ScienceOnline2010 – interview with Princess Ojiaku

Continuing with the tradition from last two years, I will occasionally post interviews with some of the participants of the ScienceOnline2010 conference that was held in the Research Triangle Park, NC back in January. See all the interviews in this series here. You can check out previous years’ interviews as well: 2008 and 2009.

Today, I asked Princess Ojiaku to answer a few questions.

Welcome to A Blog Around The Clock. Would you, please, tell my readers a little bit more about yourself? Where are you coming from (both geographically and philosophically)? What is your (scientific) background?

I guess you could say that I was born into a scientific family. My mom is a professor of biology, and my dad was a engineer for some time. My sister and a significant portion of my cousins are all in science-related fields, so it’s almost like science is in my genes. All that home-grown science knowledge helped to push me along the career trajectory I’m on now, and instilled in me a love of science that I want to spread to everyone else!

Tell us a little more about your career trajectory so far: interesting projects past and present?

I got my B.S. in Biological Sciences from Louisiana State University and was fortunate enough to do two years of undergraduate research in a lab that really cemented my love for research. Even though I loved science and research, I wanted to take a few years off before committing to the long and hard road to the Ph.D. So I moved to Chapel Hill and took a technician position at the University of North Carolina. While there, I started reading lots of science blogs and getting more into the idea of being a science communicator, as I felt that the public needed more people to make science less scary and more accessible. Working as a tech also afforded me more time to get into projects like starting a local girl band called Pink Flag and playing shows for the first time ever. In Fall 2009, I started a Master’s program at North Carolina Central University, and started up my blog, Science with Moxie where I blog about the intersection of my two loves, neuroscience and music.

What is taking up the most of your time and passion these days? What are your goals?

Most of my time is spent between my research and classwork, my band, and keeping up regular posting on my blog. I also work occasionally on weekends as a museum educator doing science-themed birthday parties for kids. Some goals I have (since 2011 is literally right around the corner) are posting more often on my blog and doing some reconnaissance missions as to what sort of jobs are available for someone with a Biology M.S in science communication/policy/writing/education/advocacy in August when I graduate. (hire me!). I’m heavily considering going back to school too for a Ph.D., but I guess I just need to figure out what my upcoming Master’s degree can do for me first. Other goals are getting out my band ‘s first full-length record and writing lots of new songs. As for longterm goals, I want to stay involved in both science communication and music, so I’m looking forward to discovering all the different opportunities available to combine my love for both.

What aspect of science communication and/or particular use of the Web in science interests you the most?

I love the complete democratic nature of the internet and the fact that anyone can sign up for their own personal electronic pulpit to reach out to interested minds about anything and everything, and do it as anonymously or as publicly as they like. Another thing I love about the Web and the blogosphere is just the fact that people step up to debunk incorrect information or things that need further study in order to be respectably claimed. The most recent and awesome example of this in the science blogosphere was the whole arsenic bacteria thing in which many independent science bloggers managed to critique and electronically peer-review a hot-off-the-presses scientific paper. That whole incident just amazed me because in this age of open and accessible information things like this can be quickly called out by a network of awesome professionals. I think it’s an exciting time to live in when information is disseminated and then processed so quickly, independently, and simultaneously. In my little nerd girl future fantasy, it’s bringing us just a little closer to the ideal of something resembling “absolute truth,” or at least what we can collectively understand of it.

How does (if it does) blogging figure in your work? How about social networks, e.g., Twitter, FriendFeed and Facebook? Do you find all this online activity to be a net positive (or even a necessity) in what you do?

Blogging keeps me on my toes in the latest of what’s going on in the science world. Researching and writing on topics that are just slightly out of my field helps me become more knowledgeable about my field in particular and better at analyzing thing in general. I feel that Twitter is kind of invaluable for discovering what’s hot in current science and for finding things to blog about. I follow a lot of science-related people on twitter who constantly tweet links that jog the mind and inspire my writing (including this guy named @BoraZ!). So I feel that social networking and reading links that other people post are essential to keeping my blog going with cool and exciting topics.

When and how did you first discover science blogs? What are some of your favorites? Have you discovered any cool science blogs by the participants at the Conference?

I first discovered science blogs via subscribing and reading Seed Magazine as an undergraduate. When the ScienceBlogs network started, I would read the blogs on and off. I got more into reading science blogs right before I started my own blog. SciCurious’ blog posts were always the ones that I looked forward to reading the most, and she is definitely a huge inspiration for my own neuroscience blog. I hope my posts are at least half as fun as all of hers are! Someone else cool I got to meet at the conference last year was Joanne Manaster who makes really fun science videos. There are so many creative people doing so many awesome things for science and meeting her (and so many others too!) reminded me of that.

What was the best aspect of ScienceOnline2010 for you? Any suggestions for next year? Is there anything that happened at this Conference – a session, something someone said or did or wrote – that will change the way you think about science communication, or something that you will take with you to your job, blog-reading and blog-writing?

The best part of ScienceOnline2010 was just getting to mingle and meet so many people in the science blogosphere whose blogs I had been reading for literally years. It was a bit surreal having so many people I admired in one location, all interacting with each other. The whole conference felt so innovative and futuristic from the stream of #scio10-tagged tweets on the screen in the lobby to just the topics being discussed. I think I just took all the enthusiasm and energy of all the people there back to my blog, so I could start carving out my own little contribution to this web of science communication online.

Thank you so much for the interview. And I’ll see you again in two weeks at ScienceOnline2011!

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3 responses to “ScienceOnline2010 – interview with Princess Ojiaku

  1. A fond memory of last year’s conference was having lunch (outside, in January) with Scott Huler and Princess Ojiaku. I was impressed by everything about her!

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