Friday, June 25, 2010

The Queen Random Cancer Institute

If I were Queen of the Universe and not just Queen of my house, I would create the ultimate cancer institute, hereby dubbed the Queen Random Cancer Institute (QRCI).  The QRCI's mission would focus broadly on cancer research (basic, translational and clinical - maybe a little more basic because it is dear to my heart) with an emphasis on training and education, and would be located, hmm, just outside a major city so there's somewhere fun to go, clinics and institutions for collaborations, but housing costs don't bleed trainees dry.  Maybe outside Seattle?  I do love Seattle.  The QRCI would be well funded (I think maybe suddenly becoming the richest person on the planet so I can fund this cool place) and would feature the following scientific resources:
  • Core facilities: DNA synthesis, Microscopy (and I'd hire people whose only job is making sure the confocals are CLEAN), Spectrometry, Mouse Husbandry and Genetics, Flow Cytommetry,  Tissue Processing, Model Organisms (pick your favorite - we'll have a core!) I'm sure there's more that I'm forgetting at the moment.
  • PIs, trainees and students would have free access to and be encouraged to use consultants for grant writing, manuscript writing, scientific librarians and statistical analysis.
  • Collaboration would be encouraged across basic, translational and clinical research through interdepartmental funding initiatives, in-house conferences and interdepartmental seminars.
  • A tissue bank of patient samples, obtained with express consent. 

Not forgetting the most important resource in research - the people! - the QRCI would have the following employee benefits:
  • Employees would enjoy free lunches at the cafeteria - and they'd be GOOD.  Healthy options would not be limited to salad.
  • Free on-site gym for employees.
  • Grad student stipends and benefits would be fully paid for by the institution, and would be set at NIH+25%.
  • Students would get the same benefits as employees. 
  • 50% of postdoc stipends and benefits would be paid for by the institution and would be set at NIH+25%.
  • Career development training would be available and encouraged throughout the scientific career from just out of undergrad tech to established PI, including scientific skills, help identifying how to obtain jobs and career goals, leadership, lab management, and scientific communication.
  • Comprehensive health care including vision and dental.
  • 6 months paid parental leave for the birth or adoption of a child.
  • On-site subsidized daycare for ALL employees, trainees and students including private nursing suites.
  • Help for spouses of employees/trainees/students to find jobs.
  • Help for employees/trainees/students to find housing if they have to relocate to join the QRCI.

Finally, the QRCI would also be focused on outreach:
  • Realistically prorated healthcare for clinic patients including free clinics.
  • Employees, trainees and students will be expected to volunteer in the community for a minimum 2 weeks a year (this can be spread out for a total of 80 hours/year).  Their normal salary/stipend will persist during this 2 weeks, with an option to volunteer more for a total of 120 hours of salary for volunteering.  The institute will help arrange volunteer opportunities with the local community.
  • Public education - I'm not sure how to go about this, but I'd like a public education campaign focused on promoting science education for all ages with a focus on life sciences and cancer treatment.

This post is a part of Scientiae's July installation: Fantasy Institute.

    Sunday, June 20, 2010

    Bisexuality and Heterosexual Privilege

    Happy Pride Month!  For once I remember an awareness day/week/month ON TIME!  Wooohoo!  Yeah I realize I totally missed SAAM this year :/  I'll try to make up for that somehow.

    But anyway!  Back on topic!  Today, folks, we're going to talk about the intersection of biinvisibility and heterosexual privilege*  You see, sometimes bisexuals pose a weirdness to LG safe spaces, because some of us - many of us - are in dual-sex relationships and appear to the world at large as heterosexual.  We are told that in order to participate, we have to acknowledge our straight privilege.  I think with bisexual activism in the 00's this has gotten much better, and we have been much more accepted in the LGBT community, but I still hear it from time to time and every time I feel like I have no place to call home.

    It's true; as a bisexual woman in a dual-sex relationship, I tacitly and explicitly receive the benefits of much of straight privilege.  I could marry the person I loved (er, still love, not like that part is in the past), giving me a huge amount of legal privilege.  Because most people assume I am straight, I don't have to face the daily challenges to my sanity that a person in a same-sex relationship faces.  I get it: I understand how when I am bestowed, and/or take advantage of (depending on the situation), straight privilege, I appear as not capable of contributing to safe spaces because I am benefitting from a system that oppresses homosexuals.

    But it isn't as simple as receiving and taking advantage of heterosexual privilege: "We don't have to take it, we're given it by default, and we can't give it up -- at least, not all of it."  When I benefit from heterosexual privilege, I am also benefiting from a system that is oppressive to bisexuals, a system that is ultimately oppressive to myself.  In order to receive most of the benefits of heterosexual privilege, we have to be closeted.  In fact, I can't count the number of times that my sexuality has been brushed off because I am in a dual-sex relationship: even when I speak up, even when I make my sexuality blatantly apparent, I am shoved back into the closet without my assent (although usually not without a few perfunctory offensive questions about the nature of my relationship first, of course).  So many people who I've told of my bisexuality manage to deal with it by shoving it aside and pretending I'm straight, because it is easier for them to do so than to deal with their own biphobia and homophobia, because if a bisexual person is in a dual-sex relationship, we're seen as passing for straight**.

    Friday, June 4, 2010


    I just got the official committee OK to go ahead and start writing my dissertation.


    Now to find a postdoc.....