Carly Fiorina

Science ACEs is doing a series profiling the 2016 presidential candidates with a special focus on their stances on key science issues our country will face in the coming years. Today, we’re looking at the Republican candidate, Carly Fiorina.

Name: Carly Fiorina

Party Affiliation: Republican

Government Positions Held: None. Ran for Senate in 2010.

Other Positions Held: CEO of HP: 1999-2005, Board Chair of Good360 (a nonprofit that connects company donors with other nonprofits).

Education: B.A. in Philosophy and Medieval History from Stanford, M.B.A. in Marketing from University of Maryland College Park, M.S. in Management from MIT Sloan School of Management.

Stance on:

Science Research: During her 2010 California run for senate she made allowances for research using stem cells but has since made her views less certain. What is certain is her disapproval of research done using fetal tissue and that she is a staunch opponent of Planned Parenthood.

Climate Change and Alternative Energy: Supports coal and opposes regulation of emissions. Acknowledges global warming is occurring and man-made, but says in the Washington Post that any steps taken by America to reduce greenhouse gasses would be ineffective and harm our economy. In that same opinion piece she calls for companies to stand against pressure from climate activists such as Greenpeace.

Education: Ms. Fiorina is a big advocate for local control of education with the focus being on parents and teachers to increase the competitiveness of our children in a 21st century economy. She is in favor of school vouchers that allow students to afford private school tuition. Nevertheless, she supported national and international benchmarks such as those from No Child Left Behind or Race to the Top during her Senate race. However, recently Ms. Fiorina stated that  the Common Core is a bad idea since it  increases oversight unnecessarily and stifles innovation

Affordable Care Act (Obamacare): Ms. Fiorina wishes to repeal ObamaCare which she considers “vast legislative overreach.” Further, she supports free-market approaches to health insurance that will improve quality and lower costs through competition. She believes that more complexity excludes small businesses from the market.

Vaccines: Ms. Fiorina  wants all immunizations to be a decision of the parent rather than the CDC, but allows for schools preventing unvaccinated children from attending.

Internet: She is an opponent of net neutrality because recent FCC Title II regulations are too complicated and harm start-ups preventing market competition. During the Fox News Republican debate earlier this year she said that Russia and China are attacking us over the internet and that private companies Google and Apple should work with the FBI to combat ISIS recruitment.

Summary: Ms. Fiorina  has so far been very consistent with the Republican party line. Her biggest break is in agreeing with the vast majority of climate scientists in saying that global warming is man-made. Ms. Fiorina is a populist pushing for transparency in lawmaking with her “1 for yes, 2 for no” idea. Count on her to favor whatever policies allows for the most competition in the market and the least governmental oversight.

 

The Author:
2013-12-04 14.06.58Bryan Visser is a 2nd year graduate student studying DNA replication. He plans on making a career of science advocacy working at a museum or in Washington. He also enjoys board games and ballroom dancing.
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What Trump Doesn’t Know about Vaccines: A Message to Anyone Concerned about Vaccine Safety

by Meg-alodon

I’m not really one for politics (or rather politicians).  Elections always seem to spur huge arguments and ruin friendships, so I try to avoid heated political discussions and all sorts of election themed media.  However, I was appalled that in last night’s debate Donald Trump insinuated that vaccines cause autism.  Shouldn’t the people that we’re considering electing president be educated on public health matters, including vaccines?  More than that, shouldn’t everyone be educated on vaccines?

To set the record straight, vaccines do not cause autism.  Over the years, there has been much confusion over this point.  A study published in The Lancet  in 1998 claimed that there was a link between the MMR vaccine and the development of autism.  However, over fifty studies looking at over 14 million children were conducted after that original study, which concluded that there is no link between the MMR vaccine and autism.  Furthermore, the original study was retracted, because the lead scientist of the original study (Andrew Wakefield) fabricated data and fudged statistics.  The data presented in the original study doesn’t match the symptoms actually experienced by the twelve children in the study, and three of the twelve children were never diagnosed with autism.  Why were the results altered?  Because the study was sponsored by anti-vaccine groups.  Long story short, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that the MMR vaccine causes autism.  (For more information, check out this video).

