It's Time for Journal Club!

journal club
By Enquye W. Negash
June 02, 2015

One of the great benefits of being a graduate student is getting the opportunity to discuss studies and ideas outside one’s areas of expertise. This allows the student to have a broad perspective of the scientific world and can be achieved in several ways; including participating in national and international conferences, having invited guest speakers, and also visits to laboratory and museum facilities. In addition to these opportunities, in CASHP we have a weekly journal club where all students and faculty come together to discuss recent scientific publications. Several scientific papers are presented by students in these weekly events, followed by interesting and lively discussions by students and faculty members. Papers that are covered in these weekly events highlight human evolutionary studies and related topics, raising issues from different sub-disciplines. To be completely honest, there was inertia to be uninterested in topics that were not within my area of primary interest at the beginning of the semester. However, it has become one of the weekly academic activities that I have come to really appreciate and enjoy. In addition, as CASHP consists of an Interdisciplinary group, it has become very interesting for me to look at possible scientific approaches to a particular study from different perspectives, which would have been impossible without the involvement of the whole team.

Having said this, the weekly discussions are not limited to publications in the fields of human evolution. Once in a while discussions involve subjects outside the sphere of biological anthropology as a science and delve into social issues, which make these weekly meetings more interesting. An example of a very interesting discussion we had over the fall semester involved reading and reflecting on an article published in Nature entitled “Mind the Gap” by Helen Shen1which discusses the gender gap that exists in academia and how women in science are underrepresented and are treated unequally. The paper discusses the fact that one of the major factors driving the low representation of women in science careers is the lack of role models in upper divisions of academia. As a student from a developing country, Ethiopia, and especially from a country where there are only a handful of scientists in the field of human evolutionary studies, let alone female role models, this was a very interesting discussion that touched on issues I deal with and struggle with every day. The paper and the discussion that followed gave me a better insight into where I stand, what kind of challenges to expect in the near future, and how to contribute to the betterment of the situation in the long run. To sum up my point of views as a first year student, I firmly believe that weekly journal club at CASHP is a great forum to go forward in communicating and critically assessing scientific ideas, findings, and achievements among graduate students.

1Shen H., 2013. Inequality quantified: Mind the gender gap. Nature. 495: 22–24.