Upcoming Episodes

So unfortunately, Cari and I have been super busy these past couple weeks and we don’t have an episode for you this week, BUT we promise that we have something exciting coming up.

Last episode, we asked you all if you’ve ever felt burnt out during your experience in graduate school or throughout life in general. We got some great responses, which is so awesome because we love hearing from you all. After hearing your responses, we decided we wanted to focus on different fields and experiences of people in our lives that have been in science and either have pursued academia or have taken a completely different path from science. Again let us know if you have any thoughts on this!

As far as burn out, I’d like to talk a little about the responses we got from our listeners. One of the most interesting things I heard from a listener was the impact that mental health and inclusivity has on individuals. These aspects aren’t something that Cari and I discussed as issues related to our own feelings of burn out, but they can effect other people. Academia and the sciences can often be difficult for your mental wellbeing. If you want to hear more about mental health you should listen to our podcast about it, but I think what is often missing in academia is empathy. Advisors and other individuals often do not understand that in order to do good work you need to maintain a healthy work-life balance and sound mental health. Without these important pieces I can understand why it would be so hard to continue in the field. Burn out may be unavoidable.

Additionally, the stress that academia puts on minorities is also daunting. While I believe it is easy to think that your department is completely inclusive, especially when it seems everyone is trying to show their inclusivity these days, there are pockets where minorities are treated differently. These differences can cause someone to become burn out simply because the environment they work in is toxic.

It’s really important if you are feeling burn out because of these issues that you seek out help. Many universities and programs have access to free resources to help students cope with these issues (well free is relative you probably pay for them in your fees so you should use them!). Additionally, a listener also brought up the importance of seeking out the disabilities services at your university.

Ultimately, I’m sure many people will feel the strain of burn out at some point. Right now I’m feeling burnt out because of research/a lack of trying something new. I’ve never taken a break from school or research except for a short summer where I was still surrounded by and thinking about grad school. This has left me feeling very happy with my decision to not pursue academia. I think I’ve also found other things that I enjoy much more (outreach and communication!!!). Outreach and communication make me feel like I’m making a tangible difference and using my skills to make the world a better place. While I’m sure I could accomplish this in academia, I think the stress and the culture would make it much more difficult.

Anyway, we’re sorry for the lack of an actual podcast this week but we hope that you’ll stay tuned for the 27th for an epic installation of Bugs&Stuff. If you have any insight into working in academia, leaving academia for another science related career, or getting out of science all together, we would love to hear it and maybe share it on the podcast with your permission of course. You can contact us at bugsandstuffpodcast@gmail.com!

Also I’m going to leave you with this article I read recently talking about leaving a PhD program. Hopefully it will help any of you that are struggling with this decision. At one point in the article, it is discussed that leaving an academic program could be seen as a career move rather than a failure. Please don’t think of yourself as a failiure if this is you. Everyone needs to make the best decision for themselves in order to be happy.

Another Outreach Opportunity!

Hello listeners!

You may remember way back to Episode 7 when we talked about outreach, or maybe to the post I made just a few weeks ago, but you certainly know we LOVE outreach!

One of the things I really enjoy doing is mentoring other students virtually. If you’re interested in trying something like this, we have the perfect opportunity for you!

The Junior Academy of the Global STEM Alliance is looking for new mentors! This group is particularly fun because you have the chance to work with students from around the WORLD! It’s so fun and rewarding! These students are absolutely BRILLIANT!

I’ve included a message directly from them below. Please check them out! If you have any questions at all, I would be more than happy to talk to you about my experience!


The Junior Academy is currently recruiting mentors and experts with experience in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)! Click here to apply to take part in this entirely virtual experience, and have the chance to shape the next generation of STEM innovators!

The Junior Academy introduces exceptional students to an online community where they gain access to best in class STEM resources and work together to solve real-world problems. STEM professionals will mentor student teams during 70-day innovation challenges, with multiple challenges a year for participants to choose from. You can be a part of this global community of solvers by applying to be a mentor or subject matter expert! The next challenge cycle begins in September.

Qualified mentors and experts are:

  • Graduate students, postdocs, or professionals working in a STEM-related field
  • Have some experience conducting scientific research
  • Able to access at least one communication device with internet capabilities
  • Passionate about engaging and inspiring the next generation of STEM innovators

Click here to learn more about this opportunity or start your application today. Applications for the fall challenges are due July 15th, 2017.


You can also find an overview on JA mentoring opportunities here!

Episode 14: Are you still a scientist?

Today we’re here to talk to you about that dreaded question everyone is probably asking you if you’re anywhere close to the stage Cari and I are at: “So what’s next?”.

Moving on from science is something I’ve been struggling with lately. If you want to read more about that struggle you can read about it here. I think we came to the conclusion that to be a scientists, not a researcher, you need to be employing the scientific method as a way to answer questions about the world. For example, you can ask a question, figure out a method for answering that question, and then analyze the information you learned to more fully understand that question.

I’m not sure how long I’ll still consider myself a scientist and those ideas may change, but I think the most difficult part is finding a new label for ourselves. I consider myself a community ecologist studying soil invertebrates, but in the next few months that won’t be my title. Hopefully I’ll have a new title…and not just unemployed person.

