BioScope

A UC Davis Graduate Student Blog

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Which Colors Should I Use? The Importance of Color Combinations in Scientific Figures

When creating scientific figures to best showcase your data, it is easy to overlook the importance of color scheme. When choosing color combinations, we tend to make our decisions predominately by what looks most appealing to our own eyes. However, it is crucial to remember that not everyone perceives color the same way. In the past, scientists often created fluorescent images and heatmaps using a green/red color scheme, making figures practically indiscernible by those with varying forms of colorblindness. The following article can help you learn to create illustrations that provide just as much contrast with arguably more visual appeal than a  green/red color arrangement, increasing the accessibility of your research. 

-Nina

 

Article on color-blindness and scientific figures. 

https://www.ascb.org/science-news/how-to-make-scientific-figures-accessible-to-readers-with-color-blindness/

 

A nifty web tool for helping you choose colorblind-friendly color schemes. Make sure to click on “colorblind safe” and “printer friendly” checkboxes. 

http://colorbrewer2.org/#type=diverging&scheme=PRGn&n=3

 

 

 

 

Edited by Keith Fraga

Source suggested by Yulong Liu

 

For any content suggestions or general recommendations, please email to UCDBioScope@gmail.com and put science 2.0 in the title.

Making scientific figures with Adobe Illustrator

Illustrations are often an integral part of a scientific manuscript, especially when conveying complex ideas and data. Additionally, a beautiful illustration is just so nice to look at. Lucky for us, we don’t have to spend years to master drawing those illustrations anymore like in the good ol’ days because there are many software options available to help us make these illustrations. Adobe Illustrator is one of the most powerful tools out there for creating illustrations and is more versatile than the more commonly used Powerpoint. However, it is something that you might not be familiar with and with a slightly steeper learning curve. I came across a retweet from our very own Sydney Wyatt about this Adobe Illustrator guide wrote by Connie Jiang, an MD/PhD Student at UPenn, and I was amazed by how useful it was for a beginner user like me. The guide is orientated for scientists. It covers basic usage and also a range of specific topics such as design scale bar, making poster templates, and color-blind friendly colors. I hope you will find this guide useful, and make the transition from Powerpoint. 

Yulong 

 

Blog post

http://rajlaboratory.blogspot.com/2019/08/i-adobe-illustrator-for-scientific.html

Guide 

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1TXmbltzBPcApCcuJ9HLOIQgWPqKylrFRWRudrN-5vBE/edit#

 

Edited by Sydney Wyatt 

For any content suggestions or general recommendations, please email to UCDBioScope@gmail.com and put science 2.0 in the title.

Informational interviews, a must-do for your next career move.

I truly believe informational interviews are one of the most important things you need to do when you are planning your next career move. An informational interview is a process by which you can access all the insider information about your next job that you most likely not going to find online. Sadly, I found the majority of the graduate students that I have talked to do not really know what it is or the purpose that these interviews serve. For those who have never heard of informational interviews before, it is a non-formal conversation to seek information about specific careers and companies. Although it’s not something from which you can be hired directly, the valuable information that you can get from this can give you a significant competitive edge and some even have received an actual interview directly from their interaction with the interviewer. In my personal experience, I did a couple of informational interviews for industry postdoc positions, and I found there are major differences in the optimal ways to apply for those same positions between companies. Here is a great video from Cheeky Scientist with useful tips and mistakes to avoid when you are conducting an informational interview, and the video is specifically tailored to graduate students. 

-Yulong 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZifvsYPpqH8

 

Edited by Jennifer Baily

This video was originally brought to my attention by the FUTURE program’s course. The FUTURE program is a career exploration/preparation course that I highly recommend to everyone. Here is their website if you are interested https://future.ucdavis.edu/  .   

For any content suggestions or general recommendations, please email to UCDBioScope@gmail.com and put science 2.0 in the title.

Tweet your way to success in science communication

Do you have a Twitter? Do you use Twitter to communicate and promote your science? In the past couple of years, Twitter has developed into the preferred social media platform for scientists to communicate their science to a broader audience. You may have heard of this already and even noticed that your favorite conference now has an official hashtag. However, it can be daunting for many people to make the leap into the Twitter-verse. That includes me. This blog article was co-authored by a UCD graduate student and contributor for Forbes, Priya Shukla(@priyology), is a great beginner guide for scientists who want to start their own Twitter. It also contains many useful tips and suggestions tailored for scientists to get you up running in no time. As the article suggests, communicating your science to a broader audience can help you become more well known in your field and even may help you to find your next job. 

https://www.thexylom.com/scientists-meet-twitter

-Yulong Liu 

 

Edited by Keith Fraga

This article was originally introduced to me from the FUTURE program’s course. The FUTURE program is a career exploration/preparation course that I highly recommend everyone to take. Here is their website if you are interested https://future.ucdavis.edu/  .   

 

For any content suggestions or general recommendations, please email to UCDBioScope@gmail.com and put science 2.0 in the title.

