Welcome to The Incubator!


The Incubator – hatching conversations about science – is a blog fueled by The Rockefeller University community.  In an effort to help shape expectations for the type of content you will find on The Incubator, we have highlighted a few key points that are central to our mission:

Community Engagement  
By improving the dialogue between RU and the broader community, we hope to improve science literacy and create a base of informed consumers of science.  There is a clear disconnect between the appropriate interpretations of basic and clinical research projects and what the public understands.  When explanations are offered, they are generally dull, jargon-laden science lessons. We have seen the consequences of a scientific community that has become disengaged with the general public.  If scientists do not help pass on their passion for science to the populous, the public cannot differentiate between evidence-based science and pseudoscience.  Examples of this are found by simply looking at declining vaccination rates, or legislative policies that are not aligned with rigorously proven scientific findings.

Scientific Openness
The Incubator is meant to be, in part, a platform to facilitate discussions among scientists, and provide a window to showcase the work and philosophies born at RU in a way that goes beyond peer review and paywalls.  For many, science research, especially the biomedical variety, is foreign and intimidating.  By opening up the scientific discourse to the general public, we hope to remedy this.  After all, a large portion of research is funded by taxpayer dollars, and the people should know how their money is being used.  In addition to having a positive effect on the community, openness has become critical for scientific success.  Gone are the days when a few western blots embedded in a well-crafted story can make it into Science.  Interdisciplinary science is key, and crosstalk among disciplines can help spark new ideas and innovative strategies.

In addition to editorials and posts on new scientific developments, The Incubator will also feature these regular columns:

Artlab, by Maryam Zaringhalam, Graduate Fellow
Maryam Zaringhalam is a graduate student at the Rockefeller University where she studies RNA-editing in yeast. When she’s not tinkering with macromolecules, she doubles as managing director for a non-profit arts company: Our Ladies of South Fourth Street. ArtLab is her attempt to reconcile her double identity in the greater Blogosphere, experimenting with the art of science and the science of art. For more on the ArtLab project and Maryam herself, visit http://thisisartlab.com or follow on Twitter @thisisartlab.

Behind the Buzz, by Gabrielle Rabinowitz, Graduate Fellow
Gabrielle Rabinowitz is a graduate student at The Rockefeller University where she studies RNA-binding proteins in the Laboratory of Molecular Neuro-oncology. When not busy pipetting, she can be found studying the chemistry of cocktails at local speakeasies, finding somewhere beautiful to hike, or knitting while watching Netflix. She provides the antidote to hype-heavy science news in her monthly column “Behind the Buzz.” Follow Gabrielle on Twitter (@GabrielleRab) for more fun and factual science and technology news.

EmpowerMyHealth, by Michelle Lowes, Assistant Professor of Clinical Investigation
Dr. Michelle Lowes is an investigative dermatologist at The Rockefeller University studying the chronic skin disease psoriasis for the past ten years. More recently she has become interested in the application of basic science and clinical research results to patient care, and how specific treatments are prescribed.  The goal of her column, “Empower My Health,” is to help people make informed decisions about health and illness.  You can find more about Michelle by visiting her laboratory website, or you can contact her via email.

Notes in the Margin, by Carol Feltes, RU Librarian
Carol Feltes has been University Librarian at The Rockefeller University for nearly 8 years and has spent her 30+ year career as a science librarian.  Science information and communication – especially in the life sciences – is her passion.  Prior to Rockefeller she provided science information support in three research based Fortune 500 companies.  She likes gardening, cooking, playing the piano, and collecting natural history books.  She is married to an evolutionary biologist and has two grown children.  Check out Carol’s column, Notes in the Margin, where she will focus on the public consumption of science.

pretty/cool, by Emily Dennis, Graduate Fellow
Emily Dennis is a Detroiter, hockey enthusiast, and mosquito neurobiologist living in NYC with her husband Tim and their dog Günnar. In her monthly column, pretty/cool she investigates the people and research projects behind popular and interesting scientific graphics.  To learn more about the person behind the column, you can follow Emily on twitter (@elephantsinjune).

Science, Inc., by Christina Pyrgaki, Postdoctoral Fellow
Christina Pyrgaki is a biologist by training. She received her bachelor’s degree in Biology and Master’s degree in Clinical Chemistry from the University of Athens, Greece. She continued her studies in Denver, Colorado where she acquired her PhD in developmental biology and became addicted to biological imaging and fancy microscopes. Currently, Christina is a postdoctoral associate at The Rockefeller University where she is trying to gain insight into the biological mechanisms of neurodevelopmental disorders. When she is not running experiments, reading, or advocating for science, Christina is trying to educate herself and others on subjects pertaining to science policy, management of funds, and science communication.  Look for Christina on twitter (@CPyrgaki)

Science This!, by Cynthia Duggan, Postdoctoral Fellow
Dr. Cynthia Duggan is a science geek from Arkansas.  She received her PhD from the University of California, Berkeley and is now a postdoctoral fellow at The Rockefeller University.  Her research probes the developing nervous system with the hope of identifying molecular mechanisms active in disease processes such as neurodegeneration.  She loves travel, live music and room temperature tap water.  FollowScience This! to learn what the latest research has to say about your favorite topics and  @Cynthia_Duggan on Twitter for mini musings.

The (controversial) View, by Simona Giunta, Postdoctoral Fellow
Dr. Simona Giunta is a Post Doctoral scientist at the Rockefeller University, where she studies how normal cells can become cancerous by ‘loosing the plot’, especially during the ever-important process of cell division. Trained in Classical Studies, at 19 she left her home city, Rome, to study for a BSc in Cancer Biology in London.  For her experimental thesis, she worked at the nuclear reactor in Grenoble and at the NIMR and Barts Medical School, trying to induce leukaemia in zebrafish. While undertaking her Ph.D. in Cancer Research at the University of Cambridge, she founded the Women Society of St John’s College, promoting gender equality in academia, and was Science Editor of The Cambridge Student newspaper. Away from science (and writing about science!), she is an avid traveller and has blogged on her website while traversing the Eastern hemisphere in a 1974 yellow VW camper van called Miss Sunshine!

The Birdphiles, by Michael Wheelock, Graduate Fellow
Michael Wheelock is a science education advocate and graduate student at the Rockefeller University. When not in lab studying cell division, he has worked with the BioBus, as a NYAS STEM fellow and with various programs at Rockefeller aimed at high school and college level students. You can find him ‘dishin and swishin’ at basketball courts around the city, and follow his amateur birding exploits at RU and abroad.  Find Mike tweeting as @MSWheelock, and check out his series #TheBirdphiles.

If you have any questions, suggestions, or just want to talk about science, feel free to contact us, or email us at incubator@rockefeller.edu.

We look forward to hatching conversations about science with you!

Image Credit: Michael Wheelock (also, this Incubator mascot is named ‘Rocky’)


These views are the work of individual authors, do not necessarily represent the views and opinions The Rockefeller University, and are not approved or endorsed by The Rockefeller University.


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