My three holiday reads – reflections on science and life

The holiday season. On Dec 25th, I was forced to disable the long-range communication device of the Stellosphere – and all I had was a simple screwdriver. It was a tough choice, but when you’re out there by yourself, you have to make bold choices. If you now believe that I have a MacGyver-like engineer skillset, I hate to disappoint you. All I did was take out the batteries of one of the toys that our kids got for Christmas so it would stop making noise every time you touch it. Here are the three books that I am trying to read over the holiday season. I probably won’t get through them completely as I want to spend as much time with my family as possible, but here is what they have told me about epilepsy genetics so far. Continue reading

Here are the three things the beach told me about science

Rehoboth Beach. Two years ago, I wrote a blog post about our beach vacation at Marielyst in Denmark that I blended with my reflections about present-day collaborative science, which many of our readers liked a lot. Admittedly, there wasn’t all that much time for the beach ever since, but we managed to squeeze in a weekend at the Delaware beaches two weeks ago. Two years after my Marielyst post, here is what the beach told me about science in 2015. Continue reading

Red Johanna Day, Ninja Turtles and my decade in epilepsy genetics

Where do you see yourself in ten years? You probably might not imagine yourself wearing Ninja Turtle pajama pants, getting up at 4:00 in the morning for a teleconference. For some reason, I kept track of my very early beginnings in epilepsy genetics when I was still a medical student. According to my calendar, today is precisely my tenth anniversary in epilepsy genetics, a day that I refer to as Red Johanna Day. Let’s revisit what happened over the last decade and what I learned from my mentors and friends in the field. And let’s find out about the Ninja Turtles. Continue reading

How to become a pediatric neurologist

Milestones. Today I passed my board exam for pediatric neurology or neuropediatrics, as we call it in Germany. Even though I am usually not big on celebrating occasions like this, I wanted to use this blog post to reflect upon a journey that led me to three different continents and started eleven years ago in the foothills of AppalachiaContinue reading

Program or be programmed – the EuroEPINOMICS bioinformatics workshop 2014

Join the genome hacking league.  We are preparing a EuroEPINOMICS bioinformatics workshop in Leuven and I really, really encourage you to join us, as there are handful of place left. This will be the workshop that I always wanted to attend, but never got a chance to take part in. And yes, there is a final exam, but there is a chance that you might pass it.  If you’re worried, skip ahead two paragraphs.

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The surprising truth about your motivation in epilepsy genetics – 2014 update

Update. I re-read one of my older posts when I went through Dennis’ recent discussion on the lessons learned during his PhD, which also included his advice on how to keep your motivation up. Two years ago, I actually wondered where motivation for science comes from in general. Are we driven largely by egoistic motives like money or fame, or are there different factors at play? I am re-blogging one of our old posts from 2012 with minor 2014 updates. These were the answers that I came up with back then. I think they are still relevant. Continue reading

“Dark social” or “Who is afraid of email?”

Heathrow. Dark social? Threat? I’ll get back to that. I am writing this wrap-up post for the SpotOn 2013 meeting overlooking the British Airways planes on their way to take-off. In the last two days, we caught a glimpse of what online science communication is about. On Saturday, we had our own session #solo13blogs on using blogs for peer-to-peer science communication. As a science communication newbie, I am happy that our session was well received and stimulated quite some discussion. I have taken away three things from this meeting – a new understanding of our readership, an appreciation for Open Access and data sharing, and finally, a fear of the destructive power of dark social that also applies to epilepsy genetics research. But first things first. Continue reading

Three things you didn’t know about epilepsy and genes

Fall colors. Just a brief summary of how this post originated. Eckernförde is a small city north of Kiel and the weekly Sunday destination of my daughter and me because of the wave pool.  This past Sunday, daylight saving and the fact that she didn’t like her dinner had confused the little girl, and we had been awake since 4AM. As a consequence, she fell asleep on the way, and I kept driving to let her sleep. We made it as far as Haddeby, and I used this time to mentally put a post together that I had been planning for some time. These are the three things that are often misunderstood with regards to epilepsy and genes. Continue reading

SpotOn London 2013 – communicating science online

Outreach. SpotOn is a series of community events for the discussion of how science is carried out and communicated online. SpotOn London (November 7-9, 2013) is organized by the Nature Publishing Group and represents the flagship conference of the SpotOn series. SpotOn discussions fall into three broad topic areas – policy, outreach, and tools – and this site collates the conversations and other archive material around all of the events. Within the outreach track, Roland and I will contribute to the session about scientist-to-scientist communication using blogs and other online tools. Here is why this pertains to you: in a semi-strategic last-minute move, we managed to reserve one extra ticket that we would like to give to a young scientist who would like to join us in London. Short notice? Spontaneous ideas are sometimes the best ideas. Also, for everybody else, there is one last chance on Friday at 12:00 London time to get tickets. Continue reading