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Apr 17, 2018 27 tweets 7 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
[Transformation&Representation] Before diving into today’s topic of transformation and representation. I would like to run a series of polls. Please feel free to participate!

1. Are you currently working in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, maths) field?

2. If you are in STEM (student or employee or any STEM involvement), are you a minority? (Minority here is defined as any group that is underrepresented, includes race, gender, disability, sexual identity or orientation etc)
I am really passionate about this topic because I am a minority in my field. I am a minority because I am a woman. I am a minority because I am an African researcher. I am a minority because I am of colour. #womeninSTEM #POCinSTEM #AfricanSTEM
For some context, please read my article for @ScientistFemale written earlier this year. As most of you will probably know, South Africa has a history of Apartheid, we are just 14 years into democracy and still finding our feet.…
I have been told to separate science and politics before and my answer is NO I will not, the two are not mutually exclusive. I can be a great scientist but I am also a person and racial inequality affects me today. #standup
How is it that we are comfortable telling black scientists/POC to "stick to the science" when it comes to the topic of race? We praise climate scientists for weighing in on policy making but we are often quick to trivialize black researchers weighing in on racism.
There is a subtle tolerance for racism, I say this because if there truly wasn't we would not see eugenics conferences in 2018 or biological race theory revivals. There is a brilliant book by Prof Jonathan Marks titled "Is Science Racist?"…
Another fantastic book I highly recommend if you would like to understand the political context that shaped the search for human origins in South Africa is written by @ChristaKuljian called Darwin’s Hunch. This has had a profound influence on many young palaeo students here!
The way I see it, diversity is important to improving science. Diversity allows for different perspectives, shaped by different lived experiences. Diversity also ensures accountability. BUT you can not diversify a space simply by increasing the number of minority students.
There has to be an effort to change the space. And to change the space, we need to talk about it, often.
I speak from the minority of being a female and a person of colour because that is my lived experience but there are MANY minorities including members of the LGBTQIA community and those with physical and mental disabilities. More voices who need to be heard.
I keep flooding the thread with books but here’s another one by @AngelaDSaini. Inferior addresses gender imbalance, perceptions of women, misogyny and patriarchy and the steps that science is taking to improve this today!
Have you encountered transformation efforts in your field? Were they adequate? Do you have a certain approach you could share? I think we could all benefit from knowing different approaches to a common problem! #diversitymatters
Another topic in transformation that I am passionate about is how we interact with the communities we work in, the people who we directly impact. A prime example would be the Khoi-San communities (both living and deceased). Indigenous communities and voices.
Indigenous communities have a dark history of abuse by researchers especially in the field of biological sciences, genetics and anthropology.
There are world renowned anatomical collections that house the remains of people whose graves were robbed, who were murdered, who were treated like sub-par humans. There are bones that lay in wait for a burial that might never come.
Those remains whom we often refer to as “specimen number x”.

Those “specimens” were people. Remember that. They were something to someone. They are still.
The San community have compiled a San Code of Ethics for researchers. It is something I am supportive of. No longer are they simply “study specimens”.…
Scientists were quick to study their bodies, quick to clean their bones but slow to hear their voices.

This is an article about decolonization of science in South Africa. One of the phenomenal women mentioned is the new Vice Chancellor of UCT @FabAcademic, one of my biggest role models. This article is so important! Have a read!…
I could probably talk about transformation, representation and decolonization for the rest of my life. It is that complex, that deep rooted and that important.
Don’t just talk about these things. Live them. I might never see transformation in my lifetime as an academic but I will be damned if ever I stop trying. The uncomfortable conversations we have today lay the groundwork for a better science tomorrow.
A few months ago I delivered a keynote address for @WitsUniversity Postgraduate research symposium and I ended with this:
There is a saying that when one door closes another door opens, or when one door closes a window opens and I have personally struggled with this mentality. Although it is true that there is always opportunity in the face of adversity. (1/n)
I maintain that if one door closes, wrongfully in the face of those who deserve to walk through it, if that door is closed because of the colour of my skin or my sexual identity, then I refuse to look for another open door or window. (2/n)
Instead I encourage you to kick that door down, it might not work on the first try, it might not work if you kick it alone. And that’s where I encourage you all to do it together. (3/n)
Because once you have taken that door off its hinges, you ensure it will NEVER again close on those who see your courage and follow behind you. (4/4)

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More from @realscientists

Sep 12, 2018

Yesterday I spoke about the value of freshwater ecosystems & some threats by human alteration & a changing climate.

There’s many great voices & I’ve been saving their tweets/links just for this occasion. So thank you water tweeters for sharing your insights.
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Here's a thread on basic tips to help improve your next science figure! 📝 (ie common mistakes I see). It'll cover:
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2) Color (it’s a tool, not decoration!) 🌈
3) Fonts 🔤
4) Image Resolution 📷
5) Spacing / margins 📐
6) By request! 💡
1a) Ahh contrast.. my favorite topic! If we lived in a world of black & white, contrast would actually be less of an issue (because we'd notice it immediately). Color variation can trick you into thinking something is legible!
1b) Left image - looks decent, but dark on dark elements getting hard to read. Right image - if converted to black and white (great trick to check contrast btw) becomes almost illegible and purple dots disappear. Bad for color blind and if figure is ultimately printed in B&W!
Read 15 tweets
Aug 7, 2018
(1/6) This was a fun piece I illustrated with @NatGeo on the neuroanatomy of the common octopus 🐙 Seems relatively simple but (as many of you can attest) a lot of good storytelling is stripping AWAY info as opposed to adding.. (here's a peak at the process work below)
(2/6) First sketch that was proposed to me for the story. I was immediately hooked since I am fascinated with octopi 😍🐙
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Read 6 tweets
Aug 6, 2018
Our team is a mix of scientists of many different skill sets and backgrounds. Some of us are great at tweeting, some of us are great at fixing cars, and some of us can cook a curry that makes you cry with happiness after a long windy day in the field.
What binds is together is our dedication to studying the workings of the Solar System by studying out of this world landmarks on Earth. #NASAFieldWork
Some of us are looking at ice and life in preparation for sending robots to Europa. That brought our Team Ice to The glacier covered volcano Kverkfjöll.
Read 8 tweets
Jul 27, 2018
So a few people have been asking about general word finding difficulties and temporary episodes of language loss. Firstly, let me just say that I am not a medical doctor. 1/2
An increase in word finding difficulties can occur with age.
Temporary episodes of language loss may be called 'aphasia' by some but the cause is temporary - diff to someone who has a brain injury that changes the brain permanently (even tho they may recover to some extent). 2/2
@rudetuesday @MoiraR @tessisrelated
I hope the information in this thread helps.
Read 4 tweets
Jul 27, 2018
So I'll start a thread that provides more information about #aphasia...
Feel free to ask any specific Qs you may have...
Aphasia is caused by an acquired brain injury, most commonly #stroke. Around 1/3 of people with left hemisphere stroke can have aphasia. Over time, the severity of the aphasia and type may change but many people live with aphasia.
Here are a couple of YouTube clips that talk more about #aphasia, posting them again here for ease of reference:

This award-winning video by @shireeheath explains aphasia from a child's perspective:
Read 14 tweets

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