So I've decided to write a blog. Why? Well as much as I love scientific writing, I also have views and opinions that I'm keen to to express in a different format, and a blog seems like a great outlet to do so.
I think a major current issue relates to what myself and others call the 'science-public disconnect'; a term that describes the gap between what scientists say and what the public hears. This disconnect is caused when scientific findings are twisted or so hyped up by the media that the essence (and limitations) of the scientific finding is lost and the public is left with a message that differs greatly from that which was intended. Obviously media outlets want headlines and hits, but exaggeration and glossing over the finer details can often do more harm than good by leading to an increase in the public mistrust of science and medicine. One way I think that this can be remedied is by scientists themselves communicating with the lay public to explain their research, and provide insight into their research environment. This is one of the things I intend to do with this blog.
So I'll be writing about my own research, my research field more broadly and my thoughts on a number of related issues such as my perspective on what its like to be an an early career researcher in an increasingly competitive and insecure environment, and what its like to split myself into many parts - including a researcher, a wife and a (new) mother.
So who am I?
My bio provides a brief outline of who I am and what I do, but in brief I'm a research scientist studying the brain and behaviour in severe psychiatric disorders. I'm mainly interested in understanding cognitive (thinking) skills including that related to social perception and emotion regulation. I work at the Melbourne Neuropsychiatry Centre (MNC) in Melbourne, Australia. MNC is a centre of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Melbourne, headed by Prof Christos Pantelis. It has an international reputation in the areas of cognition and brain changes in schizophrenia and related disorders, with several significant papers emerging from the group in journals such as Nature, JAMA Psychiatry, PNAS and Schizophrenia Bulletin. It is home to several very talented researchers including Dr Vanessa Cropley, A/Prof Sarah Whittle, A/Prof Ben Harrison, Dr Andrew Zalesky, Dr Chad Bousman and Dr Julian Simmons.
I'm also part of the Centre for Mental Health at Swinburne University and the Cognitive Neuropsychiatry group at the Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre, headed by Prof Susan Rossell. This group is focussed on characterising cognitive patterns and understanding the neurobiology of cognitive symptoms in psychosis and related disorders through neurobehavioural, neuroimaging and genetic techniques.
Tamsyn Van Rheenen
NHMRC Peter Doherty Biomedical Research Fellow