The Thoughtful Animal

If you’re plugged into the science blogtwitosphere, then you surely know that the topic of women science bloggers has been written about extensively. Rather than re-hash what many others have said, I’ll direct you to these posts by Kate Clancy and Daniel Lende. Then, late last night, Ed Yong wrote a post highlighting a handful of blogs he reads that happen to be penned (typed?) by science writers who happen to possess two X chromosomes. I also noticed that of all the names and blogs that Ed listed, only one was new to me. Perhaps this is because I’m well-plugged-in to the sciblogtwitosphere, or perhaps because I spent many, many, many hours reading all the awesome posts that were submitted to Open Lab (and, if I may toot my own horn for a moment, I’m proud to mention that the final selections for Open Lab feature 23 female writers and 27 male writers).

While I do most of my promotion of other bloggers (of any chromosomal combination) on twitter and via Google Reader, I thought I’d follow on Ed’s model, and offer up a necessarily partial and incomplete list of science bloggers I enjoy, who happen to be female, but with whom you might not already be familiar (suffice it to say that if I was constructing this list from scratch, most of the individuals mentioned on Ed’s list would be mentioned on mine as well, as many of them are my faves).


Carin Bondar writes, and writes well, about a subject near and dear to my heart: animal behavior, and how human behavior isn’t so unique in the animal kingdom. She does so with characteristic humor and the occasional bit of snark, which I particularly appreciate. I really liked her highly accessible, easy-to-read book The Nature of Human Nature (and shame on me for not having reviewed it yet). I particularly enjoyed this recent post of hers on the bathroom habits of river otters, and if you haven’t seen her series of videos called BIOMUSINGS, you are seriously missing out.

Speaking of science videos, Torah Kachur, Rheanna Sand, and Brittany Trogen are the women of Science in Seconds. They are doing some really great work at communicating science via (often hilarious) videos, each less than three minutes long. I particularly enjoyed this video on monkey calls from September, and I don’t think I could ever forget the one about cow farts.

Hannah Waters, who blogs at Culturing Science and Sleeping with the Fishes is one to keep your eyes on. Her posts on ecology and evolution are good (like this one on seabirds), but I particularly like her posts on science communication, like this one on working with students, or this one on why scientists should read science fiction.

Ashlee is an undergraduate aspiring primatologist who blogs at Serious Monkey Business. While SMB is a new blog to me, I’ve already been impressed by her deep understanding of what must be a relatively new field for her. This post on Feminism and Primatology stands out in my mind, as does this post on the ability of macaques to adapt to climate change.

The Dog Zombie, as you might expect, is a favorite of mine. She is a veterinary student, and in addition writing about canine behavior, her posts on the ins-and-outs of veterinary school are fascinating (check out this post on looking for the uterus of a cow), and her posts on veterinary ethics are some of the best I’ve read. But her posts on comparative medicine (what is a wallaby?) and cortisol as a metric for stress stand out as two of my favorites.

If you’re interested in the science of science blogging, than Hadas Shema of Science Blogging in Theory and Practice is for you. Hadas is doing her doctoral work on science blogging, and while her posts are generally short, they are full of good stuff. Check out this post: who writes health news?

Many of you might not know that before I studied animal cognition, I conducted MRI studies of reading and dyslexia. It might seem like a particularly narrow focus (and it is), but even still, there is a blog on the topic called Reading and Word Recognition Research, by Livia Blackburne, and I really like it. The post on Noise Exclusion Deficits in Dyslexia is awesome (and I don’t just say that because the paper came from my lab), as is her post on the phonological deficits that characterize dyslexia. From a best-practices perspective, I also like that she labels her posts in terms of accessibility: beginner, intermediate, or advanced.

I’ve particularly enjoyed Holly Bik‘s contributions to Deep Sea News, since she joined the team earlier this year. Her continuing coverage of the oil spill is (as my British friends would say) ace – here’s a recent example – and I particularly enjoyed her series on seafood safety.

Amy, who goes by Bluegrass Blue Crab at Southern Fried Science, is another awesome science blogger, mainly focusing on ecology and fisheries. Her recent post on the state of the field in conservation blew me away, and hers was one of the best posts I read on The Cove, but I think my favorite is still this older (in internet time) piece on Twilight, Forks, and Cultural Identity Theft.

Tracey Switek has only been blogging for a month or so at The Olive Tree, but I’ve already added it to my Google Reader. I suspect it will rapidly become a favorite of mine. I really like a post from earlier this week on a strange mating behavior called lekking.

