Monthly Archives: December 2010

ScienceOnline2011 – introducing the participants

As I do every year, I will do a series of posts introducing attendees/participants of ScienceOnline2011. You can find them all on the list, but it may help if you get them in smaller chunks, focusing on a few at a time.

Brian Switek is a freelance science writer and a paleontology research associate at the New Jersey State Museum. He has written articles on paleontology for a variety of popular and academic publications – from the London Times to Evolution: Education and Outreach – and he presently blogs at WIRED Science’s Laelaps and Smithsonian magazine’s Dinosaur Tracking. His first book – Written in Stone: Evolution, the Fossil Record, and Our Place in Nature – has just been published by Bellevue Literary Press. I interviewed Brian twice: in 2008 and just last month so you can see how much his life has changed in the meantime.

Martin Robbins is a scientist and writer. He blogs at The Guardian, runs The Lay Science group blog and he tweets as @mjrobbins. And I interviewed him recently.

Kaitlin Thaney, formerly of Science Commons, is the Manager of External Partnerships at Macmillan. She blogs at Kay and tweets as @kaythaney.

Danica Radovanovic is a Social Web researcher and practitioner based in Oxford, UK. She can be found blogging at Digital Serendipities and tweeting as @DanicaR. I interviewed Danica last year.

Lou Woodley is the Product Manager at the Nature Publishing Group which means she runs the blogs and the Nature Network Blogs where she blogs at Of Schemes and Memes. On Twitter, she is @LouWoodley.

Tatjana Jovanovic-Grove is a scientist and artist in Winston Salem, NC. She teaches biology at Forsyth Technical Community College. See my interview with Tanja here.

Djordje Jeremic, Tatjana’s son, is also an artist. He is a student at North Forsyth High School and he blogs at Paper Disciple’s Blog. I interviewed Djordje last year.

James Hrynyshyn is a Freelance Consultant and journalist in Saluda, NC. He blogs on Class M and tweets as @hrynyshyn. James did a Q&A for my blog back in 2008.

Ivan Oransky is the Executive Editor at Reuters Health and teaches medical journalism at New York University’s Science, Health, and Environmental Reporting Program. He writes on two blogs – Embargo Watch and Retraction Watch – and tweets as @ivanoransky. Read Ivan’s blog interview here.

Stopping a hurricane…or not, at Scientific American Guest Blog

Another week, another series of awesome posts on the SciAm Guest Blog.

We are starting today with How to stop a hurricane (good luck, by the way) by Casey Rentz (Twitter). Enjoy, comment, share….

Quick Links

Much more on WikiLeaks, arsenic-using bacteria etc. – if you missed the older articles on these topics, previous QuickLinks posts have more.
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ScienceOnline2011 – student interview with me

As you all probably know, Miss Baker from Staten Island Academy is coming to ScienceOnline2011 and will, for the third year in a row, bring eight high school students with her to do a panel. As a part of their preparation for the event, the students are interviewing some of the participants who will attend ScienceOnline 2011. The first student to do so was Naseem who interviewed me. Go and read the interview now, post comments and support the students! I was floored at the quality of questions Naseem asked – she made me sweat and think hard about each question. I answered the last one quite briefly as I am assuming Miss Baker would appreciate me not inserting too much political opinion into her science classroom blog.

Brief update

Apparently I did not pay for my online access, hope to have that resolved over the next few days, will get online for a few hours per day at La Vita Dolce cafe, will be offline at nights. Ugh – that will hurt! Bu I may get caught up on book reading….

I spent the day yesterday at the W.M.Keck Center for Behavioral Biology Alumni Symposium at NCSU. It was great to see again my colleagues from grad school days, see what they are up to these days. Many are now postdocs or faculty, doing interesting research. Others are doing other science-related activities, from science education experts to pharma sales-representatives to NIH grant officers. They all love Open Access and PLoS but most need a Big Update on the Web and blogging and social networking etc., and perhaps I can help them in the future in some way as I am local. I may also ask some of them to write something up for the SciAm Guest Post soon.

