Category Archives: Science

Promoting Human Rights Through Science: What do we do, What can we do, and What’s right to do?

Screenshot of title page

Screenshot of the title page of the article. Please go to the article itself for full description.

“Promoting Human Rights Through Science.” That’s the title of a new article, available today from Science Magazine. (Ironically, unaware of this, today I wore my “March for Science” t-shirt to the office as a “casual Friday” thing.)

Promoting human rights through science
Lauren Segal, Ryan Dz-Wei Chow, Brijesh Kumar, Jenny Nguyen, Kun-Hsing Yu, Jennifer Chen, Emre Ozan Polat, Kaitlyn Elizabeth Porter, Michelle Kelly-Irving, Israel Bimpe, Kristy A. Winter, Runxi Zeng, Majid Ahmed, Dustin Ray Saalman, Joshua Isaac James, Michal Kosinski, Easton R. White, Fernanda S. Oda, Hope Bretscher, Perrine Hamel, Swati Negi, Ali Jawaid
Science 06 Oct 2017:
Vol. 358, Issue 6359, pp. 34-37
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaq1083
http://science.sciencemag.org/content/358/6359/34

I know for myself, it has always been important to me to have my work include opportunities for advocacy for others, a chance to make a difference, to better lives. In the Dentistry Library, we worked to support outreach, information, education, research, and clinical work in the last major social healthcare frontier in the USA. In my job as the Emerging Tech Informationist I am able to be part of the conversations around adopting and developing new technologies and keep the questions in mind of how patients and the public are being included, and how technologies create new disabilities even as they create new opportunities. As a researcher, I work to the best of my ability to ensure that my work has the potential to not only inform interesting questions, but to empower others to apply our work and methods in their own environments. I try to publish in open access journals, I try to use open source tools. I try to make my methods crystal clear and replicable. I try to share my data. I try to partner, widely, and sometimes that means compromising and negotiating and educating around issues of intellectual property, access, openness, transparency, and so forth.

In today’s SCIENCE article, these are the human rights they highlighted:

Right to food
Right to health
Right to be remembered
Right to information
Right to education
Right to privacy
Right to a healthy environment
Right to culture

Of course, by far the most populous section was “The Right to Health,” with discussions of communities, cultural context, disparities, vaccines, delayed diagnosis, disasters, social determinants of health, health literacy, and policy loopholes that can be exploited in ways that undermine health rather than promote it. Powerful stuff.

We need to push this out, especially those of us on social media. This is the sort of thing that directly impacts on how the public view science and scientists, and thus has the potential to downstream impact on funding. But that can’t happen unless the public is aware of this, so it’s important to get this out beyond the Academy. It’s important for us to expand upon this, to tell our own stories of why human rights matter to us, why science matters to us. Just as with poets, and pop singers, and athletes, most of us aren’t doing this to get rich, and most of us won’t get rich. Most of us do research because we want to make a difference, we love the science and research and learning new things, and we see exciting opportunities when we place those side by side. How can we help the general public see that in each of us, and in science overall?

More important, can we use articles like this, stories like these to engage with the public in conversations around these topics. Are the rights mentioned here the ones that are actually important to the people around us, and to our society at large? If so, how do we tell those stories so that they see we’re there, too? If not, why not? Is there something people need to know that they don’t? Is there something they know that we don’t? I’m a big fan of the Cochrane Collaboration’s efforts to include patients on the research teams, not only to inform the process and to support “translation” of findings into practice, but perhaps most importantly to shape what questions are asked and studied, to help assure that these are the problems that really matter. Making the stories of science and scientists widely available and engaging with the public around them is the first step in entending that model into all of science. You can help. Share this article, talk about it, challenge it, ask questions, ask for more.

On D-Day, Exploring the Context of “As We May Think”

As We May Think (Cover)

During National Poetry Month (April), I thought it would be interesting to quote one of the poems published in the same issue of The Atlantic Monthly as the incredible essay, “As We May Think,” by Vannevar Bush.

“As We May Think” was required reading when I was in grad school, and it still it. This is a work that was truly seminal in shaping the origins of the Internet, hypertext, the Web, more. Provocative, inspirational, decades before its time. It’s online, easy to find, and it’s even open and free to the world. When I went looking for poems from the issue, though, that was not easy to find, much less free. I ended up having to request the print copy. Print. Really? You must be kidding me, but no, it’s true. It took me a month to believe I wasn’t going to find it online, and another few weeks for me to place the request for the print and find time to actually look at it.

You know what happens with print? You go looking for one thing, and find something else. You turn a page, and a picture catches your eye. You start to skim one article, but a beautiful word or phrase on the facing page distracts you. Before you know it, you are turning pages whether or not they have anything to do with your original question.

