Tag Archives: Communication

Thought Experiments – Genetics and Synthetic Biology, A Report

Image from the Infinity Box Theater

Image from the Infinity Box Theater

FOSEP members and other guests had a great time at the Thought Experiments with Infinity Box Theater. The four plays were:

  • Editors by Holly Arsenault, directed by Susanna Burney
  • Frivolous Natura by Kelly Mak, directed by Roy Arauz
  • Anomie by Courtney Meaker, directed by Teresa Thuman
  • Solace by Bryan Willis,  directed by Tyrone Brown

After the play, there was a lively discussion, followed by a Happy Hour and conversation at Schultzy’s Sausage. The plays touched on issues like whether it was better to intervene (scientifically and genetically) or let things develop “naturally” (using a metaphor of genetically engineered tomatoes that were efficient but didn’t taste good, and making and developing music); enhancement using genetic engineering and making / creating better people (which could result in “mistakes” for some people), security and biological hacking, and replacing bad genes using technologies like CRISPR in the near future to inject DNA into people (but only those who were more privileged).

In the discussions during the intermission with my seatmates and FOSEP members, I was pleased to see that not everyone in our group had the same interpretation of what we saw – we each layered our experience on top of what we saw.  I find I often want to know what something means *before* I attempt to interpret it, but that maybe I need to talk about how I respond to the art emotionally first. The purpose of the plays was for each of us to engage with the material in our own way – to have our own “thought experiments” with the material.

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Infinity Box Theatre Opening Night Happy Hour

Last night FOSEP was very happy to be able to co-host an opening night happy hour for the Infinity Box Theatre Project’s Thought Experiments on the Question of Being Human: Genetics and Synthetic Biology. Actors, scientists, and directors had a chance to discuss the intersection of art, science, and society with people from a wide variety of backgrounds. The District Lounge in the Deca Hotel provided a great backdrop for the discussion, and everyone left excited to see the actors delve into what it means to be human in the post-genomic era.

The shows will be running through the weekend, so don’t miss your chance to see this thought-provoking series. Tonight (Oct 16th) FOSEP will be in attendance to engage in a post-play discussion/late night happy hour. We hope to see you there!

Welcome back events for the 2015/2016 School year!

FOSEP Welcome / Happy Hour – Wednesday October 7th 5:00-7:00 PM at the College Inn Pub

We wanted to welcome back members to the 2015 / 2016 school year!  FOSEP will provide food (you need to provide your own drinks). The Happy Hour will be used to meet and greet other members, and  discuss plans for the his year.  We will discuss the story that made the national news about Seattle’s vaccination rates. Many of us want to work on our communication.  As scientists, we want to just give people the facts and statistics about vaccines, but should remember that the responses people have to vaccinations are emotional.  Sometimes we think giving facts will convince them to change their minds, but minds, but maybe it is better to pay attention to emotional responses in our communications, as this story illustrates.

Please fill out this survey so we can get an idea of what subjects you want us to cover this year, and so that we can know if you’re planning on coming to the Happy Hour. The next discussion meetings will be Wednesdays November 4th and December 2nd. 


“Thought Experiments” – A Festival of Short Plays About Genetics and Synthetic Biology at Infinity Box TheaterThurs October 15th 5:30 – 9:00 PM and Friday Oct 16th, 17th 7:30 -9:30 PM (also Sat 7:30 PM, Sun 2:00 PM) at the Ethnic Cultural Theater

Thought Experiments Image

Promotional Image from “Thought Experiments” for the Infinity Box Theater

FOSEP is hosting a Happy Hour with Infinity Box Oct 15th at the District Lounge at 5:30 PM, and will help lead post-play discussion on October 16th –  come either day!

This year, the Infinity Box Theater will be presenting a festival  of original short plays examining how current developments in that field may impact how we answer the question of what it means to be human. They paired up scientists working in genetics and synthetic biology with local Seattle playwrights. Their collaborations have led to the creation of four intriguing short plays, each asking the question: “How might current and possible future innovations in the fields of genetics and synthetic biology change what it means to be human?

