Sunday highlights

Sunday afternoon was packed with cool stuff – of course all going on at the same time! I split my time such that I started looking at some vestibular posters, but then went to a mini-symposium on Behavioral diversity in individuals: genetiv and circuit mechanisms. I heard three talks, and the one I liked best was by Benjamin de Bivort, who told us about individual preferences of flies turning left or right. The flies have persistent, individual preference for doing e.g. more left than right turns, and these individual biases are not heritable. He also went into the neuronal control of variability, and showed videos of their effort to automate large-scale experiments. Cool stuff! If you want more details, this paper is a good place to start.

After three speakers I needed a break and wandered back to the vestibular crowd, but then moved on to hear the second half of the professional development workshop on tackling the challenges in scientific rigor: the (sometimes) messy reality of science. The talk I enjoyed most was by Erin McKiernan on sharing in science: openness as a solutio (check out her blog or her tweets). She advertised openness in science as a way to tackle the reproducibility problem, establishing priority and thereby prevent scooping, and much more. She brought up examples of science done in the open, such as open source malaria or open worm. What impressed me most, though, is that she herself decided to go completely open: with an open notebook, her data on github and even an iPython notebook with code and instructions to reproduce the exact figures of her preprint manuscript. So if you want to try and reproduce her analysis, go to github and get started! McKiernan also pointed out some useful resources for instance about choosing a licence to publish with, or best practices for open science. Finally, to push and achieve open science, the scientists themselves need to be trained in it, and doing open science needs to be rewarded for promotion and tenure. That’s the way forward!

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