Let me tell you something about the issue of The Atlantic for July 1945. It was published less than a year after D-Day. It was published only a few months after the official end to the war. It was published when people first began to see, to believe, that World War II really was going to end, and stay done. It was the beginning of moving through the shock and trauma of the war, beginning to tell stories that couldn’t be born, that no one wants to remember.

When I first read “As We May Think” it seemed all shiny and glossy, this vision of what might someday become computers, personal assistants, ready flexible access to information. The dream that was so much bigger than people realized at the time, bigger than I realized when I read it in grad school. I had no idea that this was one essay of a larger series that The Atlantic was publishing on science and the war, no real idea of the world in which it was written. Sure, we studied WWII in school, read about the concentration camps, the war bonds, the atom bomb, the refugees, the destruction of historical treasures across Europe, the bombing of London, the evacuations, the debates in America about whether or not to enter the war, the American resistors who joined the war efforts in Europe early and were shunned as unpatriotic for the rest of their lives.

It never really came alive for me, though, in the way that it did when my computers broke this week and I went through the journal issue that contained Vannevar Bush’s essay. Some of what I found there:
– “paper bombs” as tools to influence thought
– Ad: advertisements on new technologies created for the war that had drastic impacts on food and home lives of civilians (from ice cream to oranges to vitamins)
– serious examinations of media reporters, “their reliability, their prejudices, and their mistakes”
– the role of propaganda on both sides of the conflict as obvious and visible even at the time
– first person reports of Buchenwald, shocking ghastly stories neglected from modern reports of the camps
– bitter heart-wrenching poems of soldiers from the fronts
– sweet stories of life back home, still edged with fatigue and loss and an undertone of the global anxieties, and stories of life with what we now call PTSD or depression or anxiety or others
– “Should Jews Return to Germany?”
– Ad: the misunderstood science that led to putting iodine in gasoline
– “Prithee, Little Book, Who Made Thee?”
– Ad: “Coal? Yes, indeed, it’s a big item in the drugstore!”
– Ad: “For the first time in history, a world without poverty and without war is technically possible. Whether we achieve it depends on how well we understand the ‘Economies Of Peace’.”
– book reviews of and advertisements for works by Henry James, Upton Sinclair, Thomas Mann, John Crowe Ransom, W. H. Auden, and other familiar names.

Somehow, “As We May Think” takes on a different flavor in the context of essays, and poems like this snippet from Sasserath, which resonate so very differently now than when they were written, that echo with limits and struggles that repeat now in some places and yet have become fictions in others.

“We who must live on substitutes for life,
The powdered egg, the dehydrated spud, …
Or learn the art of love with plastic limbs …”
“On Anodynes, by Simpson Sasserath, RT2/c

Reading and seeing “As We May Think” in the context of the series of which it was a part, similarly lends a depth that makes it seem even more extraordinary. The series was called, “A Scientist Looks at Tomorrow,” beginning in 1945 ad stretching to at least 1947. It included titles such as these:

– The Social Animal / Caryl P. Haskins
– Stars, Proteins, and Nations / Philippe Le Corbeiller
– A Design for Fighting / Harlow Shapley
– Penicillin, Plasma Fractionation, and the Physician / Dr. John F. Fulton
– A Physicist Returns from the War / I. I. Rabi
– Psychiatry and the Way / Big. Gen. William G. Menninger
– DDT and the Balance of Nature / V. B. Wigglesworth

I’m now curious to find them all, as a fascinating window into what was considered the cutting edge of emerging technologies in the mid-1940s. But the few sentences that resonated with me most closely came from a few months after the Bush essay, towards the end of the year, in an essay called, “The Return to Love,” by Rollo Walter Brown.

We can take our choice. If we do not believe that the awakening, the generosity, the loyalty, the warmth, expressed in love can transform the world into something more livable than what we now have, then we can take the alternative and believe that husbands and wives who cannot endure each other, neighbors who cannot endure each other, races who cannot endure each other, people who scoff at anyone who would make an improvement, can somehow, added together, constitute one world living in amity. We can wait among our raucous hatreds until somebody somewhere decides to enforce his special hatred with some super-super atomic bomb. That is something definite and “realistic.” But might we not have a more interesting world if we tried love?

Celebrating Women Inventors at UofM (for #AdaLovelaceDay)

Ada Lovelace Day in Second Life

Why Ada Lovelace Day matters, asks the Guardian today. Usually people celebrate by highlighting famous women scientists. I asked myself, what about right here, right now? What are women scientists and inventors doing at the University of Michigan?

