Freelance Scholar and Science Advocate, German, PhD in neuroscience (2007-2010), postdoc in USA and Portugal (2011-2018)
Recent episodes featuring Dennis Eckmeier, PhD
39 From Cosy(?) Academia to Harsh(?) Industry! – with John Stowers
Life as an Early Career Researcher is rather uncertain. The conditions for most postdocs aren’t really great and the availability of professorships isn’t increasing at the same rate as the number of PhDs entering the academic career path – we talk about this, regularly. So it makes sense to seriously consider other career options, and we do so every now and then, too. For this episode, I talk to Dr. John Stowers, engineer, neuroscientist, and founder of “LoopBio”, about the transition from postdoc to technology business founder! Listen to the Full Conversation on Patreon! Academic Nomad After being hit by a natural disaster in New Zealand, John left his home country for a postdoc in Austria. He didn’t just switch countries, he also switched from engineering to neuroscience. In his time in Vienna, John developed experimental setups far ahead of the curve in terms of complexity. As other laboratories kept asking for his help with their own setups, he realized there was a market for a certain subset of the technologies he used for his own research. Moving Into Entrepreneurship When his adviser was about to leave Vienna, John faced the decision to either look for another postdoc position in Vienna, where his now-wife was still working on her Ph.D., or follow his adviser to Freiburg in Germany. He did neither. Because the postdoc came with many uncertainties and he didn’t see postdoc opportunities that he considered a step up in his career, he decided to become an entrepreneur, instead. After googling “How to found a company in Austria”, John and his partner got themselves legal and financial advice and founded LoopBio. How They Built It They used their professional network and the reputation John had gained by publishing an impactful paper to find early adopters. Those were laboratories in their field willing to invest resources in LoopBio in return for John and his partner to develop custom solutions for their high-end requirements. By focussing on exclusive customized systems for scientists in a narrow niche, LoopBio gathered experience and a reputation.  Now, a bit over three years later, John is satisfied with the course the company is taking, and they are looking to widen their customer base by investing in promotion at the leading neuroscience conferences. LoopBio Conference Booth (Left: Dr. John Stowers, Right: Max Hofbauer, MSc ) What John Learned On the personal side, John is very happy with his role as an entrepreneur. He says it gives him the freedom to choose his battles and to develop the products the way he wants them to work, which is particularly satisfying. Of course, there is still a good amount of stress involved, but it’s stress about different things. He urges early career researchers to realistically think about the uncertainties that lay ahead. Making clear career decisions every now and then is probably better than getting stuck in one career path for too long because one is trying to avoid them. LoopBio is Hiring They have two open positions: * Sales / Administrative Assistant* Junior / Front-end DeveloperBoth would be perfect for a scientist/programmer or science lover looking to transition to industry. All the fun of keeping up with the latest cool advances in behavioral (science) experiments without the burden of writing papers. Do you have questions, comments or suggestion? Email, write us on facebook or twitter, or leave us a video message on Skype for dennis.eckmeier. Links LoopBio Website LoopBio on Twitter Virtual Reality for Freely Moving Animals
A Split in the Human Species: ANYA the Movie – with Carylanna Taylor and Jacob Okada
In this episode, I talk about the science fiction movie ANYA with its creators, Anthropologist Dr. Carylanna Taylor, and Jacob Okada of First Encounter Productions (not a sponsor). The plot of ANYA could happen today! It all starts with a couple in New York that has difficulty having a baby. The groom is a member of the Narval People who keep to themselves – mostly because they think there is a curse that prohibits them from having children with anyone but other members of the community. They bring in a geneticist to find out why they are having problems procreating, and this is where the story becomes interesting. Listen to the Full Conversation on Patreon! As his assistant accidentally analyzes the genome of Marco (Gil Perez-Abraham), an expert in neanderthal genomes Seymour (Motell Foster) finds a mutation that may explain the problem. The change in the genome happened in an “Ultra-Conserved Element”, a real genetic phenomenon where certain regions in a gene never change. His hypothesis is that such a mutation may prohibit procreation with someone who doesn’t carry the same mutation. Do you have questions, comments or suggestion? Email, write us on facebook or twitter, or leave us a video message on Skype for dennis.eckmeier. A population of people who can have viable offspring with each other, but not with other populations is considered a distinct species. Did Seymour discover a new species of humans? What does this mean for the Narval, the people named after the small island in the Caribbean on which they originated? Seymour suggests applying gene editing to allow Libby (Ali Ahn) and Marco to have a baby. This leads to a whole list of ethical questions that the movie wants to raise. And we talk about these issues in the episode. ANYA is being released on November 26th for download from Amazon, Apple, Google Play, vimeo and Hulu, and you can also order it as DVD. And the next big screening will be on November 30th at the SciFi FilmFest in Berlin! LINKS: ANYA the movie Trailer First Encounter Productions Genetics Paper featured in the movie: Abnormal Dosage of Ultraconserved Elements Is Highly Disfavored in Healthy Cells but Not Cancer Cells Episode on the CRISPR babies in China
37 NOT IN MY BACKYARD! – with Bart and Dennis
