PISA2021 Recap – Oh What A Conference!

PISA Registration is Open!

Oh, what a conference!
Early October, back in twenty-one
What a very special time for me,
As I remember, what a conference!

This year’s ASIP Annual Meeting, known as PISA (that’s ASIP backwards!) – Pathobiology for Investigators, Students, and Academicians – was held virtually from October 5-7 2021. This year’s PISA was particularly special as it was dedicated to Young Investigators (YIs) with a stellar line-up of 42 talks from YIs with each session headlined by a keynote presentation from an esteemed senior ASIP member. Details of the virtual program can be found here: https://pisa21.asip.org/virtual-program/virtual-program/

The night before the meeting, we held the ASIP Trainee Hangout which was a ton of fun! Hosted by Alexander Sougiannis, Michele Alves and yours truly! The theme was “Happy Hour” and as such, we all came with our fun drinks in hand and caught up on life since the last ASIP Trainee Hangout and discussed how to make the most of the PISA Meeting ahead.

The meeting kicked off with the Cancer Pathobiology and Neuropathology session where Dr. Diane Bielenberg from Boston Children’s Hospital at Harvard Medical School gave the Isaiah J. Fidler Memorial Keynote Lecture. It was so inspiring to hear about the great experiences and fond memories that Dr. Bielenberg shared with her PhD advisor. The YI talks that followed were fantastic and generated great discussion amongst the virtual audience.

Marina (Emmy) Anastasiou, PhD on Twitter: “happening now: the Neuropilin-1 saga is REAL & HERE! Dakshna Bala from the Bielenberg lab explains how Neuropilin-1 Regulates Vascular Smooth Muscle Cell Contractility and Blood Pressure! @ASIPath #pisa2021 / Twitter”

happening now: the Neuropilin-1 saga is REAL & HERE! Dakshna Bala from the Bielenberg lab explains how Neuropilin-1 Regulates Vascular Smooth Muscle Cell Contractility and Blood Pressure! @ASIPath #pisa2021

While the meeting was occurring virtually, another stream of content was being posted live on Twitter by conference attendees and the ASIP team. Check out all these posts via the Twitter hashtag #PISA2021 and account tag @ASIPath. A big tip for conference attendees is to get active on Twitter and post about your conference experiences using the official conference hashtag and tagging the conference organizers. For the upcoming Experimental Biology meeting in 2022, you can start preparing by following @ExpBio and tagging #ExpBio

Experimental Biology on Twitter: “Experimental Biology 2022 welcomes research in all areas of experimental biology, especially #anatomy, #biochemistry and molecular biology, investigative #pathology, #pharmacology, and #physiology. Submit an abstract for your latest research today. https://t.co/72xtabICpS #ExpBio pic.twitter.com/v8PVuJDHym / Twitter”

Experimental Biology 2022 welcomes research in all areas of experimental biology, especially #anatomy, #biochemistry and molecular biology, investigative #pathology, #pharmacology, and #physiology. Submit an abstract for your latest research today. https://t.co/72xtabICpS #ExpBio pic.twitter.com/v8PVuJDHym

A huge congratulations to all the PISA Awardees, both postdoctoral and predoctoral researchers, for their outstanding research! More details here: https://pisa21.asip.org/awards/outstanding-research-award-recipients/

Vik Meadows on Twitter: “@ASIPath is such a wonderful organization promoting science and trainee research/career development. Congratulations to all the speakers at #PISA2021 y’all rocked it!#JoinThePathSide #ASIPVirtual https://t.co/qEW2PCpZs8 / Twitter”

@ASIPath is such a wonderful organization promoting science and trainee research/career development. Congratulations to all the speakers at #PISA2021 y’all rocked it!#JoinThePathSide #ASIPVirtual https://t.co/qEW2PCpZs8

While virtual meetings have their perks, I am definitely looking forward to in-person meetings next year, especially #ExpBio! I can’t wait to meet everyone that I have gotten to know so well virtually, in-person! Don’t forget to submit your abstracts by November 30th! More details here: https://asippathways.com/2021/11/04/abstract-and-registration-site-for-asip2022-at-expbio-is/

See you in Philly!

