Q & A with a SciCast Predict and Spark User, Sam Lockhart
Q: How did you find SciCast?
A: I subscribe to Science Magazine and received a bulletin about SciCast via e-mail. I was intrigued, followed the link and registered!
Q: What are your research interests?
A: My principal research interest is delineating the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying diabetes complications. Specifically, I am interested in how insulin signaling regulates endothelial function and how these mechanistic insights can be applied to develop therapies that can counter endothelial dysfunction in people with diabetes. I am also interested in how diabetes and other chronic diseases impact on peoples’ lives and how psychological distress can impact upon a person's ability to manage their illness. As such I am beginning a project that hopes to describe the determinants of diabetes distress in a population in Belfast and describing how this impacts upon glycemic control.
Q: How do you plan to use SciCast Predict and Spark?
A: I am a fourth year medical student at Queen's University Belfast and, as such, I am at a very early stage in my career. In my opinion, SciCast has the potential to provide a real-time forum within which to engage with leading researchers. It allows me to examine how they think in terms of likelihood when confronted with new ideas. I am aware my inexperience may lead me to overstate the implications of research findings and SciCast gives me an opportunity to examine to what extent, if at all, I need to temper my enthusiasm to provide objective analyses by comparing my feelings on a topic with the opinions of leaders in the field.
Moreover, as an aspiring academic clinician, SciCast offers a space within which I can broadcast the implications of my future work and can gather feedback in real-time from a group of experts from a variety of fields. Not only would this add expertise, it would allow me to gather insight from highly skilled people who would be looking at my research with “fresh eyes.”
Q: Have you authored any questions? Which?
A: To date I have authored one SciCast question in the general medicine category. The question is:
I had been looking for something to post for a while to try and get a feel for how SciCast worked and I came across this study by Li et al., It seemed like a nice topic to look at as there was some basic science evidence that Sildenafil could, in theory, enhance the pathogenicity of melanoma cells and this study had provided some evidence that sildenafil use is associated with an increased risk of developing melanoma. For someone who is primarily interested in using SciCast as a tool for developing their own critical thinking I thought this question was perfect as it requires one to synthesize information from both basic science and epidemiological studies and then provide a weighted judgment based on that evidence. To me it’s intriguing data, but perhaps I’m too easily excited. Expert users on SciCast can help me figure out if my intrigue is justified!
Q: What do you do in your spare time?
A: Science takes up a fair bit of my spare time but I also enjoy playing rugby, going to the gym and reading.
Q: Anything you’d like to add?
A: I would just like to encourage everyone who's using SciCast at the minute to get their friends, colleagues, relatives, etc. on board! There is something online to interest everyone and the utility of SciCast will grow exponentially as its membership expands!