Research Round-up: Interviews Edition

In the early stages of our Mozilla Fellowship program, we asked our fellows to interview each other, in part as a get-to-know-you-and-your-research exercise, and in part as a way to build knowledge share in their cohort. The way different people advocate for open science is predictably, different, and there is always opportunities to learn more about how to approach issues you care about from varied personal, geographic, and disciplinary perspectives.

With that in mind, we’re providing access to the transcriptions for these interviews, and pulling a few choice quotes from each to get you hooked! If you’re interested in the parallels between skate culture and urban planning, hip hop and scientific research, medicine and medieval surgery, or just open access and open science, you’re in the right place and you should read on.

For the following interviews, the fellows paired up, with the first fellow interviewing the second fellow listed. Read on to learn more about our fellows and follow their projects in the links below!


Christie + Joey

Quotes by Joey as interviewed by Christie:

“So I ventured out and eventually fell into geography, as is the case for most geographers. Geography gave me an opportunity to learn a little bit of economics, a little bit of urban planning and environmental science, which is what I ended up sticking to in the end.”

“I think in the end [open science] comes down to, access, participation and opportunity. Or like in any good murder mystery show, it’s about means, motive, and opportunity. I think open science and open source provide the means to do science.”

“If you don’t have access to the knowledge or the references or all those sorts of materials you wouldn’t be able to do the things necessary to push science forward. So I think open source and open science save you from reinventing the wheel and allow you to not only level the playing field, but to create some sort of equity.”

“I think there’s a lot of scope for bringing in artists and designers to participate in the scientific process. You know, the last step of the scientific method is “communicate your results” but very little of that is happening for the benefit of the public relative to the number of paper publications out there…”

Here’s the full transcript for additional reading!


Joey + Richard

Quotes by Richard, as interviewed by Joey:

“I believe it is our responsibility as scientists, as people who want the intellectual freedom to study the world to make sure that (public) money (from taxpayers and grants) is being spent effectively and that it is spent in such a way that the public can get some kind of value back. I think at the moment we are failing completely to do that.”

“So something that is true in hip-hop, which is not true in science, is that really anyone can be involved in hip-hop. Science does not have that. Science has a very strong exclusivity about it. Science thinks it’s more important than it is, and the people in it think they’re more important than they are.”

“Hacking values knowledge, especially knowledge that has never been previously discovered. You have to do something fundamentally clever that astound people around you by how clever it is, you have to think of things that nobody’s thought of before, or at least things that nobody’s expecting. That’s really what we have to do in science as well and it can take an incredible amount of ingenuity and research.”

Here’s the full transcript for additional reading!


Richard + Jason

Quotes by Jason as interviewed by Richard:

“[w]hat first told me I didn’t want to be a doctor, a medical doctor, was when I was watching this back surgery, and there was literally a Craftsman toolbox in there…it was as if it were a mechanic shop. And the doctor, the surgeon, climbed up on the gurney and had a chisel and a hammer and was chipping bone out of this person…I was like, holy cow. This is…this is medieval!”

“…and so it was…so that’s when I actually got involved in open access. Because I was so miffed, and I felt like we were doing such an injustice in terms of creating an informed citizenry. You know, that people who cared weren’t able to read and participate in these amazing discussions that were happening in the scientific journal.”

“…[but] I want one of these DNA sequencing machines in my garage. I’m not a biologist anymore, but I want to sequence everything. I want to sequence the tomato plants in my yard. I want to sequence the microbes in my dog’s mouth. You know, I want to know what’s in my earwax. I want to go and sequence everything. And that’s when I was starting to think I could put together a special interest group or a local meetup of people who also wanted to be armchair biologists and do exploratory biology using these new tools…I got introduced to a guy named MacKenzie Cowell, who was working on iGem at MIT, and we started together. And that was all just because…he was really interested in synthetic biology and I was really interested in exploratory biology using these tools. And then that really just sort of blew up all over the world and became a lot of people were really interested in the same kind of thing at the same time.”

“So pretty much every job that I’ve ever done, there wasn’t actually an application process. It was just me showing up and being like, I’m awesome. This project’s awesome. Let’s do it.”

Here’s the full transcript for additional reading!


Jason + Christie

Quotes by Christie as interviewed by Jason.

“Yes, I work with insects…I’d say that was entirely an accident.”

“I’m interested in understanding how lady beetle communities can suppress aphids in agriculture. How we can do things to the agricultural system in order to qualify that interaction…We mostly try to quantify landscape factors…our new work will be asking some climate change questions. How the climate is affecting and extreme weather events are affecting lady beetle communities.”

“Well, I always get very, very excited when I get to use calculus.”

“And so…I realized, oh, I can get a lot more done if I’m able to take data from other places. And then it just ended up being one of my things. People said, hey, I’ve got this data. Can you take a look at it? And it’s turned into a really productive niche for me…I first came to the idea of open science because people were willing to share these data with me.”

“[The alternative introduces] this really fundamental disconnect. We’re training practitioners and then taking away their resources [with closed-source restrictions].”

“I’m currently developing an open science and reproducible research course. And so the idea is to mix these technical skills with the philosophy and the ethical concerns and all of the environments that come with the technical skills.”

Here’s the full transcript for additional reading, including definitions for “over-wintering,” “precision ecology,” “true bugs,” and “muck farms!”

We hope you enjoyed this peek into the peer interviews among our fellows, stay tuned for more research roundups in the weeks to come!