Christina Szalinski

Christina Szalinski

Christina is a science writer for the American Society for Cell Biology. She earned her Ph.D. in Cell Biology and Molecular Physiology at the University of Pittsburgh.

Tina Han, postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), found out that she'd just won $5,000 on Facebook. It wasn't a holiday giveaway or a scam. It was a missed voice mail from ASCB and a friend's quick Facebook message that Han was the winner of ASCB's $5,000 Kaluza Prize supported by Beckman Coulter for outstanding research as a graduate student.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013 00:00

What is Significant? Reevaluating the P-Value

You finished all your replicates, your data are entered into your favorite statistical software, and you've got your fingers crossed that the test reveals a P-value of less than 0.05. It reads 0.039 and you breathe a sigh of relief. Without that P-value, you would have been stuck with your null hypothesis—that terrible possibility that your observed effect was meaningless. Instead, with the P-value on your side, you're finally ready to publish a significant observation. That is, unless you show it to Valen Johnson, a statistics professor at Texas A&M University, who has just published an analysis in PNAS1 that indicates your data are not so convincing.

Tina W. Han, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), who did her graduate work at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (UT Southwestern), has been named the winner of the first $5,000 ASCB Kaluza Prize supported by Beckman Coulter for outstanding research by a graduate student. Han won for her breakthrough work on the functional characterization of RNA granules while in Steven McKnight's lab at UT Southwestern. Nine additional Kaluza entrants were named winners of ASCB Beckman Coulter Distinguished Graduate Student Achievement Prizes, which will include travel awards to attend the 2014 ASCB Annual Meeting in Philadelphia.

Remember that second-grade science project when you watched bean plants grow toward a light source? Little did you know, you were researching heliotropism. Tropism in plants is turning toward or away from a stimulus such as sunlight, gravity, or water. And now there's a new tropism to investigate, although not for second graders.

Monday, 18 November 2013 00:00

The Secret History of ASCB’s Poster Hall

It's hard to imagine a scientific conference without poster presentations. There would be tumbleweeds rolling through the exhibit hall, company reps would be asleep in their booths, and grad student and postdocs would be hung-over every morning of the meeting.

It's been nearly a year since an insurgent group of scientists and journal editors gathered in San Francisco at the ASCB Annual Meeting to plot a counterattack on the outsized influence of "impact factor" on scientific assessment. A metric invented in the 1960s by Eugene Garfield to help academic librarians subscribe to influential journals, the journal impact factor had become a misleading measure, the insurgents agreed. In June, they issued the Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), asking the world science community to sign on, endorsing 18 recommendations for new standards of research assessment that would move away from journal-based metrics to individual assessment. The number of DORA signatories is now approaching 10,000. Evidently, scientists are ready for something better than the impact factor, but what?

It was in San Diego and nearly 40 years ago but Randy Schekman still vividly remembers his first ASCB Annual Meeting. George Palade, fresh from Stockholm where he had just received his 1974 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, was there to speak about the innovations in electron microscopy and cell fractionation that earned him the prize. Schekman has no better word for the experience than "thrilling."

Monday, 04 November 2013 00:00

Nontraditional Science Careers: Patent Agent

If you've just spent five years at the bench in graduate school and are looking for another way to use your science doctorate, you will be relieved to know that a patent agent doesn't need to add a JD to the PhD. Instead, a patent agent has to pass a separate patent bar exam to become registered, and a formal law school degree is not a prerequisite.

Thursday, 31 October 2013 08:13

Hang Out with a Famous Scientist

Hankering for face time with a distinguished researcher? No matter where you are in the world, you will soon be able to drop by for an online Google hangout with some of the world's leading biology discoverers. The hangouts are organized by, the open-access, free science video site supported by ASCB.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013 10:56

Scientists Play at Boston Science Hack Day

On a brisk and sunny New England fall Saturday, hackers filed along the Cambridge sidewalks, skirting the venerable Harvard Museum of Natural History to descend the starkly modern concrete stairs of the university's five-year-old Northwest Science Building. Down the steps they went, under the suspended whale skeletons and into a basement with natural light pouring in from the windows mounted in the lawn above. There on modular red sofas and often on the floor, the hardiest spent the next 30 hours immersed in Science Hack Day Boston, an experiment in combining science, skill, and playfulness that was sponsored in part by ASCB.

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