Graduate school is notoriously lonely- so I’m on Tinder. And so is the rest of my lab. I’ve seen your profiles, guys! For those unfamiliar, Tinder is a dating app that allows you to very simply browse mates by viewing pictures. You swipe left if you don’t like what you see or right if you do. It’s a social networking site in that it allows you to sort through other people nearby and interact with only those that also swiped right on you. All people, not just grad students apparently, get lonely so Tinder represents a relatively diverse cross section of the population. I’ve met people on Tinder with professions from house painter to software developer to professional clown (swipe left, swipe left!). Now as far as social media goes, it is generally well integrated into my professional life. My advisor is active on twitter, regularly posts on her blog, and encourages us to use online platforms for everything from notebooks to lab organization. We are a modern lab. But this social media communication that we typically practice, such as live tweeting conferences or posting on ResearchGate, ends up being almost exclusively scientist-to-scientist communication. While students should be sure to integrate this sort of communication into their work, most of the world is not populated by scientists. Most people are house painters, software developers, clowns, etc. and my time on Tinder has taught me how utterly incompetent we are at communicating our work with them. As a bioengineer with an emphasis on genetic manipulation, I tend to get a pretty formulaic response from new people. “Oh wow, bioengineering. Miss smarty pants over here.” There’s a certain level of pedantic shock and surprise when you’re young, blonde, female and a PhD student in STEM. This is usually followed by some joke, always pertaining to possible nefarious activities that I might be undertaking in the lab. “What kind of super virus are you cooking up?” “Resurrect any dinosaurs lately?” When I first started talking to people on dating apps about my career, I was shocked by how many assumed I was getting a PhD in Evil. Most people go into my field with the intention of curing cancer, not causing vast global plagues. But our portrayal of scientists in pop culture as generally a little whacked in the head, and superstitious fears of GMOs explain a lot of this. Many people have no picture of what a scientist, bioengineer, or other STEM professional looks like outside of the general stereotype of an old white man with crazy hair. We have done a terrible job showing non-STEM folks that we can be women, people of color, queer, etc. And we have failed in communicating the motives behind our work to them. Tinder has put me into contact with more diverse groups of people than any other social media platform. My list of Facebook friends and Twitter followers is full of scientists like me, but I swipe right on people from all walks of life. Over time, I’ve developed an elevator speech for my work that I can give to non-scientists. I’ve figured out ways to define complicated topics like horizontal gene transfer in metaphors that make sense to a broader audience, ie that bacteria swap genes like Pokemon cards. I’ve become able to talk about complex biological engineering with people who haven’t taken biology since the eighth grade. And these new skills from late night chats and many, many first dates, have improved my science communication skills vastly. I have translated them into speaking clearly with possible funding agencies, improving my K-12 outreach, and describing my work to broader media outlets. But I shouldn’t have had to learn this through Tinder. If we ever hope to see strong funding for science, public understanding, science-conscious policy making, and true diversity in science, we need to shift our communication style. We need to learn in the course of our studies how to communicate outside of our special little STEM club. There is a world of house painters, software developers, and clowns out there that is curious but hopelessly uninformed. We’re the experts and the onus is on us to be able to keep them in the loop by including them in our target audience for communication. We have the luxury of knowing how to find answers in databases, understand primary literature, and think critically about data. Joe from Tinder never learned this stuff. It’s our job to make sure that when we publish a paper, we blog about it in a way he can understand and that is still accurate. It’s on us to ensure that this makes it to media outlets that he uses. And it’s our job to make sure that when we match with him on Tinder, we know what to say.
INTRODUCTION Snakebite has been called “the most neglected of neglected tropical diseases”, and is a serious issue worldwide . In spite of not being an infectious condition, the World Health Organization declared snakebite a neglected tropical disease in 2009 due to the magnitude of the public health problem it poses . Global estimates of snakebite have been as high as 1,841,000 cases per year, while yearly deaths are estimated to reach up to 94,000 . Snakebite, unlike other tropical diseases, has a high mortality/morbidity rate, and thus needs proper health care and antivenom administration immediately after a bite. This is particularly a problem in Colombia, which has one of the highest snakebite incidence rates of the Americas, with estimates around 4,500 cases per year . Distribution of snake antivenom in Colombia is ordinarily managed through private health providers (_Entidades Promotoras de Salud_, EPS), responsible for the acquisition and distribution of antivenom according to its demand within the health centers under their jurisdiction . Additionally, the Emergency and Disaster Group of the Ministry of Health distributes a strategic stock of antivenom through Regulatory Centers of Emergencies and Disasters (_Centros Reguladores de Emergencias y Desastres_, CRUE) in each department according to epidemiological data in periods of antivenom shortage . This is particularly relevant in Colombia’s present situation: the country has been in a state of public health emergency due to antivenom shortage for the past twelve months, a state which was recently extended to last for at least another year . In consequence, there is no unified inventory of antivenom distribution in Colombia, and each producer manages its own distribution . Due to this confusing, fragmented distribution system, antivenom is often unavailable in regions where it is needed. There is a need to establish a distribution policy to optimize storage availability, inventory of isolated regions in high risk areas, and organization of health centers. The aim of this project is to use statistical methods and network theory to develop an optimization strategy for snake antivenom distribution in Colombia, based on current transportation networks and epidemiological data. Factors 1) Geographical factors: In order to create a better distribution method of antivenoms we look at the infrastructure of Colombian Medical Centers distribution. Also, we look at the shorter distance and time based on streets of every spatial point in Colombia to a Medical Center based in Geographical Information Systems. 2) Epidemiological factors: We process data from health vigilance in Colombia (SIVIGILA) for snakebite. That data is on a municipal scale and we taked the number of snakebite cases from 2007 to 2013. Also, we will supose a death rate caused by snakebite based on total Colombia mortality due to envenoming by these animals. RESEARCH QUESTION Can be the snake antivenom distribution on Colombia be optimizied to minimize costs and deaths? HYPOTHESIS Colombian deaths and costs due to snakebite can be minimized by a optimal distribution of snake antivenom based on a centralized model which is being applied in Brazil (REFERENCIA)