To all of the parents out there that are hesitant to get your children vaccinated, I would like to talk to you.  I recognize that you’re concerned for your children and that your concern comes from a place of love.  While vaccines don’t cause autism, vaccines can cause side effects.  Most of these side effects are mild (low fever, sore muscles, small swelling, etc.), but some of the side effects, while very rare, may be quite serious.  However, unless your children are allergic to vaccine components (most often eggs) or have an immune system disorder, they most likely will not suffer any long-term damage from vaccines.

You are right to be concerned about the health of your children.  You are right to ask questions about vaccines (or any medical treatment for that matter).  You are right to try to understand how vaccines work and how they will affect your children.  If you have questions or concerns about vaccines, you have the right to discuss them with your physician or another qualified medical personnel.  And if your physician doesn’t take your concerns seriously, find another one.  You and your children deserve a physician who listens to your concerns and addresses them respectfully and factually.

If the decision to vaccinate your children didn’t affect the lives of others, your decision wouldn’t be a public health concern.  But when you vaccinate your children, you are protecting more than just one person, you are protecting everyone else who can’t be vaccinated (for whatever reason).  You are protecting babies who are too young for vaccines to be effective.  You are protecting seniors whose immune systems have weakened with age.  You are protecting people with immunodeficiencies whose immune systems are unable to protect them from disease whether they’ve been vaccinated or not.  When you vaccinate your children, not only will your children not get sick from those diseases, but they will not be able to spread those diseases to others.  But this protection (termed herd immunity) only works if everyone who is healthy enough to get vaccinated does get vaccinated.  Please consider this if you are on the fence about whether or not to vaccinate your children.

At the end of the day, I encourage all of you to educate yourselves about vaccines and health.  Ask questions.  Talk to your doctors.  You have a right to understand your healthcare and your children’s healthcare.  And please, do not take your scientific information from Donald Trump.

For more information, check out the following:

CDC – Vaccines and Immunizations

CDC – Vaccine Safety

Vaccines.gov (US Department of Health and Human Services)

 

megalodon“I study viruses and how they cause disease in humans and other animals. I also enjoy reading about space and dinosaurs. When I’m not doing science (yes, scientists do have lives outside of lab), you can find me enjoying the great outdoors, playing my clarinet, or reading an enthralling book.” 

 

Donald Trump

Science ACEs is doing a series profiling the 2016 presidential candidates with a special focus on their stances on key science issues our country will face in the coming years. Today, we’re looking at the current Republican frontrunner, Donald Trump.

Donald_Trump_September_3_2015

“Donald Trump September 3 2015” by Michael Vadon – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Commons

Name: Donald J. Trump

Party Affiliation: Republican

Government Positions: None

Business Experience: Real estate developer, Media personality, Executive producer and star of The Apprentice

Education: B.S. in economics from Wharton School of Business at University of Pennsylvania

Science Research: Trump has not made any definitive statements on how much he would be willing to fund biomedical research or NASA. He remains undecided on whether to allow embryonic stem cells in scientific research. He seemed supportive of a mission to Mars, but believes infrastructure at home should be more of a funding priority.

Climate Change and Alternative Energy: Trump believes that climate change is a hoax, and cites the fact that last winter was one of the coldest on record in the northeast US as evidence. However, many areas around the globe had one of the warmest winters on record, and nearly all climate scientists disagree with Trump’s conclusions.  As a staunch fiscal conservative, he feels that businesses, such as oil companies and manufacturers, should be allowed plenty of freedom to produce their product without government regulation. He has also fought against wind turbines being built near his golf resorts in Scotland.

