In my second interview for seminar, I interview Jon Cohen. Jon is a new faculty member at the University of Delaware and is currently working on several projects on invertebrates. My interview with him covered his project examining the effects of crude oil and chemical dispersants on zooplankton in the Gulf of Mexico. This work started to examine the effects from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill off of the coast of Louisiana.
Here is the interview, sorry if my voice is a bit scratchy.
The eternal quest for any science, the quest for funding to do research. I learned a really interesting, and to a degree saddening, fact today about the amount of money spent by lobbyist, approximately 29 billion dollars is spent to get their voices heard. That is 2.9×10^9 or 29,000,000,000 dollars spent annually. Take 1% of that (290,000,000) and put it directly into science research, on top of what is already what is spent, and hopefully we would see a direct benefit from that spending. It has been asked many times, why should we spend money on X, Y and Z? Unfortunately, I think the public sometimes forgets the outcomes of research. While not related to the ocean sciences, establishment of the particle accelerators at CERN is allowing me to write this and for the eyes glued to the screen on a computer to read it.
What of the woefully underfunded, depends on perspective there, marine sciences? We have only explored about 5% of the ocean, more than half of the population in the US lives on 17% of the total landmass (the coastal zone). And yet we push to explore of the emptiness surrounding us, but ignore the close neighbor, the ocean. Do we question where our fish come from, or even the impact of eating the fish? How do we make our voices heard? Speak the language that everyone wants to hear: money. We need to speak both the technical language to our peers, what X does to Z by way of Y. To sway the general public, and therefore the members of Congress they are represented by, we must put it in terms of how does our research boost the economy, or how does what we study harm the economy. We need to show end products/applications as well, it may be great to study X but how can X be used in the future.
The question is, can we in the marine sciences raise our voices loud enough?
As part of a science communication seminar during the fall 2012 semester, I interviewed several of the newer faculty at the University of Delaware. The project was to, hopefully, get a small 2-3 minute audio only interview talking about their current research. My first interview, guinea pig, was a USDA post-doctoral researcher in my lab, Jen Stewart. Her current research is examining the use of the microalgae Heterosigma akashiwo for use as a potential biofuel. More information can be found here.
Here is the interview, I have definitely decided my voice is not for radio.
Welcome to, what I hope, to be a somewhat frequent update to my thoughts about science, working in science, and research woes.