Mendeley Advisor of the Month: May 2018

Mendeley advisor of the month: Dr Jordan Steel, Assistant Professor Cell Biology, Molecular Virology, Colorado State University.

Colorado State University-Pueblo faculty member Dr. Jordan Steel received the 2017 National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT) Four-Year College & University Biology Teaching Award for his highly innovative project- and team-based learning approach to his courses. A native of Albuquerque, NM, he has lived in Colorado since 2008 and enjoys spending time with his family hiking, biking, fishing, playing games, and going on adventures together to discover the amazing world we live in.

How did you get into your field and what is your research story?

I have always been interested in microbiology and have been fascinated with the molecular basis of life. From 2005-2007, I lived in the Philippines and experienced first-hand the devastation caused by mosquito-borne viral infections. Upon returning to the US, I applied and started graduate school at Colorado State University’s Arthropod-borne Infectious Disease Lab (AIDL) to study viral pathogens such as Dengue virus and West Nile Virus. My Ph.D. dissertation worked primarily with alphaviruses and modifying the viral genome to develop reporter systems within cell lines and genetically modified mosquitoes to enhance our detection of viral infection. Near the end of my Ph.D., I worked on a project on how viral infection induces oxidative stress during infection. I fell in love with this project and later moved on to a Postdoc position to study viral manipulation of host cell metabolic pathways during Dengue virus infection. I am now an assistant professor and have my own research group and we are actively working to understand how viruses modify cellular physiology in order to create an optimal environment for viral replication.

Where do you do your research/work the best? What kind of environment suits you?

Away from home! (I have 4 kids at home and I always joke around with my colleagues that I can’t get any work done at home).  Honestly, I work well in fast-paced environments with lots going on.  I enjoy the thrill and the pressure of working with lots of projects and trying to keep on top of all the demands. It can be hectic and busy, but the productivity that comes from groups with lots happening is very exciting.

How long have you been on Mendeley? 

I can’t remember the date exactly, but I can remember how it has changed my life. It was probably 2011 or 2012 and I was working to finish my Ph.D., I was unhappy with the other citation/reference managing software available and then a friend showed me Mendeley and it has changed my life! I use it almost every day since then!

What were you using prior to Mendeley and how does Mendeley influence your research?

I was using Endnote before I found Mendeley, but now I am a convert and advocate for everything Mendeley! Mendeley is the one-stop shop for all things research. It manages all of my references, allows easy annotations, helps me quickly find papers and notes from the past, and even finds and suggest articles that I should be reading! I love it!

Why did you decide to become an Advisor and how are you involved with the program?

I actually contacted Mendeley and asked to be an advisor. I teach lots of classes in our biology department and one of the first things I teach in my courses is about Mendeley. Every student and person working in biological sciences needs to know about Mendeley. I asked Mendeley if I could become an advisor and help share the good news about Mendeley and they were kind enough to accept me.

What researcher would you like to work with or meet, dead or alive?

So many great people to choose from, but I would love to meet Jonas Salk- the developer of the poliovirus vaccine. As a virologist myself, I have always been impressed and fascinated with his work and commitment to the research that he was doing! He even injected the vaccine on himself before it was fully approved. His work has saved millions of lives and it would be an honor to meet and talk virology with him.

What book are you reading at the moment and why?

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (remember that I have 4 kids at home), other than that I have been reading my Mendelian Genetics textbook because I am teaching genetics this semester and, well, it has been a long time since I took a genetics class.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned this week?

From reading my genetics textbook- Laron Syndrome is an autosomal recessive disorder that results in a short individual (due to a mutated growth hormone receptor) and also makes them resistant to certain types of cancer and diabetes.

What is the best part about working in research?

I love that each day is something different. We are always working on new problems and new questions. I also love the quality of people that I get to work with. I have decided that scientists are the best kind of people. I love my colleagues and the always changing research environment.

And the worst/most challenging part of working in research?

Funding. No explanation needed.

What is the one thing you want people to know about Mendeley?

Mendeley is the best. It is literally the answer to all of your problems and will make your life easier and better immediately. Everyone needs to know about Mendeley and use it in their research endeavors!

Hermes Summer School 2016

xt4sJel8What makes a successful PhD student? Hermes believe it is high quality skills in your field, excellent communication skills, proficiency in leading technologies and an international network of peers. At the Hermes summer school, they aim to provide training and opportunities in all these areas.

Hermes is an international summer school committed to excellence in materials modelling and science communication. The interdisciplinary school is organised by PhD students from a variety of different institutions. They also bring together leading academics in materials modelling, top science communicators and leading data visualisation specialists to teach and work with you over the course of your stay.

Participants come from top institutions across the globe, and over the five days they create a lasting network of early-career scientific researchers. During the school they work together in groups, utilising their newfound skills to produce a scientific visualisation and explain it at a widely accessible level.

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Hermes has been designed from the ground up by PhD students for PhD students, each of them having previously attended a Hermes summer school and been inspired to build upon what they learnt for the next school. The aim is to provide PhD students with what they want and need, regardless of their career aims. Participants will come away from Hermes feeling more confident about moving forward in their careers, will have research skills at the forefront of their field and will have gained world class skills in data visualisation and science communication. How do we know this? All of the Hermes organising committee are previous participants.

