Impactstory Advisor of the Month: Keith Bradnam (July 2014)

Headshot of Keith Bradnam

Meet our Advisor of the Month for July, Keith Bradnam! Keith is an Associate Project Scientist with the Korf Lab at UC Davis and active science communicator (read his blog, ACGT, and follow him on Twitter at @kbradnam).

Why is Keith our Advisor of the Month? Because he shared his strategies for success as a scientist at a well-attended Impactstory info session he organized at UC Davis earlier this month. Plus, he’s helping us to improve Impactstory every day, submitting bug reports and ideas for new features on our Feedback forum.

We recently emailed Keith to learn more about why he decided to become an Advisor, what made his recent workshop so great, and his thoughts on using blogging to become a more successful scientist.

Why did you initially decide to join Impactstory?

When I first heard about Impactstory, it just seemed like such an incredibly intuitive and useful concept. Publications should not be seen as the only form of scientific ‘output’, and having a simple way to gather together the different aspects of my academic life seemed like such a no-brainer.

In the past, I have worked in positions where I helped develop database resources for other scientists. These type of non-research positions, often only provide an opportunity for one formal publication a year (e.g. a paper in the annual Nucleic Acids Research ‘Database’ issue). This is a really poor reflection of the contributions that many bioinformaticians (and web programmers, database administrators etc.) make to the wider scientific community. In the past we didn’t have tools like GitHub to easily show the world what software we were helping develop.

Why did you decide to become an Advisor?

Impactstory is a great service and the more people that get to know about it and use it, the better it will become. I want to be part of that process, particularly because I still think that there are many people who are stuck in the mindset that a CV or résumé is the only way to list what you have done in your career.

I’m really hopeful that tools like Impactstory will forever change how people assess the academic achievements of others.

How have you been spreading the word about Impactstory in your first month as an Advisor?

I’ve mainly been passing on useful tweets from the @Impactstory Twitter account and keeping an eye on the Impactstory Feedback Forums where I’ve been adding some suggestions of my own and replying to questions from others. Beyond that, I’ve evangelized about Impactstory to my lab, and I gave a talk on campus to Grad students and Postdocs earlier this month.

How did your workshop go?

Well perhaps I’m biased 🙂 but I think it was well-received. There was a good mix of Grad students, Postdocs, and some other staff, and I think people were very receptive to hearing about the ways that Impactstory could be beneficial to them. They also asked lots of pertinent questions which has led to some new feature requests for the Impactstory team to consider. [You can view a video of Keith’s presentation over at his blog.]

You run a great blog about bioinformatics–ACGT. Why do you blog, and would you recommend it to others?

Blogging is such an incredibly easy way to share useful information to your peers. Sometimes that information can be succinct, factual material (these are the steps that I took to install software ‘X’), sometimes it can be opinion or commentary (this is why I think software ‘X’ will change the world), and sometimes it can just be entertainment or fun (how I used software ‘X’ to propose to my wife).

I think we’re currently in a transition period where people no longer see ‘blogging’ as being an overly geeky activity. Instead, I think that many people now appreciate that blogging is just a simple tool for quickly disseminating information.

I particularly recommend blogging to scientists. Having trouble following a scientific protocol and need some help? Blog about it. Think you have made an improvement on an existing protocol? Blog about it. Have some interesting thoughts about a cool paper that you have just read? Blog about it. There are a million and one topics that will never be suitable for a formal peer-reviewed publication, but which would make fantastic ideas for a blog post.

Blogging may be beneficial for your career by increasing your visibility amongst your peers, but more importantly I think it really improves your writing skills and — depending on what you blog about — you are giving something back to the community.

What’s the best part about your current gig as an Associate Project Scientist with the Korf Lab at UC Davis?

I think that most people would agree that if you work on a campus where you get to walk past a herd of cows every day, then that’s pretty hard to beat! However the best part of my job is that I get to spend time mentoring others in the lab (students, not cows), and I like to think that I’m helping them become better scientists, and better communicators of science in particular.

Thanks, Keith!

As a token of our appreciation for Keith’s hard work, we’re sending him an Impactstory t-shirt of his choice from our Zazzle store.

Keith is just one part of a growing community of Impactstory Advisors. Want to join the ranks of some of the Web’s most cutting-edge researchers and librarians? Apply to be an Advisor today!

Leave a Reply