Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Every Week is Research Week

Signing up for a presentation at OHSU Research Week was, for me, a no-brainer. Having spent time in two of the most presentation-heavy graduate programs here at OHSU (Biomedical Informatics & Behavioral Neuroscience), I have given approximately infinitely many research talks since I began my journey as an OHSU graduate student back in 2005. These days, public speaking in front of an audience comes slightly easier to me than speaking one-on-one (sadly, my girlfriend won't let me build a lectern in her living room, though, to be fair, I haven't pressed the issue much). I've given terribly misguided research talks, like my controversial "Where is Western Blot?" & I've given some real crowd-pleasers too, like my oft-cited lecture, "The Circle of Willis & the Circle of Life." I know what it is to utterly fail in public, & what it's like to teach a group of people something new & interesting—not much surprises me up on stage these days.

But it was more than my proclivity for public address that made me want to participate in the OHSU Research Week festivities. See, here at OHSU we've got a bit of an obsession for themed weeks. I was reflecting on this today, which happens to fall during Integrity Week. Standing in my office area, decorating my department's Integrity Fern with the other Biomedical Informatics students, & having a second helping the traditional Integrity Spinach Salad, I wondered—should I organize a '_____ Week' Intervention Week? Heath Care Equality Week, Nurses Week, Head & Neck Cancer Awareness Week—the list does go on & on, to be sure.

The cynic in me says, "Yes. Enough is enough." & I can see his/my point: OHSU is, after all, a Research Institute—quite literally, every week is Research Week, at Oregon Health & Science University. I'm sure there isn't a single student or faculty person here who can remember a week in which they didn't learn or discover something they didn't already know. Okay, maybe the week I spent neck-high in atlases while researching my Where is Western Blot? talk didn't teach me anything of real use, but at least I was pushing the boundaries of my own knowledge, & isn't that the whole point? If every week is research week, why does any week need to be Research Week?

But then the non-cynic in me speaks up: "you're missing the point, cynical alter-ego. Of course it's good that we have themed weeks here at OHSU, & just because you're wearing a monocle doesn't mean people will take you more seriously." I can see his/my point as well: monocles might seem like a good idea, but they're terribly inconvenient. More importantly, Research Week, Diversity Week, Cover the Uninsured Week: these are all great events to have on the OHSU calendar. Since every week is research week, why not carve out a chunk of time to celebrate that fact? Why not come together as a campus to celebrate some of the discoveries we've made, some of what we've learned? Maybe there's a good reason, but I can't think of one. If anyone can, I'll give them my presentation slot during the Informatics session (Thursday at noon, in the Old Library Auditorium! Come hear me talk about my dissertation!), & they can give a presentation about it.

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