Featured Project: The Social Scientist

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The Social Scientist is a project designed to help early-career scientists (or anyone interested in science) connect directly with scientists. Their website describes the project as follows:

We are here to help you navigate the scientific community, supporting everyone from high school students to associate professors. Regardless of where you are in your scientific career, we strive to provide an engaging community from our amazing group of volunteers.

 and lists their goals:

  • To support all generations passionate about science 

  • To provide contacts in various scientific positions that are readily available and willing to speak on their experiences

  • To create an engaging yet open atmosphere

  • Contacts through the program would be volunteering their time to aid others and improve the scientific community

Scientist Spotlight: Dr. AJ Kumar

AJ is the Chief Scientific Officer at Jana Care. Jana Care focuses on biomarker assisted chronic disease management. He was a Peace Corps volunteer and a Post-Doc in the Whitesides group at Harvard where he invented a point of care test for sickle disease and worked on low-cost diagnostics. He earned his BS in Physics from Stanford and his PhD in Applied Physics from Harvard.

In this Harvard Horizons talk from 2014 when he was a grad-student, AJ talks about the development of a low-cost test for sickle cell disease. I recommend watching this video before the interview below.


In this Scientist Spotlight interview from October 2017 Dr. Kumar talks about his career pathway (which includes physics, engineering) and how low cost technologies can influence medical care.

Scientist Spotlight: John Mead

John Mead is the Eugene McDermott Master Teacher in Science at the St. Mark's School of Texas, where I taught with him from 2006-2009. In addition to teaching, he is a National Geographic educator-explorer, serving as an Evolution Ambassador for the National Center for Science Education (NCSE). He is also the recipient of the Texas 2018 Outstanding Biology Teacher Award from the National Association of Biology Teachers. This interview took place in March or 2018.

John is a passionate and skilled science communicator and his YouTube channel is filled with “MicroSafaris” through pond water, as well as updates and descriptions of ongoing hominid fossil field work and research that he uses to connect his students and the public with current exploration and discoveries. You can watch a lecture he gave in October of 2018 about this work here.

Scientist Spotlight: Dr. Laura Lagomarsino

Dr. Lagomarsino is an Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences and proud Director of the Shirley C. Tucker Herbarium at Louisiana State University. She is a botanist and evolutionary biologist. In this interview from October 2017 we discuss her new position, the value of collections to the biological sciences, and other big evolutionary questions. You can find out more about her at http://www.lauralago.net/.

Featured Project: Leading Women in Marine Science

Writer Hannah Rudd has recently posted to her website an interview series with female marine scientists. The series is very much in line with my Scientist Spotlight project, and because of that I thought it might be of interest to people who find this page. I’ll try to use this blog as a place to bring together different people’s attempts to highlight and introduce interesting scientists. Full disclosure: I was interviewed as a part of this project, so my interview is among those featured.

Scientist Spotlight: Dr. Shane Campbell-Staton

Dr. Shane Campbell-Staton is an assistant professor of biology at University of California, Los Angeles. His research combines environmental niche modeling, field biology, experimental physiology, and genomic techniques to understand how changing climates affect evolutionary history and lead to adaptive innovation.  When this interview took place in September of 2017, he was a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow working in the Catchen Lab at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana and the Cheviron Lab at University of Montana, Missoula. He completed my graduate work at Harvard University under Dr. Jonathan Losos and Dr. Scott Edwards.

February 2019 UPDATE: Dr. Campbell-Staton was interviewed on the Ologies podcast about his thermophysiology research, how different organisms have evolved different strategies to deal with thermal stresses, the challenges of adjusting to life as a new professor (some great productivity and time management strategies), his Biology of Superheroes Podcast (which is just awesome), and more! Its a long interview, but well worth a listen!

When Dr. Campbell-Staton was a grad student he was a Harvard Horizons scholar. Below is a video of the talk he gave at the culmination of that project in May of 2015.