I figured the best way to find out was to go through the UM Tech Transfer database of Available Technologies for licensing. I skimmed the most recently deposited 100 inventions, looking for women. I found inventions in education and healthcare (even new cell lines!). I also found women inventing new batteries and biosensors, researchers working in engineering and code and physics, and even, yes, gamma rays! Some were prolific with MANY inventions listed recently. Most had one or two. They are ALL fabulous. And I am proud to say I know some of them personally. Take a look. See what cool smart women are inventing here. And remember: The sky is the limit!

Elizabeth W. Anderson – Responsible Conduct of Research for K Awardees (RCR4K) | Trainer’s Guide for Responsible Conduct of Research for K Awardees (RCR4K)

Valeria Bertacco – Post-Silicon Bug Diagnosis with Inconsistent Executions

Sarah Hawley – iCanDecide Conjoint Analysis Breast Cancer Treatment Decision Aid (ICanDecide)

Jane E. Huggins – Direct Brain-Computer Interface for Cognitive Assessment

Lori L. Isom – beta1/Contactin Cell Line

Helen C. Kales – WeCareAdvisor (based on her DICE method for dementia management)

Naheed Wali Khan – Multimodal Imaging in Retinal Diseases

Michelle Meade – Mobile Game for Spinal Cord Injury Health and Behavioral Rehabilitation

Sandra I. Merkel – Face, Legs, Activity, Cry, Consolability (FLACC) Observational Tool as a Measure of Pain

Janis Miller – Self-Instructional Voiding/Intake Diary and Individualizing Target Bladder Health Goals through Beverage Management

Mahta Moghaddam –
Method of Including Full-Wave Source Model in Acoustic and Electromagnetic Scattering and Inverse Scattering Formulations
Antenna and Propagation Model for Free-space Measurements and Experimental Inverse Scattering
Method for Large-Domain Microwave Breast Imaging

Sara Pozzi – Combined Scintillator-based Neutron and Gamma-ray Dosimeter

Emily Kaplan Mower Provost – Smartphone app for aphasia therapy

Mary C. Ruffolo PhD – Online evidence-based practice training modules

Melanie S. Sanford –
Organic Anolyte Materials for Flow Batteries
Generation of Ag18F and its use in the synthesis of PET radiotracers

Mary Simoni – Block M Records (University of Michigan Recordings) (Catalog)

Nancy Butler Songer – Evidence-based Learning Method for K-12 Students to Evaluate the Ecological Impacts of Climate Change

Laurie Sutch – Teaching and Technology Collaborative Workshop Registration System

Amy J. Teddy – Online concussion education for parents and coaches

Margaret S. Wooldridge – Cylinder Pressure and Heat Release Analysis Tool for Advanced Combustion Engines

Laboratory Life Online, Part 1 (A HOTW Post)

Second Life: Nanotechnology Island

There has been a lot of science communication (#SciComm) action on Twitter recently centering around what does life look like for real scientists. I have a head start on this because when I was a little tyke, my dad dragged me into the lab with him and told me things like to watch the door of the High Wind Velocity Testing Lab so that the tornado didn’t get out while he was working on his mass spectrometer lithium sample testing. What can I say? I was gullible. So all those fun lifestyle pithy tweets will come in a later post, but for today, here is proof of presence of laboratories on Twitter. For the record, there are a lot more of these in each category, because Twitter’s search limits don’t return complete results for matches to the search criteria. Basically, that means I found a lot of these by browsing, when I should have been able to find them through search. I hope this is a useful resource. Enjoy!

ABOUT LABORATORIES

American Laboratory https://twitter.com/AmericanLab
Lab Design News https://twitter.com/labdesignnews
Lab Guru https://twitter.com/Labguru
Lab Life (@LabLife) https://twitter.com/LabLife
Lab Spaces https://twitter.com/LabSpaces
Lab TV https://twitter.com/LabTVCuriosity
Laboratory EQAS https://twitter.com/LaboratoryEQAS
Laboratory Equipment https://twitter.com/LabEquipment
Laboratory News https://twitter.com/laboratorynews
Laboratory Products https://twitter.com/labproductsnews

MICHIGAN LABS

Cardinale Lab (ecology and biodiversity lab) https://twitter.com/CardinaleLab
Decision Lab https://twitter.com/DecisionLab
Edelstein Lab https://twitter.com/EdelsteinLab
Lauring Lab https://twitter.com/LauringLab
Mahon Lab @CMU_Antarctica https://www.twitter.com/CMU_Antarctica
MiNDLab https://www.twitter.com/MiNDLab_umich
Michigan Tech High Performance Computing (HPC) @MichiganTechHPC https://twitter.com/MichiganTechHPC
MLabs (pathology) https://www.twitter.com/MLabsUM
National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory (@NSCL) https://twitter.com/NSCL
NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab (GLERL) https://twitter.com/NOAA_GLERL
Tronson Lab https://twitter.com/tronsonlab
U.M. Sex Lab https://twitter.com/SexualityLab
U Mich Concept Lab https://twitter.com/UMichConceptLab
University of Michigan Childhood Disparities Research Laboratory (@UMCDRL) https://twitter.com/UMCDRL

