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Lee Bishop, Ph.D.

Lee Bishop, Ph.D.

Dr. Lee Bishop was born and raised in Ohio, where he developed a fascination for natural phenomena like rocks, minerals, dolphins, and clouds. He received his informal artistic training at art-school parties in Cleveland (B.S., 2005, CWRU) and formal scientific training at nerd-parties in Berkeley (Ph.D., 2010, UC-Berkeley).

Lee is a chemist. He loves chemistry because of how important it is to human civilization and because of the wonderful window the tiny world of chemicals, with all its different shapes and sizes, provides into the nature of our much larger world. He also like bicycling, boogie boarding, and is currently obsessed with Dr. Who.

Lee first became interested in science education and outreach in graduate school when he facilitated science activities in classrooms. Seeing the excitement in a 5th graders eyes as she discovers that salt water conducts electricity was just as exciting as discovering a new chemical reaction. For his official jobs, Lee is an instructor at Madison College and the Education & Outreach Leader for the Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology. For the latter, he edits the scientist-written blog Sustainable-Nano.com. In his spare time he writes a personal blog, Science Minus Details, and is co-boss of Nerd Nite Madison.

Conducted and contributed by Brian | April 2013

"Get as much experience in as many different things as possible."

For the audio feed check out the HTML player below or on our podcasts page using the PodSnack player

Conversation Highlights

Put on your chemistry goggles and light a Bunsen burner to welcome Lee Bishop. Science educator, communicator, enthusiast. Lee’s Education Express Train also makes a monthly stop at Madison’s High Noon Saloon where he hosts the wildly popular Madison Chapter Nerd Nite. Marketed as 'The Discovery Channel with Beer', this event is held in more than 50 cities and offers attendees a multiple ways to ‘nerd out’. Fascinated with all things science, Lee has truly carved out a niche that enables him share his love of science. His goal: To translate his enthusiasm to the public and teach them along the way on any stage. To quote one of his peers, “Lee instills the inquisitive and adventurous nature of a scientist in readers of all backgrounds”.

"My interest in outreach started at parties in college. I would go to these Art school parties and start talking about science stuff. Many of these people fed off of my excitement."

"I enjoy the elegance of scientific research, but I was not certain it was for me. I thought maybe I would become tired of my field of research."

"I cannot speak enough about the utility of informational interviews, not necessarily for networking, but for seeing what people have done with their careers."

"If you are not going to do the postdoc to professor or postdoc to industry, you will have to step off the rigidly defined track that you have been on. Then, there is no defined path. So, you will have to feel your way through it, similar to an Amoeba and sense your way around it. That was the biggest challenge. Once I was comfortable with it, it was much easier."

"The anxiety was and continues to be tremendous. It was more of a personal anxiety, than it was about telling my PI. Once I decided this was something I wanted to do, it was easier. I felt strongly that I gave research a try, but I continued to be passionate about this other area. So I thought that I owed it to myself to give something else a try."

"Having a supportive PI played an important role, not so much for guidance, but in terms of encouragement. It was not something I had to hide."

"I see some graduate students talking about their advisers and how they were scared to bring things like this up. It seemed like a shame. Many people I talk to appear to have more control over their careers than they think. Speaking with a career counselor or people in your field of interest can be incredibly helpful."

"It is about taking charge of your own career and having the guts to do so."

"Having a science background and blogging experience definitely helped me get one of my jobs."

On the most valuable skill obtained as a graduate student or postdoc. "To understand the science and how to communicate it to people – what are the key features? This is where a blog can be helpful to get rid of all the details and get to the most essential thing and riff on that for a while."

"Keep your mind open to the different possibilities. It is important to talk to people and suck as much information out of them that you can use."

"You have to follow your interests to find out what all of those possibilities are."

"Don’t let your fear of your adviser let you cripple the other career options you may have."