Friday, September 01, 2017

Trip to Chaa Creek Lodge in Belize - Day 1

Note - writing this with some help from my daughter.

My family and I went on a trip to Belize in early August 2017 and I am posting some notes and pictures from the trip here.

We chose Belize for a few semi - random reasons.  First, we had wanted to go to Europe but we really only could travel just the week before school started for my kids and we felt like Europe was (1) too far (2) would involve too much jet lag and (3) would involve too many Real Madrid fans.  So we started looking around closer to home.  We wanted to go out of the country (out of the USA - not just out of California, though it really is it's own country).  So - well - we looked at Mexico.  And Central America.  And we settled on Belize.

We decided to spend the whole week of our trip at one place and, since we have been going to Hawaii a bit recently, we decided we did not want to spend our time in a beach-like setting, so we looked for places in the inland rainforesty areas.  My wife spent quite a lot of time searching for possible places and she came up with some candidates and after discussions on the pluses and minuses of all the places and after also asking Twitter and friends and such we settled on Chaa Creek.  An ecolodge of sorts with a slight upscale angle.

More on the place and such later.

Right now I really want to start to get some pictures posted.  So here are some from our travel day.

SMF to Dallas to Belize.

On the plane
I did not take too many (well, more than one) pictures on the actual trip.  But suffice it to say we flew on a plane.


An interesting shirt at a shop at the airport

Waiting for our ride while all the local taxi drivers, well, tried to offer us rides in ways I found to be, well, dubious. 

The ride to Chaa Creek was about two hours long.  I took some pics along the way.  Here are some of them.  Oh - and our driver, Edward, was an FC Barcelona fan.  Yay.

On the road to Chaa Creek

On the road to Chaa Creek

On the road to Chaa Creek

On the road to Chaa Creek

On the road to Chaa Creek

On the road to Chaa Creek

On the road to Chaa Creek

On the road to Chaa Creek

On the road to Chaa Creek

On the road to Chaa Creek

On the road to Chaa Creek

On the road to Chaa Creek

On the road to Chaa Creek

On the road to Chaa Creek

On the road to Chaa Creek

On the road to Chaa Creek 
On the road to Chaa Creek 
On the road to Chaa Creek 
Off to the reception building 
Off to the reception building

Off to the reception building

Off to the reception building

We settled in, got some dinner, and were very hot.  Like really very hot.  Like really really warmer than warm.  It was beautiful.  And interesting.  And hot.  Really really hot.  Or, more relevant.  It was hot and really really humid.  I mean, I grew up in the Washington DC area so I know hot and humid.  But I live in California now, where hot and humid usually do not go together.  We get hot in Davis.  Really really really hot.  But dry. Like really really dry. .


Saturday, August 26, 2017

Crosspost: Everyone should read this piece by Ed Yong: Norm Pace Blew The Door Off The Microbial World – microBEnet: the microbiology of the Built Environment network

Crosspost: just pointing people to this post I wrote on microBEnet which may be of interest:

Everyone should read this piece by Ed Yong: Norm Pace Blew The Door Off The Microbial World – microBEnet: the microbiology of the Built Environment network

Crosspost: #MoBE17: Microbiology of the Built Environment Research & Applications Symposium – microBEnet: the microbiology of the Built Environment network

Crossposting from microBEnet



#MoBE17: Microbiology of the Built Environment Research & Applications Symposium – microBEnet: the microbiology of the Built Environment network

This meeting should be of interest to many out there. A great collection of speakers and topics. Keynotes by Ed Yong, Susan Lynch and Marc Edwards. Registration deadline is September 1.



MoBE 2017
Microbiology of the Built Environment
Research and Applications Symposium
October 10 - October 12, 2017
NAS Building Washington, DC


More detail here.

Registration is free and open until September 1, 2017.

