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Last summer, when I was just about to start at BU, one of the things that most excited me about starting my PhD was to transition from someone who knew enough about the field of synthetic biology and bioengineering in general to be excited about it and know of the potential to someone who had done the deep dive and actually made a contribution to the field, aka the transition from excitable and wide-eyed recent college grad to a bitter, jaded, and hardened graduate student. As I thought about how interesting this transition would be on my personal outlook and life perspective, I thought to create a blog that would chronicle that journey. And so I created Horizons, a blog where I hoped to write about my graduate school experience, my thoughts on the field of synthetic biology, and how all of this would go on to impact the course of the human species.
And then first year hit me like a brick and I managed to eek out a few posts in the Fall. Well, with classes over I am looking to bring Horizons back to regular postings and I also wanted to share the relevant content on here, the GSC blog. The current plan is that I will preview each post here and then provide a link so you can read that post and others on the Horizons website. For this first post, I wrote a reflection on a public science engagement event I attended at the Boston Museum of Science a few weeks ago. Here, I discussed ethical issues surrounding gene therapy and germline engineering with members of the public and had a great time learning how to listen to others and learning when and how to provide the scientific background to inform the debate.
Check the post out here and look forward to future posts from Horizons!
After 7 years of grad school, here's what I wish I'd known before I even started.
This is pretty long, so I tried to create some appropriate headings (ala a Scientific Paper) if you’d like to skip the parts you aren’t interested in. I used this as an excuse to play around/refine my coding in Pandas/Python and I’m happy to share code if anyone would like it.
This is a slightly more serious and longer post than I’ve done before, but a lot of things have brought the topic of Guns in America to my mind in a manner I wanted to write out some of my thoughts & feelings about it. Here is a sampling of a few of the things that got me thinking about this:
- A couple weeks ago, I went through this interactive article on FiveThirtyEight about Gun Deaths in America. (https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/gun-deaths/)
- I’m listening to a D&D live-stream (Critical Role) where one of the characters has invented guns for this particular world, and he works through the various results and implications of his invention.
- I just finished another read through of the Book of Mormon, which Mormons believe is a historical account written by prophets of some of the ancient civilizations in America (600 BC – 400 AD). **Spoiler Alert**: There are two instances covered within the book that result in two nations essentially exterminating one another, and the prophets keeping the record lament about the violence and death of their people.
- In the wake of the shooting in the school in Parkland, Florida my wife and I have talked a lot about how difficult it would be to send your child to school and not have them come home (Our oldest is 5 and goes to Kindergarten now every day).
- Having to grown up in Utah and lived for 2 years in North Carolina, some of that in very rural areas of NC, in addition to my time in Boston, my social media feed is very diverse and I’ve seen a lot of diverging arguments from both end on what should be done in the wake of the recent shootings. On one end of the spectrum, this has focused on mental health issues and background checks rather than limiting the types of guns that can be purchased, mostly from my more conservative, gun-toting friends (who’ve let me shoot their AR-15’s and taken me skeet shooting various times). The other end of the spectrum is focused on traditional forms of “gun-control” such as getting certain types of guns off the market, or limiting magazine sizes.
It is this last point I wanted to specifically focus my thoughts on and I wanted to delve deeper into, specifically the point of banning AR-15 type rifles. This was on the table in Florida recently (https://www.cbsnews.com/news/florida-senate-passes-immediately-reverses-ar-15-ban-2018-03-03/), but didn’t get included in the final bill that passed. Additionally, the LA Times ran an article that claimed that banning AR-15 type rifles would end mass shootings (http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-skelton-florida-shooting-gun-control-20180219-story.html). I’d heard a similar sentiment from many of my friends, but heard it vehemently denied by other friends. I couldn’t find any clear, data-driven articles that answered that topic in a way I found satisfactory to my liking, so that is the main topic of this blog post. Ultimately, I feel the data suggest that there isn’t a clear black and white answer, which is probably closer to the truth than many news articles I often read seem to suggest.
Finally as a disclaimer, I expect some people to disagree with my thoughts, either a little or a lot, and I think that’s great. I’d love to better understand the perspective of people who view things differently than me so feel free to reach out to me if you’d like to discuss this issue or my analyses more.