U.S. NATIONAL LABS

Ames Laboratory @Ames_Laboratory https://twitter.com/Ames_Laboratory
Argonne National Lab @argonne https://twitter.com/argonne
Berkeley Lab @BerkeleyLab https://twitter.com/berkeleylab
Berkeley Lab CS @LBNLcs https://twitter.com/LBNLcs
Brookhaven Nat’l Lab @BrookhavenLab https://twitter.com/brookhavenlab
DOE Science https://twitter.com/doescience
Energy Sciences Network (ESnet) @ESnetUpdates
Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer (FLC) @federallabs
Fermilab @Fermilab
Idaho National Lab @INL https://twitter.com/INL
ISS U.S. National Laboratory, Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) (@ISS_CASIS) https://twitter.com/iss_casis
Jefferson Lab P.A. @Jblab
LBNL Media Report @LBNLmediareport
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) @Livermore_Lab https://twitter.com/Livermore_Lab
Los Alamos National Lab (LANL) @LosAlamosNatLab https://twitter.com/LosAlamosNatLab
Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) – Health (@LANL_Health) https://twitter.com/lanl_health
Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) – Space https://twitter.com/lanl_space
National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) https://twitter.com/NERSC
National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) @NETL_News https://twitter.com/NETL_News
National High Magnetic Field Laboratory @NationalMagLab https://twitter.com/nationalmaglab
National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) https://twitter.com/NNSANews
National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) @NREL
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) @NASAJPL https://twitter.com/NASAJPL
NOAA Atlantic Oceanographic & Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) https://twitter.com/noaa_aoml
NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab (GLERL) https://twitter.com/NOAA_GLERL
Oak Ridge National Laboratory @ORNL https://twitter.com/ORNL
Oak Ridge National Lab, Manufacturing Demonstration Facility (ORNL Manufacturing) @ORNLMDF https://twitter.com/ORNLMDF
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) @PNNLab https://twitter.com/pnnlab
Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) @PPPLab
Sandia National Labs @SandiaLabs https://twitter.com/SandiaLabs [Sandia National Labs @SandiaLabsUVM https://twitter.com/SandiaLabsUVM%5D
Sanford Lab @SanfordLab https://twitter.com/SanfordLab
Savannah River National Laboratory @SRSNews https://twitter.com/SRSNews
SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory @SLAClab https://twitter.com/SLAClab
U.S. Army Research Labs https://twitter.com/ArmyResearchLab
U.S. Global Development Lab https://twitter.com/GlobalDevLab

MORE LABS WORTH KNOWING

Arne Lindqvist Lab (cancer research) @LindqvistLab https://twitter.com/LindqvistLab
Boulby Laboratory (deep underground science) https://twitter.com/BoulbyLab
Cavendish Laboratory (physics) https://twitter.com/DeptofPhysics
Happe Lab (autism research) https://twitter.com/HappeLab
Hewlett Packard Labs https://twitter.com/hplabs
HHS Idea Lab https://twitter.com/HHSIDEALab
MIT Lincoln Laboratory https://twitter.com/MITLL
MIT Media Lab https://twitter.com/medialab
National Archives & Records Administration (NARA) Media Labs https://twitter.com/NARAMediaLabs
Public Laboratory (open source) @PublicLab https://twitter.com/PublicLab
Suicidal Behaviour Research Laboratory @SuicideResearch https://twitter.com/suicideresearch
The Food Lab https://twitter.com/TheFoodLab
U.K. National Nuclear Laboratory @UKNNL https://twitter.com/uknnl
Wired Gadget Lab @GadgetLab https://twitter.com/gadgetlab
Wise Laboratory (toxicology) https://twitter.com/WiseLaboratory

From the Arxiv (What Caught My Eye Last Week)

Quantifying the impact of weak, strong, and super ties in scientific careers
Alexander Michael Petersen
PDF: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1509.01804v1.pdf
Soundbite: “We find that super ties contribute to above-average productivity and a 17% citation increase per publication, thus identifying these partnerships – the analog of life partners – as a major factor in science career development.”

Do we need another coffee house? The amenity space and the evolution of neighborhoods
César A. Hidalgo, Elisa E. Castañer
PDF: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1509.02868v1.pdf
Soundbite: “Neighborhoods populated by amenities, such as restaurants, cafes, and libraries, are considered to be a key property of desirable cities. … Finally, we use the Amenity Space to build a recommender system that identifies the amenities that are missing in a neighborhood given its current pattern of specialization.”