Sponsors Include: Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, NAS, Zymo Corporation, Standards in Genomics Sciences, Microbiome Journal, NASA, US Green Buildings Council




Agenda

Tuesday October 10th
Keynote.
  • Ed Yong (The Atlantic). A science writer’s view of the MoBE field.
Kick-off reception 


Wednesday October 11th
Introduction
  • Lynn M. Schriml (MoBE 2017 symposium chairman, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Institute for Genome Sciences)
  • Paula J. Olsiewski (MoBE Program Director, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation)
Keynote
  • Susan Lynch (UCSF School of Medicine). Chronic Inflammatory Disease and the Built Environment
Session 1: MoBE Science Here and Now
  • Jonathan Eisen (UC Davis). The microbiology of the built environment network (microBEnet) and perspectives on the MoBE field
  • Jessica Green (University of Oregon). Designing healthier spaces and buildings
  • Lisa Brenner (University of Colorado). Mental Health and the Microbiome of the Build Environment
Session 2: Implications of MoBE for Health and Design
  • Elaine Hubal (EPA). Session Chair
  • Shelly Miller (University of Colorado). Building Engineering Controls for Improving Occupant Health: Mitigating Airborne Particles, Toxic Gases, and Infectious Aerosols.
  • Rachel Adams (BIMERC). Sources and quantities of microbes and mVOCs indoors.
  • Karen Dannemiller (Ohio State University). The nexus of housing characteristics, indoor microbial communities, and asthma severity
  • Mark Mendell (California Department of Health, LBNL). Adverse and beneficial effects of the indoor microbiome – current implications for health or design?
Session 3: Public Health and Indoor Microbial Communities
  • Diane Gold, Session Chair
  • Maria Gloria Dominguez-Bello (NYU School of Medicine). Microbial Biogeography of Homes across urbanization gradients
  • Brandon Bubba Brooks (Kaleido Biosciences). The NICU microbiome’s role in neonate gut colonization
  • Jane Carlton (NYU School of Medicine). A city view: ATM's, parasites and wastewater
Session 4: MoBE Insights on Microbial Exposure
  • Tina Bahadori (EPA) Chemical Safety for Sustainability Research Program Leader, Session Chair
  • Eric Alm (MIT). Sewers, microbes and drugs
  • Emmanuel Mongodin (Institute for Genome Sciences, UMSOM). Microbial function and built environments
  • David Mills (UC Davis). Microbiology of food production built environments: dairies and wineries
Panel Discussion: Myth and Reality of MoBE Manipulation
  • Rob Knight (UCSD), Moderator
  • Rita Colwell (University of Maryland)
  • Jeffrey Siegel (U of T)
  • Ilana Brito (Cornell)
  • Jessica Green (University of Oregon)
Poster Session & Reception



Thursday October 12th
Welcome
  • Jordan Peccia (Yale). Gordon Conference Announcement.
Keynote
  • Marc Edwards (Virginia Tech). MoBE, Public Health and the Flint Water Crisis
Session 5 - From MoBE Research to MoBE Applications
  • Scott Kelley (San Diego State University). Session Chair.
  • Jack Gilbert (University of Chicago). From Hospitals to Forensic Applications
  • Richard Shaughnessy (University of Tulsa). From Home to School: Tribal Indoor Air Quality Intervention Study
  • Anders Benteson Nygaard (Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences). Bacteria in Norwegian kindergartens: Small children and their microbial environments
Session 6: The Building Science – MoBE nexus
  • Richard Corsi (University of Texas at Austin). Session Chair.
  • Richard Corsi (University of Texas at Austin). Building Science ∩ Science in Buildings (or why MoBE > Robots)
  • Amy Pruden (Virginia Tech). Towards Prebiotic/Probiotic Control of the Microbiome in Built Water Systems
  • Betsy Pugel (NASA). Tiny houses: Planetary protection-focused materials selection for spaceflight hardware surfaces
  • Kent Duffy (SRG Partnership). The influences of microbial research on architectural practice
  • Wendy J Goodson (Air Force Research Laboratory). Microbiomes of Military Cargo Aircraft and their Connection to Biocorrosion
Session 7 - NAS Microbiomes of the Built Environment Consensus Study
  • Katherine Bowman (NAS). Session Chair.
  • Joan Bennett (Rutgers University) : NAS MoBE study overview MoBE outcomes, perspectives and future studies
Panel Discussion: Charting MoBE Research Priorities
  • Jonathan Eisen (UC Davis). Moderator.
  • Jordan Peccia (Yale)
  • Norman Pace (University of Colorado)
  • Claire Fraser (Institute for Genome Sciences, UMSOM)
Meeting Closing
  • Paula Olsiewski (Alfred P. Sloan Foundation).