Each evening includes staged readings of the plays, followed by a scientist-led conversation, where the audience can explore the questions and issues raised by the plays.  Buy tickets here.  Student tickets are only $5!  You can also get them at the door if you want to avoid the service charge.

FOSEP and Infinity Box are officially teaming up in two ways –
1) FOSEP is hosting a pre-plays Happy Hour Thursday October 15th at the District Lounge in the Hotel DECA at 5:30 PM.  FOSEP will provide food.
2) FOSEP leaders will help lead the post-plays discussion Friday October 16th, most likely at the Pub at The College Inn.

1000 Word Event – Recap (a month later)

We hosted the 2nd annual 1000 Word Event with the Burke Museum last month March 21st, and have finally been able to get up a blog post about it.  Apologies to everyone who entered and how late this reporting is (and apologies if your photos don’t match entries).

We had just over 60 people in attendance at the event.  Everyone seemed to enjoy the Happy Hour, and then were a great audience for the event itself.  I was impressed with my colleagues and their creativity, as well as the broad showing of departments we had from all around the University.

1000Word_2014

The judges and audience at the 1000 Word Presentations

One of the things FOSEP members wanted to focus on this year was communication, and we wanted to give everyone an opportunity to try in a friendly environment.  When I was writing my entry, I was surprised at how hard it was to convey my research using the 1000 most common words, but found that it really challenged me to think about what my research means.  I was trying to use both fast and slow thinking and understand where my audience was coming from, as we had talked about earlier in the year in our book club, but I found it was hard when limited to these words.   (How do you talk about hypertension if you can’t even use the word blood pressure – blood pushing on the inside of course). 

See more, including the entries and winners after the jump…

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The Polar Vortex…and what is with all of this Crazy Weather?

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This picture was taken at Mt. Rainier, however images like this have been used to illustrate the “Polar Vortex” in Midwest and East Coast cities.

About a week ago FOSEP members got together to talk about scientific communication, a topic that was one of the most requested from our members.  In particular we discussed the distinction between climate and weather.  The Polar Vortex has kept the East Coast and Midwest frigid  Meanwhile, on the West Coast we are in drought conditions.  Some counties in Oregon have already declared drought conditions, while parched Northern California has finally seen some rain. On my recent snowshoeing trip to Mt. Rainier (which are being used to illustrate this post), snow level was below “low” on the mountain.

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[FOSEP Seminar] Dr. Kevin Wood on Arctic: large-scale environmental data rescue through crowdsourcing

Dr. Kevin Wood will give a seminar talk Weds. April 10th on his experience working with Old Weather, a citizen science project that he co-leads with the National Archives (among other collaborators) to rescue old weather data from historical ship logs.

When: Wednesday, April 10 4:30-5:30pm

Where: PAA A110 (map)

Old Weather – Arctic: large-scale environmental data rescue through crowdsourcing

A vast reservoir of new-to-science environmental data is contained in historical ship logbooks and other original documents that have been preserved for generations by the U.S. National Archives and other repositories around the world, but these data are technically inaccessible. The Old Weather citizen-science project is recovering millions of these hand-written observations, converting them into digital format, and integrating them into large-scale data sets where they are used for new research. This data is needed for scientists to better understand longer-term environmental variations in the Arctic and around the world, and is vital to our efforts to model and predict future change and its human impact. Old Weather citizen-scientists also make enormous contributions in other areas from maritime history to plasma physics.

www.oldweather.org

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Kevin Wood, U.S. Old Weather – Arctic lead investigator, is a climate scientist at the NOAA – University of Washington Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean (JISAO). Before coming to UW he sailed the world’s oceans for 25 years aboard traditionally-rigged sailing vessels. His interest in historical climatology stems from this experience on these ships, much like those used by 19th century explorers, and from working on research vessels in the ice-covered seas of the Arctic and Antarctic. He holds a license as master of steam and sailing vessels and a Ph.D. from the University of Washington Department of Earth and Space Sciences.