After an unforgivable delay this episode is finally out. We had some personal and technical delays. Sorry about that. Anyways, in this episode Bart and I continue a conversation about the Energiewende. Based on the latest episode we spoke about which solutions we think should work well. The big problem seem to be the “Not In My BackYard” stance of many people who live where the new infrastructure need to be built. Since Brexit was supposed to happen, we also talk about Brexit, and how it is hurting science in the UK. Listen to the Full Conversation on Patreon! Energiewende To my surprise, Bart informed me that there are scientists who argue for a hydrogen based personal transport system. I am surprised, because we have hydrogen is so much more expensive. So, we go back and forth with a couple of arguments about practicability of different solutions. After that we talk about the problems building the infrastructure. Many citizens protest the construction of wind turbines and transmission lines, which is bringen the expansion of renewable electricity production in Germany to a halt. To me, personally, this is a petty stance. Where I am from, the famous “Hambacher Forst” isn’t far. They didn’t just built some turbines and power lines, they removed whole forests and towns to mine brown coal. There are several coal plants, and mines, here. I took the photos for the artwork of this episode, myself. Both (wind turbines and coal power plant) were taken within walking distance from my home. Brexit Bart gives us a quick review of what happened prior to the last almost-brexit that happened on October 31st. But the reason we wanted to talk about brexit was that there were news from The Royal Society: UK science has already suffered greatly from the brexit-uncertainty. Do you have questions, comments or suggestion? Email, write us on facebook or twitter, or leave us a video message on Skype for dennis.eckmeier. Resources The Royal Society Report 29 Climate Action: Energiewende – with Rüdiger Eichel 36 Energiewende II: Power Distribution 24 Brexit: Its Impacts on Science and Scientists – B&D with guests German government invests in hydrogen fuel technology [in German]
36 Energiewende II: Power Distribution
This summer climate change has finally made it back into public discussion in Germany. In the last episode on climate change, Rüdiger Eichel and I spoke about Fridays for Future and how the results of the election for the European Parliament reflected the increased awareness for environmental topics in the EU. In this episode I talk to Tom Brown from the Karlsruhe Insttitute of Technology. He models how we can use different energy distribution systems to balance the fluctuating power production from renewable sources. There are many variables and options to consider. But the good news is that a carbon neutral economy in Germany should be possible. We focus on Germany, because it’s Europe’s biggest economy. It is highly industrialized, and still very much reliant on fossil fuels for power production. And on top of transitioning away from fossil fuels, Germany is also fading out nuclear power as well. So, if Germany can manage a transition to a carbon neutral economy, every country should be able to achieve this, too. So it is worth keeping your eyes on Germany and the Energiewende. Listen to the Full Conversation on Patreon! The cheapest way to increase carbon neutral power is to have renewable sources for electricity, locally, and to have a power grid connecting far-away regions. Then you can simply move power from regions where there currently is a lot of electricity to those where renewables are currently not producing much – for example, because it is dark and the wind isn’t blowing. A network across all of Europe could do the trick. However, there are regions in which people are resisting the installment of overhead transmission lines, and wind turbines. There, the energy needs to be transmitted there, differently – which is more expensive. But there are, indeed a range of technologies providing different options to solve the problem. Do you have questions, comments or suggestion? Email, write us on facebook or twitter, or leave us a video message on Skype for dennis.eckmeier. resources:– follow Tom Brown on Twitter– Tom Brown’s personal website– Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)– Tom Brown’s ArXiv paper explaining more about the feasibility of 100% renewable-electricity systems
35 Why Academia Fails – with Bart and Dennis
The main topic for this episode is Why Academia Fails… or better, what we may learn from the book “Why Nations Fail” (Acemoglu & Robinson) about the shortcomings of academia. But before we get to it, we will talk briefly about what happened over the last month – most importantly, I will give you my report on the Global Climate Strike as I experienced it in Lisbon, on September 27th.This episode is special, in the sense that we decided to make it a 2-Part episode. In this first part we basically set up the background information, and in the November talk episode, we will have a proper, structured discussion. And you have the chance to contribute! If you have read the book “How Nations Fail”, or are for other reasons familiar with the concepts of extracting and inclusive institutions, give us your feedback on how this could be applied to academia! Listen to the Full Conversation on Patreon! As always, the episode begins with some small talk. Dennis – and thus Science for Progress – moved from Portugal to Germany. Bart has some good news in terms of publications! Dennis also reports from his experience at the Global Climate Strike in Lisbon, Portugal. He talks about what he felt, about the involved parties, etc. He actually took a lot of pictures that you can see on our social media accounts: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter! Do you have questions, comments or suggestion? Email, write us on facebook or twitter, or leave us a video message on Skype for dennis.eckmeier. In the main part, then, Bart talks about the book “How Nations Fail” (not sponsored), which he recently read. He explains what “extracting” and “including” institutions are, and how the concept fits to academia.
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Nov 16th, 1978
Lisbon, Portugal
Episode Count
Podcast Count
Total Airtime
1 day, 3 hours