Crowd Sourcing Design

Earlier this week I asked about iconic images in Chemistry on Twitter. Below if the storify of the results:

While many of these images come to mind for me I wanted to ask others what they thought. I’m working with a graphic designer to create some promotional materials for graduate students and wanted to gather more than just my personal opinion on what stood out as iconic. So often we skip the ask others stage in design, which is fine if we’re making something for ourselves. Even if you don’t have time to do a huge study you can usually find some people on one or more social media sites who are happy to weigh in and help you crowd source ideas.

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A Tribute to Jean-Claude Bradley, Chemist, Open Science Proponent, A True Gentleman

Image of Open Notebook Science sign

Open Notebook Science

Tomorrow is the memorial service for Jean-Claude Bradley. If you are in the area it will be held Saturday June 28 at 6:00 p.m. Boulevard SDA Church, 8441 Roosevelt Blvd, Philadelphia, PA 19115.

If you are in science or librarianship and haven’t heard of him Jean-Claude Bradley was a gifted chemist best know for his commitment to doing Open Notebook Science. Others have written eloquent posts about his skills as a mentor and his devotion to open science.

I first met Jean-Claude in 2011 when I attended the annual Science Online unconference. It was one of the first professional events I attended after leaving industry as a chemist and becoming a chemistry librarian. Although I only met him a few times his courage to take a stand and do what he thought should be done in the face of opposition has inspired me to do the same. Like many who attend Science Online he was a maverick; a rock star of the open science movement, consistently sharing his work and advocating for others to do the same. Chemist might be interested in his open melting point data set in which his team determined melting points for 27,000 substances. Serious scholars may wonder how all this impacted his work as a chemist.  According to Google Scholar he has received approximately 1500+ citations, 766 of which occurred from 2009 through the present. At the time of his death his Google Plus page indicated his research interests to be:

Currents projects focus on open collections and open modeling of solubility and melting point data.  Applications include drug and reaction discovery, the and the creation of an app to recommend solvents for recrystallization, created in collaboration with Andrew Lang.

While all of these things are great, I will always remember him best for his kindness to others. He was always willing to talk to anyone regardless of how old they were, or their status as a student or professional. His accomplishments as a researcher, open science proponent, easy manner and approachability made him one of the scientists that I admire the most. May we all be more open in memory of Jean-Claude.

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Tales From the Tenure Track: Time Management

Time management is a never ending issue for those on the tenure track. You’ve just about got your email under control and something breaks. You think you’ll have lots of time to write in the summer but suddenly there is random money for renovations. There is always something pulling at your time.

Greg McKeown offers some great advice on existentialism and saying no to be more effective. “…by focusing on the few things that are really essential we are actually able to make a more valuable contribution.”

There’s a lot of ways to try and manage your time, not all of them will work for all people.  Here’s a few tips that I’ve found helpful.

Email

Try and keep your inbox at 20 or under, over 20 and it’s easy for things to get buried.

Don’t use auto sorting mail folders unless you either a) really good at checking things other than your inbox, or b) don’t really need to read those emails because most of us will just ignore the darn things.

If you can answer the email in 5 minutes or less do so when you first open it unless there are extenuating circumstances.

Meetings

Look at your week as a whole, make sure that you leave yourself blocks of meeting-free time to get your work done. (Sometimes it is not the number of meeting but when they are scheduled that disrupts your productivity.)

When possible stack meetings on the same days so that you are not constantly being interrupted all week.

Meetings should be scheduled with the time and location displayed on your calendar; add in travel time if the meeting is not in your office, even for meetings in your building.  A minimum of 15 minutes travel time will allow you to gather your stuff and walk to another part of the building even with last minute phone or email interruptions. Add more time for meetings not held in your building as appropriate.

Lastly, at a certain point in your pre-tenure career you’re going to have to decide what is essential to you and take a stand because you’ll be getting a lot of conflicting advice on what will make you the best possible tenure candidate. Talk with as many mentors both at and outside of your institution as possible and then find a path that marries what you consider to be essential with the essentials of your department and institution. Sometimes you will have to do things that you don’t care for or disagree with, but as long as they are not deal breakers it is best to think of them as the stepping stones that allow you to make a difference in the areas that really matter.

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