Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Barres lecture at SfN

Tuesday morning at the SfN meeting, I was casually walking out of the restroom in Hall B1 when I happened to glance over at the powerpoint slide projected onto one of the big screens. When I saw the word "transsexual", my curiosity was piqued so I sat down to listen.

I also pulled out my SfN program to see the title of the talk, which turned out to be "How Do Astrocytes Promote CNS Synaptogenesis?"

The presenter was Ben Barres from Stanford University and around 30 minutes into his talk was a discussion about scientists embracing diversity and his opinion on ethical/moral considerations associated with this. He also added that he is transsexual and mentioned his own experience within the scientific community. The audience applauded and the next slide was scientific data related to the title of his talk.

I'm curious to know how Barres segwayed into this moral lesson in the middle of a scientific presentation. Was anyone else in attendance at his talk and, if so, could you fill me in?

1 comment:

  1. The transition came when he was talking about the work of his postdoc (now an Assistant prof. at Duke) who did most of the experiments described in his talk. His praise for her was effusive, and he showed a picture of her with her young child. Then he said something like, "This is a good time to mention something that's very important to me, about the importance of women in science, and other diversity in science." He also referred to his talk last year at Harvard, which went into much more detail on the subject. I was lucky enough to see the Harvard talk in person, but you can watch it on video here: http://www.memdir.org/video/ben-barres-dearth-of-women-in-science.html