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SEEDS: Reproducibility in Science


Special to UM News

05-01-17-Reproducibility-Symposium-608x342

Panelists discuss one of the greatest challenges in contemporary science—the failure to reproduce or replicate research results.

MIAMI, Fla. (April 25, 2016)—One of the greatest challenges in contemporary science—the failure to reproduce or replicate research results—was tackled by a first-ever symposium that linked reproducibility and the responsible conduct of research.

The SEEDS “You Choose” Awards and the Miller School’s Institute for Bioethics and Health Policy presented “Reproducibility in Science: Writing, Data and the Growth of Knowledge” on April 24 at the Mailman Center for Children Development, with a keynote talk by Elizabeth Iorns, Ph.D., founder and CEO of the California-based Science Exchange and co-director of its Reproducibility Initiative.

“It is rare and reassuring to see institutional leadership take such a supportive role” in fostering reproducibility, Iorns said during a subsequent panel discussion with John Bixby, Ph.D., vice provost for research and professor of pharmacology and neurological surgery; Dushyantha T. Jayaweera, M.D., executive dean for research and research education and professor of medicine; and Joyce M. Slingerland, M.D., Ph.D., associate director for translational research at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, professor of medicine, and director of the Braman Family Breast Cancer Institute.

The program was chaired and the panel was moderated by SEEDS grant recipient Joanna Johnson, Ph.D., director of writing in the College of Arts and Sciences, who described her work on a project that identifies poor, boastful, and hedging scientific prose as a potential contributor to failures of reproducibility.

What has been called a “crisis” in science, repeated failures to reproduce complex and costly experiments is thought to be an obstacle to public trust in science, especially worrisome in times of budget uncertainty.

Iorns discusssed ways of measuring and incentivizing reproducible research, and included results from the first replication studies published by the Reproducibility Project: Cancer Biology. Iorns was an assistant professor at the University of Miami before starting Science Exchange in 2011. Bixby, Jayaweera, and Slingerland addressed efforts at UM to improve reproducibility and made clear that such efforts are an important component of the responsible conduct of research—and a key element of National Institutes of Health compliance rules for academic institutions.

SEEDS (A Seed for Success) “You Choose” Awards support investigator-initiated activities that enhance the awardee’s community and career. The event was co-sponsored by the Miami Clinical and Translational Science Institute.

For more information about SEEDS, please contact Marisol Capellan, SEEDS manager, at mailto:mcapellan@miami.edu.

 

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Fighting a Different Climate Change


At SEEDS’ Annual Networking Dinner, UM President Julio Frenk encouraged faculty to “persevere” through federal budget cuts that threaten to reduce research funding 

By Robert C. Jones Jr.
UM News

SEEDS

With SEEDS director Kathryn Tosney, President Frenk reviews exhibits featuring faculty research made possible by SEEDS You Choose Leadership Awards.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (April 4, 2017)—Despite President Donald Trump’s proposed budget cuts that would nullify Obama-era climate change efforts and slash funding to the National Institutes of Health by 18 percent, investigators conducting research on global warming, disease, and other pressing global problems should continue to press forward to show that “scientists do know what they’re talking about,” University of Miami President Julio Frenk said last Tuesday at a gathering of about 200 UM faculty.

“Our job is to persevere, to not give up,” Frenk said at the annual SEEDS (Scientists and Engineers Expanding Diversity and Success) Networking Dinner with the President, held at UM’s Newman Alumni Center.

Now in his second academic year as UM’s sixth president, Frenk warned faculty that in addition to the significant threats global warming poses to our environment and ecosystems, society now faces a new type of climate change, one of “skepticism in the most powerful halls of this country about the value of scientific research, of quantifiable facts, and of accessible education.”

Disregard for the important roles people of different ethnicity, race, and gender play in representing the true spirit of America is also at the heart of the new climate change, making initiatives like SEEDS, formed by outgoing UM Provost Thomas J. LeBlanc to combat stereotypes and achieve greater diversity in University-wide programs, even more important, Frenk said.

SEEDS, Frenk said, represents a major step in UM’s efforts to confront and deal with the challenges faced by women, especially those of color, who are at different stages in their education and careers in STEM disciplines. “Educators have been working for over 20 years to encourage more girls and women to participate in science from childhood on,” he said. “But the insidious effects of gender bias are still with us. So we have to be constantly aware of those effects—and combat the environment in which they take root.”

UM’s Culture of Belonging initiative, a key component of the University’s Roadmap to Our New Century, is another way of changing that environment, Frenk said.

