Continuing with the tradition from last three years, I will occasionally post interviews with some of the participants of the ScienceOnline2011 conference that was held in the Research Triangle Park, NC back in January 2011. See all the interviews in this series here.
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?
Geographically I am a child of fly-over country. I grew up in Missouri, trained in Chicago and Minnesota, and have held faculty positions in St. Louis and Omaha. My family will be relocating to Oklahoma this fall.
I trained first as a medical doctor, with training as a pediatric nephrologist (kidney specialist). I caught the research bug during fellowship, and I have pursued this direction in my career ever since.
Tell us a little more about your career trajectory so far: interesting projects past and present?
My career direction changed in 2008 when the American Society of Nephrology hired me to edit a brand-new magazine, ASN Kidney News. Up to that time, I read an occasional blog post, but never embedded myself in social media. As part of our media endeavor, I knew we needed more online presence, especially interactive Web 2.0 stuff. I started a blog, signed up for Facebook, and began tweeting. Now I have personal accounts, magazine accounts, and a new online media project, AWEnow.org.
What is taking up the most of your time and passion these days? What are your goals?
In addition to my online activities, I am changing my career direction. My “hobby” for the last decade has been faculty development. Both MDs and PhDs become faculty members at medical colleges without strong teaching or administrative skills. Some clinicians lack writing skills. Most medical centers must help faculty become more proficient in these areas, and other skills often need ongoing improvement. For example, I helped develop a writing workshop at Nebraska that has drawn in more than 100 participants for 3 years in a row. My new job in Oklahoma will include 1/3 of my time as Associate Dean for Faculty Development. I plan to organize comprehensive support for all career activities, as well as doing research on what actually works.
What aspect of science communication and/or particular use of the Web in science interests you the most?
The web serves up a lot of bad information. I feel we should counter it with the truth, and make real science and medicine available in an accessible manner to anyone who wants to read it. I also love learning about all science. Since I started in social media, I read a wider variety of science and information.
How does (if it does) blogging figure in your work? How about social networks, e.g., Twitter, FriendFeed, Facebook and others? How do you intergrate all of your online activity into a coherent whole? Do you find all this online activity to be a net positive (or even a necessity) in what you do?
Blogging started as part of a paid job, editing ASN KIdney News, and social media goes along with it. I run TweetDeck on my computer to follow accounts and activity during the day, and my BlackBerry and iPad let me track things on the hoof. I can turn the gizmos off (like during leisure activities or when I’m seeing patients). I am finding that a lot of organizations, including academic health centers, have no idea where to begin with all of these new activities. My social media skills have become a bonus rather than a detriment, as I seek out new opportunities.
When and how did you first discover science blogs? What are some of your favourites? Have you discovered any cool science blogs by the participants at the Conference?
I recently served on the Animal Care and Experimentation Committee for the American Physiological Society. A couple of years back, they sent around a post by Dr. Isis on the importance of the IACUC for the investigator. I browsed through some of her other posts, and discovered another woman out there who loved biomedical science and shoes! As I became involved in that blog, after a very brief period of lurking, I made other connections in this portion of the blogosphere/twitterverse. Now I am part of the Scientopia group. At the conference, I was shocked to discover a like-minded blogger at the Lincoln campus of University of Nebraska, Kiyomi Deards. Less than an hour away, and I had not heard about her!
What was the best aspect of ScienceOnline2011 for you? Any suggestions for next year?
Meeting online friends in the flesh was clearly the best part of ScienceOnline. And the free books. Anyone who sends me a pre-publication book will get a read and review. I read fast, and I have fairly broad interests. In that way, I am the perfect book reviewer!
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, or to your science reading and writing?
So much happened at Science Online… In my “real life” almost no one else I know has the passion for writing that I do, along with the science thing. I felt like the mother ship had called me home, with all of these similar-interest alien beings. I do remember a number of speakers suggesting that online activities would get little attention until tenured full professors put them on their CV, so I did. My blogs are now part of my “permanent record.”
I’m still working on making a Prezi of my CV. Getting a house ready to sell has slowed me down a bit. Anyone out there looking for a home in Omaha?
Thank you so much for the interview. I hope you can come again next year.