Liberating language research from dogmas of the 20th century
Ramon Ferrer-i-Cancho, Carlos Gómez-Rodríguez
PDF: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1509.03295v1.pdf
Soundbite: ” Those tenets can be summarized as a belief in the existence of word order constraints that cannot be explained by evolutionary processes or requirements of performance or learning, and instead require either (a) heavy assumptions that compromise the parsimony of linguistic theory as a whole or (b) explanations based on internal constraints of obscure nature.”
Interesting: “We submitted our commentary to PNAS but it was rejected. We hope that the availability of our submission helps to liberate language research from dogmas of the 20th century”

Estimating Reproducibility in Genome-Wide Association Studies
Wei Jiang, Jing-Hao Xue, Weichuan Yu
PDF: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1508.06715v1.pdf
Soundbite: “This can be used to generate a list of potentially true associations in the irreproducible findings for further scrutiny.”

Nucleosome positioning: resources and tools online
Vladimir B. Teif
PDF: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1508.06916v4.pdf
About: Gene Regulation Info
Includes: Nucleosome positioning datasets sorted by cell type

Combining exome and gene expression datasets in one graphical model of disease to empower the discovery of disease mechanisms
Aziz M. Mezlini, Fabio Fuligni, Adam Shlien, Anna Goldenberg
PDF: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1508.07527v1.pdf
Soundbite: “It is not unusual to observe a significant gene expression change in thousands of genes, the majority being a downstream, rather than the driver, effect (e.g. inflammation, drug response, etc) Additionally, and more importantly, there is a large heterogeneity in gene expression in cancer: many patients within the same subtype will appear to have an abberant expression. These variations are of unknown cause.”

Using Genetic Distance to Infer the Accuracy of Genomic Prediction
Marco Scutari, Ian Mackay, David Balding
PDF: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1509.00415v2.pdf
Soundbite: ” In human genetics, decay curves could be used study to what extent predictions are accurate and thus to improve the performance of medical diagnostics for the general population. In plant and animal breeding, on the other hand, it is common to incorporate distantly related individuals in selection programs to maintain a sufficient level of genetic variability.”

Population genomics of intrapatient HIV-1 evolution
Fabio Zanini, Johanna Brodin, Lina Thebo, Christa Lanz, Göran Bratt, Jan Albert, Richard A. Neher
PDF: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1509.02483v1.pdf
Soundbite: “In most patients, the virus populations was initially homogeneous and diversified over the years, as expected for an infection with a single or small number of similar founder viruses (Keele et al., 2008). In two patients, p3 and p10, the first sample displayed diversity consistent with the transmission of several variants from the same donor.”
Soundbite: “Our reasoning proceeds as follows. Figure 6B indicates that diversity accumulates over a time frame of 2-4 years, i.e., about 1,000 days. Recombination at a rate of 10−5/bp/day hits a genome on average every 100 bps in 1000 days. Mutations further apart than 100bps are hence often separated by recombination and retain little linkage consistent with the observed decay length in Figure 7.”

Inadequate experimental methods and erroneous epilepsy diagnostic criteria result in confounding acquired focal epilepsy with genetic absence epilepsy
Raimondo D’Ambrosio, Clifford L. Eastman, John W. Miller
PDF: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1509.01206v1.pdf
Soundbite: “Because the authors could not induce focal seizures by FPI, they ended up comparing absence epilepsy in their controls with absence epilepsy in FPI rats, and concluded that they look similar. They also used inappropriate epilepsy diagnostic criteria that cannot distinguish between focal non-convulsive seizures and genetic absence epilepsy. Moreover, the authors failed to consider all literature conflicting with their conclusion, and surmised similarities between the absence epilepsy in their rats with the focal seizures we induce by rpFPI.”

Reduction of Alzheimer’s disease beta-amyloid pathology in the absence of gut microbiota
T. Harach, N. Marungruang, N. Dutilleul, V. Cheatham, K. D. Mc Coy, J. J. Neher, M. Jucker, F. Fåk, T., Lasser, T. Bolmont
PDF: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1509.02273v1.pdf
Soundbite: “Our results indicate a microbial involvement in the development of Alzheimer’s disease pathology, and suggest that microbiota may contribute to the development of neurodegenerative diseases.”

Fractal Fluctuations in Human Walking: Comparison of Auditory and Visually Guided Stepping
Philippe Terrier
PDF: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1509.01913v1.pdf
Soundbite: “[B]ecause it can be assumed that AC and VC mobilize the same motor pathways, they can probably be used alternatively in gait rehabilitation. The efficiency of VC to enhance walking abilities in patients with neurological gait disorders needs further studies. However, the high gait variability induced by VC might have detrimental effects, for instance, a lower dynamic balance. This should be taken into account in the development of VC rehabilitation methods.”

