Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

Emperor penguin pair in courtship ritual with chick, Aptenodytes forsteri.
Dawson-Lambton glacier, Weddell Sea, Antarctica (November)

Image: BBC [larger view]

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for awhile, you are well aware that the Official Antarctica Blogger contest ended nearly 12 hours ago today. What is more, you probably know that I ended up in third place with 2218 votes. I am quite disappointed with how I did and feel that I’ve let you all down. But regardless of how I feel about myself, there is one thing I don’t doubt for one minute: you all were magnificent. Many many dozens (hundreds?) of you spent countless hours helping me make phone calls and send emails, and unasked, you generously wrote and published sweet and amusing essays and announcements on your blogs and facebook pages, you tweeted and retweeted hundreds of clever and funny messages in 140 characters or less, made a couple very cute videos, and you seeded my Antarctica URLs to dozens of news and social networking feeds. You were there when I needed you, and you all came through for me in a myriad of ways. It was you, every one of you, who made me worthy of such an amazing opportunity.

I want to send out special thanks to my bird breeding and bird watching friends for giving me that initial exhilarating boost in votes immediately after I registered so long ago, my long-time friends and allies on Craigslist, particularly on the JobsForum and WiFo/HoFo (especially Patrick, who was the main coordinator and inspiration there) who helped to maintain the momentum; my colleagues, friends and the support staff here at ScienceBlogs and at Nature Network who so generously supported and advised me and who helped me achieve the early lead in this contest; my many friends in Finland and in Seattle and elsewhere; that anonymous person who posted my essay to Reddit, thereby giving me roughly 300 votes and numerous “reddit fist pumps”; the many dozens of you who re-tweeted my numerous (and probably tiresome) requests for yet more votes (you know who you are!); DarkSyde for supporting my Antarctica official blogger bid on DailyKos; and most of all, I thank all of you, my readers, who loyally stuck with me even as my writing suffered due to the many emotional and time demands that occurred this summer either by chance or as a direct result of this contest.

Tomorrow is a new day, and already, I have three book reviews I am working on for you, and I am going to be asking for scientific papers once more so I can get back into translating scientific research about those things that I care about most in this life: science, nature, and the environment.

Here is a list of everyone whom I know of who supported me publicly. If you do not appear in that list, please do let me know so I can add you;

This cute video created by my Swedish friend at The Sneer Review.

Dan!, author of Molecular Fossils who wrote a rather funny entry asking for your votes.

Janet Stemwedel, my colleague and the author of Adventures in Ethics and Science, wrote an inspirational essay appealing to her readers to vote for me as the official Antarctica blogger.

Another colleague of mine, Dr. Isis, publicly supported my bid to be official Antarctica blogger on her blog, On Becoming a Domestic and Laboratory Goddess.

Rooth MacMillan, a competitor in this competition, asked her supporters to change their votes to support me.

Andrew Evans, another competitor in this competition also asked his supporters to change their votes in support of me. We have become e-friends as a result of this contest.

Andrew Alden, another Antarctica competitor, also asked his supporters to transfer their votes to support me as Official Antarctica blogger!

Joe Decker, yet another Antarctica contestant, also endorsed me to be your official Antarctica blogger! We have become e-friends as a result of this contest.

The Off Yonder blog included a link from the top of the text area in support of my bid to go to Antarctica.

My Danish friend, Kristjan Wagar, also supported my bid to go to Antarctica.

Richard Carter at Friends of Charles Darwin created this cute and offbeat video in support of me;

My ScienceBlogs colleague, Steinn SigurĂ°sson (another real scientist) and author of the physics blog, Dynamics of Cats, also endorsed me; Blog Your Way to the South Pole.

Eva, my friend in Toronto and author of Expression Patterns, endorsed me to be official Antarctica blogger.

My colleague, long-time friend and anti-woo medical doctor, Orac, who writes the wonderful blog, Respectful Insolence, endorsed me to be your official penguin whisperer. He’s delightfully cranky in real life, too.

A reader whom I met in real life, Glendon Mellow, endorsed my dream to be your official penguin whisperer in this inspirational essay published on his blog, The Flying Trilobite.

My good friend, Bora Zivkivic, author of A Blog Around the Clock, endorsed me several times to be your official Antarctica blogger and again, here.

My fellow SciBling and friend, Ethan Siegel, a brand new shiney professor at Lewis & Clark College and author of Starts with a Bang!, endorsed me as your official Antarctica blogger.

