Category Archives: SO’09

ScienceOnline’09 – interview with Tatjana Jovanovic-Grove

The series of interviews with some of the participants of the 2008 Science Blogging Conference was quite popular, so I decided to do the same thing again this year, posting interviews with some of the people who attended ScienceOnline’09 back in January.
Today, I asked Tatjana Jovanovic-Grove to answer a few questions.
Welcome to A Blog Around The Clock. Would you, please, tell my readers a little bit more about yourself? Who are you? What is your (scientific) background?
Thank you, Bora
Tanja za vretenom.jpgI am a lucky individual who was given a chance to exist, create and interact with other living beings on this amazing planet. It is hard to put this into right words. Those who know me, know that I was shocked to find out the extent of the Bible Belt grip here in NC, and again, I can not help but have immense respect toward Nature and be as humble as our human existence allows. Dusko Radovic said once (I know there are plenty of ex-Yugoslav readers here, thus both original quote and translation): »Mi smo mrve na Zemlji, Zemlja je mrva u kosmosu. To se moze razumeti sve dok nas ne zaboli zub. Mrvine mrve mrva…« »We are crumbs on Earth, Earth is a crumb in the Universe. All that is easy to comprehend until we have a toothache. Crumb in the crumbs crumb«
So, yes, I was lucky to be born in a wonderful country that used to be, in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Belgrade. Lucky to be surrounded with amazing people who did good, one way or another. Ones who were kind and respectful to show me how to act, and the opposite ones, to show me how not to act and how to avoid the traps. For both of them one big thank you.
Part of why I consider myself lucky is to be able to study biology, and some 24 years ago University of Belgrade had really extensive curricula. Today, according to Bologna accords, BSc in Biology at University of Belgrade is equal to an MSc elsewhere, but when I graduated Serbia was still not part of the Bologna process. I worked for eight years at the Ecology Department at Institute for Biological Research on predator-prey relationships, small mammal identification and mostly owl research. Thus my full name doesn’t ring much bells, as Tanja Sova does: ‘sova’ means an owl, and that was the word people associated with me so often, it became my pseudonym.
When I moved to USA, Arizona at first and two years ago to North Carolina, I developed a line of artwork inspired by nature. Discovering Etsy helped a lot in many ways, but that is a story for some other interview.
What do you want to do/be when (and if ever) you grow up?
Growing up??? You are kidding! Why would I?
Oh, well… Since I went into adulthood, I was provided with tools to play seriously. You know, when we were young, it was digging around and taking care of pets that was considered play. With a degree, you just turned that play into some serious job. Now I play, I mean create artwork, and I love it. Yes, giving and sharing knowledge / skills is my ultimate wish what I want to do when I grow more gray, I mean when I grow up 😉
What is your Real Life job?
In economy like this, and we’ve been trained that very well back in Yugoslavia / Serbia, one has to be like a cat: to get on its feet. I am open for possibilities, but for now I am self employed making mostly custom orders on Etsy.
What aspect of science communication and/or particular use of the Web in science interests you the most?
Biologist in me is active, although in the background for a while. Bringing the missing pieces into the puzzle of personal and professional knowledge, as well providing inspiration for art. As a parent, I enjoy sharing links with my children and discussing them. Sometimes I am too busy to be able to read all I would want to, so the most active blog reader in the family, Djordje comes with his opinion and it develops most of the time into a discussion either when we craft something together or when we are on the road.
When and how did you discover science blogs? Have you discovered any new cool science blogs while at the Conference?
It’s all your fault J OK, jokes apart, when we knew we were moving to NC, I googled information that I considered important to learn where am I moving to (SC and VA were options as well), and just came upon your blog. WOW! The new world opened. The amount of time I spend there really depends on available time I have, which is unpredictable. However, sometimes there are some hot topics that steal me from artwork and grab my full attention following the links. I was really, really glad to be able to meet in person many people whose blogs I have read. Irreplaceable experience which I am looking forward repeating. It was discovering many very cool people first of all, and learning about new blogs as well.