The Brain Uses Reliability of Stimulus Information when Making Perceptual Decisions
Sebastian Bitzer, Stefan J. Kiebel
PDF: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1509.01972v1.pdf
Soundbite: “Our analysis suggests that the brain estimates the reliability of the stimulus on a short time scale of at most a few hundred milliseconds.”

Brain Model of Information Based Exchange
James Kozloski
PDF: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1509.02580v1.pdf
Coolness: IBM Neural Tissue Simulator (about NTS | NTS slides | 1st article)

Interplay between the local information based behavioral responses and the epidemic spreading in complex networks
Can Liu, Jia-Rong Xie, Han-Shuang Chen, Hai-Feng Zhang, Ming Tang
PDF: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1509.01321v1.pdf
Soundbite: “The spreading of an infectious disease can trigger human behavior responses to the disease, which in turn plays a crucial role on the spreading of epidemic…. Our finding indicates that, with the increasing of the response rate, the epidemic threshold is enhanced and the prevalence of epidemic is reduced.”

Identification and modeling of discoverers in online social systems
Matus Medo, Manuel S. Mariani, An Zeng, Yi-Cheng Zhang
PDF: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1509.01477v1.pdf
Soundbite: “We develop an analytical time-aware framework which shows that when individuals make choices — which item to buy, for example — in online social systems, a small fraction of them is consistently successful in discovering popular items long before they actually become popular. We argue that these users, whom we refer to as discoverers, are fundamentally different from the previously known opinion leaders, influentials, and innovators.”

Time-aware Analysis and Ranking of Lurkers in Social Networks
Andrea Tagarelli, Roberto Interdonato
PDF: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1509.02030v1.pdf
Soundbite: “Our goal in this work is to push forward research in lurker mining in a twofold manner: (i) to provide an in-depth analysis of temporal aspects that aims to unveil the behavior of lurkers and their relations with other users, and (ii) to enhance existing methods for ranking lurkers by integrating different time-aware properties concerning information-production and information-consumption actions.”

Plain Language Summaries for Translation in Science

First posted at the Krafty Librarian blog.


translationalhand1

At MLA last May, I was walking around the vendor hall, like most of us who attended, I assume. I was on a mission, though. I stopped by every vendor table that had anything to do with publishing or translational science, and talked with them at length about the idea of having plain language abstracts. I’ve been a fan of plain language initiatives for a long time, as evidenced by our library’s Plain Language Medical Dictionary app from some years ago. I wish I could say that I was doing this as a direct result of the PNAS article on the topic published in March, but no such luck. That would have helped make my arguments more compelling, I’m sure. I found the article today, thanks to the National Science Communication Institute retweeting Len Fisher.

A circuitous route, but effective enough to reach me. The article in question was this.

Lauren M. Kuehne and Julian D. Olden. Opinion: Lay summaries needed to enhance science communication. PNAS 112(12):3585–3586. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1500882112 http://www.pnas.org/content/112/12/3585

The article was short and sweet. It talked briefly (very briefly) about alternative modes of science communication, such as social media and blogs, and how they impact on audience, understanding, and adoption of new ideas. The authors then pointed out that these are limited to the few who choose to follow that channel, and it misses the benefits and affordances of mass media channels, a concept which they illustrated with a diagram of how they perceived the connections between the information channels and the audiences. Here’s the gist of it.

Scientists communicate with the public through these channels:
1) Social media and press releases
2) Journalist contacts
3) Lay abstracts
4) Traditional abstracts

The potential audiences are:
1) Public
2) Managers and decisionmakers
3) Scientists in other fields
4) Scientists in your own field

So far so good? There are obviously many more potential audiences as you subdivide these. In my conversations I was rather fond of mentioning insurance companies and agents as critical links in the chain of adopting healthcare innovations who are perhaps more likely to benefit from a plain language abstract. I also talked about the importance of highly motivated patients who take new articles to their clinicians as a recent and influential loop in the information chain that changes practice. For benefits to come through these channels requires not simply that there be a version of the abstract that is in plain language (a lay summary) but also, and equally important, that those lay summaries not be behind a paywall. One of the publishers was absolutely sure their abstracts were not being a paywall, and then when they went to show me, well (ahem), they found they were. As in, the abstracts were locked behind a paywall. Oops.

The most important part of the article’s diagram was the very subtle sideways dashes. Where do the journalists get the hook, the info that leads them to ask more questions and write those mass media articles that reach such large audiences? What triggers the journalist to reach out for those important conversations with the scientists? Well, the press releases, of course. That’s why our organizations work so hard on them. Seeing something posted and reposted on social media is another good way to reach them. But the traditional abstract? Not so much. The traditional abstract is crafted explicitly for other scientists in your field, and only partly for scientists beyond that. Now, a lay summary, a plain language abstract, that has HUGE potential as a way to reach journalists. It’s another marketing tool, beyond being the right thing to do to help patients, or to help get science into the hands of those who actually use it, or to help influence clinical practice and foster more rapid adoption of new discoveries and treatments.

