Start Them Early: Interview with Karen Ventii

Karen Ventii is one of my SciBlings - her blog is Science To Life. At the second Science Blogging Conference in January she co-moderated a panel on Gender and Race in Science: online and offline, relevant to the discussion of racial diversity that is ongoing here on Scienceblogs right now.

Welcome to A Blog Around The Clock. Would you, please, tell my readers a little bit more about yourself? Who are you?

My name is Karen Ventii & I come from Ghana.

What is your scientific background?

I have a B.S and an M.S in Biology and I'm currently getting my Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Emory University. My graduate research is in the area of cancer biology. I am characterizing a tumor suppressor called BRCA1-associated Protein 1 (BAP1).

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What is your Real World job?

Although grad school is my full time job right now, I consider myself a science writer. I am the communications coordinator for Georgia Bio's Emerging Leader's Network (ELN) and recently helped found the Science Writers Association of Emory (SWAE). I have also started doing more freelance science writing and I am looking forward to becoming a full time medical journalist when I graduate (which will be soon, I hope) :-)

When and how did you discover science blogs?

I stumbled upon it while browsing the internet about 2 years ago.

What are some of your favorites?

Aetiology & Cognitive Daily.

You are one of the minority(?) of the female science bloggers who blogs under the full name. How does that restrict what you write about or not? Was that ever a source of any problems for you either online or offline?

It hasn't really restricted what I write about and hasn't been a problem yet. I hope it remains this way.

At the panel on Gender and Race in science online and offline, there was, unfortunately, very little talk about race.

Discussing race can be a touchy subject so it's not surprising that there was little talk on the subject at the conference.

What can be done to get more African American kids excited about science as a career?

That is a very broad question and I honestly don't have the answer. I can only respond based on my personal experiences. I think that developing an excitement about science starts at a young age. I was encouraged to study science by my parents and later developed a love for it. When I was old enough to make my own life choices I CHOSE to pursue a science career.

Is blogging with your picture up one of the ways to encourage people of all races to enjoy science?

I doubt that simply "seeing" the picture of a minority blogger will encourage other minorities to "enjoy science". However, it may help and if it encourages them to, say, take a stab at science blogging then that's even better.

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?

I gained a lot of valuable information from Dave Munger's session on "How to build interactivity into your blog"

It was so nice to meet you and thank you for the interview.

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Check out all the interviews in this series.

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I'm not sure if the gallery is allowed to ask follow-up questions, but I was wondering if Ms. Ventii could speak a little more about how she got started with her science writing activities mentioned (ELN, SWAE, and freelance work).

I got started by networking in the Atlanta area and making my science writing interests known to as many people as possible. ELN is one of the really good networking organizations in Atlanta. Soon I started getting more opportunities to write and things are slowly picking up. If you want more specific information feel free to email me at sci2life@aol.com.
Take care.