Rick MacPherson, author of Malaria, Bedbugs, Sealice & Sunsets, supported me for your official Antarctica blogger.

My long-time friend, Chris Clarke, author of the blogs, Coyote Crossing and The Faultline, and the wonderful book, Walking with Zeke.

A friend whom I’ve not yet met, LadyMin, endorsed my dream to go to Antarctica, on her blog, LadyMin’s Garden.

A reader of mine who lives in Sweden and writes the Sneer Review endorsed me and also gave my virtual nekkid penguin icon a shirt to wear (see the image at the top of this page).

The Reef Tank, a blog for whom I’ve done some writing, endorsed me.

DarkSyde invited me to write an appeal to my fellow Kossians to vote to send me to Antarctica at DailyKos.

Snowball the dancing cockatoo voted for me, too (but lacking his own blog, he only sent a tweet)

My friend to whom I owe so much, Henry Gee, endorsed me on his Nature Network blog, I, Editor as well as on his personal blog, Cromercrox.

The lovely Karen at The Beagle Project, wrote several kick-ass endorsements and requests for votes.

As mentioned already, Friends of Charles Darwin, who also sent the most amusing tweets requesting votes.

A longtime loyal reader, Mike Haubrich, who also writes his own blog, Tangled up in Blue Guy.

Weird Science, a blog with the Sunday Mercury, also endorsed me.

My long-time friend, PZ Myers, endorsed me at Pharyngula.

My friend, colleague and one of my several online crushes; Abel Pharmboy who writes Terra Sigillata.

My friend, former colleague and another one of my online crushes, John Lynch, a simple prop.

My good friend, former colleague, new author (and yet another online crush!), John Wilkins, author of Evolving Thoughts, endorsed me several times.

My friend and colleague, Afarensis, endorsed me several times with some really inspirational essays (and again here and here too!). Another crush: seriously, how can I not crush on someone who admires me so?

Here’s an amusing request for votes from my friend and colleague and another of my online crushes, PalMD, who writes the wonderful medical blog, White Coat Underground.

My friend and colleague, Greg Laden, author of Greg Laden’s Blog, provided many endorsements, often daily, in support my dream to be official penguin whisperer.

My friend and colleague, and champion karaoke performer, Razib, author of Gene Expression, endorsed me to be your official Antarctica blogger.

My friend and colleague, and very staunch supporter, DrugMonkey has endorsed me several times, and also provided much-appreciated support and discussion behind the scenes.

My loyal reader, teh Bard of da intert00bz, Digital Cuttlefish endorsed me with several of his beautiful poems. Moochas smoochas! I’ve also got a crush on you!

Fellow parrot pal and former colleague, Sheril Kirshenbaum, The Intersection endorsed me several times.

My shy but loyal reader who also writes the blog, ACW, endorsed me.

My Seattle birding pal and long-time friend, TravelGrrl, endorsed me on her blog, Realist at Large.

My friend and colleague, Sandra Porter, author of Discovering Biology in a Digital Age, thought I’d do a great job as the official penguin whisperer.

The amazing ScienceWomen supported my dream to be your official penguin whisperer.

My very good e-friend and another long-time loyal reader to whom I owe so very much, The Ridger, author of The Greenbelt, supported my dream.

A mystery reader, Sporula, also supported me!

A reader whom I met by hosting a number of issues of the medical blog carnival, Grand Rounds, RL Bates, MD (author of Suture for a Living), also supported me.

An internet friend and reader, Miss Cellania, also supported my bid to become your official Antarctica blogger.

My most excellent e-birding pal, Empidonax, who writes A DC Birding Blog, supported my dream to be your official penguin whisperer!

My good friend, co-speaker (at the NC science blogging conference) and former Scibling, Kevin Zelnio and crew at Deep-Sea News. Okay, I admit it; he’s another one of my online crushes.

Last but not least, my best friend — whom I married a few weeks ago — Bob O’Hara, author of the Nature Network blog, deep thoughts and silliness, endorsed me several times and he also made numerous LOLZCheezBurger images with cute captions for me to use. I can hardly wait until we are together again (hopefully, he’s still speaking to me after learning about all my online crushes … ahem!)


  1. #1 Greg Laden
    October 1, 2009

    You know, really, going to Antarctica was probably a bad idea anyway. My friend who is down there now (at the pole) has got frostbite and all kinds of other problems. And then there’s the damn penguins. Whenever I’ve seen them in the wild I’ve had to hold my nose they smell so bad. I hear Antarctica is crawling with penguins….

