Sunday, July 8, 2012

Tom - A Plethora of Parasites

So week two was spent analyzing more kidney samples in search of the elusive nanophyetus. Bag after bag I scan each specimen carefully. This week the highest count is over three thousand!  I find that I get annoyed when the fish is not infected, and when it is heavily infected I feel elated (even though this is not a good sign for the fish). I guess I'm rooting for the parasites. I wonder if all people studying parasites feel this way or am I getting too deep into this study? Only time will tell.

One of the perks of staying at HMSC is that as an intern we are invited to weekly science seminars. I enjoy these seminars and the discussion that follows. Sometimes issues are brought up that I have previously not considered. This week the seminar was titled “Role of Science in the Political Process”, it discussed some of the issues around how science is delivered to policy makers. One of the points was that as scientists we should record and deliver data but we should not report it as good or bad. The problem comes when someone is dong science with an agenda, or with the purpose of swaying the intended audience.
      I personally have a hard time with this concept because I think as humans we are not capable of not getting involved in our work. Furthermore I don’t necessarily think it is wrong to do so, as long as you are not altering data if it doesn’t fit your cause.
     The issues are much deeper than I care to get into in this blog but my point is that I feel, having these weekly seminars is extremely valuable to me and everyone else as well and we are grateful for the experience.

Next week is the great fish cutting party, where we take a break from the microscope for a few days and join forces to extract samples from fish that have been caught and frozen. This may not sound like fun to some but since I have been processing many of these samples I have an interest in having a hand in another step in the process of gathering data. The sun is shining down on Newport, time to get outside and enjoy it.


  1. Interesting ideas about the seminars. I agree that it's really not possible to be emotionally detached from your work. I also agree that whether or not scientists have a vested interest in their work, they are still capable of collecting valid data even if it does not reflect not what they were expecting/hoping for(and anyone who skews data to suit their own expectations is not a scientist).

    1. Good point Julie thank you for your input. In the seminar The speaker asked the audience: Who in here is a scientist for hire? I think that is a question every scientist should ask themselves. If the answer is yes than perhaps it is time to have a look at the ethics meter.