When did you become an artist? How do you combine your interests in science and art?
I would rather say that just like this figure was more of a freeing the captured sculpture from within, the same is with artist in us: circumstances make the artist surface from within, with each artwork it is more prominent. Whenever I can, I do my best to combine science and art. I’ve learned long time ago that having strong imagination helps understanding natural sciences, and understanding science brings vast amount of art themes to create. I really enjoy Etsy for although you can find ANYTHING there, it has somehow enough numbers of free thinking and highly educated people, many biologist themselves amongst sellers, who apply science knowledge / theme / process / subject into their art. Again, being popular amongst scientists and students, Etsy is helping in widening the public for really specific subjects that otherwise would not have as much appreciation in general public. Examples for such an artwork is this pendant that you can see here. The NYTimes article brought some amazing people, such as Leslie Vosshall, with whom I worked on pendants I am sure not many people from general public would appreciate or understand: Drossophila melanogaster and Aedes aegypti. Learning more about her and her work was even greater joy.
You led two sessions at the conference – one about producing Art for a blog, and the other about Open Access in developing countries. How did they go and what did you learn from them?
Meeting Glendon Mellow was a joy even before we met in person. There are so many interests we have in common and I love his visions of science. Luckily the format of unconference was really good, as you have on-the-spot exchanging and sharing information. I am hoping we tackled some strings and definitely know that there were dozens of tips shown that are more, in my opinion, technical information rather than art itself. However, all those tips are enhancing blogging. Lot of laughter, some quite unintentional but very welcome, as a result of miscommunication between Betul and Djordje 🙂
Danica and I are coming from two different angles and I believe we have opened some questions and definitely paved the way to the upcoming 2010 session with Jelka Crnobrnja-Isailovic. I think session with Danica was also good example of how it is important to have people with different backgrounds in the library systems. Even in biology itself, I recall often a block to understanding between ecologists and molecular biologists, for instance. Demands of publishing at the same rate with laboratory experiments versus field work that needs to have few seasons before showing proper results worth publishing simply does not add up. That is one of the topics for upcoming session as well.
Jelka and I are not only colleagues, but first of all friends, and I am sure this will reflect in a fluid and relaxed session at the unconference in January.
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, your art, blog-reading and perhaps blog-writing?
I wish a day had more than 24 hours (48 would do just fine) for all I would want to do. It was so refreshing being again amongst scientists and some new kids on the block (Balasevicevi ‘neki novi klinci’). I have learned a lot as a parent (at that time homeschooling Djordje), as a biologist to pass tricks and tips to my fellow biologists in Serbia, both who are in education and research, and to understand first-hand the American way of approaching problems I could only read about. Talking in person helps a lot, really. It is hard to stress who would stand out, for there are many, really, and placing the names I would not feel good for the others (say I will mention trilobite, tulumbe, vole dance, discussion about religion just to mention a few topics without mentioning the names), but I really have to say I was blown away with Ms Stacey’s students! As my owns kids are similar age, I was honored to meet them, and quite a few young ladies and gentlemen impressed me the most with their knowledge, dignity, eloquence and mannerisms. My kudos to them. About my blog: have opened one, but still short in time to write. Hopefully in the future.
It was so nice to meet you again and thank you for the interview. I hope to see you again next January.
I am looking forward being part of the conference again. Thank you and Anton for incredible amount of time and energy to organize these truly important events!
==========================
See the 2008 interview series and 2009 series for more.