Blog post by Daisy Y. Shu @eyedaisyshu on Twitter/Instagram

Thanks for reading this blog post! Interested in contributing original content to the ASIP blog? Contact me at daisy_shu@meei.harvard.edu to get involved!

What to read if you’re a scientist

It’s 2021 and if you’re anything like me and enjoy setting New Year’s Resolutions, then you might have “Read more books” on your list. As scientists, we already have a tonne of articles to read but it’s nice to take our mind off our own science for a while and immerse ourselves in another scientific topic. Who knows, it might even inspire some new hypotheses ๐Ÿ™‚

Here’s some books that I’ve either read or that have been recommended by other scientists!

  1. Lab Girl by Hope Jahren
  2. The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee
  3. Her-2: The Making of Herceptin, a Revolutionary Treatment for Breast Cancer by Robert Bazell
  4. Lifespan: why we age and why we don’t have to by David A. Sinclair and Matthew LaPlante
  5. Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen
  6. The Pleasure of Finding Things Out: The Best Short Works of Richard P. Feynman by Richard P. Feynman
  7. Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! (Adventures of a Curious Character) by Richard P. Feynman
  8. The Theory of Everything: The Origin and Fate of the Universe by Stephen Hawking

Daisy Y. Shu @eyedaisyshu on Twitter/Instagram

Thanks for reading this blog post! Interested in contributing original content to the ASIP blog? Contact me at daisy_shu@meei.harvard.edu to get involved!

How to make Social Media posts more accessible for the blind or visually impaired

Recently, members of the ASIP Committee for Career Development and Diversity (CCDD) led by Andrew Duncan and including Chad Walesky and myself (Daisy Shu) along with ASIP Marketing and Communications Manager, Gina Laborde, hosted a virtual workshop entitled “Promote Yourself and Your Science” on September 15th 2020 featuring speakers Eric Perkins from Addgene, Samira Kiani from University of Pittsburgh and myself. We had a great turnout with over 80 attendees tuning in and many great questions. One of the questions that struck me as a very important (particularly given that my research is in curing eye diseases), was on how to make social media posts more accessible to the blind or visually impaired. Indeed, social media is quite a visual platform, with posts often attracting more attention when associated with an image or video. We had a lot of fantastic tips and article links from both panelists and attendees during the meeting so I thought it’d be great to write a blog post to bring it all together.

Handy checklist for making posts more accessible by Alexa Heinrich: https://therealalexa.com/accessible-social#4507070e-7638-4bdb-b181-f18e0fa98a3d

Thank you to Dr. Deborah for sharing the Twitter account @DisabledStem with us! Check out their website for great articles, real-life stories, resources and mentorship program for people with disabilities in STEM.

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@ASIPath Here is a good thread about accessibility on Twitter and other social media platforms. Check out and possibly collaborate with @DisabledStem. #ASIPSocial #DisabledInSTEM #ScienceTwitter #ScienceComm

Alt text is an important tool to utilize with visual content. Twitter has a useful explanation on how to add an image description. This is a great Twitter post explaining how to add Alt Text to your images:

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So how do you go about adding alt text to your post? When you load an image, a little black +ALT button will appear on the image (image 1). If you press this, then your view will change to a write alt text page which is the image with a blank text box at the bottom (image 2).

Check out this thread talking about the different types of posts on Twitter and how to increase their accessibility:

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Let’s start with twitter since that’s the platform we are on! You can do several different types of posts on twitter:- feed posts (w/ images, infographics, links, gifs or videos)- livestreams – polls

Make your hashtags accessible by using Camel Case for multiword hashtags e.g. #MakeTwitterAccessible or #ASIPSocial rather than #maketwitteraccessible #asipsocial

Good colour contrast in your images to increase visibility of content

Add captions for videos

Here is some links for some more tips on accessibility:

5 ways to make your tweets accessible

About 14 million people in the UK have a disability, and many more around the world. Perhaps your tweets aren’t getting the biggest audience that they could? Making your stream accessible could help. In 2016, Twitter brought in an option to give descriptions for images on Twitter.

