Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Tooting Your Own Horn

This evening I attended an award ceremony where I was very honored to be given an award for service to women at my university. It is very nice to be recognized for the work that I do with the Association for Women in Science (AWIS) to support women in science fields and outreach to encourage girls to pursue science careers. It is also good for an academic's career to receive awards (although there is some disparity among the credit given for research vs. teaching vs. service awards, especially depending on the institution).
Admittedly, I played a large role in being selected for this award. I received notice about several awards for women from the university and the state a few months ago. I sent the information to my AWIS chapter listserv, suggesting that, as a woman's organization, we should be nominating people for them. One member suggested nominating me. As we looked at the information needed, they decided it would be best for me to complete the information since I know the most about what I do. So I compiled the information, answering each required question, while another chapter officer wrote up the nomination and got the supporting recommendations.
I think it is important for women to be willing to toot their own horns to get the recognition they deserve for their hard work. Sometimes this is hard to do, and may be part of why the number of awards for research given to women has not increased as the number of women researchers has increased. (The percentage of teaching and service awards given to women is more on par with their representation.) AWIS has recently received a grant to work with professional societies to ensure that women are recognized for outstanding research.
About a year ago, I asked someone to nominate me for an award that is given to an early career woman for research in my field every 3 years. While someone else was selected for the award last year, I will still be eligible in the next cycle and plan to ask to be nominated again. Of course it is important to be doing good research to be deserving of such awards, but it never hurts to remind other people what you are doing and why it is awesome!

Sunday, April 1, 2012


Strawberries are back in the grocery store, and I've been buying them the past few weeks, even though they're not quite at their peak. The first time I bought them, a couple weeks ago, was one of those days when all you have time to carry in the door are the items that need to be refrigerated. The poor baggers get many curses on those days: What moron would put one yogurt in with a bunch of canned goods? Reusable bags of meat, ice cream, milk, cheese, yogurt, eggs draped over every inch of my arms as I hobbled toward the door and plopped them into the kitchen. Hope I didn't drop those eggs too hard. Shove everything into the fridge and tend to the kids.
That evening, after finally wrestling the kids into bed, I came downstairs, looked for my laptop, and realized it was still in the car. I walked out into the unseasonably warm night, opened the car door, and was washed over by the smell of strawberries. I suddenly remembered that I had groceries to carry in.
But I paused and inhaled the sweet smell that reminded me of my grandparents' garage. Every summer when we visited, the shelves in their garage would be full of baskets overflowing with plump, red strawberries. They grew apples and tomatoes and a few vegetables, but the strawberries were the best. Store-bought strawberries don't do justice to the true experience of eating fresh-picked strawberries. These berries were red throughout and dripped as you bit into them.
Yesterday, I introduced the kids to a fun way to eat strawberries: dipped in powdered sugar! Grandma taught us this trick. She knows everything is better with sugar. She taught me to eat tomato slices with sugar. When I got hiccups, she gave me a spoonful of sugar.
Grandma still grows fruits and vegetables, though not on the scale they did when Grandpa was alive. She still makes her yummy strawberry jam that we get to eat when we visit. For now, I'll have to recreate the simple pleasure of strawberry desserts for my kids with mediocre berries. Maybe it's time to find a berry-picking farm nearby!