ScienceOnline’09 – interview with Arikia Millikan

The series of interviews with some of the participants of the 2008 Science Blogging Conference was quite popular, so I decided to do the same thing again this year, posting interviews with some of the people who attended ScienceOnline’09 back in January.
Today, I asked Arikia Millikan, the former Overlord here at Scienceblogs.com, to answer a few questions.
Welcome to A Blog Around The Clock. Would you, please, tell my readers a little bit more about yourself? Who are you? What is your (scientific) background?
twitter_arikia1.jpgFirst and foremost, I consider myself a scientist, though perhaps not in the traditional sense. I studied the “hard sciences” throughout my education and scientific principles govern my outlook on the world. But my lab bench is my laptop and I mostly conduct observational studies on the way people use the Web to communicate.
I do experiments, too. I spent about eight months “Cat Herding” at ScienceBlogs, and that was a pretty major experiment. The variables were ideas as well as “physical” changes to the appearance and functionality of the network. Tweak this, upgrade that, measure the changes with analytics and user responses, update methods accordingly. Way better than the lab-coat variety, IMO, because while conducting my experiments, I got to play with awesome scientists online.
I’m also a communicator. I began my undergraduate studies in the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan. The first week of classes, we were instructed to forget everything we ever learned about writing, because we were only going to perform “technical writing” from there on out. I didn’t like that. I remember thinking, “Science is hard enough for most people to understand, why would anyone purposely create a whole new language to further obfuscate the concepts, making it more abstract to the people who will eventually use products created by science?” So I got what I could from the program, which mostly was an ass-kicking in calc-based physics (but also a solid foundation in the fundamentals of computer programming), and my junior year I changed my major to psychology and joined the student newspaper. There I started the science beat and reported on scientific accomplishments and their societal implications.
What do you want to do/be when (and if ever) you grow up?
I want to be someone who, in the future when people look back at the evolution of the Internet, they’ll say, “Arikia Millikan played an important part in how awesome this is today.” I’d also like – and this is my total pipe dream goal — to write a tech column for Wired. It’s the one publication I subscribe to in print and I read it cover-to-cover every month.
Most importantly, I want to be someone who never stops learning about and benefiting from technology. I am not going to be the old curmudgeon musing about what new technologies the young whippersnappers are in a frenzy about at any given moment. I think that, in the process of learning, some people acquire mental blocks where they think they can’t learn new things, and this can be a very damaging state of mind. I’m 22 right now and I think I’m pretty quick to use and adapt to new gadgets, computer programs, and Web features as they emerge. But I want to be just as adept when I’m 72, Moore’s Law be damned.
What is your Real Life job?
I’m funemployed! I have an assortment of freelance jobs and gigs that keep me mentally occupied and sustain my existence in New York City. The project I’m the most excited about right now is that I’m working with Nate Silver, founder of FiveThirtyEight, as his research assistant. He’s in the process of writing a book about statistical predictions and there’s a large focus on science. So basically, I get to travel around the country accompanying him on interviews with the most awesome scientists I can find. Besides that, I build websites, I have a handful of top-secret projects I work on sporadically with some really talented people in Brooklyn, and I write things occasionally. Working with Nate, I’ve realized that I’d like to write a lot more. I’ve always been someone who has a lot to say, but sometimes it’s hard to say it when you’re constantly in the presence of scientific greatness. It’s like, who am I to write on a topic when there are tons of people already doing it way better than I ever could? I guess it’s kind of a lame excuse. I’ll try to try more and see what happens.
internets.jpgOh, and I pick up shifts here and there at The Internet Garage, a grungy public computer lab in Williamsburg, the hipster sector of Brooklyn. I provide Internet and technical support for customers and help them use the equipment here, all of which is either crappy or broken. It’s a pretty hilarious place. Most people think it’s a drug front. I assure you that it’s not, though the owners don’t seem to be remotely concerned with turning a profit. I kind of want to write a screenplay about the IG someday.
What aspect of science communication and/or particular use of the Web in science interests you the most?
Well, it’s the field of communication via the use of the Web as a science that interests me the most. The fact that the topic of conversation in the networks I study is science is just a bonus, really. On a recent trip to MIT with Nate, we met Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web. He talked to us about the emergent field of Web Science and drew us a circular flow chart that I’m going to frame and mount on my wall. Web Science is different than Computer Science in that it takes human behavior online into account and examines the way our behavior shapes the development of the Web itself. That’s the stuff that really gets me going. I want to know everything there is to know about this field.
How does (if it does) blogging figure in your work? How about social networks, e.g., Twitter, FriendFeed and Facebook?
Blogging and social networking tools are the subject of my work. They enable the individual to simultaneously be consumers of content and providers, and that’s a really powerful concept. I don’t blog too much myself, though I do use all of the above social networking tools on a daily basis. My primary use of them is personal, but it blurs with the professional. I don’t think the two necessarily have to be separate, and I think with the way voluntary information sharing is heading, it will soon be impossible to keep them separate. I think a lot of people are adamant about using sites like Twitter to enhance their professional careers and propagate their viewpoints, and that’s awesome. But I’m 22 and living in the craziest city in the world. Sometimes a girl just needs to Tweet about a guy she just saw with full-face tattoos or a gambling adventure in a speakeasy bar. The question Twitter begs to know is “What are you doing?” after all.
When and how did you discover science blogs? What are some of your favourites? Have you discovered any new cool science blogs while at the Conference?
cat herder.jpgTo be honest, I discovered them when the magazine intern position I applied for with Seed Media Group was filled, but they had an opening with this thing called “ScienceBlogs”. The first time I looked at the ScienceBlogs homepage, I had no idea what it was all about, and this turned out to be a large source of motivation in my work there. I figured that if I couldn’t tell what the deal with the site was or intuitively access the best and most relevant content, most other people couldn’t either. So I accepted the internship and set out to try to make ScienceBlogs better. In that process, I discovered that there was a more effective way for me to further scientific communication than by directly doing the communicating. And now I hope to make that my career.
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?
Attending ScienceOnline 2009 showed me that, though the Internet is a big, mysterious place where there are tons of opportunities for deception, people are generally who you would expect them to be. To “know” someone online, and then meet them in real life, you get insight into layers of one’s personality that, in the past, you may not have had access to. It makes just as much sense sometimes that a person has the exact opposite temperament online that they do IRL, than if their online and offline personalities are one and the same. Attending ScienceOnline last year reinforced the human component of what I do. Because, though it is about traffic and numbers and economics, the best part is knowing that you’re helping someone achieve his or her goals of science communication.
Thank you so much. See you again in January at ScienceOnline2010!
==========================
See the 2008 interview series and 2009 series for more.