The WORST Thing About Depression is …

Pic of the day - Not a Happy Musical

There is a fantastic, passionate, profoundly honest, deeply wrenching effort going on RIGHT NOW to try to take the stigma out of depression. What I’m talking about is the movement gathering under the hashtag #TheWorstPartOfDepressionIs. People are telling their stories, and the stories of those they love, with and without names, but always with bald-faced honesty. They describe the ways in which expectations, interactions, judgments, sensations, and experiences serve to compound what is already a paralyzing destructive illness. Here are just a few of these amazing tweets.

* THE BLOGGESS

* EXPECTATIONS

* INTERACTIONS

* JUDGMENTS

* SENSATIONS

* EXPERIENCES

LAST BUT NOT LEAST

At The Movies: Tactile Art & Tech for Autism

David Chesney is Back. This Time With Sean Ahlquist (Art & Architecture) and Sile O’Modhrain (Music). The project being highlighted this time is designed to use a flexible stretch “coloring book” to provide a kind of engaging biofeedback to children with autism regarding the amount of pressure they are using. This would have been fantastic to have when my son was small.

David Chesney: “The research that I do here at the University of Michigan is at the intersection of technology and childhood disability.”


Tactile Art | MichEpedia | MconneX https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQU7ZhMvH2k

University researchers and students create device designed to aid in Autism therapy https://www.michigandaily.com/news/university-researchers-and-students-different-fields-study-create-device-designed-aid-autism-th

More videos about the project from Dr. Ahlquist.

Social Sensory Surfaces Research Project from Sean Ahlquist on Vimeo.

Social Sensory Surfaces Research Project https://vimeo.com/125392278

Stretch|PLAY from Sean Ahlquist on Vimeo.

Stretch|PLAY https://vimeo.com/125633678

Social Sensory Surfaces: http://taubmancollege.umich.edu/research/research-through-making/2015/social-sensory-surfaces

Related work from Dr. Chesney on his work with autism.


Software Engineering Class Hacks Autism https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUT-Chcffqc

Digital avatars help children with autism – w/video http://www.autismdailynewscast.com/digital-avatars-help-children-autism/21463/snapshot/

Hacking Autism and University of Michigan https://www.autismspeaks.org/blog/2012/05/01/hacking-autism-and-university-michigan

Video games help autistic students in classrooms http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/health/story/2012-05-31/video-games-autism-students/55319452/1

More interesting projects by Dr. Chesney & his students.


Untapped Resonance: David Chesney at TEDxUofM https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GO9HSiUMylE


Engineering with Grace: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aDjYoyYfUQE
Engineering with Grace: Software class aims to help one teen communicate: http://ns.umich.edu/new/multimedia/slideshows/21712-engineering-with-grace-software-class-aims-to-help-one-teen-communicate
Computer Science with Soul: http://dme.engin.umich.edu/grace/


Provost’s Seminar on Teaching – Presenter David Chesney https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FDSwN1MEfnY

#ADA25! Tech + Touch + Targets: Part Two, “Our New Technology”

#ADA25 Amtrak New Accessible Technology #a11y

To continue the series on “what I did for #ADA25,” I’d like to talk about the very exciting event here in town last week, in which Ann Arbor sets the stage for a national high speed rail system, and access for persons with disability is at the core of making this possible.

#ADA25 Amtrak New Accessible Technology #a11y

AMTRAK

The event was the ribbon cutting for the new disability-accessible platform at the Ann Arbor Amtrak station.

“New disability-accessible platform opens at Ann Arbor Amtrak station” http://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/index.ssf/2015/07/new_disability_platform_opens.html

The event started out with the mayor, Chris Taylor, describing the importance of the University of Michigan Health System and hospitals in providing advanced health care to the residents of the State of Michigan, and how critical accessible rail transport is for supporting this.

Lt. Governor Brian Calley noted, “Acceptance & awareness are important, but inclusion is a game changer.”

Richard Bernstein, Judge of the Michigan Supreme Court, waxed eloquent, clearly joyful and delighted with this innovation. You can hear his full remarks on Soundcloud.

Joe McHugh (Amtrak’s Senior Vice President) described this as “the flagship of our new technology,” continuing with the vision and possibilities that would come from this.

Joe really meant technology, too! The new boarding platform is retractable, and extends toward the train when in use. The Amtrak press release describes it as “The platform mechanically extends toward the train, bridging the gap created when a level-boarding platform is needed. This next generation of passenger-focused technology will allow America’s Railroad® to deliver a modern passenger railroad that is accessible to all.” That wasn’t the limit of the tech, either. In addition to designing the platform, the interactive portions of the tech, they also had to design manual tech to support the process in case of problems with the automated portions or for situations that require special extra support.