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

The Massry Prize is a #YAMMA (yet another mostly male award) #MatildaEffect #Massry #GenderBias

I was really pleased to see the announcement that the 2017 Massry Prize was awarded to Norm Pace, Jeffrey Gordon and Rob Knight.  Alas, then someone pointed me to the web site listing past winners of the prize. Massry Prize.  And I compiled the list (with some help from Wikipedia)

Massry Prize
Yet Another Mostly Male Award
YAMMA
  1. 1996 Michael Berridge 
  2. 1997 Judah Folkman 
  3. 1998 Mark Ptashne 
  4. 1999 Gunter Blobel 
  5. 2000 Leland H. Hartwell 
  6. 2001 Avram Hershko
  7. 2001 Alexander Varshavsky 
  8. 2002 Mario Capecchi
  9. 2002 Oliver Smithies 
  10. 2003 Roger Kornberg
  11. 2003 David Allis 
  12. 2003 Michael Grunstein 
  13. 2004 Ada Yonath 
  14. 2004 Harry Noller 
  15. 2005 Andrew Fire
  16. 2004 Craig Mello 
  17. 2004 David Baulcombe 
  18. 2006 Akira Endo
  19. 2007 Michael Phelps 
  20. 2008 Shinya Yamanaka
  21. 2008 James A. Thomson
  22. 2008 Rudolf Jaenisch 
  23. 2009 Gary Ruvkun
  24. 2009 Victor Ambros 
  25. 2010 Randy Schekman 
  26. 2011 F. Ulrich Hartl 
  27. 2011 Arthur Horwich
  28. 2012 Michael Rosbash
  29. 2012 Jeffrey C. Hall
  30. 2012 Michael W. Young 
  31. 2013 Michael Sheetz
  32. 2013 James A. Spudich 
  33. 2013 Ronald D. Vale 
  34. 2014 Steven Rosenberg
  35. 2014 Zelig Eshhar 
  36. 2014 James P. Allison
  37. 2015 Philippe Horvath
  38. 2015 Jennifer Doudna 
  39. 2015 Emmanuelle Charpentier
  40. 2016 Gero Miesenböck
  41. 2016 Peter Hegemann
  42. 2016 Karl Deisseroth
  43. 2017 Rob Knight
  44. 2017 Jeff Gordon
  45. 2017 Norm Pace
42 male
3 female

I colored them based on my inference of gender. I realize that I may have some of this wrong and that using a binary system is not right in many cases but I think this certainly shows a pattern.  I also realize there are many possible explanations for the imbalance here but I think it is reasonable to consider that bias against women may be a component of this. 

Some useful reading in regard to prizes in the sciences:
Not sure what to do here with this information.  I deeply respect the award winners here and think they are highly deserving of important science awards.  But it pains me to see such a big skew in the gender balance of winners of this Massry Prize and think, sadly, that there is likely some kind of bias at work here.  When there is a bias against recognizing the achievements of women it is known as the Matilda Effect.  I suggest everyone involved in handing out awards such as this, and anyone reporting on such awards, should read up on it.

I note - I posted the gender ratio of winners of this award to the Gender Avenger site. See below:

Thursday, August 03, 2017

#SciFoo 2017 here I come

Well, I am going back to SciFoo. This is a meeting that happens at Google, is organized by O'Reilly Media and Nature and Google and Digital Science and others.  I went in 2012, 2007 and 2006.  And every single time it was life altering.  I will try to post while there but it can be distracting ...Here are some notes and posts from the past scifoos I have attended.

