Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Making Science Cool

I went to my husband's office holiday party last weekend. 

He's an accountant. 

For a company of research scientists.

Images of dweebs with pocket protectors and glasses taped at the bridges of their noses, standing around in somber circles making agonizingly inept small talk, must surely swirl through the mind of anyone who hears those facts, but the truth is a big surprise.

This is a total hipster scene. 

Located in Seattle's trendy South Lake Union neighborhood, Institute of Systems Biology is on the cutting edge of scientific research. These people make science cool.

ISB networks with other systems labs around the world to coordinate research.
A focus on lab-to bedside care emphasizes real-life needs and a human touch.
An education team works with high school science teachers to gear students up for 21st centurt science careers. 

Also, their party planning game is totally on point.

But even as the crowd of a hundred or so hipster scientists turned an on-trend cocktail and dinner gathering into a well-lubricated dance party, my curiosity led me elsewhere.

Show me around the office, I asked my husband.

So off we went on a tour. 

^ Now even though my husband is signing paychecks rather than peering through a microscope, I've always entertained the fantasy that he spends his days shoulder to shoulder to Bill Nye the Science Guy types, all the way down to the white lab coats. I was so happy to find racks of fresh specimens hung here and there around the hallways.

^ Beakers always make me want to be a chemist. 

^ Yes, that is a giant wookie magnet on that piece of probably expensive and entirely legitimate lab equipment. Oh my gosh, nerds really do work here.

^ Personalized lab coats hanging on the backs of the chairs, waiting for another day of rigorous research to begin. I can only hope that there is a pair of goggles stashed in the pocket of each one. 

^ "Watch out for the bio zones," my husband casually intoned. I have never encountered a bio zone before. I was impressed. 

^ Even the kitchen area looks ready for some high level dissections and chemical mayhem. 

^ Finally, my husband escorted me to the place where the real ISB magic happens.

His office.

He's the finance director for the company.
And he shares his space with the lead IT guy.

They have done some great things with the place.

Family photos.
Quotes from favorite TV shows.
More monitors and keyboards than two men could possibly power up and use on an average day.
A collection of rocks that visitors often rearrange and stack into towers.

And while there are no lab coats, chemical compounds or hazard warnings in sight, the truth is that not much scientific research would get done without cash and computers.

Which means that - just as much as any scientist - these guys are making science cool too.

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