Tatjana in NYTimes!

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know Tatjana Jovanovic-Grove. Or you can remind yourself by checking this, this, this, this and this.
If you came to ScienceOnline09 (or followed virtually) you will remember that she co-moderated two sessions there: Open Access in the networked world: experience of developing and transition countries and How to paint your own blog images .
Well, today, Tatjana is in New York Times! I hear from those who get the papers in hardcopy, that the article starts on the front page, but the part with the interview with Tatjana and her husband Doug is on the third page of the online version of the article. I wish the theme of the piece was happier….but who knows, perhaps appearance in the Old Media (especially if the link is spread virally via New Media) may bring in a job!
What is really nice is that the online version of the article links to Tatjana’s Etsy store, so perhaps she’ll get some business that way!

ScienceOnline’09 – interview with John Wilbanks

The series of interviews with some of the participants of the 2008 Science Blogging Conference was quite popular, so I decided to do the same thing again this year, posting interviews with some of the people who attended ScienceOnline’09 back in January.
Today, I asked John Wilbanks from the Common Knowledge blog to answer a few questions.
Welcome to A Blog Around The Clock. Would you, please, tell my readers a little bit more about yourself? Who are you? What is your (scientific) background?
I’m John Wilbanks.
Wilbanks pic.jpgI abandoned a biology degree about six months into my university education, in favor of philosophy and languages. I’ve got some informal experience in molecular biology and genetics. I floundered into bioinformatics by accident about ten years ago. Turns out that the philosophy work in epistemology and semantics has at least some utility in the computer world.
What do you want to do/be when (and if ever) you grow up?
I’d love to be a professor, but I’d probably have to go get more letters after my name to make that happen.
What is your Real Life job?
I am the VP for Science at Creative Commons. As part of that, I direct the Science Commons project at CC.
What aspect of science communication and/or particular use of the Web in science interests you the most?
This question has forced me to write an entire blog post devoted to it. I’ll be posting it later today, hopefully. Edit: Here it is!
How does (if it does) blogging figure in your work? How about social networks, e.g., Twitter, FriendFeed and Facebook?
I blog intermittently, and I get some responses from it. I think I’m too intermittent and too verbose when I post for it to be a real conversation. But it’s been a constant surprise to realize that people actually read it.
For me it’s a place to vent. I learn by talking. So I also learn by blogging. The ideas take shape as I try to frame them, and I often look at something after it’s on paper and feel a real sense of discovery. It’s also a more informal place to get my thoughts out – someplace I can speak for myself more freely than as the John-who-works-at-Creative-Commons.
When and how did you discover science blogs? What are some of your favourites? Have you discovered any new cool science blogs while at the Conference?
I didn’t really start reading blogs regularly til 2004 or so. Once I got over the activation potential and got a good feed aggregator going, it was all over. I actually got started with the Corante blogs – Copyfight and In the Pipeline, in particular. ITP remains one of my favorite blogs of any stripe. Derek Lowe should be required reading for anyone who thinks drug discovery is easy or that IPRs are the reason drug discovery is hard. Drug discovery is hard because making drugs bend to your will and then work in real human bodies is fiendishly hard, and reading the daily logs of a working medicinal chemist brings that point home in a visceral way.
I track a lot of stuff via the Nature Network Boston site also. They come in through a common RSS feed so I don’t even think of them as separate blogs. I read The Loom. Brain Waves. All My Faults Are Stress Related. I read Dorothea Salo when she was at Caveat Lector, and again at the Book of Trogool.
I discovered Danica Radovanovic at the conference, and read her Digital Serendipities.
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 was sadly only really there for a few minutes. The conference fell during a time of extreme travel. But it did bring home for me how varied the blogging culture is in the sciences – I lost some preconceptions I had about the real potential of blogs to change the system.
It was so nice to see you again and thank you for the interview. I hope to see you again next January.
==========================
See the 2008 interview series and 2009 series for more.

