It’s Science-a-thon!

by Eszter Hargittai on July 13, 2017

As I mentioned a few days ago, I am participating in Science-a-thon today, which has two goals: show the world what the day in the life of a researcher looks like and raise money for science. I will be posting twelve images as updates to this post throughout the day. (I won’t overwhelm the feed by making each image a new post.) I will also be writing about issues related to doing research. My first image is of the main University of Zurich building that I passed with the tram this morning on my way to my office. (For those who’ve been reading CT for a while, yes, this is a change, I moved institutions and countries last year.) If you’d like to support science-a-thon, you can do so here: I’m 23% toward my goal of raising $1,000 as of this morning.

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More here

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The occasional break is necessary to stay productive. My preferred quick distraction is Ingress. Fortunately, my office sits on a portal (or if I’m lucky, three) so it’s an easy quick break before diving back into work. (For those who speak Pokemon Go better, that translates to two Pokestops.)

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Research is rarely a solitary activity. Here I am meeting with one of my postdocs, Amanda Hunsaker, about researching older adults and Internet use. The beautiful plant in the corner is courtesy of a UZH program that includes someone coming and watering/dusting off/taking care of this marvel.

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I find that a good desktop setup is important for staying on task, this works well for me.

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Lots of research happens through group meetings, this one an advisory board meeting conference call for an important CDC-supported project.

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Touching base with my other postdoc, Marina Micheli, in preparation for a longer meeting tomorrow.

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Went for a walk in the office neighborhood. This piece is next to my building. From one side, it looks like an abandoned log, from the other you realize it’s public art. I’m not sure I would have ever noticed it were it not for the fact that it is a portal in Ingress.

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Science requires training future generations of researchers. Teaching courses, mentoring through research, and in this case grading their papers are ways I contribute to the cause.

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I’m old school when it comes to reading books, paper copies please.

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On my way home, I stopped at one of Zurich’s 1,200 fountains. That is, in fact, the number of fountains in the city. There are many that are quite beautiful. Zurich has the most fountains of any city in the world.

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As my last picture of the day, I share with you a picture of my screen with one of my Instagram accounts, the one with one sky photo a day. I started this photo project over a year ago (I’m on day 452 to be precise). Every day I take a photo of the sky. The sky can be so beautiful and so different. I thought it was worth a moment to pause and take it in every day.



DT 07.13.17 at 6:21 pm

What does “raise money for science” mean? Sounds very vague, and a little weird.


Eszter Hargittai 07.13.17 at 6:34 pm

Apologies. Thanks for asking. I didn’t realize that Tracey’s original post about the Science-a-thon required a LinkedIn login. Here is the text from her feed to which I link in my original post about science-a-thon:

Hi All –

You’ve probably heard about the study that over 80% of American’s can’t accurately name a living scientist — and my guess is that the numbers are similar when asking “what do scientists actually do?” Of course, we do lots of things – work in labs, go out in the field, teach classes, program computers – but the public doesn’t get to see this.

As a large-scale public outreach initiative, and the first major fundraiser for the Earth Science Women’s Network (ESWN), we’re launching Science-A-Thon. … an international “day of science” where participants share 12 photos over 12 hours of their day. From morning coffee through the ups and downs of a day in the life of a scientists (any scientist, any field of STEM, students, professionals – all are welcome).

We already have 100 scientists signed on – lots of earth scientists of course, but also cancer biologists, computer scientists, and more. Men and women, from 10 different countries so far. We’d love to have you! Just go to to sign up.


AcademicLurker 07.13.17 at 6:36 pm

DT@1: She doesn’t want people to know that she’s actually raising money to build a doomsday device. The whole science-a-thon thing is just a cover.


TM 07.14.17 at 7:40 am

It just occurred to me that on another thread, people are seriously discussing the claim that humans are motivated exclusively by greed. Of course all the science-a-thonists are making the effort to raise money and engage with the public only to further their careers (as if that were likely…). Says Branko Milanovic:

“Thus even the free time needs to be justified in terms of leading to greater income. People attend speeches of famous economists (who, by the way, have commodified their speeches) not because they expect to learn much, but because they expect to find there others with whom they can “network” (meaning, create future lucrative connections during a time ostensibly spent “learning”).”

Of course the premise is easily falsified in thousands of things people do every day for obviously other reasons than maximizing income (including the considerable time that some people spend reading and commenting (mostly anonymously) on CT, which is certainly not going to further anybody’s careers). What I find a bit frustrating is that an obviously wrong claim that has already been debunked a zillion times gets quoted and taken seriously for one reason only: it has been made by a famous economist.

I’m wondering Eszter what reactions do you get from your Swiss students?


Eszter Hargittai 07.14.17 at 12:58 pm

TM – I certainly wasn’t doing it for greed given that the program that was collecting the funds is unrelated to my research.

I’d be happy to blog about my teaching experiences here sometime. What are you referring to regarding reactions?

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