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Science Boot Camp 2017 – Scholarship Recipient Blog Post 3

Posted by on September 5th, 2017 Posted in: Commentary
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This is the third blog post in a series authored by individuals who received scholarships to attend the 2017 Science Boot Camp held at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst on June 14-16, 2017. Please watch for more posts about this event and from scholarship recipients in the upcoming weeks. Read the first post here and the second post here.


Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a scientist? New England Science Boot Camp for Librarians could be your chance to glimpse into the lives of others. I’ve heard more than a few librarians, or aspiring librarians (myself included) quip that they pursued a life of librarianship to satisfy, if only for brief minutes, their research itch for an endless number of topics. Boot Camp certainly entertains that curiosity (but, forewarning, it will only feed your curiosity, not satisfy it).

We had some great speakers at Boot Camp this year: Adena Calden (UMass Amherst) describing the lives of applied and pure mathematicians, Julie Blackwood (Williams College) talking ecological statistics of cicadas and vampire bats, Isla Castañeda (UMass Amherst) with an overview of the broad world of geosciences, Jon Woodruff (UMass Amherst) captivating us with his research into sediment transport and the reconstruction of large storm events, Wilmore Webley (UMass Amherst) dazzling us with the bright future of biomedicine (CRISPR is a game changer!), and Michele Markstein (UMass Amherst) extolling the virtues of Drosophila as a research model (she says ‘we’ when referring to flies) and pounding the metaphorical podium of open access (go OpenFly!). To cap it all off, the inspiring team of the UMass Amherst Scholarly Communications office – Marilyn Billings, Erin Jerome, Laura Quilter, and Jeremy Smith – brought us up to speed on all the things they’re doing to improve open access to scholarship and educational resources. These folks are tireless and unapologetic in their advocacy for Open Access!

Doesn’t that sound like great fun? It was! But at this point you may be asking “Isn’t this just like a symposium or a brown bag at my university/college? I could just go across campus to listen to scientists talk about their research”. And you’re right, sort of.  But it’s a little more than that. With an audience of librarians, not necessarily only other scientists, the speakers at Boot Camp concentrate more on process than on the technical side of their science. This lends us the point of view of the science researcher, allowing us to imagine points in the research process where we could help. Our speakers gave us clues to what resources and services they and their students need to get their work done (e.g. open access journals, data repositories, writing retreats).

Science Boot Camp also differs from a symposium or brown bag in your science departments in that we are in the company of other librarians and aspiring librarians. As riveting as the science talks were, the between-session conversations were of great value to a library school student such as myself. Fellow attendees were ever so generous in answering my endless questions on how their institutions do this or that, what their backgrounds are, and what they see as the skills to concentrate on in the final semesters of my graduate program. I appreciate these experienced professionals taking the time to share the inside stories and boost my confidence that I, too, can someday be a friendly, helpful librarian. You all were great – thanks!

And, finally, a hearty thank you to the planning committee for pulling off a great event, and to the scholarship committee for generously affording me the opportunity to attend. I have a feeling I’ll be seeing you again.

—Jodi Shippee, MSLIS Student, Simmons College & First-time Boot Camp Attendee—


For more about this Science Bootcamp or upcoming event, please visit this year’s website, or contact anyone in the NNLM NER office.

Image of the author ABOUT Martha Meacham
Associate Director of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, New England Region

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NNLM New England Region
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This has been funded in whole or in part with Federal funds from the Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Library of Medicine, under cooperative agreement number UG4LM012347 with the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

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