A Blog Around The Clock

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 Diana Gitig 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-4e7b875177f4d2b0ab88e126048a5abe-Diane Gitig pic.jpgI live in White Plains, a suburb of New York. I have a Ph.D. in cell biology but was not particularly well suited to lab work. My thesis advisor suggested that writing might better play to my strengths. I had my first baby the week after I defended my thesis, and I have been writing on a freelance basis since then. I was pretty much doing the stay-at-home mom thing, writing when the babies were sleeping for my own mental stimulation and to try to keep my foot in the door. I am very grateful to the feminist movement (and my husband’s salary) because I always knew that my staying at home was a choice, not a given; any day I woke up and decided I wanted to get a job, I could try to do so. I very much enjoyed being home with my little ones, but I view it as just one chapter in my life, and it is ending now that my youngest went off to school in September. This precipitated a minor identity crisis: I really thought about how I perceive myself, and not just what do I want to do but who do I want to be? After much introspection I decided to try to be a full time freelance science writer.

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

Somewhat ironically, I have fallen into this niche of writing about laboratory techniques – the very methods at which I did not excel in graduate school. My favorite assignments were reviewing science and science fiction books as a freelance editor at amazon, since I actually like reading more than I like writing, and a couple of articles I wrote for Science. I know it is not at all like having a Science paper, but it is somewhat thrilling to be published there just the same. Covering symposia at the New York Academy of Sciences was also fun, as I got to get out and meet interesting people but still do the bulk of the work on my own time.

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

Honestly, efficient scheduling is a big challenge for me these days – I am very happy to have a number of assignments, but time management is a skill I have not used in a while and have to relearn. My goals are to keep busy and learn cool stuff. So far, so good.

Do you find all this online activity to be a net positive (or even a necessity) in what you do?

Online activity is essential in what I do. I literally could not have this career and this life without it. I work with editors and interview scientists and entrepreneurs all over the world, and I cannot imagine doing so without the ability to send work back and forth instantly. Having access to papers at home is invaluable. The ability to work alone and at home can obviously have a downside too, but Twitter takes care of that by helping me feel connected.

Have you discovered any cool science blogs by the participants at the Conference?

I was really impressed by Ed Yong, so I read his stuff now. I enjoyed talking to Jonathan Eisen, so I look at his now too. And yours of course. I also made some contacts that have enabled me to contribute to some blog-like sites, which has been great.

What was the best aspect of ScienceOnline2010 for you?

For sure the Mexican chocolate Locopops.

But in terms of content, I really, really loved Michael Specter’s address on Friday night. It totally resonated with me. He spoke about a lot of things I had been thinking about, but he verbalized them much more clearly than I had.

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

You too! And in NY for the 140 conference!