Tag Archives: science

STEMarginalized (or Why I’ll Never Take Another Class Outside the Humanities)

by anonymous, ’14

My mother likes to tell the story of how I applied for Stanford as a hardcore biology major with a concentration in genetic engineering, then called her after one quarter to come out as a drama major. For perspective, I’d never been involved in theater in any shape or form before college. For her, this makes an amusing anecdote about the liberalizing/artsy big blue blob that is California. For me, it’s a sobering reminder of just how alienated I felt in the STEM courses I’ve taken at Stanford.

It’s not that the material is too difficult or uninteresting—I was actually really engaged with my biology, physics, and calculus courses in high school, and looked forward to working in labs and doing research when I “grew up.” My shift from STEM is rather due to the different approaches to discussing (or not) marginalized peoples in the humanities and sciences. Whereas most of my Theater and Performance Studies professors (and especially my Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity professors) regularly use examples and materials that validate and explore the experiences of people who aren’t at the top of the privilege food chain, my STEM professors often make me feel angry, invalidated, and anxious. In TAPS and CSRE courses, I can speak to and learn about the lived experiences of people like me (and unlike me!). In STEM courses, data which appear to be objective often show that marginalized groups are inferior to dominant groups, without including a discussion of the systematic challenges that can produce those data. Put another way, we don’t discuss confounders that happened before we began our study.

Let me give you an example from a popular statistics course at Stanford. Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Earth is Not a Commodity: How Capitalism Perpetuates Global Warming

by Jovel Queirolo, ’14

Capitalism is designed to promote competition and social inequality (Parjis, 1995) which cannot accommodate a climate change movement meant to benefit the entire earth and its inhabitants with an even distribution. As an international leader, the United States government along with its citizens must shift from a mindset of social and economic capitalism toward a political framework that encourages collective equality. In the U.S., capitalism privileges wealthy, upper-class, white individuals who hold positions of power (Keister and Moller, 2000) over the rest of the country’s diverse constituency. This constituency must be invited into the climate change movement, and granted equal access to technology and research geared towards addressing dangerous levels of human-induced climate change.

Capitalism as an economic and social theory, as popularized by the United Sates, will not work as a tool for organizing the climate change movement because the environment is not a commodity, nor is the environment a human construct. Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Scientists Want You to Be Happy

by Sibel Sayiner, ’15

Let’s face it. The world can really bring you down sometimes. You think that it’s a beautiful day, and everything is going according to plan: you’ve read all your emails, the Republican National Convention is going to be thrashed by good old Isaac, and the attractive person in the coffee shop smiled at you, very pointedly. Then you, foolish you, open up the world news. And read about the Arctic ice level, the UN report on Gaza, and the evil corporation that is killing your favorite phone/tablet/everything (unless you’re an Apple fan, then you’ll be pleased with the “rectangle with rounded corners” patent). You sigh, and even your fantastic new book can’t raise your glum frown.

I feel you. It’s rough out there. We spend so much time on what we need to do, what we think we need to do, and what we think we want to do. Then there’s sleeping (occasionally), and every so often, the casual conversation with an old (or new!) friend. While some people have the energy to do all these things all the time, I am definitely not one of them. I need my funky jazz music, video games and long walks in the evening in order to recharge.

However, these are not always possible, especially when one has time constraints as well as multiple commitments. This is where scientists come in. They do all the research, and then we mooch. Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , ,

The Science of Collaboration

by Jovel Queirolo, ’14

Every great scientist in history and the Pogonomyrmex Barbatus species of ant, often referred to in my lab as Pogos, have two things in common. They have always relied heavily on their peers in their respective fields – whether that is a field of science or a field of desert grass and mesquite.

This summer, I watched and participated in collection of data about the Pogos. Every morning I woke up sometime between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. (depending on the day’s assignment) to eat a small breakfast of yogurt, granola, and coffee usually while blinking awake with my fellow field researchers. We then drove from our mountain research station about 30 minutes to watch the sunrise and arrive at the research site.

The first ants to leave the nest mound are the patrollers who tuck their abdomens down and drowsily mark paths with their colony scent. How and which way they decide to go is a mystery. Continue reading

Tagged , , , , ,