This year, QBIN was proud to sponsor the Open Science Room, which took place from June 16-18 at the virtual annual meeting of the Organization for Human Brain Mapping (OHBM). As part of our commitment to help make science more open and accessible to everyone, QBIN has sponsored several activities organized by the OHBM Open Science Special Interest Group (OSSIG) in the past few years, including the Open Science Room and various Brainhack events.
Early one January morning, I hurried out of bed and dashed to the front curb, worried that I would be late to take out my garbage and recycling in time for the collectors. Still in my pajamas with unbrushed teeth and hair, I hadn’t noticed a woman nearby rummaging through my neighbours’ recycling bags to collect bottles for consignment. She approached me to ask for any refundable bottles from my bag. Suppressing my discomfort at the idea of a stranger examining my waste, I opened my bag to allow her to investigate. She sparked a conversation about her distrust of the COVID-19 vaccine and warned me to avoid it at all costs. When I asked her why, she replied that the government had implanted a tracking device in the vaccine so that they could monitor us at all times. She told me that since we had never needed this vaccine before, it is suspicious for the government to insist on it now. I was so completely dumbfounded that I hardly knew how to respond.
Video games are more popular and more profitable than ever before. Having come a long way since the arcade hits of decades past like Pong and Pac-Man, modern video games often have incredible photorealistic 3D graphics as well as complex narratives and engaging storylines that have helped them outperform even cinema in terms of profit and share of the entertainment industry. Video game players get to become part of the narrative by virtually embodying characters through gameplay, which often runs for over 20 hours or more, rather than just observing the story from the outside for 1-2 hours of film. As a result, people often report that video games can to some extent elicit far stronger emotional responses than movies, making it somewhat unsurprising that many games end up with cult-like followings of devoted fans waiting anxiously for the next release.
While art and science are often presented as opposing forces in today’s world, the aim of the two disciplines has always been fundamentally the same: to provide a representation of the real world. This intricate link between art and science becomes more obvious as we look to past discoveries that were made before the invention of modern scientific technologies that help us capture reality, in a time when it was in many ways necessary for scientists to be artists as well.
The second annual Rising Star in Bio-imaging in Quebec was awarded to Dr. Bratislav Misic, Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery at McGill University. Dr. Misic leads the Network Neuroscience lab at the Montreal Neurological Institute, where he and his team investigate how brain networks — the interactions between brain regions — support complex behaviour. We sat down with Dr. Misic for a chat to learn more about him and his research trajectory, and were struck by his humility and positivity. It was a breath of fresh air during these trying times. We hope our interview with Dr. Misic serves as a source of inspiration and wisdom for you, as much as it did for us.
With the COVID-19 pandemic persisting for close to a year now, our daily routines and habits have changed dramatically. Those of us working from home have only a short commute from our beds to our desks, which may be convenient, but also reduces our exposure to different environments and blurs boundaries between work and leisure. Those who have lost their jobs or are shouldering childcare responsibilities on top of their work are facing numerous other challenges and changes to their lives, all of which may have lasting consequences. Most obviously, the change in routine due to public health restrictions has resulted in the visible dwindling of our social interactions. Could it be that the pandemic-related shift in our normal routines is also fundamentally changing the way we think and behave as human beings? It might be too early to tell but it’s definitely an interesting question to speculate about.
Although physical distancing does not necessarily mean social distancing, as it was first referenced in the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, they are often one and the same. Being social usually means spending time with others in a shared physical space, which is undeniably different than the virtual interactions that have become the accepted norm. Seeing our friends and family from behind a monitor is especially dissatisfying when we are only kilometers apart, and while having hundreds of social media “friends” means that we are in many ways more connected than ever, greater use of social media has actually been linked to increased loneliness.
There is a growing movement in the scientific community known as open science that aims to make scientific research fully transparent, reproducible, collaborative, and accessible to all people at all levels of society. In the light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of open science is clearer than ever, and its feasibility is undeniable.
Despite a raging snowstorm characteristic of Montreal winters on February 7th, attendance at this year’s annual QBIN Scientific Day was higher than ever, with almost all of the 220 registered participants from across the province braving the weather to attend the event. Some attendees even made their way over from Toronto and Marseilles, and although weather-related flight cancellations prevented one of our keynote speakers from attending, the bad weather did not stop the day from being a big success!
COVID-19 has shaken our whole world upside down. Our minds are racing with stress and anxiety as we read the news, worry about our loved ones, and feel pressure to stay productive during this unusual time. Coping with this new situation is extremely taxing and resource-consuming, especially for early-career researchers, as we face increasingly unpredictable futures.