Friday, August 1, 2008

Scientists are People too

So far I have told you about how I became a blogoholic, revealed that I am not all that tech savvy, and introduced you to my immediate family. Background information pertaining to me as a person, introducing you to the human side of me before I get into anything involving my work/studies. I've noticed that sometimes people have a perception of my kind that we are these ultra nerds and can't relate to "normal" people and don't even try to understand us when we are talking, total waste of time! This was especially obvious to me when I got an e-mail from my Bubbie (Mom's mom). I had e-mailed her during my first year of grad school and she had replied with something along the lines of she doesn't understand me when I tell her stuff. This bothered me on two points, the first was that I tend to get complaints that I don't stay in touch enough and so was trying to do better. Second was that I didn't bring up anything about my research or subjects that I was taking or anything that might confuse her. I think I told her I got an A- in biochemistry, but I didn't try to go through glycolysis (the way sugar is broken down and used by many cells) with her, and that was the most complicated the e-mail got. I remember going back and reading it to figure out what I said that could possibly have been over her head, because yes I will admit that there are times that I do forget that not everyone knows things that I spent 4 years of college pounding into my head. That was not the case, she simply assumed that I would talk about complicated scientific concepts and so she didn't bother to read the message and wonders why I don't stay in touch.

And so dear readers I wanted you to get an idea of who I am as a person before I became a scientist, because I am both! One of my goals in life is to be able to effectively communicate with fellow scientists but also to retain the ability to communicate with "the public". That is actually one of the purposes of this blog in fact, to hone what I consider an essential trait that some people who go through higher education lose along the way, though some of them may have never possessed it in the first place. If there is anything I bring up and either forget to define or don't define it in understandable terms I want you all to let me know! I forbid you from feeling stupid for calling me on something. I have spent 7 full years at the college level studying this stuff, not to mention that I had a decent background from high school going in, did you? I bet there is a whole lot that you know that I don't know, you should see my eyes glaze over when my mechanic friend starts explaining how my engine works. One of the most important things I have learned in life is that everyone has something, Baby Sibling has art, I have microbiology, does that make me smarter or better than her, no, just different.

I think it helps that most of my friends are not scientists and that I spent all 4 years of my undergrad as a deli clerk and work was essentially my social life (still is) and so if I wanted to discuss something I learned in school and found fascinating/amusing/just plain geeky cool I had to learn to put it into terms the people around me would understand. Aunt D's sister paid me one of the biggest compliments I've ever received, I think we got into a talk about genetics and I was explaining some of the concepts of heredity and she told me how impressed she was that I could explain it in such a way that a "dummy" like her could understand. Not being knowledgeable on a subject does not make one stupid, it just means they have something more they can learn. Who wants to know everything anyway, life would be pretty boring and there would be nothing for us scientists to do as our job is to discover and define the unknown, which is, thankfully for our job security, infinite.

OK I better stop now, this topic is one that I am passionate about (if you couldn't tell) and can ramble on about forever. And when I started this post it was going to be about something completely different! It was going to be a funny post that was going to prove that this blog is worth reading and everything.


WaltzInExile said...

You nailed it, then, because that was a great funny post that shows why I should be reading your stuff!

The Microblogologist said...

Oh good, SOMEONE relates to this, sometimes I feel a bit ostracized because of my education. Being treated different is not always bad, I mean we all are different, I just don't want people to be intimidated by my education/degrees and not feel they can be my friend.

Richard said...

My dear niece,

'I forbid you from feeling stupid for calling me on something.'

You forbid!? Now, you're the Queen of Hearts? Well, it's nice to have permission. Now I have to take notes.

Love & blessings