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Building Community @ Virtual Unconferences

“People don’t feel connected to your community because they joined a big crowd in an arena. They feel connected because of the individual conversations, private moments, and vulnerability that they experience with other participants.” - Charles Vogl Unconferences build community through specific characteristics: its collaborative conference agenda creation, “vote with your feet” model of participation, and dynamic pace. These components are difficult to recreate in a virtual setting.

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Community as Lens

When you have a hammer, every problem looks like a nail… until you get a paintbrush. Every so often you get the gift of being able to see the world through a new lens. In my adult life, there are several distinct times when I was acutely aware of picking up a new tool, shifting to a new lens. Engineering: The object lens The first was when I was an undergraduate studying engineering.

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How many PhDs Stay in Research?

Getting a PhD is a lot of work. In fact, if you believe the Princeton Review, maybe no one should pursue them at all. And yet, I have worked with enough people who hold PhDs that it got me wondering about the statistics of PhDs and research. Usually, the people who pursue PhDs really love learning, and are excited about the prospect of making a profession of it. Much of the time, pursuing research is an important component of this learning journey.

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Connectedness in Virtual-land

Can a party restore our connectedness? There is a colleague that I work with that I have the good fortune of talking with regularly. But the change in him since lockdowns, closings, stay at home orders and protests is notable. He doesn’t dispute the necessity of these things, but it is clear that they are taking a toll on him. Being part of an international community, most of the people I work with on a daily basis rely on online communications as our primary way of getting things done.

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The Ansary Entrepreneurship Competition

Over the past two days I have been looking over product and start-up pitches in my role as one of the judges of this year’s Ansary Entrepreneurship Competition at Stevens Institute of Technology. Each year undergraduate students turn their undergraduate engineering and business Senior Design Projects into business plans, and prepare elevator pitches to compete for prizes that total $17,500. I have been spending my evenings reading executive summaries and listening to the (video recorded) pitches while providing feedback and asking questions about their business ideas and product approaches.

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Where's the discussion about isolation complications due to COVID-19?

This week has been hard. A lot of the daily professional discussions I have are related to how research and data are shared more effectively and efficiently. This week I was even in a full-day meeting discussing how we might help accelerate how insights from clinical data are shared. As one might expect, examples naturally gravitated to the current crisis and COVID-19 research, response, and treatments. But my mind was elsewhere…

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Interview: What's it like to be...

I am honored and excited about being featured in the LinkedIn article series by Heather Flanagan of Spherical Cow Consulting, “What’s it like to be…”. Making the decision to become an independent consultant was a scary one when I took the leap in late 2018. It was great to reflect on that decision and consider how things have gone so far during this interview with Heather. You can read the full interview in LinkedIn:

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Think about Research Transparency now

Transparency is essential to trust and efficiency in research. In light of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19, there has been increasing discussion about the importance of past and evolving research related to the virus and disease. Ensuring researchers have access to past data and findings that may provide insights is urgent and important, and fortunately is getting some attention with efforts like LitCovid, an open-resource literature hub for COVID scholarship. Despite this encouraging development, it is important that we don’t lose sight of the importance of research transparency in reinforcing the goals of efficiency, efficacy, and long-term trust in biomedical research.

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Interview: Force11 Infrastructure Series

In 2020, FORCE11 created a year-long blog series about scholarly infrastructure. Force11 is a community of scholars, librarians, archivists, publishers and research funders that grew organically to help facilitate the change toward improved knowledge creation and sharing. There goal is to create a change in modern scholarly communications through the effective use of information technology. In March, in my role as Project Upholder of Metadata 2020, I chatted with Jennifer Kemp about the importance of metadata, the lifeblood of this infrastructure, a ubiquitous and foundational component of scholarly communications.

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Making the leap

This month I took the leap from a path of working with and for entrepreneurs and new ventures as an employee, to venturing out on my own. Over the years I have played the role of cheerleader and enabler. Leaders of new efforts have turned to me for advice or help as they realize their visions. And, as I thought about it, I realized that the thing I’ve liked the best about my experiences has been the variety of contributions that I’ve been able to make at the initiation of a project or venture.

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