Four years ago today, I wrote my first post in the blogosphere over at the old Blogger version of Terra Sigillata. The post, entitled, “A Humble PharmBoy Begins to Sow,” set out my mission to be an objective source for information on natural health remedies and drugs that come from nature, whether used as single agent prescription drugs or as botanical mixtures and supplements.
I read blogs for about six months before setting off on my own, primarily because I wanted to be sure my efforts were not redundant with others. Because I am academic and paid by a combination of federal research and state educational funds, I feel that I can provide an objective forum for discussing news and developments on natural products that is not driven by a need to sell a product.
While I do not write every day, I hope that I have succeeded in approaching that goal. I thank you for coming by to read, participate in the comments, and refer us to other blogs, your colleagues, and your friends and families. It has been a delight to meet many of you and grow to call you my friends and colleagues. I still get a particular charge out of being called “Abel” in person, especially when the person addressing me knows my real name nonetheless.
I command thee: Delurk!
I have been very fortunate this year to see an uptick in the number of regular readers that I believe may have been stimulated by our presence on Twitter. I’d like to get a feel for who you are and why you are here because I always like to serve the community who takes time out of their busy schedules to see what pixels I’ve scribbled on this electronic papyrus.
As my colleague and blog mentor, Orac, did the other day for his fifth anniversary, I wish to ask those of you who read to delurk and drop a note in the comments to share 1) your general background, 2) why you read, and 3) what other stuff you’d like to hear from us. I know you are out there, so I thank you in advance for sticking your head up, saying hello, and going back to lurking. In fact, you may find that commenting is kind of fun and may be something you’d like to do more often.
Since you are here, you already know my answer to #1 and why I write.
But here’s my answer to #3 and how I would like to move forward with this blog in the coming year:
On being a white, American male at ScienceBlogs
It is no secret amongst my readers, and evidenced by the charcoal sketch of my likeness in the Profile section to the upper left and my detailed biography, that I am a bespectacled, goateed, and somewhat graying white male. I am, therefore, a representative of the most abundant and privileged demographic in the biomedical sciences. As such, I have always endeavored to work in support of those not like me, those who may have not had the advantages that I underestimated for so many years.
My work to date has primarily involved the promotion of women in science and technology and I have been fortunate in my career to have been trained by and involved in the training of women scientists.
However, some of you may know, or have noticed from trends in my content, that I have joined an academic institution where I am a minority faculty member. It is an experience entirely consistent with my early days of working in minority career development in pharmacy that now gives me an opportunity to broaden my impact in the basic sciences. (From a perspective of personal growth, it is also an experience I wish I could share with every one of my white male colleagues.)
Being invited to ScienceBlogs in June, 2006, by editor Katherine Sharpe was a great honor because it gave me the opportunity to reach the majority of you, my current readers. The ScienceBlogs network is a superb and highly-visible platform for discussing issues central to the global scientific enterprise.
But in exchanges with many of my colleagues both within and outside the network, a common theme is that we fear this platform has been disproportionately white and US-centric.
I would go so far as to say that it is an embarrassment that ScienceBlogs™ does not have more diversity and has not taken the lead in cultivating voices from the scientific community that are unlike mine.
I cannot do anything about being blogging from the United States or being a US citizen. However, I can do something about giving greater voice on this platform to people who are not like me.
“Let the word go forth from this time and place…”
Therefore, I wish to make this the blog’s mission for 2010:
Terra Sigillata will broaden its focus area to become an open platform for scientific and career development issues specific to underrepresented or underserved minority groups as described in the US by the National Institutes of Health: African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans/Alaska Natives who maintain tribal affiliation or community attachment, Hawaiian Natives and natives of the U.S. Pacific Islands, persons with disabilities, and underserved groups such as disadvantaged rural Whites or other low-income groups.
I actively encourage interested parties to submit to me items of interest, research findings, fellowship program announcements, news from minority institutions and student organizations, essays – anything that others feel would give greater exposure to individual and group efforts in the sciences on behalf of those who have not historically had substantial representation in the sciences or, more precisely, are not currently represented across the ScienceBlogs network.
Bottom line: If you aren’t seeing it in the scientific blogosphere, I want it seen here.
We don’t have huge traffic at this blog but the real estate on the front page of ScienceBlogs can easily bring in four-digit pageviews daily. I suspect that if we start addressing issues of underrepresented groups, other bloggers may pick up on our posts about your projects and other activities.
So, I hope that you will help me in this mission during my fifth year of blogging.
I refuse to allow being a white male to hold me back.