My data primarily come from the following 2 sources in terms of identification of “Mass Shootings” and their related definitions:
- Stanford Mass Shootings in America (MSA) database (https://library.stanford.edu/projects/mass-shootings-america). This started in 2012 after the Sandy Hook shooting. They aimed to create a historical record of Mass Shootings from 1966 to the present day. I felt this was the most rigorous dataset of shooting records, as each record is corroborated by 3-7 sources. However, their most recent published records were in April 2016, which was the spring before the shooting in Orlando, Florida. For this database, the definition of a “Mass Shooting” was there were 3 or more shooting victims, not necessarily deaths.
- Mother Jones US Mass Shooting database (https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/12/mass-shootings-mother-jones-full-data/). This is a non-profit who seeks to do “hard-hitting journalism” and created this database in 2012 after the Aurora, Colorado shooting. Their data was basically a google spreadsheet, so I made sure to confirm the details I was using with at least 1-3 other sources, one of which was Wikipedia typically, in full transparency. This database was up to date as of March 10, 2018, so I added an additional 10 Mass Shootings to the MSA database, as I wanted to include Orlando, Las Vegas, and the most recent Parkland Shooting. However, it is important to note that for this database, the definition of a “Mass Shooting” was slightly more subjective. They excluded events that they determined to be related to “more conventional crime.” As well, their threshold was higher than the MSA and focused on 4 or more shooting fatalities, rather than just victims. There were only 10 additional shootings added from this database with my manual curation and double-checking, while the rest of the shooting events are in the published MSA database.
What I wanted to look at was what types of guns were used, and how many fatalities were associated with the type of gun used in the shooting event. The MSA defined 3 gun types according to this:
- Handgun = Handgun, pistols, revolver
- Rifle = Firearm designed to be fired from the shoulder, with a barrel less than 16 inches in length
- Shotgun = Designed to be fired from the shoulder, with a barrel less than 18 inches in length
For the basis of what I was looking at, AR-15 type guns fall under the Rifle category.
The data I specifically looked at from these databases was the total fatalities from these mass shooting events. This included victim fatalities, as well as the shooter if it was a murder-suicide or the shooter was taken out by police. I then compared that by gun type used/discovered for the investigation of the shooting (Handgun/Rifle/Shotgun or combinations of each). I wanted to keep the visualization as close to raw data as possible to try and get an intuition for the data, and not just run some stats to try and make a specific point. As I mostly wanted to do a first pass to better discuss this topic with people in my life, I’m purposefully trying to keep my analysis high level here, as I don’t think I’m going to come up with a solution to this topic on my own. Here is the visualization I came up with:
The x-axis is number of fatalities. The y-axis is the gun type, or combination of gun type for each designated mass shooting. Each bar represents a single shooting event, with the width of the bar corresponding to the number of fatalities for that specific event. The color of the bar roughly corresponds to the year, with red being earlier and blue being most recent. Note that the MSA warns against reading too much into temporal effects for mass shootings, as their data highlights that reporting on mass shooting events has greatly increased in America over time, as evidenced by the extreme nonlinearity in the colorbar scale. I’ve also labeled a few particular shootings as references.
The first thing that stood out to me was the huge total of fatalities by shootings using handguns alone. For whatever reason (perhaps I’m pretty ignorant) I didn’t anticipate that column to be so large. Secondly, the categories with rifles do seem to have more events with a larger bar size (indicating more fatalities), but they certainly aren’t the only places with large bar sizes. The Virginia Tech shooting is a notable example, where there were 33 fatalities and the shooters used only semi-automatic handguns. There are also a decent number of shootings in the 8-15 fatalities range that didn’t seem to get the national press that many other shootings seem to have gotten, across all gun types used in the shootings.
Ultimately, my main conclusion from looking at these data is that precision is very important in describing the problem people are trying to address. From my experience interacting with friends and individuals throughout the political spectrum, a clear and precise articulation of the particular problem they’re talking about is not often communicated as clearly as their solution. I do not think that the data suggest that removing AR-15’s from our country would end mass shootings, as the LA Times article seems to suggest. This may be true if your definition of a mass shooting has a high threshold of 10-15 fatalities, but that feels like an arbitrary definition to support a certain definition. However, it may be productive to discuss whether or not laws that limit magazine sizes and gun types may be useful in decreasing the number of individuals killed in a particular event (making the bar-size smaller on the graph), though that may not change the frequency of mass shooting events.
