• If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • Stop wasting time looking for files and revisions. Connect your Gmail, DriveDropbox, and Slack accounts and in less than 2 minutes, Dokkio will automatically organize all your file attachments. Learn more and claim your free account.


Cover letter

Page history last edited by PBworks 12 years, 4 months ago

Proto Cover Letter

any comments, suggestions, etc are encouraged. perhaps not formal enough?

the strategy was showing why im qualified, rather than telling it...

job description here

Isn’t it funny that our most human experiences – our passions – are the most difficult to put into words? It’s relatively easy to describe an object, a person, an event; but try to verbalize your feelings towards your parents, the beauty of the Swiss Alps, or your fear of hospitals, or fury in the face of racism. Suddenly, most words fail most of us, most of the time. I recall a certain biology professor trying - in vain - to transmit something of the phospholipid layer's baroque beauty while students looked on, non plussed “But it’s so cool,” he moaned, pacing the room frantically. His own excitement was evident, but it was an excitement that many students could not share.


In part, it is the very precision of science that undermines our capacity to communicate its insights outside of a (relatively) small group of enthusiasts. Take any discipline – mathematics, sociology, hair dressing – and you will find that it has an intricate language of private vocabularies, obscure references, and inside jokes. These vocabularies both contribute to the culture of science - we bond and form communities based on our local, disciplinary idioms - and separate the meaning of scientific insights from our larger cultural contexts. Are we surprised, then, to hear people say “I don’t really get math”? The impulse to do science is likely universal: all of us, especially as children, feel curiosity towards our world. We want to understand how it all fits together. Yet the rhetoric of science, in all of its complications, precision and obscurities, can wither and atrophy our natural curiority! Certainly a common tongue is lacking.


I wrote my undergraduate thesis on the dopamine gene DRD4. My parents, who aren’t scientifically inclined, were baffled at my initial attempts to explain my research. I realized later that only by contextualizing the information could I properly explain it. My final thesis integrated molecular genetics, neural anatomy, evolutionary theory, and neuropathology, among others. By showing how my research related to things my parents could grasp – Parkinson’s disease, or orgasm – I provided them a context into which they could integrate this new information. This is where the big picture comes from: putting the puzzle pieces together. Our science shouldn’t consist of special fields of knowledge divorced from one another, but as a continuum of how the world really works. CF. E.O. Wilson, consilence.


Genius is the capacity to see connections in the world that go on invisible to others. My heroes have always been polymaths, the intellectual mavericks whose expertise spans across disciplinary lines. If we can step back and see the whole map we’ve revealed, we can understand better where we are. Our science is telling the story of our world. It is telling our story. If we can couple science with the creative instinct to reveal its profound interactions, we can tell the story better.


We need rhetorical strategies that describe not only the content of our science, but articulates the excitement of its implications. Genetics is the story of our species. It illuminates our evolutionary past, helps us to understand where we are today, and has profound implications for our future. If we can educate one another in the language of life, we can share the passion of its beauty and possibility. We can and must share our story if we are to face our planetary and ecosystemic challenges together.


Oh. And (for the record) the phospholipid bilayer is really cool.



Comments (0)

You don't have permission to comment on this page.