A Blog Around The Clock

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 one of my SciBlings and friends, Scicurious of the Neurotopia, 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?

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My name is Scicurious (please, call my Sci), and I’m a grad student studying Pharmacology at a Southeastern University of Good Reputation. Every once in a while, I think I see the end of the tunnel, but it turns out I was fooling myself.

What do you want to do/be when (and if ever) you grow up?

A Mad Scientist. MWAH-HA-HA-HA. Honestly, it’s amazing how many of us didn’t know what to do with ourselves after college, and now it’s amazing how many of us don’t know what to do with ourselves after grad school. I guess I better begin thinking of that right about now, huh…it will definitely involve world domination.

What is your Real Life job?

Grad student. It’s a lot less glamorous than it sounds. I don’t suffer at all from paparazzi.

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

I really love learning in a wide variety, and sharing ideas with a large number of people. I love that, since beginning to read science blogs, I’ve found out so much more about my field, and expanded my knowledge base in other fields. I think it’s the spread of knowledge to both other scientists and lay people that interests me the most.

How does (if it does) blogging figure in your work? How about social networks, e.g., Twitter, FriendFeed and Facebook?

In my real work? It doesn’t. I blog on my own time, and never on my Real Work. However, you can find me on Twitter, and I hear there’s a Facebook group as well. I love blogging and sharing information and educating, but work and blogging need to stay separate for now.

But indirectly, there’s been a massive effect of blogging on my work. My knowledge of other areas has increased exponentially, and now it seems that the instant something big comes out in my field, I know. So it’s been a positive influence, over all. And I’ve made some awesome friends and contacts.

When and how did you discover science blogs? What are some of your favourites?

Funny, that. See, I went to this coffee shop one day and met this guy Coturnix. I hear you know him… Someone had told me that he could help me break into the world of science writing. And he told me to start a science blog. So I spent the next day or so checking out blogs, and thinking “hey! This is pretty sweet!” And thus, Scicurious was born.

Favorites? I hate playing favorites. I have to say I LOVE “What the hell is wrong with you, I’m mean, damn” because the title kills me. I go there when I’m feeling down just to read the title and laugh. Otherwise, I’ve got a LOT of blogs I read every day. Everyone has their good and bad days.

You led a session about History of Science at the conference – how did that go and what did you learn from it?

Well, I’ve never led a session on ANYTHING before, so I guess it went well for my first time! It was great to have gg and Laelaps there with me, I love those guys. Gg in particular knows SO much about the history of science, and has so much to share.

I think we started some good discussions. One question that really interested me was “why does this MATTER?!” I was kind of shocked, because I personally love history, and so it never really occurred to me that people wouldn’t think it mattered. But it did make me think about why people should blog about the history of science. After all, a lot of times it’s not easy to do, looking up and explaining old techniques. But I think we were able to show a little of WHY the history of science is important. I personally think that the history of science is necessary to explain a great deal of what goes on the modern biosciences, a lot of which can be really complicated if you don’t have some idea of the background.

It seems that blog posts on three topics – Historical Science, Weird Science, and Science of Sex – draw a lot of interest from your readers. But as you know, most of currently done science is not that sexy – how do you balance this for your audience?

ALL well-done, elegant science is sexy science! I also like to explain a lot of the more complicated topics, and try to make science understandable to a non-scientist audience. I try to convey how excited I was when I first learned about the topics, and I hope that gets other people excited about some of the “less-sexy” science as well, when it is conveyed by people who are passionate and who can explain how the heavy stuff relates to every day life. Sure, some science is funny and weird, and some of it’s not, but all of it is important and helps us to understand our bodies and the world that we live in. New knowledge is always pretty exciting.

You are the guest editor of the Open Laboratory 2009 anthology – any thoughts about it yet?

I agreed to do what now? Aiieeeeeeee!!!!

Well, I just hope I can do as well as the previous years have done. We’ve already got boatloads of submissions coming in, many of which look like good contenders. I’m just hoping I turn out something awesome and that I don’t go insane doing it!

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?

Well, I will say that I think there’s a lot to be said for meeting bloggers in person. When they are a disembodied series of words, it is very easy to misinterpret. There is no tone of voice on the internet And also, you can build up pictures in your head of these blogging gods, and in reality, we’re all just people. So it was very cool to meet some of the people I’ve been communicating with for ages, and see what they’re really like. Now sometimes I can even hear them talking when I read them!

I was also really impressed with the sessions on anonymity and women and minorities in science. Even though I AM a woman in science, it was something that I had never really thought about before. I have since become a lot more aware of these issues, and I’ve been reading up a lot on them as well. I hope that conversations about women and minority issues at conferences continue, I think there’s a lot left to be discussed, and there are ALWAYS more people to educate.

It was so nice to see you again and thank you for the interview. I hope to see you again next January.

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See the 2008 interview series and 2009 series for more.