Additionally, the part of the data that surprised me for shootings in the Handgun category highlight that a sizeable number of people die from more frequent, smaller scale shootings that wouldn’t be impacted in any way by legislation focusing on limiting AR-15s and magazine sizes. Is there a more general solution that might address the fatalities in both of these categories? While I didn’t fully quantify it for a few reasons, these data also seemed to suggest that semi-automatic weapons (handguns, shotguns, or rifles) are more closely related to the number of fatalities in mass shooting events, rather than gun type alone. The Virginia Tech shooting is the primary outlier example for that observation. One might think a possible (and I would suggest extreme) gun-centric solution would be to prevent the sale of any semi-automatic weapons. This is the point my friends with guns often step in and point to mental health and tighter background checks as solutions that might more globally solve some of these problems without any gun-centric legislation. This post is already pretty long, so I’m not going to further discuss these matters in this post, but I’d be interested to hear more opinions from others on those types of approaches as well.
Ultimately, I think that the importance of precision in defining and articulating a problem and proposed solution is important in science as well. In navigating a lot of the confusion, frustration, mud-slinging and mis-communication between my friends on the topic of gun control, I’ve seen how similar issues arise within science and it’s communication to the public. I’ve certainly learned that the more precise I can be in articulating the problems I’m trying to address for my thesis has helped me focus and better communicate my findings in both writing and presentations.
TL DR; Deaths from mass shootings in America are more nuanced than being caused by individuals using a certain type of gun. It’s important to be precise in defining and discussing both problems and solutions as both a civilian and scientist.
When I joined the PhD program at BU, I switched from working in a wet lab (where I spent most of my days praying that my cells would live to see another day) to a mostly computational group. Now I’m in a set pattern, running up to 6 hours of experiments per week and the rest of the time is spent with just me, myself, and my trusty MacBook Pro. But like every graduate student threatened by a looming prospectus defense deadline, I too have fallen victim to the most destructive of our Millennial Failings™. I’m not talking about actively ruining staples of American Culture or slowly grinding the gears of every Baby Boomer I know (my lovely parents and PI included) or even amassing soul-crushing student debt. No – I am talking about my social media and internet addiction. As I’m writing this, I am actively fantasizing about all the likes I’ll get when I post this blog link to my Facebook or one of my three twitter accounts! #AllTheLikes #JazzTheWriter #SoProfresh #GradSchoolLulz.
SO here I’d like to outline a few things you might encounter as a grad student with a screen addiction (and maybe an undiagnosed attention problem) like me, and a few tactics to help yourself: some serious, some just worth a thought.
Rule 1: Use browser extensions and apps to limit your social media time. Many people praise StayFocused, RescueTime, or other productivity apps like the Pomodoro technique, but the one that really works for me is called News Feed Eradicator for Facebook. As a card-carrying extrovert, I want to stay in the loop of my picture and status tags, event invites, timeline posts, and birthdays on Facebook. I’m very close to my family and god-siblings so it is actually a priority for me. But that pesky Facebook newsfeed really distracts me with its perfectly crafted algorithms showcasing news articles with just my flavor of liberalism, graduation announcements, engagement photos, and pictures of The Dress that make polite conversations devolve into arguments about visual psychophysics (which I then convince myself is technically work). So anyway, the News Feed Eradicator has done wonders for me. I go to Facebook, see a blank timeline, acknowledge some notifications (mostly my aunts volunteering me for things I definitely do not want to do), then navigate away and – just like that-- back to work. It’s beautiful.
Rule 2: Practice good habits ubiquitously across the internet. In my experience, if I silence my Facebook timeline with a browser extension, suddenly all the others social media sites are suspiciously flooded with never-before-noticed, engaging content! This is true of email too, the most insidious trickster of them all. When I did an official moratorium on all social media around my prospectus defense, checking email suddenly became a very fun, time consuming, daylong engagement. I knew I hit rock bottom when I started actually reading BU Today! Even worse: the day after I deleted Facebook from my phone, I found myself digging up my Tumblr password. Sure, I hadn’t been on Tumblr in 6 months and had retained all of 14 followers, probably my friends from the early aughts. But suddenly this gif of a pigeon saluting Vladmir Putin was HYSTERICAL and scrolling through my ex’s poetry blog seemed like a great use of time for a Tuesday afternoon. (But seriously…. that haiku he wrote was clearly about me: the “wind over the plain” is obviously about rice fields and what grows in rice fields? JASMINE rice. He misses me. What a sucker.) Moral of the story: if you limit your time on one social medium, try to limit your time on all of them equally.
