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VanguardSTEM does Summer Planning!


This episode aired on May 3, 2016 and was all about building a summer plan. Our guests Dr. Camille Avestruz and PhD candidate Ariel Ash-Shakoor talked about making the most of the summer by developing a plan. We also discussed some current events in STEM+society. Find below a summary of the show:

Guest bios:

  • Dr. Avestruz is a joint fellow at the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics and the Enrico Fermi Institute at the University of Chicago, she is also a Provost’s Postdoctoral Scholar.  Before beginning her postdoctoral work, she completed her PhD in physics at Yale University in 2015, and a BA in physics, mathematics, and dance at Barnard College in 2009.
  • Ariel Ash-Shakoor is a NSF GRFP PhD fellow and NSF IGERT Associate Fellow in Bioengineering at Syracuse University. She is originally from Maryland and graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park.

STEM + Society:

  • Oprah to star in the HBO movie about Henrietta Lacks (also here)
    • The unauthorized use of Henrietta Lacks’ cells for scientific research puts her squarely in the purview of women of color (and specifically) black women in STEM, although she was never a scientist herself.
    • This month it was announced that Oprah would be the lead character, Ms. Lacks’ daughter Deborah Lacks, whose point of view the film centers. Other members of the Lacks family will also be consulting on the film.
    • We’re happy the story is being told but hope that some sort of justice (financial) or moral (ethical use of cells for scientific research) actions will be taken as this story becomes more prominent based on the movie
  • Intel suffers backlash from internal diversity initiative
    • After funding $300 million diversity initiative and finding improvements in the hiring of traditionally marginalized groups, the company faced fire from within.
    • Camille points out that this is closely related to the recent story that talked about how statistically if you only have one person of “diverse” background in your hiring pool, that person will *not* get the job.
    • Both panelists discuss that this happens at all levels and can be seen through the recent #StayMadAbby response to the Scalia comments surrounding a pending supreme court case and other instances. It fundamentally points to a misunderstanding of affirmative action and points out that these false notions are not going to die off on their own, especially not with structural issues that sustain it.
    • We need a whole conversation to address this, which will be the subject of an entire episode of VanguardSTEM!

Summer Planning:

  • There’s SO much advice in the show, but here are some key pieces:
    • Make a plan and a structure for what you want to accomplish.
    • Develop an accountability structure with others around you. Don’t go it alone.
    • Be accountable to yourself. Be disciplined even if there isn’t an external actor.
    • Use management tools to help you be productive. Try out kanbanflow or asana as a digital management platform.
    • TAKE BREAKS! Your brain needs the time to process.
    • Don’t be afraid to amend your plans as life happens.
    • Work in cycles that are natural for you. Work WITH your body, not against it.
    • Don’t be afraid to fail. You’re more creative when you give yourself freedom to make mistakes.
    • Strive for sustainability. Don’t overwork yourself, build in breaks, treats, and down-time, but also leave time to do scientific work as well.

We ended by shouting out the new graduates, honoring Dr. Velez who recently passed away and inviting YOU to share your attempts at productivity here or in our facebook group.


Copyright © 2016 by Jedidah Isler
All rights reserved. The content above or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of #VanguardSTEM except for the use of brief quotations, with attribution, and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, write to #VanguardSTEM, addressed “Attention: Permissions Coordinator,” at hello@vanguardstem.com



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