Order your #RiffRaff tshirt today!

We previously discussed the offensive comments by Steven McKnight, President of the American Society for Biochemistry and Moleculary Biology (ASBMB)… and to refresh your memory, here they are again:

“the average scientist today is not of the quality of our predecessors; it’s a bit analogous to the so-called ‘greatest generation’ of men and women of the United States who fought off fascism in World War II compared with their baby boomer children. Biomedical research is a huge enterprise now; it attracts riff-raff who never would have survived as scientists in the 1960s and 1970s. There is no doubt that highly capable scientists currently participate in the grant-review process. Likewise, unfortunately, study sections are undoubtedly contaminated by riff-raff.”

There was a huge twitter response and NOW, for a limited time only (until June 2), you can purchase an official RiffRaff tshirt! #IAmRiffRaff.

Riffraffshirt500

The details from Science Careers:

Offered in a range of colors more flattering than McKnight’s words, the all-cotton unisex version is appropriate for wear under one’s fire-retardant lab coat. At just $15, it also fits a postdoc’s budget. The more stylish men’s and women’s tri-blend styles ($20) are perfect for adding that geeky touch so de rigueur at journal clubs, seminars, and Berlin’s finest nightclubs (or so we hear). And with the offer expiring 2 June, they have that element of exclusivity that all fashionistas crave.

All T-shirt proceeds go to support the forthcoming Boston FOR meeting, so riffraff from all fields can do good while also looking good.

Order your shirt HERE!

President of ASBMB sparks controversy by labeling young scientists as riffraff – #IamRiffRaff #riffraff

If you haven’t heard of the controversy surrounding Steven McKnight, President of American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, get ready for a doozy! McKnight wrote a President’s Message for ASBMB describing problems with biomedical science and NIH peer review study sections. That seems totally normal. What isn’t normal, though, is how he describes the current members of the biomedical research community.

First, the average scientist today is not of the quality of our predecessors; it’s a bit analogous to the so-called “greatest generation” of men and women of the United States who fought off fascism in World War II compared with their baby boomer children. Biomedical research is a huge enterprise now; it attracts riff-raff who never would have survived as scientists in the 1960s and 1970s. There is no doubt that highly capable scientists currently participate in the grant-review process. Likewise, unfortunately, study sections are undoubtedly contaminated by riff-raff.

First… who uses the term riffraff in a President’s Message?? Really?

In response to this message, Darren Boehning penned an amazing response titled, “#riffraff.” Boehning describes in detail the parts of McKnight’s article that were offensive, and further describes why McKnight is off base.

The latest generation of scientists has it harder than any before. Paylines are historically low, the postdoc bottleneck is the worst it ever has been, and just publishing a paper requires innumerable supplemental figures and many years of work. If McKnight would listen to the younger generation instead of belittling it, he would realize the incredible talent and potential of those scientists. Most importantly, as president of the ASBMB, he should be functioning as our advocate rather than our critic.

To see the incredible response to these articles, check out twitter:

It even spawned several new Twitter hashtags, including #riffraff, #riffraffgate and #iamriffraff.

Unbelievable…. #Iamriffraff

Wanna know what it will be like to pursue becoming a professor? Read Bill Sullivan’s ‘letter’ to his parents #science

sullivan

Bill Sullivan has written an awesome open letter for ASBMB (American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology). Sullivan highlights a lot of the hurdles that budding scientists will likely endure during graduate school, postdoc, and beyond. Great article!

Author’s note: If I were an undergraduate today writing a letter informing my parents that I want to become a professor and conduct research, I imagine it would go something like this.

The part of the letter where Sullivan writes about being a postdoctoral fellow:

You would think this sort of effort would be rewarded with a substantial paycheck. Well, compared with graduate school, it is a decent increase, somewhere in the range of $35,000 to $40,000 a year if I’m lucky. I might finally be able to start a family on that kind of dough, but please understand if I postpone that, because the next stage of my career will be the most challenging yet.

Sullivan also includes meaningful justification for pushing through the challenges of being a professor.

It’s crazy, I know. But hey, I love science.