• Florian Block

    Florian Block | Research Associate, Harvard University

    I design, implement, and evaluate interactive games and visualizations that help the general public learn about science.

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    High School Activities:
    Handball, Playing the Guitar, Video Games, Outdoor Activities
    Undergraduate Institution + Degree:
    Ludwigs Maximilian Universität, Munich, B.S., M.S., Media Informatics
    Graduate Institution + Degree: 
    Lancaster University, Ph.D., Human–Computer Interaction
    To Do My Job You Need:
    Programming skills, visual and animation design skills, ability to convey complex ideas to scientists and lay people

    My background is in human–computer interaction, where I enjoy designing, implementing, and evaluating new interactive systems. I earned my Ph.D. in 2010 at Lancaster University, UK, with my thesis titled “Reimagining Graphical User Interface Ecologies.” My work at the SDR Lab focuses on using multi-touch technology and information visualization to facilitate discovery and learning in museums. At the Lab, I’ve
designed user interfaces for crowd interaction as well as developed the DeepTree exhibit, an interactive visualization of the tree of life. I’m interested in how interactive technology can appeal to learners of varying ages and socioeconomic and educational backgrounds, engage them in exploring scientific content, and ultimately help increase their scientific literacy.

    My Advice: You need passion and rigor to deeply understand a narrow topic of science while always looking at the "bigger picture." In a time when most groundbreaking findings are produced at the intersection of at least two disciplines it is very important to regularly leave your "comfort zone"—or your area of expertise. Never shy away from new challenges!

    The DeepTree

    http://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos.551629

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yh4QiSrUdPE

    http://tolweb.org/tree/

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  • Tracy Callahan

    Tracy Callahan | Community Labs Director, Biogen

    I oversee all aspects of science education outreach through Community Lab programs.

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    High School Activities:
    Cross Country and Track, French Club, Orienteering
    Undergraduate Institution + Degree:
    Bates College, Biopsychology
    Graduate Institution + Degree: 
    University of Rochester, Ph.D., Neuroscience
    To Do My Job You Need:
    Strong science background, experience with a variety of molecular and cellular lab techniques, teaching skills

    While in graduate school and as a postdoctoral fellow, I studied how the body’s nervous and immune systems communicate with each other. Following my postdoctoral position, I decided to pursue my interests in education. I took a position as a science educator at Boston University’s CityLab outreach program. I found I really enjoyed both the actual teaching of the students and the implementation and management of the programs. Thus, I jumped at the opportunity in 2002 to start up the Community Lab program at Biogen, a biopharmaceutical company. The Community Lab has provided hands-on lab experiences and interactions with biotech professionals for over 25,000 middle and high school students. I continue to really enjoy exposing students to the world of biotechnology, making them aware of the wide variety of careers at a biotech company and just generally getting them excited about science.

    My Advice: Find any opportunity to do hands-on science, even if that means initially volunteering to wash lab dishes! Also seek out different types of experiences to see what you like. Not all science labs are the same. Students should take full advantage of these experiences and not be afraid to ask questions and talk to people in the field. Most scientists would love the opportunity to share their passion with young people.

    http://boston.cbslocal.com/2014/12/08/eye-on-education-co...

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  • John Carulli

    John Carulli | Human Genetcist, Biogen

    I translate human genetics discoveries into better drugs and diagnostics.

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    High School Activities:
    Football, Drama, Hiking, Skiing
    Undergraduate Institution + Degree:
    Rutgers University, B.S., M.S., Biological Sciences
    Graduate Institution + Degree: 
    Washington University, Ph.D., Population and Evolutionary Biology
    To Do My Job You Need:
    Problem-solving skills, ability to integrate molecular biology and statistics, teamwork, communication skills