Vaccines: Trump has stated that he believes vaccines cause autism, while every scientific study on the subject has been unable to find a link. “Autism has become an epidemic. Twenty-five years ago, 35 years ago, you look at the statistics, not even close. It has gotten totally out of control,” Trump said in last week’s CNN debate. “I am totally in favor of vaccines. But I want smaller doses over a longer period of time.” Doctors and scientists have done ample studies and developed the recommended vaccine schedule based on the latest research.

Affordable Care Act (Obamacare): Trump firmly declares that Obamacare should be repealed and replaced because “it’s a disaster”. He recently said he wants to completely privatize health care, similar to many other Republicans. However, in 2000, when he was running for the presidential nomination of the Reform party, he advocated a single-payer government-run healthcare system, much like Canada has. In the end, he wants everyone to have health coverage, but feels the best way to do that is through the free market.

STEM education: Trump addresses STEM education briefly in his immigration proposal. He supports increasing the prevailing wage for H-1B skilled worker visas, which makes hiring foreign-born, US-educated STEM graduates more expensive. He also wants to require employers to hire Americans before foreigners with H-1B visas.

Summary: While Trump does not give many specific policy proposals, and does not have a voting or executive record of previous actions, he has many strong opinions. He hasn’t talked much about science, and when he does, his opinions are often at odds with the scientific community.

benBen is a 4th (5th by the time anyone reads my stuff) year PhD student in Virology and Microbiology. He plans on pursuing a career in Public Health after finishing his degree.

Hillary Clinton

Name: Hillary Clinton

Party Affiliation: Democrat

Government Positions Held: First Lady of the United States (1993-2001), United States Senator from New York (2001-2009), United States Secretary of State (2009-2013)

Education: J.D. from Yale Law School, B.A. in Political Science from Wellesley College

Stance on:

Science Research: Clinton is strongly in support of federal funding for scientific research. Although she has not made it a major feature of her current campaign, it was a pillar of her 2008 platform. Specifically, Clinton is in favor embryonic stem cell research and robust federal support of NASA. Additionally, in 2011, Clinton spoke at the National Institutes of Health to call for a renewed push for an “AIDS-free generation”. Most recently, in 2013, Clinton came out strongly against the budget sequester on the basis that it significantly hindered scientific research.

Climate Change and Alternative Energy: Like the majority of Democrats, Clinton believes climate change is a real and present danger to the world. Recently she announced her plan to combat climate change. Despite setting a more ambitious goal than President Obama, her plans have still received criticism for lacking the necessary urgency to make real change. One major source of scrutiny from scientists stems from Clinton’s indecision on the Keystone Pipeline. While many of her democratic colleagues have come out against the project, Clinton is remaining neutral and dodgy on the topic.

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs): Last year, at a biotech convention in San Diego, CA, Clinton spoke passionately about the usefulness of genetically modified crops. “If you talk about drought-resistant seeds, and I have promoted those all over Africa, by definition they have been engineered to be drought-resistant,” Clinton said. “That’s the beauty of them. Maybe somebody can get their harvest done and not starve, and maybe have something left over to sell.” However, Clinton’s support for GMOs have been called into question due to her ties with pro-GMO companies such as, Monsanto and Dow Chemical Company.

STEM Education: Clinton has made both K-12 and higher education a priority in her career. Most recently, she has proposed big government spending to make higher education more affordable and come out in support of making Pre-K education more accessible for low income families. As Secretary of State she addressed STEM education specifically when she launched NeXXt Scholars, an organization created to provide mentorship and networking opportunities for young women pursuing STEM degrees.

Affordable Care Act (Obamacare): Clinton supports the ACA, but acknowledges its flaws. Clinton is especially concerned with the negative effect the system has on small business owners and their employees. However, she applauds the potential it has to alleviate job lock, allow young adults remain on their parents’ healthcare, and promote Comparative Effectiveness Research, which creates research opportunities and helps cut unnecessary government spending on ineffective treatments.