ScienceOnline’09 – interview with Victor Henning

The series of interviews with some of the participants of the 2008 Science Blogging Conference was quite popular, so I decided to do the same thing again this year, posting interviews with some of the people who attended ScienceOnline’09 back in January.
Today, I asked Victor Henning from Mendeley to answer a few questions.
Welcome to A Blog Around The Clock. Would you, please, tell my readers a little bit more about yourself? Who are you? What is your (scientific) background?
Victor Henning pic.jpgI was born in Hamburg/Germany in 1980, moved to London in January 2008, and as a direct consequence, have discovered my love for Marmite and the BBC. In between, I’ve dabbled in a great number of different things. When I was 16, I dreamed of having my own record label, so I worked for Sony Music in Berlin and Revelation Records in Huntington Beach. I then studied for a business degree in Koblenz, Brussels, and Oslo. I decided two switch my life ambition to producing films and worked in a film production company in Munich.
In 2002, while a student in Oslo, I authored my first academic paper on European Film Funding Policy for a journal called Media, Culture & Society, realizing that I enjoyed doing research quite a bit. I enrolled for a Ph.D. at the Bauhaus-University of Weimar, where I could participate in producing short films and co-organized a film lecture series called Guru*Talk that was recently published in book format.
Ultimately, however, my Ph.D. – which I hope to finish this year – is mostly about decision-making in the context of hedonic consumption: Intertemporal choice, ethical/illegal choice, and emotional versus cognitive choice.
What do you want to do/be when (and if ever) you grow up?
I do have a few unfulfilled adolescent rock star ambitions. When I was 15, I thought playing bass guitar in a Nirvana/Soundgarden/Pearl Jam tribute band would surely get me a girlfriend – it did not. Perhaps that was to do with the fact that I wore a Klingon Empire hoodie, nerd glasses, and was a card-carrying member (literally) of the European Star Wars Fan Club. So I’d love to play in a band again, and I’d love to write and produce films. I don’t know whether that counts as growing up or regressing, really.
What is your Real Life job?
I’m involved in Mendeley full-time. My job is mainly to develop the product roadmap, which involves bescribbling many pieces of paper, writing a lot of specs, throwing colored foam balls at headphone-wearing engineers to get their attention, attending conferences like yours, and helping to organize the European counterpart, Science Online London.
Tell us more about Mendeley – what it is, how it works, how did you get the idea to develop it?
As a Ph.D. student, I was downloading hundreds of papers I needed to read – but storing, indexing, sorting, and referencing them was about as much fun as getting punched in the face repeatedly. My friends Jan and Paul (fellow Ph.D. students and researchers) felt the same. We thought: Why isn’t there a software into which we can just drag & drop PDFs, and it then automatically extracts the bibliographic data, the keywords, the cited references, and makes the full-text searchable?
That was the initial idea: Create a desktop-based bibliography tool that automates the tedious tasks as much as possible. But we also realized that, if you connected all these individual bibliography databases through a web interface, you could add interesting networking and collaboration features as well.
So first and foremost, Mendeley is a free bibliography management software that’s available for Windows, Mac and Linux. It auto-extracts data from your PDF collection, retrieves additional information from CrossRef, PubMed, arXiv, and Google Scholar, and creates a searchable reference database. You can read, highlight and annotate PDFs in the internal PDF reader, and you can create bibliographies using Word/OpenOffice plugins.
Mendeley pic.jpg
In addition to that, you also get an online account on Mendeley.com that lets you sync your library with multiple other computers or to the cloud. This way, you can manage your papers online, or import documents from external databases using a browser bookmarklet – besides PLoS, we currently support 25 other research databases. Finally, you can set Mendeley to sync with your CiteULike library and (in the next release) your Zotero library. Here is the full list of bibliography management features.
What aspect of science communication and/or particular use of the Web in science interests you the most?
I think what excites me most is the potential to add a social layer of discovery and impact measurement. The analogy I always use is Last.fm, the world’s largest “social music service”. Last.fm tracks which music you listen to on your computer, iPhone, iPod etc., then creates a personalized radio station for you. In addition, you can access listening statistics for pretty much every single genre, band, or song on earth – for example, here is the page for my favourite band, The Robocop Kraus.
We want to achieve for research what Last.fm did for music. We are creating anonymized real-time readership stats for every single paper, journal, and author – of course, these will get better the more users we have. Of note, PLoS ONE is doing quite well in these stats, as Pete Binfield pointed out a while ago 🙂
PLoS ONE on Mendeley.png
We’re also working on recommendations – based on your existing library, which other papers might be interesting for you? And also, as an opt-in feature, which other academics have research interests that are similar to yours?
I recently gave a talk about these issues at the Next Web Conference in Amsterdam – here’s the video:

