The Story behind Luna Scientific Storytelling

Hello everyone,

I was featured in the Biomedical Science Career Program newsletter. (Please see attachment below.) The journalist writes the story on how Scientific Storytelling was conceived and now spread all throughout Harvard Medical School, Harvard University and throughout the globe.

Special thanks to Andrea Pyenson for writing a wonderful article. I thank Dean Joan Reede, Dean of Diversity and Community Partnership at Harvard Medical School, for her support and guidance. I also thank Lise D. Kaye, Executive Director of the Biomedical Science Career Program c/o Harvard Medical School. Dean Reede and Lise Kaye have inspired me to continue spread Scientific Storytelling to the world!

Keep moving forward,

Rafael

 

 

 

BSCP-Newletter-September 2013-Luna-Innovation

Science: Our first love beckons

What if Christopher Columbus did not set sail in 1492?

During his day, there were plenty of experts advising him on the danger of embarking on expeditions across the Atlantic.

As scientists, we are also explorers, discoverers and pioneers. When we discover a novel finding in the laboratory, we go where no one has ever gone before. We uncover and unravel mysteries that have been kept hidden since the beginning of time.

Exploring and understanding scientific phenomenon is a noble profession. A career in scientific research is not for the faint of heart. Science seems to select the right individuals to begin a dance with her that would last the entire lives of all those consumed by her experimental tentacles.

As our friends, family and loved ones struggle to understand our fascination for a career, wherein failure is the norm. We continue to rise early in the morning and leave the laboratory late at night.

Why do we do this?

I am convinced that we have no choice but to follow our heart.

The love for Science has captured our attention from the early days of our childhood.  As we form a perfect union with her, we develop and mature into scientists with character and dignity. We learn to listen to the still, small voice in our guts, which dictate the next experiments to perform and the projects to embark.

Science has wooed us for decades. When experiments are performed correctly with the appropriate controls, she would be forever faithful. As scientists, we have the wonderful fortune to witness the truth and to experience our universe with the deepest of profundities.

Every time Christopher Columbus set sail, he did not have a choice. The sea with all of its hidden treasures beckoned him.

Science will continue to beckon us for the rest of our days, and I earnestly hope that the next generation would also fall in love with her.  Our children will stand on our shoulders to discover scientific gems.

We must continue to be bold and risk it all for love. As the seas continue to beckon, let’s set sail and discover a New World.

Innovation for Scientists and Writers

Innovation is a word that transcends science, engineering, business and health care.  This word, innovation, has been used exhaustively over the last few years.

What is the personal cost to the individual scientist/writer proposing innovative ideas?

Innovation has the unique capability to forge interdisciplinary collaborations, which effectively dismantles the disciplinary walls hindering progress.

Innovators view walls as obstacles to be overcome.

Last week in our biochemistry lab, I was in sitting in the lunchroom kitchen with two other postdocs. One said,” All of the easy innovations have already been done.”

He continued, “Previously, scientists had it a lot easier than us. It was easy for them to develop new products and have scientific discoveries. However, today it is incredibly difficult to discover or be innovative.”

Since I was waiting for the water to heat for my coffee, I happily joined the discussion.

I asked whether the Wright Brothers had it easy. This quickly switched the conversation to the incredible odds these brothers overcame, along with the enormous risks that these pioneers took, in order to take flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina in 1903.

Some of their predecessors died attempting to take flight. These two bicycle repairmen designed their flying instrument and successfully took flight. The Wright brothers were pioneers that forever changed the world, yet they lacked college degrees.

Should I remind us that they fixed bicycles for a living?  There are always risks when one embarks on a path that is not common. I contend that, as both scientists and writers, we continue to embark on our innovative paths to discovery and share our findings with the world.

We are only beginning to scratch the surface of understanding the basic biochemical processes occurring in the cell. Innovative ideas from creative scientists determined to extract the truth from our physical world through rigorous experimentation can forever change the world and make it a better place to live for the next generation.

Let’s continue our research as scientists with a dogged determination to create innovation through experimentation. We are the hope for a brighter future. Let us not take our responsibility lightly.

Change the world by talking science

In this ever increasing competitive nature of science, why Scientific Storytelling?

As scientists, we are finding it difficult to secure funding, publish manuscripts and land a position (faculty and industry). The stakes for scientists are extremely high.

So how are we going to respond to the climate of stressful times?

I posit that we should communicate our science to as many people as possible. We need to be able to effectively express our scientific ideas to our peers, family and friends. We should be able to express scientific concepts to anyone we meet, despite the educational level of the audience.

How do we do this?

As scientists, we need to communicate our research to lab members, at scientific conferences and to the general public.

Yet how many of us had training in effective communication?

Where do we learn these skills?

Where do we learn the writing skills to compose a research manuscript?

This blog is for anyone with a scientific mind and would like to improve their communication skills in either the written or oral formats.

Let’s change the world by talking science to everyone we know.

Dear fellow scientists,

This blog is for scientists written by a scientist.

Your principal investigator gives you a final deadline for the draft of your manuscript. It is due within a few months. He/she has been waiting for quite a while. Actually two years and four months to be exact.

You are tired. You think that you need to do more experiments.

You stare at a blank screen and every time you type, it never seems good enough, and the recurring need to do more experiments persists.

When you finally manage to compose a draft. You wonder why academic journals have a limit on the number of words. In addition to the looming sense of running out of space, you also would like to include more figures and data. You carefully want to fully explain every little aspect in your manuscript.

The last technical writing class was either in early graduate school, undergraduate or never. Even if you previously enrolled in a technical writing course, the class did not teach you how to write a scientific manuscript.

This blog is written for those individuals interested in fashioning your research work into a cohesive story, i.e. drafting a research manuscript and/or giving an oral presentation (research seminar).

Let us begin our journey in scientific storytelling by taking one step at a time.

Sincerely,

Rafael E. Luna, Ph.D.