Sep 232015

This might only be relevant to junior scientist, since senior people probably all know it. I learned it in the 2002 BCATS conference at Stanford. Many scientific meetings have session chairs for their morning / afternoon / evening talk sessions. Session chairs have 3 responsibilities: introduce each speaker, make sure the speaker stay within the allotted time, and facilitate discussions after each talk. It is very embarrassing to a speaker if no one asks a question after his / her talk. So if there is silence after a talk, the session chair should step in and ask a couple of insightful or informative questions, and this often will encourage other questions from the audience. Also, if one audience is dominating the Q&A session by going back and forth with the speaker about some questions, the facilitator should wrap up the conversation and let other audiences have a share asking questions. Finally if aspeaker goes over time, the facilitator limit the QA to just one short question.

Sep 062015

Just finished a book, The Hiding Place. It tells the story of a family who helped and hid the Jews during WWII. The book teaches us to be grateful in whatever situation and help the less fortunate people. Recently in my habit monitoring tool, I added an item to be grateful for all the good things in my life. There are so many things I should be grateful for, for our good health and comfortable wealth, happy family, smart and hard working lab members, wonderful colleagues, our town, our kids’ teachers, my friends and relatives. The book made me realize that even if things don’t work well or my luck turns, I should still face life with optimism, appreciation and grace. When scientists commit suicide, sabotage other people’s study, or even poison their colleagues, they often feel they had nothing to be happy about or no other choices in life. In fact, we all have things to be grateful, even in dire circumstances. In the Hiding Place, Corrie and Betsy have inspired people to be grateful and pray for their captors even in concentration camps. What I found especially surprising is that after the war, the heroine opened her house and forgave the people who betrayed the patriots to the Germans. I could and should always find enough reasons to be grateful in life, but to pray for the enemies? Hmm… That takes a lot more hearts.