July 13 is “Embrace Your Geekness Day,” and who knew! In honor of the holiday, we wanted to introduce you to some of our favorite staff geeks, who assured us that geek is the new chic.
Here we talk to Allison Rosenzweig, Scientific Communications Marketing Manager at the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.
Allison, tell us more about what you do at the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.
I handle communications with and about our research community, with an emphasis on making our research grantees’ scientific and clinical strategies and accomplishments understandable to a lay audience.
What is your very favorite part of your job?
I love learning every single day about research taking place in the pancreatic cancer field. I also love being able to explain complex topics to self-described “non-science” people in a way that makes it clear and interesting to them.
Have you always had an interest in science?
Yes. My dad is a retired physicist, and he instilled in me a love for science and understanding how things work. I briefly considered medical school, until I took my first molecular biology class and fell in love with laboratory-based research.
Do you have a favorite early memory related to this interest?
When I was around 10 years old, my dad explained to me how metal conducts electricity. Without considering his lessons, I decided to insert metal tweezers into an electrical outlet. I gave myself quite a shock – literally and figuratively – and made an important connection between book-learning and real-life experiences.
Do you agree that “Geek is the New Chic” (we’ve been hearing this about town!), and why or why not?
I can say that many of our (non-science) staff regularly refer to our grantees as “so cool!” and “so cute!” There is definitely an attraction toward someone who is extremely smart and also able to converse well with others. We have quite a range of personalities among the scientists with whom we interact – but they all seem to love the adoration bestowed on them by our staff/volunteers/constituents. Our grantees are treated like rock stars, and they eat it up!
Do you think that all of us have an inner-geek?
I do. I think everyone’s geekiness manifests in different ways – SciFi movies/books, the newest iPhone apps, astronomy, etc. – but yes, I think everyone has some level of appreciation for science/technology and deep-down think it’s really cool!
What is your favorite at-home AND at-work activity that feeds your inner-geek?
I get a jolt of excitement when I open my daily PubMed alerts – a summary of pancreatic cancer-related biomedical papers published that day. Will there be something cool? Will one of our grantees have published findings that we directly funded? And at home, I love moments when I can introduce science to my young kids – whether it’s explaining why a balloon falls to the floor more slowly than a soccer ball or describing how a caterpillar becomes a butterfly.