Finally, we spend a lot of time talking about burn out in this episode, but we’d love to hear your feelings on the topic of burn out. Have you ever felt burnt out during your career? Do you want to share with us? If you feel like sharing a moment where you’ve felt burnt out and how you overcame that we might be sharing them during our next episode.

If you’d like to reach out, please contact us on Twitter, email, or Facebook! All the comments will be anonomous unless you specify otherwise since this could be a touchy subject. Also, please rate us on Apple Podcasts. It would really give us a boost!

And as always, we’ll see you, we love you, goodbye!

Also here is the gopher tortoise that Cari saw while in Florida!

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Gopher tortoises are important keystone species in the southeastern U.S. where they dig tunnels which serve as homes for other organisms (over 350 other organisms according to the Florida fish and wildlife conservation commission!). They are herbivores that munch on low growing plants and live in sandy areas. They are listened as threatened in Florida.

You can learn more about these guys on the Florida fish and wildlife conservation commission. They are a great resource if you want to learn more and help this species and others native to Florida!

Outreach Opportunity!

Hello dear listeners! An opportunity just came across my path and I thought I’d share it with you!

In our outreach episode (episode 7) we talked about an online mentoring service that I participate in called Planting Science. They just sent out an email to all of the current mentors because they are 100 mentors short for the fall!

Being a mentor with Planting Science has been one of my more rewarding experiences. You only need to dedicate a few hours a week and it’s all done through their website. All of the projects are plant related, but you don’t need to be studying plants to be a mentor (because I definitely don’t!). The have a few different themes and you can pick which ones you feel most comfortable mentoring students in. The students come up with their own ideas base on what they’re learning in class, and your role is to help them think through things they’re struggling with, examine what their results mean, and most importantly, think of the scientific method. It’s a wonderful experience for the kids to have some contact with a real scientist and learn that we are human. In my experience, it also encourages girls to think they could also have experience in a STEM field, which is super cool.

So, please consider being a mentor! If you have any questions, about any part of this process, I would be more than happy to answer them! Comment them here, or email us at bugsandstuffpodcast@gmail.com.

To find out more about being a mentor (or to sign up!) got to plantingscience.org

Scroll down until you see this:

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**I know it still says Spring 2017, but I promise that means for Fall 2017 too!

And click on any of those links!

Added bonus, if you’re an early career scientist, you’re eligible for a fellowship opportunity! Definitely consider applying!

 

Episode 13: Cricket Powder

 
Today we give you an actual episode about bugs! We’re talking about crickets and cricket powder with Dr. Aaron Dossey of All Things Bugs LLC. Dr. Dossey is a business owner, scientist, and fellow bug lover that has developed a method for drying crickets to make cricket powder. His powder has been featured in many different products including some companies on Shark Tank and on “Chopped”.

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Now you might be saying, “Ok Bugs & Stuff sure this stuff has been on chopped, but what does this stuff taste like?”. We can say that we’ve tried it and it wasn’t too bad. When you open the bag it has a slightly nutty flavor which is pretty easy to cover up with other ingredients. I wouldn’t say it would be great to eat alone, but you don’t usually do this with a plane tasting protein powder either. We recently made double chocolate mint cookies and they actually turned out pretty well (the recipe will follow shortly if you are interested). Dr. Dossey said that this cricket powder can also be used as a meat substitute when rehydrated. We haven’t tried this recipe, but as your Bugs&Stuff chef I may give it a go and I’ll let you know how that one turns out as well!

What makes Dr. Dossey’s cricket powder different from other powders is the way that he pasteurizes and dries his crickets. It’s actually rather difficult to dry a cricket because they have natural defenses against desiccation. When they are dried whole they seep out their natural oils and fats creating a bit of a mess. Really you need to grind through the crickets to fully dry them. This is similar to the way that whey protein is made. This method allows the powder to be quite fine in texture. It’s smooth like protein powder and easily incorporates as a substitute for protein power (or flour if you’re planning on making protein filled cookies).

Overall, it was a pleasure talking to Dr. Dossey. It was particularly interesting to hear about the food science and processing! We hope you check out Dr. Dossey’s cricket powder. Let us know if you try any interesting recipes.

Additionally, here are a couple of other articles mentioned throughout this podcast.

Dr. Dossey’s book Insects as Sustainable Food Ingredients
Invertebrate Studies Institute
Nature Article

Breed Tasty Crickets

NatGeo Article

Raise your own crickets!

Also find Dr. Dossey and his groups on twitter and Facebook:

@Dr_Bugenstein

@Allthingsbugs

@GrioPro

@ISIBugs

Love you, see you, goodbye!

Episode 12: Survival Guide to a Thesis Defense

Today we give you some tips and tricks to surviving a thesis defense. Cari and I just defended within the past couple weeks, which you probably know if you follow any of our social media platforms.

Some of the main take-aways from this episode were to practice, practice, practice. The best way to know your presentation is to practice it a lot. This doesn’t mean that you should memorize your entire talk. Sometimes that can sound scripted and inorganic. Make it interesting and fun for your audience to listen and understand.