Vaccines: There is no way to more perfectly explain Clinton’s stance on vaccines than her own tweet. “The science is clear: The earth is round, the sky is blue, and #vaccineswork. Let’s protect all our kids. #GrandmothersKnowBest”. However, it should be noted that, on her 2008 campaign, she met with an autism awareness group and called for more research into a link between vaccines and autism.

Summary: Clinton accepts that climate change is a major cause for concern, but some environmentalists are concerned that her alternative energy initiative is too conservative, and her indecision on the Keystone Pipeline project is worrisome. Additionally, Clinton sides with scientists on key issues such as vaccines and GMOs. However, she has yet to propose specific plans to limit the right of parents to refuse vaccines for their children and her ties with agricultural business may affect her judgement on GMOs. The strongest case for Clinton as an ally of scientists is her consistent, passionate advocacy for scientific research and her dedication to making education more affordable and accessible for all Americans.

AnthonyBarrasso_AvatarAnthony Barrasso is third year graduate student. Currently, he studies retinal development. Anthony’s career interests include cancer research, education, and politics. Outside of lab, he likes to play with my dog and eat delicious food. Follow Anthony on twitter @barrasso67

Science ACEs are Talking about Political Candidates

In a recent post, we pointed why it is important for science lovers to become involved in politics. We are so passionate about this idea that we want to make it easy for you, our science-loving readers, to access the information you need when it comes time to vote in the 2016 presidential election. Over the next few months we will be profiling all of the 2016 presidential candidates with a special focus on their stance on key science issues our country will face in the coming years. Please let us know which issues you care about, and we will be sure to include them in our series.

Textbooks: The hidden cost of pursuing a STEM major

By: Christina

College costs are out of control. While the rising costs of tuition is constantly in the news (just last week in the NYT), one of the often overlooked components of overall college costs is the costs of textbooks. They aren’t covered by most college financial aid packages, while the cost of each textbook can vary wildly making them hard to budget for. The average undergraduate member of the class of 2015 spent over
$10,000 on textbooks alone over their four years according to the College Board. In fact textbook costs have increased by 864% since 1978 — rising faster than tuition prices or the consumer price index (inflation).

At one school, seven of the top 10 most expensive majors by textbook cost at the are STEM majors.

textbooks2

Dan Kopf, Priceonomics; Data: UVA

There are several factors playing into the problem of rising textbook costs.

  1. Professors have almost complete autonomy in assigning the textbook for the class.
  2. Students are pushed to buy the textbook for their course load before the classes start (before they know how much the books are going to be used).
  3. Publishers continue to release updated editions or bundle textbooks with single-use software and other extras that require students to buy the new version (at an average cost of 25% more).
  4. While as many as 65% of students don’t buy all of the required textbooks due to prices,  78% still believed they would generally do worse in class without their own copy of the required text.

Here are some helpful ways to save:

  1. Open textbooks are freely available online through OpenStacks.
  2. Florida gov Rick Scott wants to stop taxing college textbooks (would save the average student $60/year)
  3. Since 2009 students and parents can also qualify for a $2,500 textbook and course material tax credit by filling out IRS form 8863 and filing it with their taxes.

In conclusion, textbooks are incredibly expensive and need to be considered when budgeting for college. Look into ways to get the least expensive, sufficient textbook. If possible, try to contact the professor to see if an ebook, older edition or a copy from the library would suffice. If you absolutely have to buy a new textbook, keep it in top condition so you can sell it and get some money back. Good luck!

The Author:
ChMorra_ACEs_Avatarristina is a Ph.D. candidate studying the interactions between gut bacteria and the human intestine. She is pursuing a career teaching undergraduates.

We’re hosting a Science Cafe in Houston, TX next week!

What is a Science Cafe? It’s an informal gathering where you can learn about and discuss science topics with scientists.

Please join us on September 22 at 6:30 pm at the Black Labrador Pub for the Science ACEs Cafe! Dr. Paul Ling will discuss the work he is doing to save the ‪#‎elephants‬! We hope to see you there!

science_Cafe

Hope to see you there!

