Lab trainee news

Lots of things happening this spring in the Daniels lab. We are very excited that three of our trainees have secured academic jobs! Liz Mietlicki-Baase (former doctoral student) will be coming home to Buffalo to take a job as an Assistant Professor of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences at UB’s School of Public Health. Jessica Santollo (current postdoc/research assistant professor) will be the newest Assistant Professor of Biology at the University of Kentucky. And, Naomi McKay is hammering out the details and is close to accepting an offer to be the newest Assistant Professor of Psychology at Buffalo State College. Well done!

This one thing could make the peer-review process a lot better

There are certain times of the year that are particularly difficult for academic scientists. If you’re not a scientist, and don’t have a scientist in your life, you might not be aware of the NIH cycle of Standard Due Dates for Competing Applications. For some, the most anxiety-provoking time is the due date, when applicants are scrambling to put the finishing touches on the grant. For others (like me), it’s the review that gets us, waiting for the unknown to happen, and that season is upon us now. Different review panels (study sections) meet at different times within the Scientific Merit Review range (at the bottom of the page with the dates). For me, this time is torture. People tell me that I can’t worry about these things because it’s out of my control, but those are precisely the things that I DO worry about; things that are under my control don’t get worry, they get action (or no action, because I don’t care about them). So this is the time of the year that I’m on edge, not the most pleasant person to be around, and suffering from repeated bouts of insomnia.

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Self-correcting science

Science is a way for us to gather information. It is not the only way, and it’s often not the fastest, easiest, or most efficient, but the strength of the scientific method is that it gives us the most confidence that the answer to the question is, in fact, correct. This does not mean that experiments don’t lead us in the wrong direction, and it doesn’t mean that scientists are perfect and never lie. The latter is a failure of the system that is likely not preventable, but seems to be likely to be detected eventually. The former is simply a reality of life: that nothing is perfect. Over the long term, however, it seems quite clear that one of the strengths of science as an information gathering method is that it tends to be self-correcting. Mistakes, errors, fraud, these things are often revealed and the correct answer is revealed. A lot of this depends on the character and integrity of the scientists. A very well-respected neuroendocrinologist that I have been fortunate to know since my early graduate school years has a quote in his email signature:

Most people say that it is the intellect which makes a great scientist. They are wrong: It is character.” – Albert Einstein

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