TuftsNow SciComm Internship – Accepting applications now through May 28th

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Regardless of which career trajectory you end up taking, being able to communicate ideas clearly to a broad audience is a crucial skill for success. The Tufts Postdoctoral Association has partnered with TuftsNow, the one-stop site for Tufts news, social media, events, videos, photography and more, to offer a science communication (SciComm) internship to dedicated PhD candidates and postdoctoral researchers. The internship lasts 1 year (June – May), and interns will work closely with TuftsNow editors to publish 2-3 science- or research-related stories through TuftsNow per semester. This is a great chance to learn the technical details of writing and publishing and build your resume!

This past year’s SciComm Intern was postdoctoral scholar Dr. Erin Lewis, who is currently working in the Nutritional Immunology Lab at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA). Lewis published four different articles with TuftsNow. Her first two articles were based off press releases on Tufts research and translated for the general public on the TuftsNow website. She then moved on to developing stories from her own research and from recently released primary research articles from Tufts scientists. Two of her articles were published in print in Tufts Nutrition, a twice yearly magazine of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and the HNRCA. In addition to receiving feedback on her writing, she was trained in topic identification and interview skills and gained valuable insight into how the editorial process works. When asked to reflect on her time working with TuftsNow, Lewis said, “this was a unique opportunity to learn from experienced editors and gain confidence in translating challenging technical science pieces for the lay public.”

Time commitment varies from 4-8 hours per month. Applications are due Monday, May 28th. Please click here to download an application, or email Lauren Crowe at lauren [dot] crowe [at] tufts [dot] edu for more information.

Getting More Out of Tufts’ Libraries with Laura Pavlech

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We were joined by Laura Pavlech, Research and Instruction Librarian at Hirsh Library and liaison to the Sackler School to learn more about library resources available to postdocs!

Library Essentials for Postdocs 


Laura Pavlech – Research and Instruction Librarian at Tufts University Hirsh Health Sciences Library

Contact info for the Hirsh Library (at the Boston Campus):
(671) 636-6705
Tufts University Libraries (6 total):


  • Hirsh Health Sciences Library (Boston Campus): Floors 4-7 on the Sackler building
  • Tisch Library (Medford Campus)
    • Lilly Music Library
  • Ginn Library (Government and International affairs at The Fletcher School)
  • Webster Family Library at the Vet School (Grafton Campus)
  • Digital Collections and Archives

The librarians can help with:

  • Literature search
  • Finding data and statistics
  • Using citation management programs
  • Developing data management plans (RDMS project, run by TTS – electronic lab notebooks)
  • Answering scholarly communications questions
  • Citation analysis and measuring research impact
All the libraries have their own websites. The Tisch library also has its own chat.
For upcoming workshops (WebEx-based):
  • “Workshops on Demand”
  • You can also request a workshop for your lab or group at the library
  • Every Tufts postdoc should get a username and password to access their library account
None of their resources require VPN!
To request interlibrary loans (ILLs):
  • If not available at the library, there is a charge of $4 for each request
Options to search for a journal:
  • -> Click on eJournals tab, write down the journal name, and the page will redirect to BrowZine to do the search (
      • Does not allow you to save PDFs
      • If at home, use BrowZine
  • Jumbo Search
  • Google Scholar
    • You can change your settings at Google Scholar:
      • Library links -> Search for Tufts University -> Check the Tufts University box -> Click on “Save”
  • FindIt@Tufts
    • For articles available within the library, you can request it and they print it out for you.
    • If not available within the library, go to ILLiad to request an interlibrary loan
Resources to find protocols and methods:
Approach to literature search:
  • Visualizing the literature search as a scientific approach.
  • Focused question:
    • “What is it you really want to know about?”
  • Identify key words/concepts
    • What is the topic?
    • What is the info needed?
    • Where can you find this info?
  • Look at the library research guide or ask the librarian
Indexing in PubMed:
  • Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) – standardized terms
    • Will be located at the bottom of the PubMed search page, once a paper is selected
    • Because it’s people who create the MeSH terms, sometimes it takes a little longer to do the search for a specific combination of words
    • MeSH terms are organized on a hierarchy and can be automatically searched on PubMed
    • Where to find a particular MeSH term?
      • Search for a particular term on the main search box -> Look at the “Search details” box on the right side of the screen (may need to scroll down a bit to find it)
      • Search can be restricted by using sub terms on the MeSH database directly
      • Set up a personalized PubMed account:
        • Saves your searches
        • Break down your search by using 1-2 search term combinations and using “and” (to restrict your search) or “or” (to broaden your search)
          • Words on the search results will be highlighted
        •  Results will also be emailed to you
For writing a systematic review:
  • Request help from a librarian to find the right search databases as well as construct the right search terms
Popular workshops:
  • EndNote
  • Systematic Review
  • PubMed

The Art of Scientific Storytelling with Rafael Luna, PhD

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We were joined by Rafael Luna, PhD, a program director at Harvard Medical School by day and a scientific storyteller by night!
Take Home messages
·       Genesis of Scientific Storytelling
o   Publish or Perish (Academia)
o   How to publish early and often?
o   What is a story? It should have…
§  A beginning and end
§  Conflict and resolution
§  Compelling narrative
§  Logical series of events
o   What is a hypothesis?
§  Educated guess
o   Scientific research = scientific story
Hypothesis Validation = conflict resolution
·       How to write the manuscript
o   Audience Suggestions:
§  Outline
§  Mission statement for paper
§  Start with figures and then rearrange to make sense (like a storyboard)
§  Figure titles
o   Important thing: actually put something down, need to start somewhere
o   Rafael’s recommend order: Title, abstract, figures, results, discussion/introduction (and then return back to work on/tweak each section)
§  How do we compose a title?
·       Title = conclusion
·       One sentence conclusion of your work
o   Narrative Elements: Protagonist, antagonist, conflict, scene, resolution, stakes (The Lion King Trailer as an example)
o   Beginning and ending of narrative very important
o   Titles that pack a punch
§  Put manuscript together from that powerful title
§  Hypothesis
·       Different experiments/results that support hypothesis and build up to the climax result (which is the most important/interesting results that supports the hypothesis)
o   You can build up to the climax result so that you can end the manuscript properly and keep the reader engaged
·       Then validate your data
·       Hypothesis is resolved: have everything in conclusion, everything in your needs to be substantiated by your results
·       Have to be measured with your words and if you want to get it published need to have the data to support your statements
o   Example: Luna et al Cell Reports 2012
§  The evidence for your antagonist/protagonist is in your work
§  Need to look at your work from different angles to properly put together your manuscript
§  Changing the focus between the antagonist/protagonist can change the manuscript substantially which can impact how your paper is received by editors/reviewers
o   Examples of title variations:
§  Missing an antagonist?
·       You end up not knowing the mechanism
§  If you have 2 protagonists…
·       Difficult to go deeper in the mechanism because you have more than one protagonist to focus on
§  Processes can also be protagonists
§  Name your process or device to get more attention for your manuscript
§  If you have a drug without a proper name (combination of numbers and letters) you need to give it a name to let readers know what it means
§  Put as many narrative elements as possible in your title but if you can’t make sure it’s in your abstract
·       Recommendations: publish along the way (through your graduate, postdoc career)
o   Learn how to end a story (which is your mission/conclusion)
o   Catalyze academic writing
·       Let Rafael know if you publish well using his method (get your picture on his successful hall of fame)
·       Use this method when it matters (to tell a logical story)
·       Get feedback from your peers on your manuscript right away!
o   The sooner you know where the pitfalls are the sooner you can fix them!


· contact information