Keep calm and read on – Top tips for staying on top of your reading

Do you know there are about 2.5 million papers published each year? It certainly can be difficult and daunting to keep track of the relevant papers that are related to your research. You may already know about using Google Scholar or PubCrawler to keep you updated, but are you using them efficiently? I have seen many people’s weekly update with hundreds of papers because they are using very general terms. It’s understandable that you don’t want to miss anything, but you are going to spend so much time combing through them. Here are the “Ten tips to stay on top of your reading during grad school” from the publisher PLOS, including tips on how to optimize your search terms by using Boolean operators like AND and OR.

https://blogs.plos.org/thestudentblog/2017/01/12/ten-tips-to-stay-on-top-of-your-reading-during-grad-school/

 

-Yulong Liu

 

Edited by Emily Cartwright

Suggested by Keith Fraga

For any content suggestions or general recommendations, please email to UCDBioScope@gmail.com and put science 2.0 in the title.

Mastering the art and science of good presentation design

Powerpoint presentation is one of the most effective ways to communicate our science. However, mastering the art of presentation can be a long and enduring journey. There are two parts of a good presentation. One is about speaking, and the other is the actual presentation itself. If you have a fear of public speaking, please check out our previous post on “combat the public speaking fear”.

This post focuses on the design components of a good presentation. Luckily for us, there are many fundamental principles that you can learn from this short-ish video to help you achieve that mastery. This video, suggested by Hongyang Hao from Dan Starr’s lab, features Stanford neurologist Susan McConnell. Susan McConnell is a world-respected scholar and science communicator with iBiology. She is a member of both National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and she is also both an HHMI scholar and a Pew Scholar. The list goes on and on.

You may know some of the recommendations already from the video, especially, if you are a UC Davis BMCDB graduate student who went through our awesome rotation class. However, I’m sure there is much more new information that you can learn from this video. Also, it is just a good practice to systematically evaluate your presentation skills once a while, and make sure your presentations don’t have the pitfalls mentioned in the video.

Mentioning the rotation class made me remember my first presentation in that class. All I can say is “ughhhhh”. I’m so glad it is better now.  

Yulong

Want to see more awesome videos like this one? Make sure to check out iBiology and their videos on the importance of giving a good presentation and more tips on creating effective slides.

 

Suggested by Hongyan Hao

Edited by Anna Feitzinger, Keith Fraga

For any content suggestions or general recommendations, please email to UCDBioScope@gmail.com and put science 2.0 in the title.

Ain’t nobody got time for bad graphs

The above graphs were made from data of an anonymous 4th-year graduate student’s drinking habit, as he became an alcoholic in denial. Although the graphs were made from the exact same data, it’s obvious they give different perceptions of what the data is representing. One of the graphs indicates an alcoholic graduate student slowly increasing its alcohol consumption. The other graph suggests a more destructive trend: sobriety to a full-blown alcoholic. Bad data representation can be just as detrimental as bad data. Anna Feitzinger from the Lott Lab sent me this very useful website discussing common problems faced when graphing data. It has example problems, clear solutions, and some even have convenient practice R code.

https://www.data-to-viz.com/caveats.html

 

Yulong  

 

Suggested by Anna Feitzinger

Edited by Sydney Wyatt

For any content suggestions or general recommendations, please email to UCDBioScope@gmail.com and put science 2.0 in the title.

Combat the fear of public speaking

What’s your top 5 biggest fears? Is public speaking one of them? A study in 2014 from Chapman University concluded public speaking is one of the top 5 fears faced by Americans. So, if that’s one of your top fears, you are not alone. To help you combat that fear, here is an excellent video from Stanford Graduate School of Business. There are many useful tips and tricks in this very engaging video that can help you to diminish the fear for public speaking.  For example, by changing the style of the talk to more conversational, it could really lower that stress level.

 

Yulong

 

Suggested by Hongyang Hao

Edited by Anna Feitzinger

For any content suggestions or general recommendations, please email to UCDBioScope@gmail.com and put science 2.0 in the title.

 

Difficult Conversations

It’s often difficult to talk about sensitive topics that involve strongly held personal beliefs.  This is especially true when that person is close to you and you don’t want to damage your relationship. Sometimes those conversations can be avoided, but do you have a plan on how to strike those conversations if they are too important to be avoided? As a scientist, I often feel obligated to promote science, particularly to the most skeptical crowds. For example, contending with the views anti-vaxers. This podcast from The New York Time’s Change Agent has some helpful insights on how to have those conversations. Specifically, the strategies (validation, getting curious, and personal stories) developed from an ex-cult member turned mental health counselor Steven Alan Hassan.

 

-Yulong

 

https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/the-new-york-times/change-agent-2/e/53526869

 

 

This post is edited by Keith Fraga

For any content suggestions or general recommendations, please email to UCDBioScope@gmail.com and put science 2.0 in the title.

Establish commonalities to increase your mentee’s productivity

Are you currently mentoring someone? Are you actively trying to connect with your mentee? Did you know that simply establishing some commonalities with your mentee can significantly increase their productiveness and their ability to learn, especially if they have a different background from you? Here is a super short podcast ( first 10 mins) talking about the actual study. Establishing commonality is often the first thing I try to do when I’m training a new undergrad, and I think that you should too.

For more about mentorship, please check out our blog post from this month.

-Yulong

 

https://www.npr.org/2015/10/13/444446708/in-the-classroom-common-ground-can-transform-gpas

 

This post is edited by Linda Ma.

For any content suggestions or general recommendations, please email to UCDBioScope@gmail.com and put science 2.0 in the title.

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