I recently deleted all the social media apps from my phone in an attempt to reduce my phone addiction. (Hasn't everyone tried this?) The only one I really missed was Instagram. The platform is by far the most positive and uplifting of the major social media streams. There are also some institutions and artists that post awesome scientific content. Be sure to add these accounts for some educational and inspiring instas.
The official account for the U.S. Department of the Interior provides stunning views of the country's national parks. Many of the photos are from professional nature photographers, including ones whose work has appeared in National Geographic. Others are submitted by park employees and amateur photographers who visit the parks. Prepare to be wowed and add a bunch of national parks to your travel bucket list.
Mike Natter is a medical student and artist living in Philadelphia. His art focuses on the anatomy, health, and disease of the human body. It is beautiful, educational, and often funny. From his feed, it seems like he uses art reinforce concepts he is learning in medical school, which is pretty cool! He also sells prints of his work.
This is probably the nerdiest account on the list... but I promise it is entertaining. Sigma Aldrich posts a molecule of the day, sharing the structure of everything from cancer therapeutics (above) to food ingredients and hormones.
This account posts unaltered photos acquired by the Mars Curiosity, which are available through NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Find out what's happening on Mars, new regional discoveries, and science experiments that NASA is conducting. My only complaint: I wish @marscuriosity posted more frequently!
Michael Peres is a photography professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology who specializes in photos of very small objects. A large proportion of his subjects are scientific in nature-- including the one above (crystals from the medicine bocepriver, a protease inhibitor used to treat hepatitis). He also describes unique methods that he uses to capture challenging images.
Along the same lines, the microscope company Zeiss has an amazing Instagram account. In addition to beautiful microscope images, they occasionally post about new equipment advances. Definitely check it out if you are into that kind of thing!
And these recommendations only scratch the surface. Once you start traveling down the Instagram science rabbit hole, you will find a whole world of amazing science photography. Share some of your favorites in the comments!
by Megan Sperry
Recent studies suggest that there is a strong correlation (R=0.92, p<0.001) between PhD-induced stress levels and hours spent watching Bachelor/Bachelorette/Bachelor in Paradise-related content (Sperry et al, 2016).
Hmmm…maybe I’ll rephrase. Clearly my life has been all about the scientific writing lately. The wonderful thing is that in this blog post I don’t have to cite ANYTHING. Nothing at all! Unless I really think you should check it out, of course.
Anyway, I’ve recently had several stress-filled weeks in a row, with new protocols, long days, and deadlines looming. But, when 8pm rolls around on Monday, I drop everything and watch Bachelor in Paradise. I think that my 16 or 17-year old self would have thought I’ve completely lost it. It was engrained in me at an early age that the Bachelor is trashy TV. And deep down, I still know this to be true. But it is also completely fantastic.
After being serious most of the day—thinking deeply, being responsible with expensive materials and equipment, accepting the many failures in my research, reading a lot—sometimes you just want to not think at all. And that is where the Bachelor comes in. There is no thinking while watching ‘Bach’, and it’s wonderful.
I have two of my long-time roommates to thank for introducing me to this show. I first watched the Bachelor for a few seasons in college, becoming most obsessed when I was stressed out junior year with a slew of challenging classes. And then during the first year of my PhD I started watching when reintroduced by my roommate. I highly recommend the show to anyone in need of a brain reset (and a laugh!).
As I have gone through my PhD and seen friends and acquaintances move through theirs, I’ve noticed that stress is a huge problem amongst scientists, especially during the training years. From an outside perspective, PhD life seems pretty great. You are studying a chosen field very deeply (that you are hopefully interested in!), more or less make your own hours, and primarily work with other young people. Unsurprisingly, the people that self-select to do PhDs are typically high achievers and fairly intense about producing quality work. Put all these students together in laboratories run with little institutional oversight by equally driven professors and you have a recipe for a stressful work environment. To top it off, the currency of science is publications and who discovered something first. The constant question: is it novel?
So, where am I going with this? I think the key to being happy and productive over the long-term is to not take yourself too seriously. And this I learned from watching the Bachelor. Really! It’s silly and light. And I don’t mean that we as scientists should throw our hands up and stop working on hard problems or not try to do work that impacts our health, environment, or understanding of the world. But, I think keeping what we do in perspective is critical and staying light about our work instead of becoming very serious. And when you’re in need of a reset after your next experiment doesn’t pan out or you receive biting criticism on a year’s worth of work, I recommend the Bachelor. ;)