Today is my last Bri*fing from the bedroom. Next week it’s back to Bri*fings from the BENCH! After 2+ months of wet-lab-scientist-trying-to-work-from-home-ing, I finally get to go back to my happy place! I’m really anxious but also really really excited. It still won’t be work as usual in a lot of ways – and over the coming weeks I will tell you about some of the changes and obstacles in a biochemistry lab mid-pandemic. But first, some reflections, thanks, and hopes.
I know I have a lot of privileges and compared to others I’ve had things really really easy but the last 2 months have been tough. I haven’t seen family in months and months, haven’t been able to do the experiments I need to do to get to a publication point (or what I care more about – to answer the questions I want to answer! But publications are a big deal and I’m a big 0 on this front and feeling the pressure… ) so basically I’ve been feeling down and useless as the world suffers around me. And you all have kept me going. Have given me a sense of purpose. And helped me spread accessible information on the coronavirus around the world!
It started a few Twitter volunteers offering to help proofread a post of mine on coronavirus testing, then a colleague offering to translate its infographics into Slovenian (thanks Katie Meze!) – flash forward 2 months and those figures have been translated into 30 languages (and counting)! So today in my last Bri*fing from the bedroom I want to give a personal shoutout to the translators I haven’t yet thanked.
But first, seeing people work together to help share coronavirus science information has shown the power of people when they come together. And I’m really hoping that people can come together to enact real change with regards to the treatment of the Black community. It’s not just discrimination on the streets (which is real and awful and unacceptable) – Black people are also grossly underrepresented and disadvantaged in all aspects of science – from lack of quality early education to structural and sometimes individual racism (explicit or implicit) making for a hostile environment for the Black scientists who do beat the odds to “make it” to high-ranking scientific positions.
This injustice is real and must be addressed. But as a white woman, I’m really not the voice you should be listening to when it comes to these issues. We need to listen to the voices of the Black community who have been trying to speak out but have been silenced. So I’d like to direct you to some lists of Black scientists to follow, as well as some tips and resources for being an ally, compiled by the group 500 Women Scientists https://bit.ly/2ZXvI7P
Read. Listen. Learn. Love. Act.
When we act together we can do such powerful things. The people who translated my post came from all around the world, from a myriad of backgrounds and ethnicities. I love and appreciate you all. And thank you from the bottom of my heart – and the tips of my typing fingers. Here are just a few of the >30 translators (the ones I haven’t yet posted thanks for).
- Fernanda Curvellano @fecurvellano for translating the test types graphics into Brazilian Portuguese
- Anastasia Kubarova @ana_kub for translating the PCR test graphics into Russian
- Saleem Alhumaidi @the_only_sasa for translating the test type graphics into Arabic (not posted yet)
- Ednner Victoria Blanco @phages_ednnerv for translating the test terms graphics into Spanish
- Shushan Toneyan for translating the test graphics into Armenian
- an anonymous translator for translating the test graphics into Mongolian
And thanks to all of the translators I’ve already thanked – and if I missed anyone I’m really sorry and please let me know!
You can find all of the translations, as well as more COVID-y resources here: https://bit.ly/covid19bbresources
I may be going back to lab, but the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over – things have settled down where I live, but the virus is still rampaging elsewhere. And it’s only tampered down here because of the strict social distancing measures we’ve taken. If we let our guard down it will come right back. So it’s still as important as ever that we stay diligent (wash hands, wear mask, stay 6ft apart, etc.) and that accurate scientific information on all aspects of the pandemic reaches as broad an audience as possible. Thank you to all the translators for helping me with this (I really hope I didn’t miss anyone!) And thank you to the International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (@theIUBMB) for helping coordinate all of this and share it internationally! Be sure to follow the IUBMB if you’re interested in biochemistry! They’re a really great international organization for biochemistry.