    As a teenager, I enjoyed spending time outdoors and developed an interest in ecology and evolution, assuming this would lead to a career involving fieldwork. After doing some classical population biology early in graduate school, I moved to the Genetics Department at Washington University to learn molecular biology. There, I was able to combine my interest in molecular evolution with advances in genome science. The quantitative training I received as an evolutionary biologist combined with the molecular genetics technologies I learned in genome mapping led to opportunities in human genetics and genomics. Throughout my career, I have been fortunate to have been involved in discovering genetic variants associated with human diseases, developing screening tests for early disease diagnosis, and performing experimental evaluation of drug candidates. While the molecular and computational skills I learned along the way have been a big part of my career, it’s teamwork, collaboration, and communication skills that dominate my day-to-day life. I really enjoy working with diverse teams to solve complex problems ranging from discovering the underlying genetics of disease, to developing approaches to treat the real biological causes of illness, to identifying biomarkers to measure the impact of experimental compounds on human physiology.

    My Advice: Do what you love and what motivates you to work hard. If you do rigorous science and stay focused on questions that interest you, the career opportunities will follow.

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  • Scott Edwards

    Scott Edwards | Evolutionary Biologist, Harvard University

    I use genetics to study the evolution of birds and other organisms—how they fight diseases and respond to global change.

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    High School Activities:
    Outing Club, Bicycling, Playing Drums
    Undergraduate Institution + Degree:
    Harvard University, Biology
    Graduate Institution + Degree: 
    University of California, Berkeley, Ph.D., Zoology
    To Do My Job You Need:
    Curiosity, public speaking skills, understanding of biology and use of computer software, desire to innovate

    I came to Harvard in December 2003 after serving as faculty for nine years in the Zoology Department and the Burke Museum at the University of Washington in Seattle. As the Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology and curator of ornithology in the Museum of Comparative Zoology, my research focuses on diverse aspects of avian biology, including evolutionary history and biogeography, disease ecology, population genetics, and comparative genomics.

    I’ve served on the National Geographic’s Committee for Research and Exploration, the Senior Advisory Boards of the U.S. National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent) and the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS), and the Advisory Boards of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian. I’m a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a fellow of the American Association of the Advancement of Science (both 2009). I’m currently serving as division director of the Division of Biological Infrastructure at the U.S. National Science Foundation.

    My Advice: Do what you enjoy; find out what gets you excited about science and then ask a mentor how to get a job doing that!

    http://www.oeb.harvard.edu/faculty/edwards/

    http://www.beastlegends.com/people/

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  • Michael Horn

    Michael Horn | Assistant Professor, Northwestern University

    I design and study learning experiences involving new forms of interactive technology.

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    High School Activities:
    Drama, Video and Board Game Design, Video Game Programming, Journalism
    Undergraduate Institution + Degree:
    Brown University, Computer Science
    Graduate Institution + Degree: 
    Tufts University, Ph.D., Computer Science
    To Do My Job You Need:
    Computer programming skills; understanding of interaction design; qualitative and quantitative research methods

    I’m an assistant professor of computer science and learning and the director of the Tangible Interaction Design and Learning (TIDAL) Lab at Northwestern University. The TIDAL Lab is a team of designers, artists, learning scientists, and computer scientists. Our research creates innovative learning experiences using new forms of interactive technology. We take a cautious but optimistic stance toward technology that tightly couples [[this sounds odd – maybe add “with”?]] learning, research, and design. My projects include the design and evaluation of a tangible computer programming language for use in science museums and early elementary school classrooms and the design of multi-touch tabletop exhibits for use in natural history museums.

    I earned an undergraduate degree in computer science at Brown University and then a Ph.D. in computer science at Tufts University working in the Human–Computer Interaction Lab and the Developmental Technologies research group. Previously, I’ve worked as a software engineer for several companies, including Classroom Connect and iRobot Corporation. My work can be seen at the California Academy of Sciences; the Museum of Science, Boston; the Field Museum; and the Computer History Museum.