    (Hey, maybe it will turn out that the two people in first and second cheated, or get sick or something, and you will still be able to go!)

    Not that you’d want to. Smelly penguins and all.

  2. #2 Crazyharp81602
    October 1, 2009

    I’m sorry you lost. We were all rooting for you to win that trip to visit Antarctica for the first time. What a bummer. 🙁

  3. #3 Jacqueline
    October 1, 2009

    Of course it is sad when your dream doesn’t come through. But the 3rd place ain’t bad. (Seeing all the support from your fans) please comfort yourselves with the idea that “It is cold on Antarctica but warm with your friends.”

  4. #4 cromercrox
    October 1, 2009

    We love you anyway, Grrl. And if you’d gone South we’d have missed you.

  5. #5 MadScientist
    October 1, 2009

    Of course you didn’t let us down. Is there a “send grrl to the frozen wastelands” fund coming up? I reckon if we can send you there anyway you’ll do a better job than the DJ dude.

  6. #6 Sigmund
    October 1, 2009

    I think you did great getting to third place. You didn’t have your own radio show or college nerd forum behind you like those that finished in 1st and 2nd. You had to rely on individual support based on your known abilities rather than a joke or partisan vote, so finishing where you did can only be seen as an achievement.
    That said I am a little disappointed with some parts of Scienceblogs for not getting behind you more.
    Anyway, its all water under the bridge now.
    Go for the North Pole instead!

  7. #7 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    October 1, 2009

    Oh, no, Grrl! You didn’t let us down at all! It was fun supporting you and nagging people to vote for you, writing a post about you and just knowing I was on the right side of things. So, it’s a moral victory, and after all, you are not going to be stampeded by smelly marching penguins.

  8. #8 John Grant
    October 1, 2009

    Congratulations on doing so well, Grrl! Of course it’s a shame you didn’t come first, but a third place put you ahead of approximately 73,982,126 other candidates.

    Next time . . .

  9. #9 "GrrlScientist"
    October 1, 2009

    as i said, you all are the best. if you were in NYC right now, i’d take you all out for a drink so we could relax and enjoy each other’s company.

  10. #10 Dan
    October 1, 2009

    If I had the money, I’d send you just ‘cuz. Alas…

  11. #11 Sheril R. Kirshenbaum
    October 1, 2009

    Considering all the entries, you did awesome…

    I know you were the best contender by far and 2,2178 folks agree!

    We love you Grrl! XX

  12. #12 Scicurious
    October 1, 2009

    I’m so sorry, Grrl. You totally had my vote, and I tried to endorse what I could. But no matter what, your impact on the world will be enormous.

  13. #13 Kelsey
    October 1, 2009

    Bummer! I’m not sure if this will make you feel any better, but we think you’re great! We think your coverage of scientific topics and random funny things is awesome and we really appreciate all the work you’ve done to start, maintain and promote Scientia Pro Publica. And so, we’re honoring you with a Kreativ Blogger award. I know, a trip to Antarctica would be better, but that’s not really in our budget. You can learn all about the Kreativ Blogger award at our blog.

  14. #14 Rob J
    October 1, 2009

    How disappointing, maybe they’ll realize the jokers ahead of you are just that, and decide to bring a real scientist along who is there for a purpose other than internet celebrity.

  15. #15 Barn Owl
    October 1, 2009

    Sorry you didn’t win, Grrl, and that I could only contribute a few votes to the cause, with friends and family. Maybe, as Rob J suggested, the organizers will realize that a genuine scientist and talented writer is the best person for the job, and you’ll go after all.

  16. #16 Kristjan Wager
    October 1, 2009

    I also supported your bid for the trip, but I am afraid that with the small number of readers I have, it won’t have done any difference.

    Last but not least, my best friend — whom I married a few weeks ago — Bob O’Hara

    OK. I know I have been way behind in my blog reading, but how did I miss this particular piece of news? Congratulations to both of you.

  17. #17 Bob O'H
    October 1, 2009

    Mange tak, Kristjan.

    We both intended to blog it, but other stuff got in the way.

    Bugger, Copenhagen is another place I have to take Grrl to. is the Irish guy with the furry green guitar still playing on Strøget?

  18. #18 Kristjan Wager
    October 1, 2009

    Only during summer Bob. I think he finds winter too cold in Copenhagen these days.

    If you come here, let me know, so I can take both of you out for a dinner or something.

