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Interview / Joanne Manaster

JoanneManasterJoanne Manaster is a cell and molecular biology lecturer at the University of Illinois. She currently works as an online course developer and lecturer of science courses for the School of Integrative Biology. Prior to this current position, Joanne has taught histology, cell biology, and tissue engineering laboratories to biology and bioengineering students for nearly 20 years. Beside her academic career, she is a science writer and communicator, science video host, and STEM advocate. Joanne has run a girls’ bioengineering camp, and helped with the iGEM synthetic biology team and other outreach activities. She also makes video reviews of popular science books as well as whimsical science experiments with cats, cookies, gummy bears and make-up.

Joanne writes about science at her website, Joanne Loves Science and also at Scientific American blogs. She has been named by Mashable as having one of the 25 Twitter Accounts That Will Make You Smarter. You can find her on Twitter as ScienceGoddess.

Would you, please, tell our readers a little bit more about yourself? What is your scientific background, and your professional scope?

Thank you for asking me to join you!

I am a faculty lecturer at the University of Illinois. I initially started my college studies with plans to head to medical school but through my course of studies I found I really clicked with cell and molecular biology and was very adept at lab work. Through various opportunities, I also discovered I had a knack for explaining scientific concepts so eventually changed my path to teach at the university level. I studied muscle development at the microscopic level in grad school and eventually transitioned to teaching cell biology and histology.

How did you initially get interested in science? When did you start to express your curiosity for science?

I always loved nature and had a fascination with human health. I spent a lot of time in nature and did a lot of reading on science topics. I didn’t know any scientists. I knew they existed from reading textbooks, but the whole field seemed shrouded in mystery. However, I understood what doctors did and thought that becoming a physician would be a valid way to pursue my passion for science. As I mentioned above, it wasn’t until college that I realized how scientists did their work, and could then consider that as a career path.

It is interesting to mention that you are a former international model, back in the days of your adolescence. Did you find something scientific in the world of modeling and fashion?

As far as modeling goes, I was discovered while I was in high school. Initially, I wasn’t enthusiastic about it but realized it would be a great way to earn money for medical school. While I was modeling, I wasn’t thinking about it in any scientific manner as I was learning to interact with a very new and somewhat foreign world. It wasn’t until I completed my science training in college did I really start to see how science explained just about everything. In my course of teaching students, I also began to see the value in piquing their interest by talking about things they could relate to in terms of science, and that extends to my online outreach!

Would you tell us more about your role within executing online courses for current and future science teachers?

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Interview / Simon Phipps

simonphippsOne could call Simon Phipps a real eclectic geek, having in mind his background and activism globally: from campaigning for digital liberties, open data, open source software and political transparency, through his columns at InfoWorld to presidenting at the Open Source Initiative.

Simon studied electronic engineering at the University of Southampton, after which he worked for IBM, being involved in introducing the Java programming language, then he was leading Sun’s open source projects for Sun Microsystems – where he also worked on open source licenses. When Sun Microsystems and Oracle merged in 2010, Simon joined ForgeRock startup as Chief Strategy Officer. Now, he heads his own consulting company, Meshed Insights Ltd.

He is the president of the Open Source Initiative (OSI) since 2012 – the non-profit organisation that advocates for open source software and builds bridges between open source communities and maintains the open source licenses. Also, he is a board director at the Open Rights Group in the UK and on the advisory board of Open Source for America.

Simon has been giving talks at many conferences on open source, free software, digital rights, etc. I had a chance to meet Simon couple of years ago in Oxford (UK), at the Transfer Summit conference on open innovation, development and collaboration, and ever since I’ve been following his work online and offline.

Would you, please, tell our readers a little bit more about yourself? Where do you come from, both geographically and philosophically?

I’m originally from south London but have lived in Southampton for 35 years. I’ve been programming computers and making electronics since I was a teenager, with other interests in general science. I’ve always been fascinated by networks and the capacity for action at a distance, so my career has embraced many aspects of both.

Back in the days of Sun Microsystems, you were leading Sun’s open source projects, and later got involved in the Open Source Initiative. How did you initially get interested in open source software?

At one point I ran a company that helped programmers create and distribute software as Shareware. I realised most people who use software could be trusted to support the developers behind it; our business was successful as a result! That opened my eyes to the deeper reality that underlies open source software. If you remove the obstacle of needing permission to contribute, a community will naturally collaborate to create what they need individually and share it with everyone else. So when I arrived at Sun from IBM, I already believed that open source was a crucial part of the new society emerging because of the Internet. At Sun I was privileged to oversee the relicensing of pretty much the whole of Sun’s software portfolio, including Java, identity management, Solaris, and much more. The legacy we created is still important, especially the code that has ended up as LibreOffice and the ongoing releases of Java under the GPL.

Would you explain to our readers what do Open Source Initiative (OSI), beside promoting open-source software, do for the Internet, science, research, and academia?

OSI was formed in 1998 as the steward of the then-newly-coined “Open Source” concept. It checks that copyright licensed labelled “open source” really do deliver the freedom to use, study, improve and share software source code. The OSI’s evaluation of licenses is globally respected and provides a benchmark that’s written into law and policy in many countries.

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