    My Advice:

    Science can be inspirational and exhilarating, or grueling and exhausting. What makes the difference is whether you love what you do. What inspires you? What excites you? What do you do when no one is forcing you to? Follow your passion.

    http://tidal.northwestern.edu/roberto

    http://tidal.northwestern.edu/greenhomegames

    http://tidal.northwestern.edu/biomap

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  • Stephanie Keep

    Stephanie Keep | Editor, The National Center for Science Education

    I write, develop, and edit evolution-related articles and activities.

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    High School Activities:
    Drama, Choir, Flute, Science Museum Volunteer
    Undergraduate Institution + Degree:
    Wellesley College, Paleobiology
    Graduate Institution + Degree: 
    Harvard University, A.M., Organismal and Evolutionary Biology
    To Do My Job You Need:
    An ability to communicate science effectively to different audiences, to be open to feedback and always willing to edit

    My first job after college was as an assistant to Stephen Jay Gould, the famous scientist and science writer. Steve was a master of explaining complex ideas to broad audiences without condescension or oversimplification. When I started my Ph.D. in evolutionary biology, I was dismayed by the prevalence of jargon and overall poor communication that often kept the public separated from the science. By the time I decided to leave the program, I knew that no matter what I did, communication, science, and education had to be involved. I got a job as an editor for Pearson Education. My first big project was helping develop the high school biology book Biology by Ken Miller and Joe Levine, which many students continue to use. Every day I got to ask myself questions like, “How would I explain this to a 10th grader?” or “What example would make kids realize how cool this is?” I loved it.

    I left Pearson after seven years to join the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. There, I was part of the team that—among other things—wrote the state science assessments for elementary, middle, and high school. Part of my job involved reviewing responses to essay questions, a task that got me interested in the misconceptions students have about how evolution, in particular, and science, in general, works. I was delighted, therefore, to join the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), an organization devoted to ensuring all students get a quality science education, particularly in evolution and climate science. I am currently the editor of the NCSE journal; I write weekly blog posts on misconceptions and science communication and work with other NCSE staff to improve our outreach not only to our members but also to scientific societies and educators. In addition to my work with NCSE, I collaborate with teachers and academics to develop science activities and lessons—mostly on evolution-related topics, but with some other things thrown in here and there.

    My Advice: Let go of any preconceptions you have that there is one way to "do science" or to "be a scientist." There isn't! The only characteristics that unite all scientists are a love and curiosity for the natural world—beyond that, anything goes. I got all the way to graduate school thinking that to be a scientist, I needed to get a Ph.D. and run a lab. Imagine my disappointment when I realized that I didn't love research as much as I loved writing and teaching. Once I started looking beyond the lab, however, I found that I could combine my skills and interests in many ways; that I could straddle academia and education to work on projects that I'm passionate about.

    http://ncse.com/users/stephanie-keep

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  • Jonathan Losos

    Jonathan Losos | Professor, Harvard University

    I teach, and conduct research on how species adapt and diversify.

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    High School Activities:
    Debate Team, Chess Team, Hiking
    Undergraduate Institution + Degree:
    Harvard University, Biology
    Graduate Institution + Degree: 
    University of California, Berkeley, Ph.D., Zoology
    To Do My Job You Need:
    Computer programming skills; patience; observational, writing, and public speaking skills

    My interest in biodiversity and evolution began—like that of many five-year-olds—with dinosaurs. From there, it transformed to living reptiles, greatly stimulated by pet caimans (a relative of alligators) that I had in junior high and high school. I majored in biology in college figuring I’d focus on that and see if my interest persisted, and the more I learned, the more fascinated I became. In college, I worked on anole lizards, a lizard that is common throughout the southeastern United States but actually includes 400 species that occur throughout tropical and subtropical Americas and the Caribbean. I have now spent my entire career studying these lizards, trying to understand why this particular type of lizard has been so evolutionarily successful and how particular species adapt to their specific ecological niches. This work combines field and laboratory studies and uses techniques as disparate as DNA sequencing, laboratory functional studies of biomechanics, field observations, and experiments.