7 Ways to Make Social Media Accessible | GovLoop

Social Media I recently saw an agency post a photo of a printed flyer to Instagram. Not only was it difficult to read; there was no caption provided to explain what was in the image. While this is a quick way to get information out, it was not necessarily the most effective or accessible.

Hope you enjoyed this post and got some ideas for making your social media content more accessible!

Daisy Y. Shu @eyedaisyshu on Twitter/Instagram

Interested in contributing original content to the ASIP blog? Contact me at daisy_shu@meei.harvard.edu to get involved!

Doing less, being more

Life as a PhD student and postdoc isn’t easy – there’s always more we could be doing, more experiments, more data to analyze, more papers to read, more writing and rewriting and refining. It’s not a surprise that a lot of us (myself included) suffer from “burnout”. I go through cycles of being extremely productive to cycles of reduced productivity. Now as a postdoc, I’ve been through numerous “productive/burnout cycles” and while I’ve identified the issue, the solution remains elusive. How can I achieve more “balance” in my life? Is it even possible as a scientific researcher?

I’ve read self-help articles and blogs, listened to podcasts and watched YouTubers talk about how to be more productive. I’ve attempted to apply their advice but it always only works for a week or two before I spiral back into my old habits. Upon reflection, I’ve realized that all that time spent on self-help, productivity optimization tips was just another form of procrastination.

“Just do the things you need to do” or “Make a list” is what people will tell me when I complain about my issue. However, it’s much easier said than done. There’s the paralysis of the endless task list, the inertia in getting started on a difficult task and the constant bombardment of emails to attend to in a timely manner.

I came across this article “Let yourself be unproductive. At least for a little while” by Peter Bregman in Harvard Business Review that really helped me see my issue in a different light. The author has similar issues to me regarding the “habit of relentless productivity and achievement” and suggests that it may a coping mechanism to keep “running or repressing or denying or distracting yourself by doing”. Rather, it’s important to recognize why we need such control of ourselves and our lives and what fears we have if we decide to loosen up and relinquish this control.

“Ourย doing habits are so strong.” It’s all about multitasking in the lab, getting involved in more projects, reading more books or squeezing in another podcast during the commute or when doing chores. Instead, the author invites us to consider doing less, walking away from our calendars (I know, it’s a scary thought!), letting our mind wander (rather than listening to another podcast or music or even actively trying to pay attention to our breathing). Just take a moment to be vulnerable, open and “find the emotional courage to follow your inklings, step by step, toward what, even just maybe, feels right?”

Daisy Y. Shu @eyedaisyshu on Twitter/Instagram

Interested in contributing original content to the ASIP blog? Contact me at daisy_shu@meei.harvard.edu to get involved!

What would happen if you read a paper a day for 2 years?

I came across this tweet recently by Dr. Olivia Rissland, Assistant Professor at the University of Colorado, School of Medicine.

I’ve always wanted to be that person. That person that reads a paper a day. In fact, I didn’t think it was humanly possible until I came across this tweet. Naturally, my first question was HOW?

Even though Dr. Rissland is molecular biologist with a passion in understanding mRNA decay, she found herself reading papers beyond the scope of her field.

Scientists love to spot trends and Dr. Rissland also noted that more of the papers she was reading were preprints. Preprinting your papers is a gamechanger for scientific research and is slowly gaining momentum.

Dr. Rissland’s top tip was to develop the habit of setting time aside for reading. And not surprisingly, after 1000 papers, she was getting much faster at reading papers.

And perhaps most comfortingly, if I do try this one paper a day challenge, it’s okay to miss a day or two.

Well and truly inspired by this tweet and will attempt this a paper a day challenge! Who’s with me?

Daisy Y. Shu @eyedaisyshu on Twitter/Instagram

Interested in contributing original content to the ASIP blog? Contact me at daisy_shu@meei.harvard.edu to get involved!