Link: Mendeley @ TheNextWeb Conference

How does (if it does) blogging figure in your work? How about social networks, e.g., Twitter, FriendFeed and Facebook?
It’s tremendously important. We use the Mendeley Research Blog to give our users a glimpse behind the scenes of a start-up, as well as to get their input on new features and releases. We also share our views on life in academia, science on the web, or – more recently – the future of scientific publishing. Both FriendFeed and Twitter are great to connect with people who think about these issues. Lastly, it’s a very effective support channel: Whenever people ask questions about (or report problems with) Mendeley, we can respond in minutes and try to help them out.
When and how did you discover science blogs? What are some of your favourites? Have you discovered any new cool science blogs while at the Conference?
I can’t really remember a conscious moment when I discovered science blogs. I’ve always been reading lots of non-fiction and science-related books, so stumbling upon science blogs was a natural progression. My favourites – in terms of the science they discuss – are Vaughan Bell’s Mind Hacks and Mo Costandi’s Neurophilosophy. As for insights into the future of science online, I really like Cameron Neylon’s Science in the open and Michael Nielsen’s blog.
It was so nice to meet you and thank you for the interview. I hope to see you again next January.
There’s pretty good chance you will – looking forward to meeting again!
==========================
See the 2008 interview series and 2009 series for more.