    My Advice: Think broadly, learn as much math and statistics as possible, and get first-hand science experience where possible.

    http://www.oeb.harvard.edu/faculty/losos/jblosos/

    http://www.hhmi.org/biointeractive/origin-species-lizards...

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  • Iain Mathieson

    Iain Mathieson | Human Geneticist, Harvard Medical School

    I use DNA data from ancient humans to learn about history and evolution.

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    High School Activities:
    Hiking, Debate Team, Cricket
    Undergraduate Institution + Degree:
    University of Cambridge, Mathematics
    Graduate Institution + Degree: 
    University of Oxford, Ph.D., Genetics and Statistics
    To Do My Job You Need:
    Programming skills, an understanding of statistics, communication skills, an interest in biology

    I studied mathematics and statistics as an undergrad, and worked in industry before going back to school to earn a Ph.D. in statistics. I didn’t know anything about genetics, but as it happened, I ended up in a department where people were doing amazing work in statistical and medical genetics, and I got interested in using genetic data to learn about the shared history and evolution of humans. We can learn a lot by looking at present-day humans, but to see evolution in action, it really helps to look at the genomes of ancient people as well. I was lucky that the technology to do this has developed a lot over the past few years; after my Ph.D., I was able to move to a lab that had a lot of expertise in this area. The thing I really enjoy about this job is that I work with people from all disciplines—genetics, statistics, archaeology, and linguistics. We are all interested in similar questions, but from very different perspectives, which makes it very rewarding.

    My Advice: Research isn't as divided between subjects as in high school or college—so read as much as you can from other fields. A lot of great discoveries get made this way. And read statistics. No one ever regretted knowing too much statistics!

    http://genetics.med.harvard.edu/Reich_Lab/People/imathies...

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  • Chia Shen

    Chia Shen | Senior Research Fellow, Harvard University

    I run interdisciplinary research projects that advance our knowledge in human computer interaction, big data visualization, and learning.

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    High School Activities:
    Reading, Writing, Gardening, Cooking, Hiking in Ancient Chinese Ruins
    Undergraduate Institution + Degree:
    SUNY at Stony Brook, Computer Science
    Graduate Institution + Degree: 
    University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Ph.D., Computer Science
    To Do My Job You Need:
    Understanding of user interface technology and design, communication skills, ability to mentor others, project

    I grew up in China during the Cultural Revolution. In high school, Chinese language art, physics, and math were my favorite subjects. I loved nonfiction writing—especially writing about the exotic places I traveled to in China. I had never seen a computer before I entered college. I had the hardest time understanding what “input” and “output” meant in my first computer science class on Pascal during my freshmen year as I was trying to grasp a foreign language and a new concept at the same time.

    In 1999, I got together with a few of the machine learning and computer vision researchers in my lab to brainstorm about what technology would be like in 10 to 15 years. I asked, “Why can’t we create computers at which people can work and play together face-to-face, without a keyboard and a mouse, instead of hiding behind individual vertical displays?” That was the beginning of our research into multi-touch human computer interaction designs. The very first system we created was called Personal Digital Historian for multi-person interactive story-sharing. It required research in areas ranging from human–computer interaction, the design of shared-display devices, UI for story-sharing, digital content creation, and content-based information visualization and retrieval (user-guided layout and data mining). We also created a see-through touch device called LucidTouch. You can see videos of these projects below. These were before the era of the iPad, iPhone, and Google Earth.

    Today, I am the senior research fellow and director of the SDR Lab at the School of Engineering at Harvard University. One of the research focuses of my lab is how to best visualize and interact with big scientific data for collaborative learning. Part of this research has been installed in many museums across the United States.

    My Advice: Be curious, be persistent, and be bold. Join a great collaborative lab and group to learn and do science. Never stop asking both “why” and “why not” (attribution to George Bernard Shaw).

    Personal Digital Historian

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qbMQ7urAvuc

    http://scholar.harvard.edu/chiashen/

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