He called SEEDS an important part of the University’s STEM@UM Roadmap Initiative, noting that the new Frost Institutes for Science and Engineering, created with a landmark $100 million gift from longtime UM philanthropists Phillip and Patricia Frost, will include multidisciplinary sister institutes that will advance work in the basic and applied sciences and engineering through problem-based clusters that cross academic units and disciplines. The Frost Institute of Chemistry and Molecular Science will be the first such sister institute.

“This first institute and those that will follow in the years to come will contribute in a major way to make the University of Miami a magnet for talent,” said Frenk. “And, of course, there will be many opportunities to dovetail the diverse and dynamic programs and activities of SEEDS with those of the new Frost institutes.”

 

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SEEDS Showcases Its Successes

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SEEDS Showcases Its Successes


UM News

President Julio Frenk gets a summary of a You Choose leadership project from Wangda Zuo, an assistant professor in the College of Engineering.

President Julio Frenk gets a summary of a You Choose leadership project from Wangda Zuo, an assistant professor in the College of Engineering.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (April 7, 2016) – When Kathryn Tosney arrived at the University of Miami ten years ago as the new chair of its Department of Biology, one of the first things she noticed was the scarcity of women faculty in the sciences who worked at UM.

“We were well below the national average,” recalled Tosney, “and few UM programs addressed career skills for women—or for men.”

It was then that she realized something needed to be done to correct the problem. But the only question was: How?

At the University of Michigan, where Tosney served on the faculty before coming to Miami, she collaborated with one of the initial recipients of a National Science Foundation (NSF) Advance for Women in Science grant.

“So I thought, lets start with the sciences and with the women,” she recalled. “I began visiting other science schools and talking with the women about their issues, about their ideas, about possible NSF Advance solutions.”

One might say that was the moment when the seed for a new UM initiative aimed at improving diversity and career development among faculty was germinated.

Today, A SEED for Success—formerly known as SEEDS: Scientists and Engineers Expanding Diversity and Success—is celebrating its ninth year of orchestrating programs that address implicit bias, aid recruitment and retention of women and underrepresented minorities, and foster career development, diversity, and inclusion.

With UM President Julio Frenk and Executive Vice President and Provost Thomas J. LeBlanc in attendance, the initiative held its seventh annual networking dinner at the Newman Alumni Center on April 5, showcasing some of the investigator-initiated SEEDS You Choose leadership projects that help provide career-support resources for faculty. Since 2009, sixty-eight such awards have been given to UM investigators.

Among this year’s notable You Choose projects: A daylong workshop organized by the Rosenstiel School’s Lisa Beal and Amy Clement to advance mentor-mentee relationships among faculty and graduate students; a social science and medicine speaker series launched by the College of Arts and Sciences’ Justin Stoler to bridge faculty from sociology, communications, public health, and anthropology; and a grant-writing workshop by the College of Engineering’s Noel Ziebarth and Abhishek Prasad to help junior faculty in the Biomedical Engineering Department write successful grants.

“As SEEDS expands its constituency, we seek to continue enabling such leaders throughout the University,” said Tosney. “This year we have begun to extend SEEDS You Choose leadership awards to other departments and schools.”

During the dinner event, LeBlanc, who was instrumental in getting SEEDS off the ground at UM nine years ago with initial NSF funding, said SEEDS programs are being “successfully incorporated within schools where they support faculty success and retention and help to transform institutional practices and climate.”

He noted the Mentoring and Grantsmanship Program headed by Professor of Cell Biology Mary Lou King at the Miller School of Medicine, which has resulted in a 29 percent success rate in grant funding awards—10 percent higher than the school’s average. “For researchers in the medical school, during an era when competition is growing and funds are shrinking, survival rests on grantsmanship,” said LeBlanc. “Multiple SEEDS programs that address grant writing have been encompassed within a Clinical and Translational Science Institute grant where they are greatly enhancing faculty success.”

Frenk, who has called for greater diversity, inclusion and belonging since he arrived on campus, praised SEEDS for its successes and called for equal opportunity not only in higher education but beyond. He said he has a “360-degree view of women,” having followed in the footsteps of a “great woman,” Donna Shalala, and worked under two female bosses before he came to UM. He also noted he has a twin sister, a spouse who is a noted health economics researcher, a grandmother who lived to be 106, and two daughters.

Tosney said SEEDS also hosts distinguished lecturers and workshops on leadership, conflict resolution, and writing.

“I give talks on a number of issues,” she said, noting a presentation on implicit bias she gives to search committee chairs each year. “We cannot help having a bias, but we can help our adult behavior. We can overcome our background,” said Tosney. “I grew up in a tiny town in a very homogenous environment. I did not see my first black person until I was 12. When the first two black children enrolled in our high school, their house mysteriously burned down. They left town. My mind no longer lives in that town…the issue is recognizing [bias] and deciding what to do about it. I know what I want to do: Lets change the U.”

 

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