Edublog Awards

Out and offline all day, but I still have an hour to do this. I usually nominate a whole bunch of blogs in various categories for the annual and prestigious Edublog Awards. This time, especially as I am doing this under the wire, I will nominate only one – in the category of the best class blog. Who? Of course: Stacy Baker’s Extreme Biology. That is how the classroom blogging is done!

ScienceOnline2011 – introducing the participants

As I do every year, I will do a series of posts introducing attendees/participants of ScienceOnline2011. You can find them all on the list, but it may help if you get them in smaller chunks, focusing on a few at a time.

John Hawks is a Professor of Anthropology at University of Wisconsin-Madison. He blogs and tweets.

Miriam Goldstein is a Graduate Student at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD. She blogs on Deep Sea News and tweets. Miriam did a Q&A for my blog back in 2009.

Carin Bondar is a Freelance Writer, Biologist, Mother, Filmmaker, Science Loving Gal, blogger and Twitterer.

Taylor Dobbs is a Student of Journalism at Northeastern University. He blogs and tweets.

Kiyomi Deards is an Assistant Professor of Library and Information Science at University of Nebraska, Lincoln. She blogs and tweets.

Eric Michael Johnson is a PhD Student in history of science at the University of British Columbia (after getting a Masters in Evolutionary Anthropology at Duke). He blogs everywhere and is on Twitter.

Arikia Millikan is the Community Manager at Wired Science Blogs and Haiti Rewired (after doing the same at and Psychology Today Blogs). She is also a research assistant for Nate Silver, founder of FiveThirtyEight. She blogs and tweets. I interviewed Arikia in 2009.

Martin Fenner is a Clinical Fellow at Hannover Medical School in Germany. He blogs at Gobbledygook and tweets.

Alice Bell is a senior teaching fellow in the Science Communication Group at Imperial College, London as well as a visiting academic at Warwick’s Department of Sociology. And she blogs (occasionally also here and here) and tweets.

Joshua Rosenau is the Projects and Policy Director at the National Center for Science Education. He blogs on Thoughts From Kansas and tweets.

A Missing Link Found (and subsequently Lost) at the SciAm Guest Blog

Here is a treat for you at the Scientific American Guest Blog. Today’s contribution is by Brian Switek – check out Breaking Our Link to the March of Progress. Read, enjoy, comment (at the registration the system suggests that you need a confirmation e-mail – you don’t, just log in and start posting).

Quick Links

I’ll be offline all day tomorrow. I hope that stuff I scheduled for automatic posting tomorrow turns out OK, both here and on SciAm Guest Blog….
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ScienceOnline2010 – interview with Kelly Rae Chi

Continuing with the tradition from last two years, I occasionally post interviews with some of the participants of the ScienceOnline2010 conference that was held in the Research Triangle Park, NC back in January. As the next one – ScienceOnline2011 – is quickly approaching, I hope you enjoy these Q&As with past participants. See all the interviews in this series here. You can check out previous years’ interviews as well: 2008 and 2009.

Today, I asked Kelly Chi 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’m a freelance science writer based in Cary, North Carolina, but I spent most of my life thinking that I would one day become a scientist. It turns out that I am terrible at experiments. Although I realized this during my first year of graduate school, I kept going – for three years on the PhD track, stubbornly – with the thought that one day it wouldn’t matter that my hands shake during rat brain surgery. And I could be a professor, think of new experiments, write papers and teach.

During graduate school, I started writing for the college newspaper and realized that I loved writing about science. Short-term deadlines fit me perfectly, I also learned. So I left my PhD, got a master’s and started the science and medical journalism program at UNC-Chapel Hill in 2006.

Leaving my PhD was really difficult for me, not only because I hate the idea of quitting but because it seemed risky to pursue an entirely new career path. But since that time, I’ve learned that there are a whole bunch of writers and editors out there who are also just like me.

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

I wish that freelancing offered more of a career trajectory, but in the past several years I have focused on getting (and keeping) clients and trying different sorts of writing and editing.

While pursuing a master’s at UNC, for example, I worked with the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center on an exhibit for kids called Zoom In, which tackled diverse topics like cystic fibrosis and outer space. The best part of this project was working with a team of educators and designers. We got paid to talk about mucus– who wouldn’t love that?