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Continuing in the spirit of the highly successful Hermes 2012 and Hermes 2014 conferences, Hermes 2016 promises to provide an enriching experience for all participants. Next years summer school will be held 27th – 31st July at Cumberland Lodge, near Windsor. Applications for the summer school are now open, and you can apply here!

You can find Hermes in twitter at @Hermes_Comms, where you can get regular updates on the upcoming summer school.

The Brooke: Creating a true academic social network

Polly Compston at The Brooke
(Polly Compston works in Kenya with Haroon from Afghanistan and Manish from India)

Earlier this year, we had the chance to meet with Polly Compston and members of The Brooke and do some collaborative training. The Brooke is an animal welfare organization, dedicated to improving working conditions for horses, donkeys, mules and their owners, in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The Brooke both does practical on-the-ground programs and training in countries, and also supports animal welfare through funding and producing research on subjects like equine health and community development.

As such, they have a global network of researchers, some with more limited access to resources to others. Polly tells the story of using Mendeley to further The Brooke’s mission:

I spent two weeks this past February in Kenya, working alongside a truly international group of vets, from Kenya, Afghanistan, India, Egypt and Pakistan. I was struck by the contrasts between different people from different places. Now I am back in the UK, it has made me think about my place in the human jigsaw puzzle.

About four months ago, I started working as research advisor at the Brooke, an international NGO with a focus on animal welfare that aims to improve the lives of working donkeys, horses and mules in developing countries. Millions of people depend on these animals for their livelihood and are unable to earn a living, fetch water or farm their land without them. Kenya was my first overseas assignment with them, and I was amazed by the passion and dedication of my international contemporaries. Despite circumstances that are obviously difficult, they work incredibly hard for both animals and people, and are hungry for knowledge that will help in achieving the goals of improved equine welfare.

My role involves providing research support to our staff in eleven country programmes around the world, and this is where Mendeley comes in. We are in the process of implementing Mendeley so that our colleagues in other countries can have access to the same resources that we do in the UK. We are looking forward to using it as a collaborative tool, to facilitate communication within our professional network worldwide and increase its research capacity. The hope is that this will strengthen our community of working equid specialists—driving forward our goals, widening our scope and also giving ownership of this community and its resources to all of Brooke’s employees equally, rather than them having to rely on the UK office for all their information.

For example: at the moment when our vets are performing a literature review prior to initiating a study, they must look up references, in a language that isn’t their first, often through a tortuously-slow internet connection (think about the highlands of Afghanistan). Most often they are confronted with a paywall and so must email the UK office to see if we have that reference in our repository. Mendeley gives us the chance to provide a ready-made library that will be expandable, along with opportunities for discussion and links between different people who are interested in the same subjects: in other words a true academic social network. Our employees h­­ave one common goal – to ensure healthier,­ happier lives for donkeys, horses and mules in the communities that they work in; and they achieve this through community engagement, training programmes, service provision and advocacy strategies. Increasing cross-communication will strengthen the entire system.

Call it grass roots, sustainable, bottom-up or whichever other buzz word is being overused in development at that moment – facilitating change at the community level is a powerful tool and the idea of people working together to create that change is a strong one. I’m looking forward to using Mendeley to fit the pieces of our jigsaw puzzle together and in doing so start to build up a professional community that will ultimately serve the animals that work tirelessly to help their owners.

 

On sharing research and the value of peer-review: Mendeley's response to #SOPA and the Research Works Act.

UPDATE: The RFIs have now been posted and there’s a petition opposing the RWA on whitehouse.gov.

The US White House Office of Science and Technology Policy recently issued a Request for Information on their existing policy requiring some federally-funded work to be submitted to Pubmed Central, where it’s freely accessible to the public. We were pleased to have the opportunity to respond and a summary of our response is below. Before getting into that, however, I’d like to take a little detour and talk a little about our mission and how that relates to the scholarly endeavor. Our mission at Mendeley is to help researchers organize research, collaborate easily with colleagues, and discover new research. Read More »

Build an app with Mendeley data, make research more open, win $10,001!

Mendeley Binary BattleMendeley Binary Battle TrophiesWe at Mendeley have now built one of the world’s largest open research catalogs, containing over 70 million documents. This is no small feat, considering we’ve only been at it for about 2 years, and we couldn’t have done it without you (nearly a million of you!).  By bringing control of research data back to the community, we hope to make research more collaborative, open, and efficient. If you’ve ever thought, “You know, I really wish I could search the literature better” or “Wouldn’t it be cool if I could see how this idea evolved over time?” or just “I wish I had $10,001 dollars”, well, now’s your chance. Read More »

Tune in to "Connecting scholars with information – and unlocking it!" a MacLearning webcast featuring Jan Reichelt

The “social web” has become the nexus of collaboration and discovery, but how supportive are the existing tools at making leads to scientific discovery? Mendeley co-founder, Jan Reichelt, will show Mendeley’s approach to connecting scholars with information and, by doing so, unlocking it. Mendeley is one of the world’s largest research collaboration platforms, with 750,000 researchers and academics and 65 million research papers indexed in Mendeley’s public research catalog.

Audience members can participate by submitting their questions during the webcast.

Join us on Tuesday, February 15 at 10am PST / 1pm EST by pointing your browser to http://webcast.training.apple.com/.

Webcast ID: MacLearning
Passcode: 379625