Taking time to think about your audience is also important. If you have a chance, it might be helpful to present your information to a more general audience. This allows you to know if a non-scientist can understand your work. Of course, this is a fine line to walk. You also want to connect with your committee members and there will be slides that a general audience probably will not understand (most likely your statistics). Use this as a way to learn to speak to a general audience without dumbing down your work.

Finally, take time after you’re done defending to put it away. If you have time before any deadlines, take a couple of days to a week off. Don’t look at your thesis. Don’t look at your committee’s comments. This will allow you to have a fresh pair of eyes and a much needed break. Everyone needs to maintain their sanity while writing a thesis.

Defending a thesis can seem daunting, but you will do well! We believe in you! If you’ve defended your thesis please let us know in the comments. We can only talk about our experience as master’s students but we’d love to hear from PhD’s.

Anyway, we’ll see you, we love you, goodbye!

Changing climate will impact our health

Lyme disease, zika, dengue fever, allergies, food shortages, oh my! Today I want to talk about something that everyday people rarely think about: health and climate change. It’s likely that the changes we are seeing around the globe will have huge impacts on our health and the health of our loved ones.

Recently, Bowling Green State University held a symposium on the effects of climate change on health. I spent a good amount of time helping my advisor, who was one of the speakers on the panel, research and put together a presentation on the effects of climate change on ecology that will effect health and boy was it eye opening! I had a vague idea of how climate change would effect health but I didn’t know the extent and now I’m worried about people! But before I get into the specifics I want to talk a little about the panel.

The University brought in prominent members of the community to talk about the impacts of climate change featuring keynote speaker Dr. Shannon Ore, Dr. Tim Davis of NOAA, Dr. Shannon Pelini (our badass advisor and) BGSU biology faculty, and Ryan Wichman a meteorologist from WTOL. They all highlighted the important information about climate change and how it will effect our economy, politics, and health. I want to highlight some interesting things that I took from the talks and give you some ways to prevent health impacts of climate change. I care about people and while researching it became apparent that this will affect everyone in some way.

I think the number one take away message from this talk was that climate change is going to make everything worse. This is one of the main reasons that we should be fighting to stop it. It is difficult to think far into the future, especially when we have other more immediate issues going on in our lives, but at this point we no longer have to imagine what climate change will do because we are seeing the effects right now.

Diseases are creeping closer and closer to people as their vectors (mosquitoes, ticks, and other critters) move northward due to warmer temperatures. Zika has recently been in the news but other mosquito borne disease are also moving northward. Also, NPR wrote a great article about Lyme disease here is a sneak peek below of the spread. Lyme disease can cause a bullseye rash at the bite site and if it isn’t treated it can lead to cronic fatigue, joint and muscle pain, and in later stages physical disability.

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We are also seeing increases in the amount of pollen as plants spread to new areas and grow larger and more potent. These plants move because again northern regions are becoming warmer but also because of increases in carbon dioxide (CO2). Plants use CO2 to grow and that means more CO2 leads to larger plants.

We often say “Not in our backyard” when referring to bad things happening. Climate change forces us to question how large is our metaphorical backyard? Because we don’t live in a bubble and our world is connected, if a part of the country suddenly has a climate change induced drought and that area grows a large proportion of our food, our “backyard” suddenly seems a lot larger. It may encompass the whole country or the whole world. We need to realize that climate change will eventually affect everyone.

The New York Times recently published information from Yale, which shows how Americans think climate change will affect their health. From these results, it appears that at least half of Americans think climate change is happening, fewer people think it’s human caused, but throughout the majority of the country, save a few spots in southern Texas and California, only about 30% of people in counties across the U.S. believe climate change will harm them personally.

It’s easy to forget about climate change when you live in a relatively unaffected area, but people are feeling the effects even now. A group of physicians, the Medical Society Consortium on Climate Health, recently put out a review of the effects of climate change on their patients. They have a variety of resources including case studies but mostly they highlight the potential health effects of climate change from fires, disease vectors, food shortages, disasters, and mental health effects that follow any of these traumatic events.

In order to protect yourself from the health impacts of climate change you should be more vigilant about insect repellent at all times of the year. Bugs don’t pay attention to seasons, they only care about the weather and if it’s warm they may be out! In Ohio, we had a couple of really warm days in February and March. People who are spending time outside on these days, especially if your walking around the woods, should pay attention to ticks. Additionally, if you’re an allergy sufferer you may want to stock up on allergy medication early and keep it handy because pollen may become worse or spread further in the coming seasons.

Speaking of pollen, there are some things that you can do to protect those bugs that are important for our crops. Pollinators have seen declines for many reasons lately, but one of those reasons may be climate related. Planting pollinator friendly plants in your yard may help increase the number of pollinators that we rely on to pollinate our crops. If you’re feeling really bug friendly try creating a bug hotel for your flying friends! I wish I had a yard so I could create one!

Look even The Brain Scoop’s Emily Graslie is doing it!

Finally, talk to your doctor if you notice any weird symptoms or you just want to talk about issues that may be related to your area please ask your doctor! It’s so important for everyone to be on top of these issues so that we can all stay healthy!