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04.06.20 // 12:20 // Quarantine Challenge day 66

Thu - What do you think is the best sounding language?

I really like the sound of Italian, I just think it’s beautiful, and I can’t wait to be able to start speaking in sentences! 

The pace & distance of my runs are starting to drop, but I’m running for much longer in between rest breaks - my last run of this week is going to be 20 minutes straight! I’m really looking forward to being able to compare the pace and distance of my runs when i’m back up to doing 5ks! 🌻

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while I’ve seen this discussion on chemistry twitter, I haven’t seen anything on tumblr so I guess I’ll open that up now. Today (June 5, 2020), the Journal of the German Chemical Society (GDCh) published a peer reviewed paper by Thomas Hudlicky of Brock University, entitled “‘Organic synthesis - Where are we now?’ is thirty years old. A reflection on the current state of affairs”. This paper was then retracted without notice due to backlash regarding the content of the paper. In summary, the author used this peer reviewed paper as a dumping ground for all his misogyny and hatred towards essentially everyone who isn’t a white man in academia.

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I think a lot about what it is to be a woman in science, but I have the inherent privilege that comes with being a white woman to shield me from the worst of it. I had an absolutely eye opening conversation with classmate of mine last year, and I’d like to share it with y’all.

This other lab member of mine became a great friend of mine around the time I decided to switch labs. She had a different PI and was a year ahead of me, so I was comfortable bringing my concerns to her. Her support was instrumental in my decision and my current happiness in my new lab. She presented in a lab meeting the day I went to the director of our grad school and requested a change in PIs, so I missed it. I knew she had been nervous (it was meant to prepare her for for her preliminary exam) so I asked her the next day how it had gone.

Now. To put this in context, I need to explain my old PI. He was an almost eighty year old white man, and if it wasn’t his opinion, it was wrong. He was very, very bad at being a PI. He was also probably worse at being a co-worker. I recall at least three lab meetings that devolved into him yelling with another PI, and several student presentations that he was terribly mean and unnecessarily fixated on insignificant details. So it comes as no shock that he went after my friend.

My old PI (who was not involved in bacteria research AT ALL) had taken some issue with the strain of bacteria she was using, one that was selected based on clinical relevancy. This had resulted in a dissolving of my friends presentation into him interrogating her about this strain, interrupting her explanations and generally getting louder and louder and louder until her PI stepped in. Upon hearing all of this, I apologized profusely for his behavior and asked how she was doing now. She expressed to me how she had struggled to remain calm, and how she was ultimately grateful to her PI for de-escalating the situation.

Now here’s the part that hit me hard: my friend explained to me that she was grateful mostly because she wasn’t sure how much longer she would have been able to withstand his nonsense without raising her voice, to which I responded, “he would have deserved it. You were right and he was wrong, and it’s beyond time he was put in his place. He’s not your PI, and he’s not on your committee, so I think you would have been wholly justified in standing up for yourself.”

“If I’d had raised my voice at him, even a little, I would have been labeled an angry black woman, and everyone in that room would have written me off as a stereotype of my race.”

Oh. Ohhhhh. OH that hit me in the heart and the brain and the soul and I’m shocked I didn’t get a bruise. My sweet, strong, smart friend, who was a mom and a wife and a brilliant student and a kind soul, had to weigh every word out of her mouth with a gravity I couldn’t understand, and had never considered until that moment. And it probably says a lot about my white privilege and my bubble I’ve grown up in that I was 24 years old before this came across to me. But this conversation has lived in my head ever since, and my perspective of the world shifted because of it. I think what made this particular incidence so eye opening to me was that being interrogated by this man over stupid details was something that happened to me regularly, and had just pushed me over the edge. Realizing some level of privilege had protected me all along from it being worse was enlightening.

I’ve benefitted my whole life from white privilege (a thing my family doesn’t think exists). I’m nowhere near perfect as an ally or a friend or a person, but I want to be better at standing up for and alongside those who need the protection my privilege offers. I share this now in case it resonates with someone else the way it did with me.

Black lives matter. Black people matter. Your hearts matter and your ideas matter and your feelings and your dignity and hurt and anger and fear. It shouldn’t require stating but it does, and I am so so sorry for your pain, for every situation I wouldn’t think twice in that you have to navigate carefully. I’m sorry, and I stand with you.

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02.06.20 // 17:20 // Quarantine Challenge day 64

Tue - Do you speak any other languages? Are you currently learning any?

I kinda answered this yesterday, but I know bits and bobs of Spanish from GCSE and I’ve just started learning basic Italian!

A fairly busy day, but I did manage to squeeze in a bit of revision and a run! I love having flashcards in my bag, if I have a spare few minutes or inspiration strikes it means I can get some extra revision in! (That photo was taken when I was revising in my very stationary, parked car btw) 🌻

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Home office, online seminar, and cooking dinner with a little helper.

One of the positive outcomes of the pandemic is a huge variety of online seminars you can join. These are usually at times, when both Europeans and Americans can watch. For me, in western Europe, it means they usually start around 5 p.m., just when I am supposed to cook dinner.

It was quite hard to concentrate on the topic of the seminar. But I managed. 💻🍳😊

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Day 6/100 of productivity

Computing and networks today. I find it so amazing that in less than a century, we have explored a totally different world in the form of the internet. I mean, go back a few generations and no-one would have dreamed of studyblrs and social media. Progress is so quick, you blink and you miss it. So keep going with your own progress!

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