Monday, October 22, 2007

Plowing through is hell

I've got the blues. My labmate defended Friday and I was so excited. I was supposed to defend Friday as well. Our aim - start together, finish together. And though I was ahead of her throughout most of our studies, she snuck up from behind and finished. But she is the executer in the lab. She gets things done. I, on the other hand, am the dreamer, the visionary. I come up with hypotheses and desgn experiments with ease. But seeing them all the way through....well, I come up short. I am so working on that.

Which brings me to my current state of woe. I have a job. Having a job as an ABD is actually the norm. But, I've been fighting this feeling of disgust about my job since my third day of work. Unlike most of my peers, I am NOT teaching science courses or working in a lab while I finish things up. I'm not even doing the "bartending thing/waiting tables thing", which is also very common. No, I took a non-traditional science job in an area I am interested in -- sharing science and science related careers with inner-city residents. The job description is great. My objective fits me to the T: serve as a role model and mentor to adults from the most impoverished neighborhood in this city and help them learn about environmental science, complete environmental service projects, and lead fun learning activities about environmental science to youth from their neighborhoods. Sounds perfect.

Why do I dislike my job? My boss is an idiot -- an uninformed, not-quite intelligent boob. And the entire culture of my workplace is something altogether different than anything I've ever experienced in my life. I am the LONE scientist in a sea of social workers and similar types. I know social work is an important job and I applaud the selfless men and women who do what they do. But I do not relate to them. And as knowledgeable as they may be about social systems, helping people, etc., I have found my boss and other co-workers to be grossly uninformed and down-right ignorant about science, informal science education, and educational philosophy. It's like using the same words but speaking a completely different language.

But I am making good money and I have benefits. Nothing is perfect.

Oh, and I'm still working on the dissertation. But good news here. My statistician is back and now I can get back on the ball. Wish me lots of luck.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Environment: Blog Action Day

One of the focuses of this blog is to share environmental science and advocacy with the Black Blogosphere. Though environmentalism is at least being broached more often and with more open minds than before, it is still an issue that is not being attended to.

So, in support of Blog Action Day, I will blog about the environment and the African-American community.

I supervise a team of inner-city 'volunteers' (read urban, Black) who are learning about careers in natural resources. They complete service work related to land and wild life management as well as assist with teaching environmental education lessons to inner-city public school youth.

Most of have only acheived a high school diploma or GED as their highest education level (some not even that); so, often what they understand about the environment ise inaccurate or incomplete. For some of them, their experiences and knowledge of this subject is minimal at best. They each have their own opinions and feelings about nature (here I am speaking very broadly about the outdoors, the environment, environmental science, and conservation). Related to this matter is that they may not yet have formed a personal opinion about conservation and environmental stewardship. For example, participants from previous years can tell you all about recycling and the benefits, but none of them recycle. Or they spend most of their service time removing litter from public places, but they litter and throw trash in the streets. I challenge them and ask why. The answer I receive is - I don't litter where I have to pick up trash OR I'm keeping someone else employed.

No doubt, this presents some great challenges to the objective of preparing them to share environmental education learning activities. For one, they simply lack the knowledge and skills to do teach these lessons. They aren't education majors or science majors; and they have no personal experiences to borrow from. Two, delivering environmental education lessons, isn’t as simple as reading an essay or learning a script and repeating it to others. A quality environmental education, like any other science learning program (even an informal one) is not about memory and regurgitation. Three, as of now their motivations are varied and quite frankly their opinions on environmental issues are still developing.

Though I might be oversimplifying, they don’t yet fully understand conservation or environmental science, let alone the nuances that surround each subject. They must be willing to unlearn what they think to be true and learn something new or potentially conflicting. And it takes time (and patience) to unlearn and learn all this information about nature. So, my purpose is to work them and to continue to share science (specifically environmental science) with them and the rest of the Black Blog-o-Sphere.


Tuesday, October 9, 2007


I've been reviewing my entries and I am SHOCKED. The number of typos is insane. Please forget that I have advanced college degrees. And forgive me as well. I'll try to clean them up here and there as I go.

But this does bring up a great point about the scientific process - YOU ARE NEVER DONE. There is always a critique or two. There is always room for improvement and revision. And most any scientist can attest to that - you are always revising and updating a hypothesis, a question, an experiment, an interpretation...something.

party on

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Professional Procrastinator.

4 weeks until my proposed defense date and I'm still procrastinating. Stats suck and writing is along slow process. Blogging is my way of 'feeling' productive but not using all of my brain power and getting frustrated.

I hit it high gear though. Why. I remember that:
1) I don't want to pay another semester of registration fees.
2) I have the Office of Research. they suck!!
3) I am SO ready to be done.

Okay, procrastination session # 1,998,856 ended.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Spotlight on Black Scientist and Science Blogger - Karen V.

Ph.D. candidate Karen V is a biochemist who is an up-and-coming science and medical news journalist and correspondent. She is obviously on the right track because she is a featured contributor and member of ScienceBlogs -- an online community of science bloggers. Like most of science, Science Blogs is not particularly diverse. In fact, I didn't know about her or her page before hand. I was surfing (read - procrastinating and avoiding writing my own dissertation) when I snagged a great big science catch. Imagine my pleasant surprise to see the photo of an African-American female (and a pretty one at that - because after all, too many people assume female scientists are unattractive and socially inept).

Science To Life is a science and technologynews update blog. She writes adn references a wide variety of topics - neurobiology, technology, life science, environmental issues, psychology, and medical research.
Check her page out!! My weekly doses of science are just little nibbles compared to her blog entries. For those proud members of the Afrospear and other Black Blogger Associations, I highly recommend adding her to, ybpguide, and other black blogs lists. I'm glad to see her out there. Thank goodness I am not all alone. I hope to see more science in the Black Blogosphere AND better professional diversity represented among online African-American professionals.

I am excited to extend her a hearty congratulations for being invited to be a member of ScienceBlogs. Among science-types, ScienceBlogs is a BIG deal; it's like having box seats. Heck, I'm even geeked that ScienceBlog Blogger Coturnix listed me on his daily Blog Roll last week. It's a real honor. Thanks Coturnix!

The Urban Scientist