Draft post cleanup #19: Spam and biased spam at that

Yet another post in my “draft blog post cleanup” series.  Here is #19 from September 2011:

I am sure many others out there who blog have gotten this kind of message:

We at Onlinephdprograms.com recently came across your blog and were excited to share with you an article “15 Fictional Professors We Wish Were Real” was recently published on our blog and we hoped that you would be interested in featuring or mentioning it in one of your posts.


Either way, I hope you continue putting out great content through your blog. It has been a sincere pleasure to read.

Thanks for your time,
Liz Nutt

I assume that these posts that are written for this, and various other sites, are all about driving up Google Search ranking somehow.  So I normally avoid writing about them.  But I thought I would in this case because, well, their post annoyed me because of the 15 functional professors they wrote about, only one is female.  Really, that is the best they could do?  In three minutes of web surfing (e.g., browsing this site and this one) I have come up with a list of fictional female professors who certainly could have been included in their list.  And many are much more interesting than some they wrote about.  Here are some examples:

  • Eleanor Arroway – Jodie Foster’s character in Contact
  • Susan Calvin – character in Isaac Asimov’s I Robot series
But then I stopped because I was disappointed I could not find more functional female professors to add to my list.  I do think the list posted by the OnlinePhD site could certainly have had more women on it … but I never posted the post because I had a hard time coming up with a lot of examples … but now that I am trying to revive draft posts … well … I will put this out there even if it is an incomplete thought

I know – Ego Blogging is so 2010 – But I won. I won. I won. (The Ben Franklin Award …)

OK so the title is a bit much. But I am really happy that I won this years Benjamin Franklin Award, given out by the Bioinformatics Organization. For more on this see …
I found out a few days ago and am rearranging some things to go to Boston April 13 for the award ceremony at the Bio-IT World Conference and Expo.  
From the Bioinformatics Organization web site:

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) was one of the most remarkable men of his time. Scientist, inventor, statesman, he freely and openly shared his ideas and refused to patent his inventions. It is the opinion of the founders of the Bioinformatics Organization, Inc. that he embodied the best traits of a scientist, and we seek to honor those who share these virtues

The Benjamin Franklin Award for Open Access in the Life Sciences is a humanitarian/bioethics award presented annually by this organization to an individual who has, in his or her practice, promoted free and open access to the materials and methods used in the life sciences.

I like the general sentiment very much.  And perhaps more important – the list of prior winners is an impressive crew.  Again, from the Bioinformatics Organization web site:

Note – my brother won the first one.

Anyway – am thinking about what to say in the awards ceremony.  Probably going to say something about how openness is more than about being at no charge.  Also I might discuss how it would be good to have a female winner one of these days.  Speaking of which – maybe people can give suggestions for women to nominate for next year …

UPDATE 9/25/12: See this Friendfeed discussion for some more comments about possible female candidates. I have copied the text below in case Friendfeed disappears: “maybe people can give suggestions for women to nominate for next year …”. OK, I’ll start: how about Rosie Redfield? If it weren’t for the Life Sciences focus I’d also suggest Heather Joseph. Speaking of Heathers, one H. Piwowar springs to mind whenever Open Foo is mentioned. – Bill Hooker heh, that would be cool someday 🙂 For now, how about Helen M. Berman, Judith A. Blake, Maryann E. Martone, Catherine Ball, or other pioneers in open databases? – Heather Piwowar Janet Thornton. – Heather Piwowar Agreed! – Egon Willighagen In an award speech at ISMB 2005, Janet Thornton expressed gratitude she was able to take years out-with-family and then pick up again. Inspirational. Not relevant for the Ben Franklin award, but wanted to mention it because it made such an impact. – Heather Piwowar

Overselling genomics (and men) award #3 – Newsweek Magazine

Newsweek Magazine has a feature on the “10 hottest nerds” that they say are “10 of the most esteemed biologists” in the w0rld. And they ask for their insights into various things. The people are

  • Eric Lander
  • Leroy Hood
  • Craig Venter
  • David Botstein
  • Svante Paabo
  • Philip Sharp
  • Rudolph Jaenisch
  • Kari Stefansson
  • George Church
  • Jay Keasling

Sure these people have done good things and I truly respect most of them in many ways. But are they kidding me? This is who they pick? First of all, all men? Mostly, all people who have been around the block too. Plus, almost all these people work in something connected to genomics (Lander, Hood, Venter, Botstein, Paabo, and Church are major genomics players; Keasling and Sharp and Stefansson are heavily genomics-based).

They couldn’t come up with a single woman? Or anyone doing anything else? Or any new researchers? This whole thing is completely egregious. There are plenty of completely cool things going on in biology that have little if any connection to genomics, that are not men, and/or are not established researchers.

And to get the conversation going here are some people they could have considered to diversify in at least one dimension (i.e., the male versus female thing):

I came up with this list in about 20 minutes, based mostly on people I know. And of course, there are TONS of other women in biology who are doing fantabulous research. Even if one did not know anything, a little time on Google pulls up a vast collection of resources — (e.g., see L’Oreal’s for Women in Science page or this Wikipedia page for more suggestions). And of course lets not forget that genomics is not the only thing going on in biology.

So – Newsweek – you are getting my third “Overselling Genomics Award” and on top of that a bonus “Overselling Men” award. All I can say is – what were you thinking?