Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Spotlight on:

In an age when it feels as though if it isn't online then it doesn't exist, there are an increasing number of programs/solutions/tools to help people connect/manage or simply get their work done. This same mentality is being used in the laboratory via

Check out this post on techcrunch which gives an overview of the motivation for and history of the site.

Though I have not used the site extensively, I've seen a few things:
- In order to join you must have a .edu email address and have a PI or Advisor listed as the person you are working for. This allows teams working in a specific group/lab to link together and share news, reports, articles, papers, protocols, etc.
- You can search for relevant published papers by keyword and add them to your collection. You can also receive updates when papers are made available that match your search criteria. For example, the keywords 'water purification' will land you (in preview mode) papers as diverse as "Sequential and simultaneous determination of bromate and chlorite (DBPs) by flow techniques: kinetic differentiation." AND " Feasibility of water purification technology in rural areas of developing countries." , among others.
- Within the lab you can receive/create events, notes, and notebook entries. This could be very useful for a PI trying to communicate within a large lab group, and also very helpful for teams working from more than one physical location.
- You can also view other members of labmeeting, along with their affiliation and areas of research. This could very well provide an interesting setting for researchers who have questions, are seeking expertise, or simply want to connect with other scientists working on similar issues. In a way, this aspect of the site could act as a social networking tool for laboratories.

As I am not working in a lab, I can not attest to whether or not it is actually being utilized, though the members' page looks is quite extensive. It looks like the site is used only by US institutions. If used internationally, I imagine it could help countries, both developed and developing, tap into new resources. One topic some of us at GW have come across is the idea of the 'new invisible college'. Could labmeeting be used as a tool to bring science to resource poor areas and help them plug into the scientific network?

If you have friends and colleagues in labs, please tell them about this tool. I'd be interested in hearing about what they think. Read more!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Scientists Without Borders

Scientists Without Borders is an idea I had for the past year or so and now its been brought to reality thanks to The New York Academy of Sciences and UN Millennium Project. The mission of SWB is to match needs with resources focusing on capacity-building in developing countries, in areas of public health, environment, energy, and natural resources among others, using science and technology as the primary tools.

I feel this is a great opportunity to showcase what resources SISTP and/or CISTP have to offer and also to get involved in meaningful work beyond the traditional academic role. I have been in contact with SWB's Executive Director, Dr. Evelyn Strauss and would welcome ideas and suggestions from our group that I can bring up with her the next time. Read more!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The WikiLaboratory

Just as you may use to do a general search for some quick historical info, to figure out which actor played in that movie you are trying to remember, or to win a bet with a friend using some obscure trivia, you might also be interested in the wiki laboratory. is a website, in their own words, "based off of the well-known Wikipedia template where users contribute, edit, and direct content on the website. The goal of this website is to develop a community of researchers in every discipline. We would like WikiLaboratory to become a place where scientists can come to get information, discuss topics, and collaborate."

Not only can you conduct a search for "rinderpest virus chromotographic strip test", which I actually had to do the other day, you can use their jobs section to find or post jobs from science writing to senior scientist in a research lab. There is a nice list of scientific databases, as well.

Although there is no page for "science and technology policy" yet, given time I think that can change. Read more!