Finally, three more new blogs require mentioning. A few weeks ago at Science Online, I had the pleasure of meeting high school science teacher Stacy Baker, along with a group of her students, all of whom contribute to their class blog, Extreme Biology. Yesterday, four of her students – who, yes, all happen to be female – began blogging for Nature Education. Check out Green Science by Samantha, MedSci Discoveries by Leyla and Sabrina, and Our Science by Naseem. I encourage everyone to head over to those blogs and comment! I know it’s a pain because you have to register, login, solve a captcha, and then wait for the comments to emerge from the Cave of Moderated Comments – and the students deserve better – but it is worth the extra five minutes to support these young women. What an awesome opportunity for these students of science, and what a testament to the example set for them by Stacy Baker!

Comments

  1. #1 Stephanie Z
    January 28, 2011

    Thank you for reaching beyond the obvious and well-known. I’d have never found some of these on my own. Time to upset the mix in my reader.

  2. #2 Serious Monkey Business
    January 28, 2011

    Thank you so much for the links and kind words! :) Very much appreciated for that *and* the new awesome reading material. Looks like I’m going to have to update my links now!

  3. #3 Tracey S.
    January 28, 2011

    Thanks for the shout out! Now I HAVE to keep writing. =)

  4. #4 Livia Blackburne
    January 28, 2011

    Thanks so much, Jason! That blog is an interesting one, since the main motivation is to force myself to learn the literature for my dissertation. The accessibility tag mostly came out of me feeling guilty for talking about rather esoteric stuff sometimes. But I’m glad people find it useful :-) I’m looking forward to graduation though, when I’ll be able to read more widely :-P

  5. #5 Naseem
    January 28, 2011

    Yay for Female Bloggers! You guys rock!!! And thanks for the shout out and for introducing me to all these awesome blogs!

  6. #6 Clara B. Jones
    January 29, 2011

    I do consider it important to discuss the status and role of women bloggers; however, why is it not uncommon to see suggestive photographs pictured on females’ blogs? I’m not certain that a seductive, though admittedly attractive, personal image sends a professional signal. Perhaps as a senior citizen, I’m simply envious. On another matter, leks are not a “strange” mating system. They are fairly common in bats (see Jack Bradbury’s work), and, as the link points out, among birds. The classic example in mammals is the Uganda kob. When I was in graduate school, an amazing film of a Uganda kob lek was circulated. Since this document was rare, it was treated as very precious material by Biology and Psychology departments alike. I tried to access the film via You Tube without success; although, they do have a couple of short videos on the species itself. If you can get access to it, you will be thrilled. You might want to look @a paper or two on the “lek paradox” (American Naturalist has several articles on this topic). Leks are not strange, but the mating system has been a challenge to to explain.

  7. #7 Stacy
    January 30, 2011

    Thanks so much for mentioning my female Nature bloggers! I’m going to share this link with them – very inspiring!

  8. #8 EcoPhysioMichelle
    January 30, 2011

    Clara, what is your definition of suggestive? Are you referring to specific postures, manner of dress, or is merely the fact that a woman is attractive enough to make a photo suggestive?

  9. #9 EcoPhysioMichelle
    January 30, 2011

    I should add that I’m not being facetious or confrontational, I’m genuinely curious. I haven’t seen a science blog author photo yet that I would personally consider suggestive, so I’m wondering if there’s a divide here as to what we’re referring to when we say suggestive.

  10. #10 Clara B. Jones
    January 30, 2011

    To EcoPhysioMichelle: I have read and re-read the first three sentences of the comment to which you refer (“I do consider….envious.”). I think that my meaning is concise and clear. The bulk of my post concerned lek mating systems, a scientific topic with a large literature that is much more important than my subjective impressions of images on some females’ blogs–a perspective probably irrelevant to science. All best. clara b. jones

  11. #11 EcoPhysioMichelle
    January 30, 2011

    I am not sure why you are referring me back to the original comment. I assure you that I read and understood it. I asked for more information on what you consider to be suggestive, and there is nothing in your comment which speaks to that.

  12. #12 Clara B. Jones
    January 30, 2011

    I’ve read most of the links in Goldman’s post on women science writers and bloggers–as well as most of the links in Goldman’s post’s links. Unless I am mistaken, Meredith Small (Professor, Department of Anthropology, Cornell University: science writer and blogger) and Sarah Hrdy (Professor Emeritus, Department of Anthropology, University of CA, Davis: science writer) were not mentioned.

  13. #13 Chat
    February 4, 2011

    The bulk of my post concerned lek mating systems, a scientific topic with a large literature that is much more important than my subjective impressions of images on some females’ blogs–a perspective probably irrelevant to science.

  14. #14 KerstinH
    February 4, 2011

    Thanks Jason, for this beautiful list!

    And thanks ladies for writing those exciting blogs!

    I will forward the link to my German colleagues, hoping to get some of them motivated. Because while the air might be thin for female science bloggers in the English-speaking blogosphere, it is clearly near vacuum in German blogs.

  15. #15 The Dog Zombie
    February 12, 2011

    Aw, thanks so much for mentioning me, Jason! (It is embarrassing that it took me this long to see this post. Vet school is sort of overwhelming right now.)

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