I am immensely proud of being an alumnus of the University of California at Berkeley, where I was able to get a world class education and have opportunities to meet with and learn from superb professors, some of whom have since earned Nobel Prizes. Those were some of the most fun years of my life and I also appreciated the beautiful, sprawling campus with lots of fantastic architecture and wide-open green spaces to lounge around on and play catch with my friend every now and then. It is mere coincidence that the day this article published is also Marian Koshland's birthday, and it got me thinking about Koshland Hall, one of the newer (now old, because so am I) buildings when I started college, and which Koshland it was actually named after.
Ever since my wife started listening to some true crime and fantasy podcasts a few years ago, I ventured on a different path with my podcast journey as I steered toward celebrity interviews, comedy, and the occasional science podcast. Of course you know we did start our own ABclonal podcast, BioChat, and previously we also highlighted a few fun and interesting science-themed podcasts that won't take too much out of your day as you commute or go about your work. In addition to entertaining and educating you, podcasts also have some mental and personal benefits. There are only so many hours in your day with plenty of choices, so let's see what we can do to help with some constructive distraction!
Computers are ubiquitous in our lives now, particularly the majority of us who have a miniature supercomputer in the palm of our hands. With more efficient and powerful computer technology coupled with the understanding that biology is much more complex than dissecting out the role of a single protein in a signaling pathway, the relatively new field of computational biology and bioinformatics has exploded over the past few decades as researchers needed new tools and strategies to understand biology on a systems level. This has allowed non-traditional professionals to enter bioscience research, from primarily computer scientists to bench scientists who have taught themselves coding and statistics. As the computational component has permeated through nearly all of modern biology, we realize that there is a beneficial coexistence between the experimentalists and the keyboard warriors who make sense of growing datasets.
There was a fun seminar with a guest speaker once upon a time when I was in graduate school where he put the physiological effects of stress into perspective. I can't remember his name now, but the gist was that if you imagine yourself as an animal fighting for survival, you are very likely to want to keep the body ramped up to run or fight rather than to fight infection, digest, or reproduce. In a human context, when the person is under pressure due to a huge work project or some other external force derived from a crushing mountain of responsibility, they are thrust into a situation where the body and mind think that they are in a "fight or flight" mode and that can lead to many physical and psychological detriments. Although what we do in science is important and requires lots of work, it is important to realize that good science is harder to do if we are overcome with stress, so let's find some ways to manage stress so we can be more productive and healthy.
We’ve all been there…the experiment didn’t work for the 87th time, and the feeling of dread and impostor syndrome surrounds the mind as the seminar or thesis committee meeting looms. It’s easy to dwell on everything that isn’t working right at that moment, but there are scientific discoveries to be made, and someone has to do it, and it might as well be you! That’s easier said than done, but with the proper support mechanisms and some confidence boosts, your goals will be achievable.
Like many of you out there, I used to pass the incubation periods for my experiments by scouring YouTube for videos, both of the educational and entertaining variety. While the bulk of this was admittedly cat and animal videos and human misfortunes (that normally did not result in debilitating injuries or death, mind you), I did prefer the channels that were a combination of educational and entertaining, which is a philosophy I adopted as a teacher and mentor. So today, I'd like to share some of my favorite channels that might help you de-stress from a hard day at work, and also probably teach you something! You can click the headers to go to their main channel as well as check out the example videos.