Rule 3: Delete social media apps from your phone. I sometimes wonder why my bathroom and coffee breaks take so darn long. As you’d expect, card-carrying extroverts engage in a lot of water cooler talk, but some self-reflection revealed that it was actually because of my chronic text-walking. During my 10-pace walk to the bathroom or 30-pace walk to the espresso machine (#CILSElife), I look like a drunk toddler, walking with absolutely no vestibular sensibilities – probably because I’m trying to think of a clever hashtag or searching for the perfect gif to match my homegirl’s ridiculous post because time is of the essence! I have been known to literally stand in front of the espresso machine for minutes at a time, not having bothered to even press the ON button. It’s kinda sad. Especially when your lovely PI startles you with a hello and you drop your phone (true story). Just say no to mobile apps.
Rule 4: Don’t kid yourself. Deleting the email, Facebook, twitter, imgur, and reddit apps from your phone will definitely stop you from taking exceedingly long bathroom breaks. But if you are a determined social media addict like me, deleting apps from your phone might not help all too much. It will increase the number of clicks it takes to get to the content, BUT YOU WILL STILL GET TO THE CONTENT. When I delete a social media app, I’m just wasting even more time by attempting to log in via my browser 5 times (because I forgot my password and need to reset it) and then navigating the terrible mobile version in Safari. Seriously WHO still uses Safari! I could have just succumbed to the app in the first place and been in and out. I’ve learned to just let myself check the darn twitterverse every once in a while. #ScienceTwitter needs an audience too, and not everyone is a machine! Balance is key.
Rule 4: Unplug. On a more serious note, there are some real things you should do if you’re struggling with focus as many people of our generation do. Unplug as often as possible using the following actual tactics:
- Write pseudo code: I spend most of my time making scripts in MATLAB or Python, so instead of getting frustrated with syntax and stress-tweeting, I write fake code with pen and paper to figure out parameters and flow. I fill in the easy stuff once I’m back on my computer. (This is a great alternative to me having to print my CV and re-read it so that I believe in myself again.)
- Print journal articles: I try to print multiple sheets per page and double sided to save the trees. I also just read articles on my laptop with wifi turned off. If I need to look up a concept or word, I try a dictionary or ask a colleague before I get back online to look it up. Or I take educated guesses, write them down, then compare with the results of a google search later. Plus, writing all this down makes me learn it better. Write, read, profit!
- Plan social media time in your day. A true addict like me checks Facebook (with full newsfeed) first thing in the morning, my 3 personal twitters and 2 professional ones around lunchtime (I’m not joking), and all the other social media in between dinner and bedtime. This is effective because outside of those times I simply use Self-Inflicted Guilt to curb myself.
- Consider getting professional help. Student Health Services (SHS) has behavioral health counseling for people who struggle with inattention, anxiety (because of what you just saw on your newsfeed!), depression (also because of what you just saw on your newsfeed!), and more. Just like getting professional help for your cough is sensible, so too for your mental health. At a point, social media can really mess with you and there’s no shame in getting help!
That’s all I have for you. We millenials get a bad rep for being screen addicts, but in fact, the internet is actually engineered to mine our attention for corporate profit (sorry, but it’s true). Battle it sensibly, and don’t let it control you. Help a friend out and share these tips. See you at the next bitcoin convention.
Go Forth and Internet Responsibly!
My grandfather used to call me “the college girl in the family”, because I am the first and only female in my father’s side of the family to attend college. My grandparents live in a village in rural China, where for a long time, women were not meant to be educated. “Smart women are hard to control” they said. My mother told me that the first time grandpa visited my parents after I was born, he pulled my father to the side and told him to find an opportunity to have another child. Of course, there could be no second child in my family because of the one child policy at the time. For a long time, I wondered just how much I disappointed grandpa simply by being a female, and it kept me up at night. I silently blamed him for making me wonder.
My father, however, did not buy into the stereotype. He is the first generation of his family to get out of the village through education, so he knew that for anyone, education can be best opportunity in a lifetime, as long as you worked hard enough. He never told me to hold back at school. I always knew that he would not tolerate underachievement in academics. It seemed harsh at times, but now that I look back, I am grateful that he taught me to value my own education. I loved school and learning ever since I first started elementary school. Going into college, I chose to leave my family and move to the United States to pursue a better quality education and to see a broader horizon of academia. I knew since my first day in college that I would not want to stop after my undergraduate study. I craved more experience and opportunities in Biomedical Engineering research, even though choosing to pursue a Ph.D. is not the easiest decision for Chinese women of my age.