Last year, I got my first long-ish feature, ‘Disappearing before Dawn,’ published in The Scientist magazine. That became one of the most popular articles on the website in 2009, and that’s probably because you linked to it, Bora. In 2009, I also wrote a small book that I refuse to call a booklet for London-based NGO International Institute for Environment and Development that appeared at the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.

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

Besides the usual freelancing, I’ve been taken a position at Medscape Medical Students as a freelance clinical editor. My goal, for the next six months, will be to help build the website’s blogs, columns and discussions. This content will, I hope, help medical students survive rotations and choose their specialties.

I also manage editorial content for the Amgen Scholars Program website. It’s funded by the Amgen Foundation, and the program gives undergraduates the chance to do scientific research at one of more than 10 host universities across the U.S. and Europe. As part of this work, which is through my client Faculty of 1000, I encourage students to blog about their research experiences in the Program’s private online community. I’ve been able to meet and interact with some really bright and talented undergraduates. These kids are great. They sometimes make me feel old, but that’s okay.

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

Like many of my writer friends and colleagues, I care about making science accessible to people. Most of my work is geared for somewhat specialized audiences, like physicians or scientists or students, but these folks are everyday people in many ways. I try to assume that they won’t have the time or willpower to unpack a mess of jargon. That said, I like knowledge for its own sake, so sometimes jargon will nerdily make its way into my writing. I’m lucky to have patient editors who remind me to fish it out.

Related to the Amgen Scholars and Medscape Medical Students work I’m doing, I am also deeply interested in building online communities and helping make them better somehow. With this goal in mind, I plan to attend ScienceOnline 2011 and absorb as much as I can. Because building communities is not easy, and I need all the help I can get.

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?

I have to admit that I spend more time finding and encouraging others to blog than I do blogging. Motivated by my own hypocrisy, I started a website and attached a blog to it. Besides posting and linking to my own articles, I hope to find time to write about science and health tidbits that interest me. Luckily, no one reads my blog yet (except for my mother and my friend Penny), so no pressure.

I do use Twitter and Facebook, but I find myself posting for different audiences. On Facebook, it’s my family and friends. On Twitter, it’s my colleagues and people who are too interesting to ignore. Most of this online activity is a net positive, I’d say, because it has given me story ideas and the ability to procrastinate in the most productive way possible.

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?

I’m a bit embarrassed to admit this, because it makes me feel technologically challenged, but for me the coolest part about the conference was the undercurrent of chatter on the #scio10 Twitter feed. Attendees used Twitter to sum up the presentations, ask questions, make wisecracks and agree or disagree with the presenters. All in real time. I have to admit that before this conference I avoided Twitter because I thought of it as a giant time suck. Now I think of it as not only not a time suck but, at least in a conference setting, as a way to understand the same presentation through someone else’s more experienced eyes — like internet-o-vision. The experience was kind of a revelation for me. Twitter’s also great for networking: when I started tuning into the conference-related tweets, I got introduced to many attendees in a short amount of time.

It was so nice to see you again and thank you for the interview. And I’ll see you in January!

ScienceOnline2011 – introducing the participants

As I do every year, I will do a series of posts introducing attendees/participants of ScienceOnline2011. You can find them all on the list, but it may help if you get them in smaller chunks, focusing on a few at a time.

Glendon Mellow is a freelance artist and illustrator. He blogs at The Flying Trilobite and administers the ArtEvolved blog network. He is also on Twitter.

Psi Wavefunction is the online pseudonym of an Undergraduate Research Assistant and aspiring protistologist and artist at the University of British Columbia who blogs at Skeptic Wonder and tweets as @psiwavefunction.

Jason Priem is a PhD student in the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, studying science communication – from scientific publishing to spread of science information on online social networks. He blogs and tweets.

Darlene Cavalier is a writer for the Discover Magazine, founder of Science Cheerleader and Science For Citizens where she also blogs, and is on Twitter as @scicheer.

Sara Wood is the Director of Product Strategy at the Public Library of Science and she tweets.

