SUNDAY, 31 JANUARY 2021Disclaimer: The contents of this article represent opinions and views shared on Twitter, and do not necessarily constitute peer reviewed scientific research.
As the science community enters a new year and accepts the continuing reality of our COVID-affected world, Twitter shows no signs of slowing down as a reprieve and an outlet for the world of academia. With graduate students, postdoc researchers and principal investigators more nervous about their career prospects, research stability and work-life balance than ever, many Twitter accounts remain dedicated to addressing and debating these pressing issues of the academic path:
Academia: You must be brilliant, creative, and organized. You must do this while teaching 3-4 courses, writing grants, publishing manuscripts, mentoring students, reviewing papers, serving on committees, & presenting at conferences.
Academia: And work-life balance is CRITICAL.
— Jaclyn A. Siegel (@jacasiegel) January 27, 2021
What PhDs want:
✅ job security, career stability
✅ enough money to live well
✅ to live where they want
✅ a sense of purpose, passion for what they do
✅ make a meaningful contribution to positive change
✅ work in teams or collaborate w others
✅ feel valued, happy at work
— Jennifer Polk, PhD (@FromPhDtoLife) January 27, 2021
It is especially difficult in these times to gather as a community and honour those who have recently passed away. Social media at least provides some semblance of the spirit of collective mourning and acknowledgement - the scientific community most recently came together to acknowledge the passing of developmental biologist Lewis Wolpert at 91. He is best known for both his science writing (the textbook Principles of Development is a favourite for university undergraduates and his creative ideas, such as the ‘French Flag Model’ of development, which addresses how chemical signals can pattern cells, and how correct patterns can be maintained even when parts of a structure are removed.
Lewis Wolpert obituary.
Developmental biologist and science communicator with an enduring fascination for the beginnings of life. https://t.co/tW7wcUUN2H
— Guardian Obituaries (@guardianobits) January 29, 2021
#devbio #RIPLewisWolpert pic.twitter.com/SkyMXe7yWA
— Christian Mosimann (@chrmosimann) January 28, 2021
Luckily, in addition to the more serious issues, the lighter side of Science Twitter has also continued to entertain and engage us in this first month of 2021. Take this exchange, for example, between Professor Brian Cox - distinguished physicist and scientific communicator - and Chancellor of the University of Northampton, Reverend Richard Coles:
Quantum theory tells us that anything that can happen does happen. That can’t happen.
— Brian Cox (@ProfBrianCox) January 28, 2021
And across the ocean, with a new President (and Council of Advisors on Science and Technology) installed in the United States, science policy will no doubt be at the centre of many future discussions – you can count on Science Twitter to relay some of these discussions to the public, and it will no doubt continue be a platform for careful and/or explosive analysis in the coming months.
President-elect @JoeBiden faces a host of urgent problems. A plague is raging. The planet is warming. Social trust is abysmal.
This month’s special report is about the science-based solutions that the new administration can begin implementing right away: https://t.co/CVokzWFS40 pic.twitter.com/OIKcD9ACr9
— Scientific American (@sciam) January 12, 2021
Adiyant Lamba is a second year PhD student studying developmental biology, and News Editor for BlueSci.