What is the Disease in Concussion that Is Making People Nervous?

by The Motley Advocate

Last week, the trailer for Will Smith’s new movie Concussion caused a stir. The movie talks about the battle between Dr. Bennet Omalu, the NFL, and the real cost of constant brain damage. You can read about the attempts to actively  discredit Dr. Omalu’s research from several different sources. However, the story starts with Dr. Omalu, a forensic scientist who does what all scientists do:  he tries to understand how the world works. What I want to do is give you a brief look at the science the movie will be discussing. I hope that if you then see the movie, you can focus on the social issues without getting lost or weighed down in the science.

omalu

Dr. Omalu

The name of Dr. Omalu’s disease is chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a disease that starts with a concussion. A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury, usually caused by violent shaking or a blow to the head. Most people can fully recover from having a single concussion. However, as a football player,  you could potentially experience numerous concussions over your lifetime. People who have experienced multiple concussions or brain damage can develop a degenerative disease where their brains deteriorate over an extended period of time, maybe even decades. This is chronic traumatic encephalopathy a disease that can affect football players, military members and others that experience repeated head trauma. Symptoms can include amnesia, altered behavioral control, and impaired decision making, among other symptoms, and can often be mistaken for other neurodegenerative diseases.  

“Getting hit in the head repeatedly for years will mess with your brain” seems to be an obvious statement. It’s the same as saying smoking cigarettes is bad for your health. However, it is important that these statements have physical evidence. Scientists often use the phrase “Correlation is not causation.” This simply means that just because two things seem to occur together, one does not necessarily cause the other. Scientists proved that cigarettes cause cancer by linking compounds found in cigarette tar to mutations in proteins that cause lung cancer (published in Science). In a court of law, could you prove that playing football is the direct cause of a neurodegenerative disease?

Dr. Omalu did exactly that. Prior to his work, people had already noticed that multiple head injuries could cause long term damage. Even in the 1920s a variant of chronic traumatic encephalopathy called dementia pugilistica, or punch-drunk syndrome, was identified in boxers. However, examination of the disease appears to have focused on studies of living people, and was primarily considered a disease for boxers. The phrase “chronic traumatic encephalopathy” was not yet used to classify a specific neurodegenerative disease, but just to describe certain patients having a form of long term brain trauma. By performing autopsies on the brains of multiple professional football players Dr. Omalu identified physical evidence of brain degeneration that linked to repetitive brain injury. This included the abnormal buildup of proteins that are involved in a variety of other neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer’s disease. Instead of just describing what he saw, he took this information and classified it as a specific disease, calling it chronic traumatic encephalopathy, and said he was seeing it in the brains of retired NFL players.

There are many more stories branching from this point. Diagnosis continues to improve, as a team at UCLA is currently investigating ways to identify chronic traumatic encephalopathy in living individuals, instead of through autopsy. The film Concussion follows the story of Dr. Omalu during his discovery and the consequences after.Before you see the film I’m here to tell you that  chronic traumatic encephalopathy is a real disease.  Real people suffer from it and real people are researching it. No matter how you feel about Dr. Omalu, the NFL, or even football, I invite you to research the facts in the hopes that you can understand the science behind the story.

Check out Concussion: Out Christmas 2015.

If you are interested in primary literature, you can find Dr. Omalu’s original paper here. Although you might need a journal subscription to access it.

Global Warming has me Eating Insects

By: Austen

ProductModern humans are ravenous consumers. This August humanity passed Earth Overshoot Day, meaning we have consumed a year’s worth of Earth’s resources in a little under 8 months, and are expected to consume 1.6 Earths this year. You may also have noticed that when we’re not busy draining our planet of life-sustaining resources, we’re busy baking it with the greenhouse gases we emit from fossil fuels and agriculture. This process threatens humanity with rising sea levels, violent weather systems, and deadly heat waves. Given these perils and impending doom, it’s actually pretty exciting to think that we might be able to kill two birds with one stone if we engaged in more entomophagy – eating insects!

