instead, we were mostly talking to people who were known to be supportive of Democrats, but who may or may not actually vote. Our main goal was therefore to encourage people to go and vote and to use the opportunity of early voting in Nevada. That’s why it was probably most important for us to be able to say: “Do you know that you can vote today in the supermarket down the road until 6PM? And tomorrow they’re open from 11 till 4.”

Would I do it again?

Yes, absolutely. It was fun (and tiring). Most people were happy to talk to us. I may have convinced a few people to go and vote and I may have encouraged someone to volunteer for the campaign. Plus, the weather was nice and I walked 5 miles. Highly recommended!

Ready to canvass in Reno, Nevada.

Ready to canvass in Reno, Nevada.