Repost: My Big Picture (tongue only partly in-cheek)

Aug 02 2010 Published by under Uncategorized

Repost: Hi everybody! I'm excited to be a part of Scientopia! I'm away at a nice, quiet, internet-free location on our most exciting launch day, so I am leaving this here repost to help you get a feel for who I am.

So, I don't currently have a working drawing program on my computer so I have to make a Google Image collage to illustrate my most mostest pulled-back biggest picture, my philosophy of my world on days when I am not OCDing about something stupid that bothers me, my Zen of path through science-human-space.

We each have our little place in it, our little walk through all the possible avenues, and just like vision (and macro lenses) we can only focus on the part right in front of us. Probably it's only practical to expect to clearly see about the next year or two of plan in any great detail. I point myself in the direction I want to go, starting at the "chemistry" paradigm point and going towards the "biology" paradigm cluster. A zoom in on the detail of how I get there would probably look like this:

Except that most of the other nodes around me, and most of the path I had taken and will take would be a lot fuzzier to the eye. A good strategist will learn how to zoom their lens back just enough to see the next set of decisions to make, while keeping active on the current processes until they reach some degree of maturity. Not saying I am a good strategist yet, but I hope to learn how to be one by paying attention to what's going on around me.

So what is everyone's personal goal? Usually to make both their paths and destinations "important." But of course, importance itself has a lot of stochastic elements and the ultimate measure would be to be 'right' about it, right about how this crazy universe/space/world/us REALLY work. But what is "right?" To go really philosophical about it: how do we know it DOES work any particular way and that we're not affecting it just by trying to look? Just because I find some spit on the cat's hair I managed to tweeze out of the box with my incredible intellectual power, I still don't know if the cat is alive or dead or even if it's a cat or maybe a RASCAL that ate a cat...

SO to get back to things that don't wake me up in the night impressing the weight of the vastness of existence on my soul, what I really want to be able to do is maximize my experience at and travel between focus nodes, and not get bogged down with either the nodes themselves, nor the paths the lab ends up taking to them.

For the purposes of communicating as a human with humans, I'm calling this "STUDYING SIGNALING BIOLOGY USING CHEMICAL TOOLS" and we will work towards doing a very good job of making whatever we need to get information about cell signaling that allows us to make more emergent observations about how that stuff is REALLY interacting in there. If I can mature in my strategic abilities, we'll be able to be both thorough and flexible, and not get stuck in the mud of either our tools or our questions while still being able to make both of those things valuable to the overall enterprise of understanding how stuff works, to gradually add elements of information to the drawing until we get a picture of what the whole thing looks like.

To put it an even sillier way, I plan on rolling my chemical biology katamari through the paradigm world and picking up stuff as I go, and hopefully by the time I retire it will be so big I can even stick things like WHOLE PEOPLE and cars and stuff. Right now it is real tiny, so we can only pick up little additional methods and small observations and such, but with some luck and luck I make myself by being sufficiently strategic, it will grow fast enough.

(**you can find the sources for all my images by looking at their links with right click, thanks to the people who gave them homes on the internets for me to find**)

6 responses so far

  • leigh says:

    i feel like my path through life/science is similarly all over the place, and yet headed in the right general direction somehow (well, most of the time)!

  • Stacey Tobin says:

    I tweeted a link to this post with a very flippant "Ooh, more sceince maps," but I just wanted to say in all seriousness that I really enjoyed it. Pulling back from the bench was a key event in my career path after grad school and the practice continues to shape the way I understand and communicate science and the minutiae thereof. Thanks for sharing, and I'll be adding your blog to my blogroll!


  • Stacey Tobin says:

    Of course, the editor makes a spelling error - that would be "science maps"

  • Odyssey says:

    Nice new digs! Congrats on the move!

  • Oh, the world does not have enough katamari damacy references. How lovely would a lab version be? I spent many a night in grad school dreaming of rolling up one particularly distasteful lab tech...

  • Dr. O says:

    Congrats on the new site - looks great!

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