Kevin Zelnio is a PhD student at UNC Wilmington and Research Assistant/Lecturer in the Center for Marine Science there. He blogs at Deep Sea News and The Online Laboratory of Kevin Zelnio and is active on Twitter.

Sheril Kirshenbaum is a writer and a Research Associate at the University of Texas at Austin. She is the co-author of Unscientific America and the author of forthcoming The Science of Kissing. She blogs at The Intersection and tweets.

Kristi Holmes is a Bioinformaticist at the Washington University School of Medicine and the National Outreach Coordinator for VIVO. And she is on Twitter.

Marie-Claire Shanahan is an Assistant Professor of Science Education at University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. She blogs and tweets.

Steve Silberman is a freelance science writer and journalist in California. He is one of the new PLoS Bloggers at Neurotribes and he tweets as @stevesilberman.

New SciAm guest post!

Today’s post on the Guest Blog at Scientific American is Texas “Tea” becomes the Texas “E”? by Melissa Lott – on how the structure of the current power grid affects the ability to add new sources of energy.

Quick Links

Lots of VERY good stuff today:
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ScienceOnline2011 – introducing the participants

Another installment in the series of posts introducing attendees/participants of ScienceOnline2011. You can find them all on the list, but it may help if you get them in smaller chunks, focusing on a few at a time.

David Dobbs is a science writer and journalist located in Vermont. He published several books, including The Northern Forest, Reef Madness: Charles Darwin, Alexander Agassiz, and the Meaning of Coral and The Great Gulf: Fishermen, Scientists, and the Struggle to Revive the World’s Greatest Fishery, and is currently writing a book about the “orchid hypothesis” of depression as adaptation. He blogs at Neuron Culture and is active on Twitter.

Joanne Manaster is an online course developer/lecturer of science courses for the School of Integrative Biology at the University of Illinois. She used to teach histology in the department of Cell and Developmental Biology, and mammalian cell culture techniques and the concepts of stem cells and tissue engineering in the Bioengineering Department at University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. You can learn much more about Joanne, her fascinating life story, and especially about her outreach activities, on her About page. Check out her blog, follow her on Twitter and check out her YouTube science channel. Joanne is a master of video and (together with Carin Bondar) will run a workshop on how to make good vides and a Movie Festival (yes, there will be awards for the best submitted and shown entries!).

Brian Malow is Earth’s Pre­mier Sci­ence Come­dian (self-proclaimed) and a free­lance sci­ence video cor­re­spon­dent for Time Magazine’s web­site. He blogs and tweets and puts his videos on YouTube. He will do a performance during the banquet on Friday night.

Jason Goldman is a graduate student in Developmental Psychology at the University of Southern California. He blogs about cognitive neuroscience in people and other animals at The Thoughtful Animal and Child’s Play and he tweets. He is this year’s editor of Open Laboratory anthology of the best writing on science blogs.

Allie Wilkinson is a scientist, environmentalist, journalist, a student of journalism at Hofstra University, a blogger and twitterer.

Gloria Lloyd is a freelance copywriter/editor, marketing writer, and journalist in Chapel Hill, NC. And she is on Twitter.

Sabine Vollmer, former science reporter for Raleigh News and Observer, now writes and tweets for Science in the Triangle. I interviewed Sabine last April.

Mike Lisieski is a student of Psychology and Pharmacology at the University at Buffalo. He blogs at Cephalove on the Gam network and he tweets.

Hannah Waters got her degree in biology, focusing on ecology, but now works as a laboratory technician in a cell and molecular biology lab in Philadelphia and is planning on going in that direction in grad school. She blogs on Culturing Science and Sleeping with the Fishes and is on Twitter.

Brian Mossop is the online community manager for PLoS Blogs and PLoS Hubs. He blogs at The Decision Tree and tweets.

Best of November

I posted 58 times in November – the record low for me in years!

Blogging. What’s new? was the only original, creative, thoughtful post all month!

I went to the NASW meeting (you can watch my panel if you go here and scroll down to “Rebooting science journalism: Adapting to the new media landscape”).