  19. #19 "GrrlScientist"
    October 1, 2009

    kris — i actually did mention this on my blog, but was reluctant to say too much because i didn’t want anyone to think it was a publicity stunt (to, you know, get more antarctica votes) and i also felt somewhat strange thinking of myself as married. it might come as a surprise, but it is taking some adjustment to my thinking. i think things will be easier after we’re living in the same apartment, rather than 3000+ miles apart!

  20. #20 doug l
    October 1, 2009

    Don’t give up. This guest blogger thing demonstrated that you are a qaulified, if not as well known, a writer….yet. You put together some very engaging content in a field that many people who are interested in science don’t get enough of. A lot of people who are interested in science visit and appreciate your blog here. It is probably one of the most intelligent and pleasant sites where people who are interested in nature and other relevant stuff with science come to visit.
    I believe there are other ecotoursim vessels and cruise lines that go to Antarctica, and for that matter several that go to Alaska,which ain’t too bad a gig either. All the tour companies who run these wilderness expeditions have a presence on the internet and a blog for any of them would be a plus. I hope it brought some good PR to Quest and that they’ll do it again and recognize your obvious talents.
    All of these ships take on staff who can help the rest of the passengers interpret and even remember their once in a lifetime dream of going to antarctica. The ones I know of all have someone on board to compile an “official journal” for the expedition and take pictures, and be interesting. People who are on these tours are all fascinated by it all but don’t have the knowledge, education and experience that you obviously do and can appreciate what you clearly are; an interpretive naturalist and the person who can show them how to use their binoculars without making them look like fools, while pointing our a whale’s spout or a penguin stealing its neighbors nesting material.
    Maybe you also have to work some other function in a nominal way, but believe me, these companies do take on staff and your considerable abilities and education would come to the attention of those who do the staffing.
    In the mean time; keep up the fine work here and keep bringin’ us, the obligate stay-at-homes, interesting insight into natural history. You have a gift for it, and there are those who value it. I’d bet some in the ecotourism industry might agree.

  21. #21 Dan!
    October 1, 2009

    Oh, I don’t know. You got 2,200+ votes. When you think about it, who else among us has that kind of pull? I’d be happy with that many pageviews!

    And I find it highly suspect that ol’ LuĂ­s managed to get ~12,000 votes in the 3 weeks I’ve been following this competition. That must be one helluva radio show. I hope a goddamned penguin DOES bite him in the ass!

  22. #22 "GrrlScientist"
    October 1, 2009

    hmm .. ass biting is better than ass kissing in this situation .. i might be six torturous degrees of separation away from george clooney (damn!!) but as an ornithologist, i am no more than three degrees of separation from any bird on the planet, so i might be able to do some strategic whispering … they don’t call me the penguin whisperer for nothing!

  23. #23 Phil
    October 1, 2009

    Well, It was a quite interesting contest this one and you’re great. I think be third on this competition is excellent.

    I do know a bit of Portuguese and I’ve tried to check the 1st place blog and I just can say he was hilarious and during all time he didn’t made any kind of comments against you. About the huge growth he had is simple, he used all the media tricks he could to get the most attention in his homeland and got that amount of votes. Did you tried to do the same? In the end he went to vote dressed like a penguin and his Youtube channel is full of funny jokes about why he wants to go to Antarctica.

    Trust me Grrl even loosing you’re made it for all your supporters and who knows if a chance like this doesn’t appear in a real scientific expedition (remember this one is also a touristic trip).

  24. #24 Horwood Beer-Master
    October 2, 2009

    The only person to blame here is whoever decided a popularity contest was the best way of picking an Antarctic blogger. If all the entries had simply been but before a panel of relevant experts you’d have beaten the competition hands down.

    But don’t assume the whole thing has been a waste. Your efforts to win this competition may get you noticed by someone who’s in a position to offer you other opportunities to go to Antarctica.

    By the way, I voted twice. So commiserations from both of me.

  25. #25 Sigmund
    October 2, 2009

    I have to agree with Phil about Luis. He really pulled out all the stops to get his votes – TV appearances, music videos etc. I don’t think there was anything underhand there. If someone other than GrrlScientist has to win I much prefer it to be Luis rather than the second placed contestant who didn’t seem to put the slightest bit of effort and yet picked up thousands of votes and only seemed like she wanted to go so that she could cross another place off her college world tour list. At least with GrrlScientist and Luis there seemed to have been some thought about consequences in their efforts.

New comments have been disabled.