ScienceOnline’09 – interview with Danielle Lee

The series of interviews with some of the participants of the 2008 Science Blogging Conference was quite popular, so I decided to do the same thing again this year, posting interviews with some of the people who attended ScienceOnline’09 back in January.
Today, I asked Danielle Lee from the Urban Science Adventures! © blog to answer a few questions.
Welcome to A Blog Around The Clock. Would you, please, tell my readers a little bit more about yourself? Who are you? What is your (scientific) background?
I am Danielle Lee and I am a biologist. Specifically, I study animal behavior from an ecological point of view. I am also African-American, which in and of itself isn’t particularly interesting, but matters in the sense that less than 3% of the PhDs awarded to scientists are held by persons of color. The likelihood of meeting a Black scientists is still uncommon, so I often look at the field of science as not only an interesting field of study, but also one aiming to become more diverse.
What do you want to do/be when (and if ever) you grow up?
DNLee pic.JPGAn outreach scientist – great title, but the job description changes often. Sometimes this title refers to an academic position responsible for coordinate broader impact projects for a department. I would coordinate undergraduate research efforts as well as coordinate public outreach programs for researchers and students. I would help them prepare for public presentations to facilitate activities that would engage the general public such as hosting science expeditions or summer science camps for youth and their educators.
I really enjoy how informal science programs, such as those offered by museums and science-related agencies participate in public education efforts. I think there is an overwhelming need to dedicate outreach resources to under-served communities, such as minority communities, immigrant communities, and inner-city/rural communities. Mobile learning labs, citizen-science projects, and scientists and students doing hands-on community service can go a long way in enhancing public perception of science and efforts to attract talented people to the field.
Related to this idea of outreach to under-served communities, what I would REALLY love to do is
produce and host a science television program about urban ecology and nature appreciation in cities that specifically targets young urban kids as an audience. As popular as nature shows are, I have never known one that has had an African-American host or a female host or that routinely features a person of color as the science expert. Plus, urban television markets don’t have enough education programming in my opinion and a science show like this might be appealing to their audiences.
What is your Real Life job?
Right now my job is writing my dissertation, which includes analyzing data and interpreting data, and editing manuscripts for my committee to review. I am not compensated for this activity and I am not teaching labs for the university because I want to put all of my attentions into preparing for my defense. When I am done I feel optimistic that I will secure a teaching position or a post-doc fellowship that gets me even closer to one of those dream occupations listed above.
What aspect of science communication and/or particular use of the Web in science interests you the most?
Blogging was my first online communication and still is my favorite. I like the ease-of use and simple formats that websites and blog sites offer. You can find information relatively easy, tabs and tags are used to organize information, you click and there you are. What I like about blogs, specifically is that readers can comment and interact with me and each other. It creates a conversation of the information which mimics real-life teaching except the interaction happens over time and geographic space.
If leverage properly, the web is a great way for me, and scientists in general, to interact with the public in a direct and informal way. Readers, ho might be school kids or curious adults, can simply ask a question and hold a conversation with a scientist. What other medium offers that kind of one-on-one access? None, not even our great informal science programs at museums or state conservation/wildlife departments.
How does (if it does) blogging figure in your work? How about social networks, e.g., Twitter, FriendFeed and Facebook?
It can be hard to reconcile my attentions – blogging and doing primary science work – such as doing my research projects and writing up the results. As often as I can, I try to share what I am doing on the blog. I find it personally rewarding and I justify my efforts as meeting broader impact goals. I am sharing science – the culture and ethos of science – with people. I imagine it all matters because too few people (that I know who aren’t scientists or academics) truly understand what science is or how to appreciate nature and my blog guides them.
When and how did you discover science blogs? What are some of your favourites? Have you discovered any new cool science blogs while at the Conference?
For a long time, I was unaware of other science blogs until I discovered scienceblog.com – which is a community of independent bloggers who can post original content or cross-posts entries from other blogs. I simply wanted an outlet and a way to interact with other people. I cross posted some of my posts there for a while. Soon after than discovery, I attended a workshop at a science meeting, Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, 2006 I think – in Phoenix. There was a workshop about science blogs featuring two science bloggers, and one of them was GrrlScientist. It was then that I learned that there was a scienceblogs.com and it was nothing like the other site. It was great finding this one-stop location for all science blogs.
Some of my favorite science blogs include:
Science To Life by Karen Venti – I was so excited to discover I was not the only Black female science blogger in the universe
Scientist, Interrupted, – I love her photos and quizzes
A Blog Around the Clock – I just love your vibe, so kind, so patient and informative. I think of you as the Papa Smurf of ScienceBlogs- yeah there are some smurfs in the village who aren’t that easy to like but you seem so accepting of them all.
Isis – so straightforward and witty
The Oyster’s Garter
Since the conference I have started reading Thus Spake Zuska, Greg Laden, ScienceWomen, The Fairer Science, Southern Fried Scientist and Deep Sea News – marine bloggers are so funny!
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?
A lot of small things that add up. In general I appreciate the importance of science communication and I am a strong advocate for science sharing – whether it be a scientist, a student, a university media officer or a science journalist. Science news and information is too important and there are still too few science communicators. The public needs these outlets, whether they know it/appreciate it or not. Plus, the more traditional science culture is not addressing these needs. So I continue to promote science blogging (and science communication) to the two most disjunct and seemingly under-served audiences I know: 1) the African-American community and 2) Academic Scientists.
It was so nice to meet you and thank you for the interview. I hope to see you again next January.
==========================
See the 2008 interview series and 2009 series for more.