I gave a talk – Sigma Xi pizza lunch lecture – Science in the current media environment.

His book just came out, so it was a good time for a little bloggy Q&A: Written In Stone: interview with Brian Switek.

And another science blogger published books – ZooBorns!

Another interview in the series: ScienceOnline2010 – interview with Marla Broadfoot

We opened ScienceOnline2011 for registration and had to close in 45 minutes as the confernce was full! A little later on we posted some updates and a Thanksgiving message. Then I started introducing this year’s participants.

The end of the month saw a frenzy as people used the very last moment to submmit their submissions for Open Laboratory 2010.

There is a cool new blog in town – Introducing: Science of Blogging.

Finally, I hosted Encephalon #82, the neuroscience blog carnival.

And over on the Scientific American Guest Blog, I summonned a bunch of great writers for an exciting month of blogging – check them all out:
Apple, meet Orange By Carin Bondar
We all need (a little bit of) sex By Lucas Brouwers
Bacteria, the anti-cancer soldier By James Byrne
Hold that door, please! Observations on elevator etiquette By Krystal D’Costa
Glia: The new frontier in brain science By R. Douglas Fields
To catch a fallen sea angel: A mighty mollusk detects ocean acidification By Kevin Zelnio
Ecologists: Wading from nature to networks By Jennifer Jacquet
Synthetic biology: Building machines from DNA By S.E.Gould
Now in 3-D: The shape of krill and fish schools By Hannah Waters
Food for thought: Musings on sustenance and what makes us human By Diana Gitig
I’m not a real scientist, and that’s okay By Steven Wartik
Science Cafe spreads understanding of bacteria over beers By Tyler Dukes
The Iguanodon explosion: How scientists are rescuing the name of a “classic” ornithopod dinosaur, part 1 By Darren Naish
The explosion of Iguanodon, part 2: Iguanodontians of the Hastings Group By Darren Naish
The explosion of Iguanodon, part 3: Hypselospinus, Wadhurstia, Dakotadon, Proplanicoxa…. When will it all end? By Darren Naish
Don’t leave it to the experts: Why scientists have a few people to thank! By Hannah King
Forgotten dreams? A call to investigate the mysteries of humanity By Lawrence M. Krauss
Divine intervention via a microbe By James Byrne
A primatologist discovers the social factors responsible for maternal infanticide By Eric Michael Johnson
Mauritius kestrel: A conservation success story By Khalil A. Cassimally
Felt up or blown up? The psychology of the TSA, body scans and risk perception By David Ropeik
Power from pondscum: Algal biofuels By David Wogan
Turkey talk: The social cognition of your Thanksgiving dinner By Jason G. Goldman
Epiphany from up high: Can a suburban family live sustainably? By Robynne Boyd
The decade the clones came: Beware the mighty Marmokrebs! By Zen Faulkes
The antidepressant reboxetine: A headdesk moment in science By SciCurious

New post on the SciAm Guest Blog

After the awesome month of November, we are not going to rest on our laurels. We start December at the Scientific American Guest Blog with a great new post – Excuse me, Sir. There’s a Moss-animal in my Lake by Jennifer Frazer. Enjoy, share, comment.

Open Laboratory 2010 – submissions now closed – see all the entries

And it is over! The submission deadline has just passed. No more submissions will be accepted for the 2010 edition of the Open Laboratory.

Jason has lined up an impressive list of judges who will immediately start receiving their first judging lists and will start the complex process of winnowing down almost 900 entries into the final 50 essays/stories, one poem, one piece of art (for the cover) and one cartoon/comic strip. As usual, the book will be published with and we’ll try to have the book ready roughly in time for ScienceOnline2011 (we always say that, I know, but this time we’ll really try hard!)

In the meantime, while this process is ongoing, you can use this post, this collection almost 900 links, as a summary of the year, a sample and a cross-section of the best that happened on science blogs over the past twelve months. A snapshot of history! Quite a collection!

You can buy the last four annual collections here. You can read Prefaces and Introductions to older editions here.

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Quick Links

Open Lab deadline – at 3am EDT!
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