Today in China, fewer women are denied education; however, a new trend has arisen – I call it the “higher education shaming” of women. Female PhDs are often seen as a weird and eccentric population, and are thought to be “un-marry-able” and abnormal. They appear in jokes, usually degrading ones, about left-over women who are single and over 30 years old. Rather than celebrating the academic achievements of a daughter or granddaughter, the families of higher-educated women would sigh and worry about their dim marriage prospects.
These family members do not include my parents. Much like me, my mother is also the first woman in her family to attend college and eventually get a Master of Science. Also like me, she had a father who was a strong advocate of education. She and my father were nothing but supportive when I decided to pursue a doctorate after my undergraduate study. I was not content, though; I could not help but wonder what grandpa would say. Have I done well enough to prove myself as worthy? Have I compensated for my gender? I was not even sure if those were the right questions to ask.
I visited grandpa in a local hospital this past summer. He was ill with stage four lung cancer, accompanied by weakness of the cardiac muscle. His heart was struggling to pump enough blood to his extremities, causing his skin to appear a dark purple color. Grandpa was lying in bed when I came in his ward; he immediately stood up when he saw me. “Come and sit down” he said and tapped the side of his bed. He asked me how I was doing, whether I had to “speak English to everyone, everyday”, and whether I could “ask the school to send me back home soon”. Then, after a brief moment of silence, he asked me when I planned to get married. I told him that marriage is not in my life plan any time soon, and that I wanted to study more. He looked at me for a few seconds, comprehending what I had just said. “Well,” eventually he opened his mouth again, as he put his hand on my shoulder, “I am so happy and proud”. Something in my heart became ten pounds lighter at that moment. I went on to tell him that I was working on cardiovascular research in my lab. He pointed to his heart and said that it would be great if I could make him a better one.
That was the last time I would ever see my grandpa.
Families can be hard to understand, even with the proximity we have with them. I never quite understood how grandpa thought of me and my gender. Was he still disappointed that I am a girl despite my good academics? Did my good grades somehow eliminate his negative view of women? Or was his change of attitude only applicable to me? Maybe I will never truly forget his first reaction to the fact that I am female, but I loved him nonetheless. After all, it is rather useless to blame one person for a systemic stereotype, but I do hope that the recovery from a societal disease can start with as few as one mind.
Disclosure: I wrote this essay 4 year ago while applying for graduate school. As difficult as it was to write, it also felt self-indulgent to put it into words and to share it. So, thanks for the platform and the community!
Here at BU,
by Kyle Hansen
There is a time in my life that hearing that word would cause me to cringe. It still does to a small degree, but much less than a year or two ago.
I grew up, like a lot of engineers, with a love of cold, hard math. Even from my elementary years, I loved its predictability and reproducibility. Plug some numbers into a formula and you can predict what will come out. Use the same mathematical operator in a different context with different numbers, and you know how it will behave (At least for linear systems and operators).
However, to me statistics was the equivalent of grammar in the math world. Math was so much better than grammar, with all its bendy, shifty rules and the necessity for context. My dislike for grammar was summed up by an adage one of my teachers used: "You usually can't say always in grammar." Why would I want to plod through something I didn't consider "real" math to end up with a non-exact answer? The beauty of math was in its simple exactness.
This aversion to the messiness of statistics persisted in my life until only recently. In high school, I dropped AP statistics to have a home-release period where I would go play tennis. The college statistics course during my undergrad never got past simple probability and distributions, and there were ample extra credit opportunities for going to conferences and such. I was grateful at the time, to slide by without having to actually learn statistics. This was a subject I considered to be impure compared to calculus, but subconsciously I think it was just because it was hard and non-intuitive to me.
Finally, I was forced to deal with my fear of statistics the hard way my Senior year of undergrad in helping prepare a manuscript for publication. I was the data analyst and was in charge of performing the statistical tests to verify the significance of the effects we were observing. It was extremely difficult to me, but I finally saw how statistics were both important and useful.
During my PhD coursework, I took the Computational Biology class by Dr. Galagan at BU. From this class, I have gained a real love and curiosity regarding statistics, probabilistic thinking, and machine learning. I have come to see and recognize the power in using probabilities to gain a more accurate representation of how things in the world (specifically biology) actually may work. To use exact math on non-exact biological systems, you definitely have to make simplifications that may not always allow you to prod the interesting parts of a system. However, probabilities and statistical thinking can provide ways to address different questions that simplified systems cannot.
