Impress your friends, join clubs and gain knowledge

Are you an eager science enthusiast struggling to find your bearings? Are you feeling overwhelmed with indecision as you gradually fall into the daily milieu of fall term? Here’s a tip. Actually, it’s more than a tip, it’s a series of bread crumbs designed to steer you in the direction of your interests.

First, you’ve got to understand that Portland State is more than just a liberal arts campus. There are innumerable resources for those wanting to entertain their interests in the sciences, however diverse or outlying they may be.

You might be wondering how one finds these bastions of the likeminded—these fortresses of solitude, if you will—and I assure you, they exist. They’re usually called clubs, by the way. Clubs are all over this campus, and you certainly don’t need to be an expert of anything in order to participate in them. All you need is interest.

In these clubs, you will find people who share your interests. Intensely. You know that Cards Against Humanity card (in the science deck expansion, of course) that says, “Knowing way too much about an extremely narrow topic that nobody cares about”? These people care about that thing. These people will be happy to talk with you about that thing for long periods of time. These people will not nod and smile just to be polite while silently praying for an earthquake to come save them from their misery. These, my friends, are your science bros.

These clubs are ridiculously difficult to find on the PSU website because—let’s be real—everything is difficult to find on the PSU website. Luckily there’s a thing called OrgSync.

On the surface, OrgSync is a national database linked to every major academic institution. Its purpose? Galvanize the clubs. All of them. Best of all, every club president is pretty much required to tend to their club on OrgSync, and that includes everyone at PSU. As it stands, there are 267 clubs currently listed under PSU on OrgSync, and that’s a fantastic thing.

Not all of these are science clubs, obviously (unless there’s been some drastic shift in the definitions of science and/or Bronies), but there are enough of them that clubs will collaborate together to put on events for the rest of PSU. Last spring the neuroscience, biochemistry and environmental science clubs did an event on the science of e-cigarettes. Specialists from each area talked about the effects of e-cigs on your brain and the environment, plus the whole revelation that there’s formaldehyde in e-cig vapor. (Yup, that’s an actual thing that researchers discovered here at PSU in Dr. David Peyton’s lab. And you thought we were all about doing slam poetry in the Dialogue Dome.)

The cool thing about these talks is that you don’t need to be a specialist to understand them. You don’t even need to be majoring in the topic. Unlike lectures, no one will suffer grievous loss of GPA if they don’t show up to a talk, so the presenters make sure they communicate in a way that is accessible to everyone and boring to none. You get to walk away with the most current scientific information about a niche topic that you can then use to dazzle your friends, impress people at swanky cocktail parties and settle even the most heated Facebook debate.

Just remember to use your power responsibly.