#ADA25 Amtrak New Accessible Technology #a11y

As with all ribbon-cutting events, the actual story started long long before. Or stories, I should say. This event sprang from the intersection of many stories, many people’s experiences. There are the local folk who fought for a better way to take the train, and helped make people aware of the reasons why it should start HERE. There were wheelchair passengers who complained about being put on a jack, hoisted into mid-air, and left dangling in the rain while the station staff try to get the logistics sorted out. There were the Amtrak staff who helped people with luggage, moms with strollers, elderly folk climbing the narrow stairs into or out of the Amtrak cars.

The story that resonated most powerfully with me was told by Richard Devylder, the U.S. DOT’s Senior Advisor for Accessible Transportation.

#ADA25 Amtrak New Accessible Technology #a11y

Richard was born without arms or legs. The combination of his experience, his intelligence, his connections with the community of persons with disabilities all help to inform his position and influence change. And when the opportunity presents itself, he absolutely will go for the brass ring.

That’s kind of what happened one day a few years ago. Richard described a room full of transportation higher ups. He asked, “Well, do you want to see high speed rail in the United States?” Yes, yes, yes, they all did. The next thing Richard said? “Then you have to find a way to let people like me board the train in less than 15 minutes.” BOOM.

That was one story. He had another good one. Richard described one day when he was trying to get on the train, and a ramp had been set up to allow him to board. But he couldn’t even get on the ramp because it was so crowded with people. Elderly with walkers. Parents with strollers. People with heavy rolling bags of luggage. Part of him thought, “Hey, why are all these people blocking my ramp?” Immediately he realized it is because all of them also needed a ramp, and the one provided for him was the only one there. BOOM #2!

We need ramps for boarding trains absolutely as much as we need curb cuts. The next ADA25 story I’ll be telling is about a group of people in virtual worlds. They were pretty impressed when I told them about this new Amtrak platform. Then they asked, “But why did it take 25 years? And why is there only ONE in the entire United States?” More on that in the next post.

The actual ribbon cutting, with Gary Talbot as the honored local person who pushed the hardest to make this happen.

And then people could board!

#ADA25 Amtrak New Accessible Technology #a11y
#ADA25 Amtrak New Accessible Technology #a11y


Updated to include Gary Talbot’s name.

#ADA25! Tech + Touch + Targets: Part One, “I couldn’t type a hug.”

Screenshots from the White House video of President Obama Celebrating ADA25

Yesterday was the 25th anniversary of the signing of the American with Disabilities Act. I want to describe three technology events that happened around the theme of celebrating this milestone! These three stories include high speed rail, robots, assistive communication devices, virtual worlds, web accessibility, exoskeletons, 3d printing, and more. That’s the tech. But the touch is just as important, if not more so, and the question of what’s left that needs doing is the idea of defining and meeting our targets. Let’s get started.

WHITE HOUSE

First, President Obama celebrated, of course, with many people. One was Haben Girma, the first deaf-blind graduate of the Harvard Law School. The President would type words to talk with her, and she would listen with her hands on a machine that translated the typing into Braille. “I couldn’t type a hug,” he said.

Screenshots from the White House video of President Obama Celebrating ADA25Screenshots from the White House video of President Obama Celebrating ADA25

Alice Wong, of the Disability Visibility Project, attended the event through her telepresence robot, and wrote about it later, here.

Screenshots from the White House video of President Obama Celebrating ADA25

The White House has made available both the highlights video (under 3 minutes) and the complete event (about 1.5 hours).


President Obama Celebrates the 25th Anniversary of the ADA https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SZCQT-DYVNY


President Obama Speaks at the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pUI-TUFlteU

Towards the end of his remarks, President Obama described the how his father-in-law’s experience with multiple sclerosis helped to shape his passion for reducing barriers for persons with disabilities, and his awareness of how access to necessary resources can help people grow into their potential, and how that helps all of us.

“And just an aside on this, for a long time, he would not get a motorized wheelchair because he had gotten this disability at a time when they weren’t available and it was expensive, and they weren’t wealthy, and insurance didn’t always cover it. And it just gave you a sense of — Michelle and I would talk sometimes about how much more he could have done, how much more he could have seen — as wonderful as a dad as he was, and as wonderful as a coworker as he was, he was very cautious about what he could and couldn’t do — not because he couldn’t do it, but because he didn’t want to inconvenience his family and he didn’t want to be seen as somehow holding things up.” Remarks by the President on The Americans With Disabilities Act https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/07/20/remarks-president-americans-disabilities-act