Cricket

Yes, fine dining on crispy creepy crawlers is exactly what the U.N. recommends to combat global warming and increase sustainability. The idea has legs, some tiny, scratchy legs. That’s because insects are just as or more nutritious than meat in both protein and vitamin content. Additionally, insect farming tends to require less resources than livestock in terms of space, feed, and water. The end result is a product that pound for pound is comparable to meat, but is more sustainable and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. You shouldn’t get freaked out at the idea. You’re already eating insects daily, whether you recognize it or not. As a concerned citizen of planet Earth, I decided to find out what a bug-eating future might taste like.

All the products I sampled are in the picture above. The insect snacking began with the Salt N’Vinegar Crick-ettes distributed by the Hotlix company (yes, the same one that puts bugs in lollipops). They’re basically whole, baked crickets. I was confused and a little frightened by “the other Green Meat” tagline, because I didn’t want to know what the popular green meat was. Nevertheless, I cracked open the box and got to it.

Surprisingly, these guys were pretty savory! They actually just tasted like salt and vinegar chips, albeit with a little different texture. The best comparison I could come up with was brittle sunflower seeds: not nearly as difficult to chew on, but still kind of scratchy. However, the experience was much better than I was expecting. I couldn’t hold my excitement in and decided to share with my brother.

Teamwork

I then moved on to the BBQ Larvets by the same Hotlix company. These were basically puffed mealworms (think longer Rice Krispies) dusted with seasoning. I figured who doesn’t love a good BBQ in Texas? Maybe future football tailgates will feature beetle brisket!

On second thought, let’s hold the bug BBQ for now. As with the crickets, the mealworms were better than I expected, but the seasoning just wasn’t doing it for me. I’m not sure that I would’ve liked them in BBQ sauce over the seasoning, but I feel these guys would be great with cheese. For that reason, I wish I would’ve tried the cheddar cheese option that Hotlix does offer. I could easily see these guys becoming the new Cheetos.

Mealworm

My final snack was the cricket flour protein bars made by Exo. The concept is pretty straightforward: a protein bar featuring crickets that were ground into a fine powder. If any of you are crowdfunding junkies, you’ll remember that Exo began as a kickstarter project back in 2013. You have to give the people what they want, and apparently what they want is pulverized crickets. It was time to see what all the fuss was about. I let my brother take the first bite.

I’m not a fan of protein bars, but the Exo bar acquitted itself well. They had the same chalky, dull experience you get with every protein bar, but were nonetheless palatable. In other words, you can suffer through any protein bar today, so why not do it with crickets?! Not exactly a ringing endorsement, I know, but the point is I didn’t see a big taste advantage of conventional bars over this one.

Exo

What did I learn from all this? Bugs taste a lot better than I thought they would! Keep in mind that I had limited access to options, and was buying from a couple of suppliers. These are not the fresh, homemade preparations you can get in the dozens of countries that regularly eat insects. I have little doubt that freshly prepared insect dishes would taste much better than the vending machine fare I had here. Although some insect farming might not be as sustainable as we would all like it to be, globalized entomophagy would at least cut down our dependence on livestock and subsequent greenhouse gas emissions. Check out some insect vendors where you can get started today. What’s more American than protecting the country you love and asserting your dominance in the food chain? Bring on the bugs!