In short, this experience highlights one of the core things I value about pursuing a PhD. I have been 1. provided opportunities to learn and 2. forced to confront subjects I had previously written off in my life as not interesting or useful and actually learn those subjects. As such, I have learned to love learning and seeking after knowledge that I do not yet have. I still have a long way to go, but I am glad that even as a second year PhD student I can recognize the benefits of pursuing a cutting edge graduate education.
This is the first post to the blog organized by the Boston University Biomedical Engineering Graduate Student Committee (BU BME GSC). This first post is intended to outline the purpose of the blog, just as the first lines of any good analysis code outline the purpose of the code that follows.
Recently, I was attending some of the career development events hosted by the BU BEST program. They were discussing the variety of career options available to PhDs in science, many of which involve writing to different audiences than the standard audiences of journals we typically publish in and write for. I started thinking, "How can I get experience and practice writing to a different audience than the hard science writing I am used to doing?"
I decided that writing a blog would be a great avenue to get experience with this writing. However, one thing I learned about blogging from my wife is it takes a decent amount both time and energy to continually post and update a blog in a manner that is worth following. It typically involves a post every few days, with typically once a week at minimum. I don't feel I have the time and energy to keep this up in addition to my many responsibilities as a graduate student.
This is when I thought, we should start a crowd-sourced blog for the graduate students in the BME department at BU. I'm sure I'm not the only one with these concerns and interests, and distributed blogging power will be more beneficial to everyone involved. The GSC has organized and put together many fantastic resources for graduate students in BME at BU, such as practice giving oral talks and other social and service activities. I contacted the GSC about sponsoring a shared, crowd-sourced blog to practice our writing skills in addition to the other skills they provide events to help us develop. Thanks to the smooth rolling efficiency of the GSC at BU, here we are a month or so later with our first blog post!
In my mind, this crowd-sourced blog will have a few purposes and benefits that I thought would be good to share for anyone interested in posting to the blog:
For Current BU BME Graduate Students
1. This blog is a place to practice science communication.
As I was thinking during the career development meeting, writing is a skill that can be learned and practiced for improvement. I see this blog as a place that we can practice our written communication in ways that extend beyond the writing we do for our scientific papers. If anyone wants to write a science policy piece on something they are passionate about, this blog is a great way to disburse it. Done some statistical investigation of some odd point of interest a la the website FiveThirtyEight? Post it to the blog for everyone's benefit. I have also learned in talking to my wife that the easiest way to figure out what I really don't understand about my own research is to try and explain it in a very simplified manner (She is an American Studies/History major). I feel that as we have this blog as an outlet to practice science writing in a less threatening manner, our overall abilities to communicate as researchers will improve.
2. This blog is a place to share elements of daily life to strengthen the graduate student sense of community in BME at BU.
One thing I have loved about my time at BU is that we have a multifaceted graduate student population. In my lab office alone, there are six of us that claim different beliefs spread across the spectrum of Judaism, Islam, Christianity, and Atheism. This blog can be a fantastic place to share and learn about the different interests, thoughts, beliefs, and activities we all participate in to get to know each other better and diversify our understanding of how the world works. I also see this as being beneficial in discussing and making career plans and open doors to potential interesting collaborations in our research moving forward. Last, but not least, it can be a way to share, highlight, and discuss the FUN things we get to do as graduate students (Both in and out of the lab).
For Others Outside of BU BME
1. This blog provides and idea of what graduate student life is like for prospective and incoming graduate students.
This blog can be provided to supplement the survival guide provided to new graduate students with more of a "day in the life" perspective of graduate life, rather than a nuts and bolts perspective of moving to Boston. When looking at and applying to graduate schools and external fellowships, I know I found a few blogs that were beneficial for me to follow and got me excited for graduate school. This is our chance to give back and inspire that population of students about our BME department at BU specifically.
2. This blog can provide information to the general public about some of the science we are doing in BU BME.
I envision some posts being able to provide summaries, thoughts, or input on the science we are doing in our department. I would also envision being able to add or link certain posts that we make on resumes or job applications where that might be applicable, almost as a portfolio or concrete example of our individual writing ability in the public sphere.
With these thoughts in mind, and any other purposes you'd like to consider in contributing to this blog, we would like to encourage everyone in the BU BME graduate student population to consider contributing to the blog. It will be beneficial to not only you, but for everyone else in the department. Send your blog posts to firstname.lastname@example.org for a quick approval process (we don't want this to turn into a bashing board) before being posted to the blog!