ScienceOnline’09 – interview with Carlos Hotta

The series of interviews with some of the participants of the 2008 Science Blogging Conference was quite popular, so I decided to do the same thing again this year, posting interviews with some of the people who attended ScienceOnline’09 back in January.
Today, I asked Carlos Hotta from the Brontossauros em meu Jardim blog to answer a few questions.
Welcome to A Blog Around The Clock. Would you, please, tell my readers a little bit more about yourself? Who are you? What is your (scientific) background?
Carlos Hotta pic.jpgI am the community manager of ScienceBlogs Brasil, the former blog network called Lablogatórios. Lablogatorios started about a year ago as a small project that tried to emulate ScienceBlogs in order to stimulate Science communication using blogs in Brasil. A couple of days after our launch we were contacted by our role models. Now, we are the youngest ScienceBlogs scibling, with 30 blogs.
I also write on my own blog, Brontossauros em meu Jardim (Brontossaurus in my Garden) and, in my spare time, I do some research.
What do you want to do/be when (and if ever) you grow up?
One day I will have my own lab, where I can make people do the experiments for me while I blog and vice-versa. It would not hurt if I could keep making our blog network growing for a while.
What is your Real Life job?
My alter ego is a postdoc fellow at university of São Paulo. I am currently working on sugarcane circadian clocks and helping in the organization of the Brazilian side of the sugarcane genome sequencing project. In my previous incarnations I have done research on the association between the human circadian clock and malaria parasites and on the Arabidopsis circadian clock.
You know I am a big fan of your previous work on clocks and malaria (see references #3 and #4 in this post).
What aspect of science communication and/or particular use of the Web in science interests you the most?

I like the use of blogging as a tool to bridge the gap between scientists and the general public. I am also interested in seeing how scientists will use the Web to work together.
How does (if it does) blogging figure in your work? How about social networks, e.g., Twitter, FriendFeed and Facebook?
My blogging and my researching are still independent entities. However I have started a couple of scientific collaborations with people that contacted me throught the blog. My blog also helped me to be invited to talk about my work a few times. In the next couple of weeks I will talk at a conference both as a blogger and as a researcher and we might see Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde fighting to see who will prevail.
I am a heavy user of Twitter (@carloshotta), weather permitting. People can also find me at Facebook and Orkut, which is very big in Brasil.
When and how did you discover science blogs? What are some of your favourites? Have you discovered any new cool science blogs while at the Conference?
I discovered science blogs when I was told a letter my colleagues and I wrote to Nature (Dodd, A., Hotta, C. and Gardner, M. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Presumptions. Nature. Vol 437, p 318.) had a lot of resonance in the intertubes. Who would know that Harry Potter genetics could generate a lot of interest? BTW, I still think there is no magic gene in Harry Potter Universe and the magic comes from magic milk people drink when they are children.
My favorite blogger is Ed Yong who does a superb job writing about Science. I also love the way you were able to build a huge community around your blog.
Tell me more about ScienceBlogs Brazil – how it started, how it got to where it is now?
I started my blog in the end of 2007, just after I got my PhD. After a few months I started wondering whether Brazilian science blogs would ever grow to a point that would allow the formation of a site such as ScienceBlogs. This question haunted me for a while when I had an epiphany: we should make a ScienceBlogs-like site IN ORDER TO make Brazilian science blogs grow. And that´s how Atila and I started putting the network together.
Lablogatorios was launched in August 2008 with 15 blogs. It contained a great portion of the Brazilian Science blogging community (yes, we were that small). After a few days we were contacted by SEED, which gave us the opportunity to join the ScienceBlogs community. The new site, ScienceBlogs Brazil launched in March 2009. We had been growing at a very nice pace but the transition gave us a huge boost.
After a year Lablogatorios was launched I can say it was a very sucessful project. Our visits increased more than 5 times in this period (which is still small compared to world-class blogs) but the real success is in the number of science blogs written by Brazilians that were launched in this period.
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?
After the conference I wrote a piece about how the blogging community in Brazil still had a lot to grow, in terms of public and maturity, in order to become a fraction of what the blogs written in English were. I would say we are 2 to 3 years behind. Many things that were discussed at the ScienceOnline´09 are just becoming a problem now in Brazil, such as the question of anonimity/pseudonimity or the frequent clash between bloggers and journalists. Our advantage is that we can avoid a lot of pitfalls by observing the history of blogging. Things are easier when you do not have to reinvent the wheel.
It was so nice to meet you and thank you for the interview. I hope to see you again next January.
Bora, I must thank you for all the support you always gave to our project. You are partly responsible for the wild trip we had during this first year.
Carlos Hotta w Anton and Bora pic.jpg
[left to right: Anton Zuiker, Carlos Hotta and myself at the ScienceOnline’09, just minutes after the announcement of ScienceBlogs Brasil]
==========================
See the 2008 interview series and 2009 series for more.