By Sarah Nason
Welcome to the second edition of #SciTwitter roundup (find the November edition here)! It’s that thing where I tell you what happened on Science Twitter this month, with special highlights from our little biology microcosm. December was a busy busy month, so I have separated the trends and discussions into a few different streams.
Gender & Racial Discrimination
In the wake of the Weinstein scandal and TIME’s Silence Breakers, discussion was very active around the topics of gender bias and sexual harassment in the scientific and academic community.
1. The challenge was set for academic conferences to pass their own kind of Bechdel test:
2. Statistician Kristian Lum called out sexual harassment in the field of academic statistics.
You can find follow up on this article and its consequences here.
A similar article was written in November about sexual harassment in the shark research community. A response from the ecology community was posted by Bob O’Hara of the British Ecological Society and Markus Eichhorn of the University of Nottingham.
3. An article in The Atlantic by Ed Yong highlighted research showing that women are invited to give fewer talks than men at top US universities. The article also shed light on the bias within academia against people of colour.
4. Responses criticizing the “top 100 ecology papers to read” list (which was racially and gender-biased, containing only 4.6% female authors) were published in Nature EcoEvo.
5. Geneticist Dr. Rachel French kicked butt explaining about the differences between sex and gender (full thread here). Note: the original tweet she was responding to is not publicly available.
6. Influential transgender neuroscientist Dr. Ben Barres passed away. Scientists paid tribute to his work in both neuroscience and gender bias activism.
December brought us many biology and science themed countdowns to Christmas with a #scicomm angle!
1. #25DaysofFishmas: fish biologists shared their favourite weird and little-known fish species!
2. We also had #insectadvent: a countdown to Christmas with different insects every day.
3. And this thread of science facts for each of the twelve days of Christmas!
#scicomm was alive and well outside of holiday-themed activities as well:
4. An article about the segregation of uptown and downtown rats in New York by The Atlantic’s Sarah Zhang got everyone very excited.
5. #PlanetEarthChat: A group of conservationists and biologists invited people to simultaneously watch Planet Earth II together, resulting in commentary both hilarious and enlightening.
6. Some great conversations were had about public outreach and teaching:
Including this thread about reaching out to children:
And this one about undergraduate teaching:
7. At the end of the year: a nice thread summarizing some of the big events for Science Twitter in 2017!
Climate Change & Politics
Climate change became a hot topic (ooh lala, no pun intended) this month with some viral tweets and videos:
1. A video of a starving polar bear published by National Geographic went viral and drew attention to climate change. Researchers pitched in their perspectives.
The take-away message from researchers was that the video and accompanying captions were misleading in terms of the source of the bear’s plight, unfortunately providing ammo to climate change deniers:
For an article reporting on Inuit perspectives, click here.
2. Trump decided it was a good time to pitch in on the debate: scientists kicked back against a denial tweet (during the polar vortex…) from the POTUS.
3. The new tax plan in the US, including a tax on graduate student tuition fees and a sanction to drill for oil in an Alaskan wildlife preserve, was passed by the Senate and continued to fuel debate.
A great thread explaining the implications of the bill is here.
1. A New York Times article framing successful science around “grad student misery” was noooooot popular among grad students on Twitter.
2. “Bullies have no place in academia”: an article in the Guardian prompted discussion about the behaviour that is allowed to go under the radar in our communities.
To cap off the year…
Well guys, this has been a heavy one: some big issues and big discussion happened in December (and 2017…well, 2017 was a rough one). So to give you a bit of a laugh and leave you feeling (hopefully) better, here are some final highlights that weren’t as “news-worthy” but definitely tickled my funny bone.