SUPPER WITH DR. SUMMER GALLOWAY

Atlanta, Georgia

April 7, 2018

Our April 7th Supper with a Scientist was a huge success! This was due, in large part, to the enthusiasm of the participants and their thoughtful questions and insights. Comments such as “I’m so glad something like this exists because I’m not quite sure when someone is telling me the truth or their opinion” make participating in this endeavor not only rewarding and fulfilling, but also exciting and fun! I received questions, such as “Do you think we are keeping pace with science and technology, from a regulatory perspective? Advances in A.I., gene editing, and others are concerning to me and I’m not sure we are prepared to handle these complex issues” and “There is so much information at our fingertips – I’m not quite sure what sources are trustworthy. Where can I go to for reliable information?”

 

As such, our discussions focused less on specific technical aspects of science and technology and more on policy related to science and technology, whether the government prepared to write policy to govern emerging technologies (e.g. A.I., genome editing, additive manufacturing, etc.) to prevent misuse and abuse, what the government’s role is in funding science and why we cannot rely on private sector funding, who can you trust for reliable information, among other topics.

 

Highlights of the commentary in response to some of these questions are:

 

1) Search credible websites, such as WHO, CDC, and NIH for information – let these be a front line of defense in gathering accurate information. Subscribe to and read Science Magazine and Nature – both of these journals have wonderful summaries of the research articles presented in each issue, perspectives on technological advances and other relevant topics. One of my personal favorites in NPR’s Science Friday!

 

2) Speaking to whether science and technology is currently outpacing society, I was reminded of reading historical articles that address advances in science and technology – they nearly always convey respect for the achievement along with apprehension regarding its implications. I believe this is the human response to progress. Reasonable as public apprehension is, it has not negated our pursuit of scientific knowledge. Rather than stifling innovation, we strive ensure we have well-thought-out policies in place to mitigate the risks that evolve from scientific advances. Most scientific research policies have been reactive – this is because it is difficult to govern what we do not know. For this reason, the government scientific enterprise endeavors to remain in lock-step with scientific and technological advances.

 

3) Drawing from a question posed to the group about whether government should fund science, there was a resounding yes! Several participants quite accurately pointed out that without government-funded science, basic research would be forgotten and some of our greatest achievements and most influential economic drivers have been born out of basic science discoveries.

It truly was a lively and engaging discussion!

SUPPER WITH DR. MATT LAYE

Boise, Idaho

March 23, 2018

When my friends asked whether I would be part of Supper of with Scientist I immediately said yes.  I've enjoyed sharing science with people even before I became a scientist.  In College my roommates and I would host talks in which the volunteer speaker would talk about whatever was interesting them at that moment.  My roommate and I gave a talk about training at altitude and shared our data from little experiment with other friends. 

My wife and I live in a lovely neighborhood in Boise called the North End.  It is filled with older homes and a strong sense of community.  I knew that the people I wanted to invite to supper were my neighbors, so I put out a call on the neighborhood social media site NextDoor.  The response was overwhelmingly positive and I had far too many interested for the limited seats at the table.  First come first serve left me with 5 invites.  Dinner ended up consisting of a former state legislature, retired scientist, a young couple and 8 year old scientist to be.    

  

I was a little nervous about what to cook for a bunch of people that I'd never met before.  So I went with a simple and healthy approach.  A big bowl of quinoa with plenty of options for everyone.  Toppings included avocado, greens, bacon, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and more.  It was well received.  Add to that the bottles of wine that guests kindly brought and we were set to converse about science.  

 

 

Our conversation ranged from what my training during my PhD and (two) postdocs were like.  What it was like to actually write a paper that requires peer review (soul crushing) and grants that are necessary for scientists livelihood (also soul crushing).  Specific topics of interest were nutrition and different types of exercise.  Which was the best diet for health? What was the best type of exercise?  How is the media getting is wrong or right?  In the end we spend a solid 2 hours chatting casually about a wide range of topics.  

It was fun and I hope informative for the guests that came.  There is certainly value in members of the community actually getting to know a scientist and learn from a scientist.  For me their is value in sharing my knowledge and experience and learning about the perceptions of the community about the science I most involved in.  It was a great overall experience and I can't wait to host again and hope to continue to connect with members of my community.  The science says that those connections are very valuable after all.

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