This is completely unrelated to cell phone repair, but sometimes you just have to speak up.
Many of you know that in my former life, I worked in the field of cancer research. I studied with an amazingly unique mentor, Scott E. Kern, MD.
I haven't kept up with the latest adventures in the Kern lab, so I was horrified this morning to essentially see that the internet has been making fun of one of his ideas for the last four years. Not on my watch.
This is what I have to say about it.
Mind. Blown. Am I the only one who missed this? Went to see what my beloved old PhD mentor, Scott Kern, was up to these days. Scott was such a great thinker--always able to see things from unique angles that the rest of us missed. Ever the skeptic, he taught me to question everything and never accept convention.
But more than ANY other faculty member at Hopkins, he demonstrated work-life balance. At 5:30pm he was out of there. I remember standing on a dark sidewalk on night looking up at the brightly lit Ross building and seeing women faculty members moving in the lab. Where are their babies? I knew in that moment that I couldn't follow their path. But NOT Scott. He was always at the dinner table. Every night was reading Goodnight Moon. He started his day at 4am (joking that he woke up at 4am after the coffee from 3am kicked in). He spoke of the mental discipline, of thinking of your brain cell's protest in waking as a cancer that must be beaten in order to maintain that schedule.
I am STUNNED this morning to see a hashtag on Twitter spawned from a 2010 article he wrote. #K3RN3D "Kerned" Guess what it means? Anyone?
I would expect it to convey a time when someone defies convention, or proves an established theory wrong. It was Scott who said "Who decided that Tris-EDTA is the best buffer for agarose gels?" And he was right, it was an accidental finding propagated by the sheep-like mentality of the masses. Scott found a better way, through science, and now the world uses Lithia Buffer and has developed better ones since.
Scott says "Why do we not care about all of the massive effort that goes into proving things wrong? The negative findings. The boring, unpublishable, trash---which therefore go undescribed and subject to repeated wasted effort? So he started his own online journal NOGO--Negative Observations in Genetic Oncology. So friggin' smart!
He always cared about waste and inefficiency. He took the stairs, two at a time, not three at time--a habit based on scientific timing. He ate plain oatmeal every single day in a coffee cup--more efficient. He knew, and posted, the PER TIP price of each pipette tip, each glove, so we had an awareness of how we were spending the money that well-intentioned REAL people had given from their pockets in the name of cancer research. NOBODY else did this.
#K3RN3D SHOULD mean "convention turned on its head" It SHOULD mean "found a way to do something better for less"
But no. It is an asshole word. It is an insult. It means "You're not working hard enough" As in this random tweet: Just got #k3rn3d by boss for sitting around talking w/ L, even though a) we were talking abt data; b) he hasn't been in on a wknd in ages.
What a shit legacy for a brilliant investigator.
It comes, apparently, from this published commentary.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3093808/
The internet's implication of him as a slave driver is SO FAR from who he is. He was in the Vogelstein lab as a student around the clock and made amazing contributions to science. As a Principal Investigator, it WAS OUR JOB to produce for him, and his job to be a Dad. We could have done better. I could have done better.
I read the article, and, as usual, HE IS SO RIGHT.
Being in the lab on nights and weekends is fun. If you're a young, single grad student with no demands of cub scouts, soccer, and serving up mac-n-cheese----get in the fucking lab! Be creative! Go question a convention!
Look at something in a different way. Stop acting like robot sheep and doing spinner technology projects (Another one of Scott's pet peeves---The effect of (spin the spinner) on (spin the spinner).
Research HAS become sterile. It is ABSOLUTELY true that you become divorced from the reality of the disease---and that's wrong! I never developed that gut-wrenching appreciation for the weight of these horrible diagnoses until it happened to a friend. We don't have the right to do that. So listen to Scott---you young unattached research students. Instead of heading to Friday happy hour, go into the hospital or find someone online that is suffering from the disease you're researching. Spend that time to make a connection with them. Really know who they are. Put a picture of them at your bench. This is your field and real people are counting on your brilliant mind. Fuck convention. Find your passion. Never get #K3RN3D