2012

Storify I made:

Monday, July 24, 2017

Another white men's microbiome meeting from Kisaco #YAMMM #manel #STEMDiversity

Well, this is really unpleasant.

Last year I blogged about a what I called "The White Men's Microbiome Congress." The gender balance of the meeting was so bad I called for a boycott. And my call seemed to have some impact as many people refused to participate and then the meeting organizers from Kisaco Research responded, apologized for the gender bias, and made some attempts to at least try to fix things. For example they posted on my blog:
We recognize that it is our responsibility to help ensure that the speaker faculty reflect the diversity and culture of the field and science as a whole. In this instance we failed to live up to our own standards of sensitivity and diversity, for which we sincerely apologize. Kisaco Research is deeply committed to producing events that represent the diversity of the scientific fields we work with. We are embarrassed that this has been previously overlooked and are currently working to make this, and all other programmes, ones that the top scientists are proud to be a part of. 
And they did seem to try to make the meeting I critiqued less biased.

And thus it was really disturbing to me when someone sent me the invite they received to a microbiome meeting organized by this group and pointed out that it had the same issue. I went to the web site for this new meeting - the "3rd annual European microbiome congress (see The Microbiome Congress – Europe – Kisaco Research). And it confirmed my fears.



95% of the highlighted speakers are male (as always, I note, assessing the gender balance of a meeting is not always straight forward.  In this case I looked at the web sites of the speakers and other descriptions of them to see what pronouns were used to describe them.  I think my assessment is accurate but I apologize if I made mistakes). And all of them appear to be white.  It is a meeting for white men to speak at.  The field of microbiome studies is rich and diverse in many ways - including in the scientists and others who work on the topic.  It would not have been hard to come up with a more diverse set of speakers.  In fact, the field is so diverse in terms of researchers that I think this speaker line up - especially in light of the previous meeting - is evidence for bias.   I am not sure where that bias comes in (it could be at invitations, at acceptances, or other places) but it is pretty clear this is not a random selection of top microbiome researchers.

As this is a pattern from Kisaco Research I am calling for the following
  • People should boycott this meeting. That is, do not attend this meeting.
  • People should Boycott all Kisaco meetings. This is a pattern for Kisaco, and not a good one.  Nobody should attend any of their meetings
  • The meeting sponsors should withdraw support for this meeting. The listed sponsors include Synthetic BiologicQiagenProDigestAffymetrix and Zymo Research. I encourage people to contact them about this and pressure them to rescind their sponsorship.  I have already contacted Zymo, for which I am an advisor.  I will let people know how they respond. 
  • The speakers should cancel their participation.  A meeting cannot go on without the speakers. The listed speakers include:
Of course, it would be better to prevent such things from happening in the future.  Some things to consider that will start to shift away from meetings with poor diversity of presenters:
  • Make diversity of presenters one of the factors you consider when deciding whether or not to accept invitations to speak at or attend a meeting. Some ways to make an informed decision here include
    • looking at past meetings by the same organizers
    • asking for a list of presenters for the meeting one is invited to
    • asking if the meeting has any policies on diversity
  • When you are involved in organizing a meeting work to make it a stellar meeting that also happens to have a diverse collection of presenters (diverse in background,  race and ethnicity, kills, perspectives, gender, types of institutions, careers stages, country of origin, and more). 
  • Develop diversity policies for meetings in which you are involved
  • If you are on the sponsorship side of things - require meeting organizers to have a diversity policy and to show their prior track records before you offer support
  • Develop and support practices and policies that would help make meetings more diverse 

Also check out some of these articles and posts

It is entirely possible to run meetings where there is no bias against particular groups in the presenter line up.  It is also possible to embrace diversity and all of its benefits and make a meeting that is simply better than a meeting where diversity is not embraced.  It does take some effort.  But it is worth it.

UPDATE. Making a Storify of some responses