[Coral-List] What can scientists do: ARE YOU READY?

Sarah.Friastorres at noaa.gov Sarah.Friastorres at noaa.gov
Thu Jan 10 13:47:01 EST 2008

In the world of publish or perish, the scientist that spends time going
from research to actual implementation of his/her discoveries commits
professional suicide. Every second spent on making a difference and
actually saving the world, is a second not spent publishing one more
peer-reviewed publication. Obtaining a job in research/academia, tenure
and promotion are based on number of publications and impact factors, 
are decisions on whether or not awarding you the research grant that 
keep you alive from one year to the next.

Chances are, the people that can make a change, the people that need 
most to learn about your research, will never, ever read your high 
factor peer-reviewed paper. They don’t have access to the best trained
people, the scientists. If you have a deadly form of cancer, would you
like to have the best oncologists in the world using their research
knowledge on you? Or do you want them to spend all their time busy with
their publications and impact factors and relegate your treatment to 
meaning but not so well informed nurses?

So my dear coral scientist, whether you work at the genetic level or 
after whale sharks…. Are you ready for a revolution? If you really care
about what you study (and probably you do because you are reading this
post), take the time to TAKE ACTION, to implementation, as one coral-
post said. Go and talk to the people. I’m not saying just print a 
with colorful pictures, or write an article for a newspaper, (which are
good starters to get people interested), but if your research shows 
that a
coral reef is being destroyed by pollution, or boat anchors, or blast
fishing, spend the last few days of your fieldwork talking to the 
of the village/town/city, and explain what the problem is, take them
snorkeling so they can see the devastating effects of their actions. 
forces with NGOs and conservation minded institutions, and donate your
time to help their outreach efforts. Find a way to bring that
peer-reviewed publication to the people that can actually make a 
and make a difference.

To the people in charge of making decisions about hiring new 
scientists in
research or academia, take a chance for once in your life, and give at
least an interview opportunity to the candidate that might not have
published in Science or Nature, but might have actually saved some 
reef, or at least made a serious effort at conservation. The same goes 
those in charge of deciding on research grants.

Finally, in the upcoming International Coral Reef Symposium, not one
session is dedicated to scientists taking action. If there is one, it’s
hiding somewhere never to be found. Let’s get together somewhere at 
let’s talk frankly on what we can do, and how we can do it. If any ICRS
organizer is reading this post, please, let’s open the door for an
informal meeting (the beach will be right there…) so we can kick-start
this revolution. If you are ready for action, or a scientist in an 
tower angry at my post, or are a recruiter or a funding agency really,
really angry at what I said, or you have some idea you want to share,
contact me at sfrias_torres at hotmail.com.

Take action

Sarah Frias-Torres, Ph.D.
CIMAS RSMAS-University of Miami & MRAG Americas
sfrias_torres at hotmail.com

DISCLAIMER: this post does not represent the views and opinions of any
institution the author if affiliated with, nor any funding agency that 
funded her research.

More information about the Coral-List mailing list