Scientists are superheros, not villians

By: Biotechie

Superman_shield.svgSuperheroes do not  fail. They succeed in their quest for justice and move on to the next target. Think about the scientist characters that you see in superhero comics. How often are they the hero? Whether you like it or not, science is something that permeates nearly every facet of our culture as it is quite literally the study of everything. Because of this, it shows up in our entertainment media quite often, especially in superhero comics and movies. The fact that science is so all encompassing is something that makes it both difficult and easy to gain an interest in. At some point, everyone wonders how DNA makes our eyes different colors or how insulin is made to treat diabetes, but few ever aspire to figure it out. It takes a special kind of person to do that type of research. One has to have an open mind and be willing to soldier on in a new direction with each failure. The willingness of scientists to continue on in the face of failure makes it easier for writers to put scientists in the role of villain, or at the very least, a scientist who makes a huge mistake and is thus hated by all mankind. However, are scientists truly bad, or is their constant persistence  misunderstood?


Dr. Manhattan in the film version of “Watchmen” is an example of a scientist who accidentally ends up being seen as the villain. Originally Nuclear Physicist Dr. Jon Osterman, he became known as Dr. Watchmen_cast (1)Manhattan after a lab accident gives him amazing powers. He becomes the “bad guy” at first to only his beloved girlfriend. In the end, he is made to be the villain by doing what scientists are required to do; he shared his research to try to get input and broader understanding of what he was doing. In turn, the research was developed into a weapon that destroyed a large part of mankind. The blame was set on Dr. Manhattan and the nations of the world united against him.

Dr. Manhattan is an example of how comics make the study of science seem unattainable to the average person (a subject we’ll get into in subsequent posts!). In his world, most people have no idea what exactly Dr. Manhattan is, as he is the only hero with superpowers. Even when Dr. Manhattan talks about science in a way people should be able to understand, they automatically assume he is speaking above them, because he is on an intellectual and superpower pedestal. In addition, he can somehow move forward and backward in time and make multiple copies of himself to accomplish tasks. The writers use Dr. Manhattan to show only the most intimidating parts of science, and then amplify this intimidation factor by giving him god-like superpowers that make him seem indestructible.

Just as we see in comics, the media in real life is more likely to paint a picture of the evil scientist. When a Korean scientist claimed to clone a human embryo, the media jumped on it and talked about the ethical issues it caused. When it came to the surface that the scientist had forged his research and had not actually accomplished such a feat, the media again spent a large amount of time dissecting what had happened. At the same time, there were some major breakthroughs in studies on human diabetes. Not one word was spoken on the air about it. Major discoveries in the world of science do get coverage, but not nearly the coverage that Donald Trump gets when he runs for president or when a famous celebrity dies.

What does this portrayal mean in our culture? The current view of science in comics and even the media places a barrier between science and the consumer. Our culture sees science as extremely difficult and unattainable. People think a special genius is required to study itt, so they do not take the time to see how amazing it is. Ask a child what he wants to be when he grows up. You might hear him say that he wants to be a dad or a superhero, but never a scientist. Too many of them are the villains. Kids want to be the good guy first, even if they are interested in science.

As a student scientist, I may be biased toward the study of science myself. I get the opportunity to perform research that may impact lives. I am by no means a genius, and I have no intentions of creating a giant tumor that will take over the world. Science is not scary. Science is the study of everything. What subject could be better than that? It all starts with a question: “How does this work?” All we have to do is find out the answer.

Real scientists are superheroes. They work for the greater good. The goal is to learn something and to use it to make the world a better place. Modern culture ignores this, which is why the comic book scientist as a cultural figure is almost always the supervillain. This perpetuates society’s fear of the sciences. Comic book scientists have made us believe that we are not intelligent enough to pursue science, and comic books and the media have made the bad scientist the model that comes to mind for many when they hear science, DNA, cloning, stem cells, nuclear, or any term associated with science. I experience the stereotype every day. Some are convinced that I am up to no good simply because I know how to insert a piece of DNA into a cell. At the end of the day, remember that science is not bad. No matter how it is portrayed in the media, you wouldn’t be reading this blog on your smartphone or laptop without it.

The superman logo is owned by DC Comics, Inc. A subsidiary of Time Warner (c)2015. for Superman logo. It was obtained here and is fair use.The image is of the watchman cast with Dr. Manhattan in blue. The image was obtained here and is fair use.