Four for Pharmboy: Thank you and a mission modification

The Preamble

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.


More like this

Congratulations on four years of excellent blogging. I've been reading for three of them and I look forward to your next four!

You already know who I am and why I read but I'll just re-emphasize that I am certainly in your core audience. I appreciate discussions of natural products pharmacology and, heck, real pharmacology of any stripe. Don't lose that stuff, we're not bored yet!

By DrugMonkey (not verified) on 15 Dec 2009 #permalink

I'm a pseudo-lurker. I'll echo what DrugMonkey said. Keep doing the pharmacology stuff. I love it.

I'm a science educator and any resource I have that assists me in combating ignorance and pseudoscience is welcomed and encouraged.

About your mission for 2009. The three most important teachers and mentors I have had in my schooling were all women (From calculus to organic chemistry to Ph.D. advisor). I can assure you, I would not be where I am and I would not be the person I am without the influence of those most wonderful and intelligent people. I have three daughters who I hope have the option to do whatever they want to do. I am thankful for all of the women that have gone ahead and removed road blocks (someday all of them) so my daughters can reach their dreams. So, yeah, I appreciate your mission. Even though I am also "a representative of the most abundant and privileged demographic" in the sciences.

Mostly lurker, irregular reader of your blog. Although you know me because of twitter to an extent you wouldn't if I were just a lurking reader. While your academic pharmacological posts sail over my head because chemistry has always been the science topic I'm most weak at, I really enjoy posts like the one on witches and broomsticks. :-)

I admire your positions on various social justice issues greatly, and how consistently you advocate for them. I also love the fact the you are a musician. If I ever meet you in person in a group, I'm sure I'd be one of those putting you on the spot with a song request. Hope you keep your guitar handy :-)

While your post on your dad was touching, the one live-blogging your vasectomy was pretty hilarious while being educational.

You're an all around awesome human being. Keep up the blogging goodness, and good luck with the admirable goal for 2010!

One field that relates to your enhanced mission is the world of historical uses of medicinal herbs by indigenous populations. I am ignorant of much of this knowledge, but remember listening to old-timers back in the hills talk about it when I was a little one (a long time ago.)
The process of going out down by the creek and pulling up something to cure your ills has a rustic quality to it. Could you blog about any reference materials on this subject?
I also enjoy reading your blogs very much. Keep up the good work.

By Roger Austin (not verified) on 15 Dec 2009 #permalink

I lurk and have only recently commented and then started lurking again. I am so appreciative of your posts. I learn so much. I'm an ex-church worker, turned alcoholic who quit her Master's degree with three credits to go because the drinking and the dying kind of got in the way. Now, I work for a surgeon (hence, my fascination with drugs) and part time in the field of addiction counseling (hence, my fascination with drugs.)

I get so much more from reading your posts than I do from just reading medical journals. Because even though you don't really have a face - you engage with me as a human being, you're not just words on the page. Thank you for blogging and I can't wait to read more! Reading blogs like yours make me more convinced that I belong back in graduate school.

Congrats, Pharmboy and mazel tov.

By Dr. Brain (not verified) on 15 Dec 2009 #permalink

Mostly I lurk & read in RSS feed.

I can't remember how I found your blog but I think it was at least 3 years ago or even closer to the beginning.

I'm interested in natural remedies especially debunking the "wonders" of natural remedies in CAM.

Increasing women & POC in STEM (including medicine) is also an interest of mine.

Happy anniversary and congratulations! I don't lurk (you can't shut me up, can you?), and I am completely "out" online. I applaud your resolution for the next year. I look forward to more great stuff.
You go, PharmBoy!

Happy anniversary and congrats on your blogging activity.
I'v been following as a lurker from the orther side of the Atlantic for a while, partly because of my field of expertise (phytotherapy and ethnobotany) but mostly because of the slant you give to your posts. I have most appreciated the interest you showed for minority and gender issues in science, and hope you'll keep up with the good job.
One subject on which I am very keen and that is, IMHO, going to become a fertile ground of ethic research is that of urban ethnobotany: turning our gaze from the more "romanticised" study of ethnic communities in the distant fields, to the pressing reality of immigrant communities on our cities and to the transformations their plant knowledge and use undergoes (cfr. the works of Balick, Pieroni, etc.).

Another lurker here :) Don't take it personally; I have been lurking for a while at few ScienceBlogs and only recently started commenting (and you're right, it is kinda fun). I am now a postdoc and a biochemist by training. There was a strong emphasis on toxicology and pharmacology at my grad institute, though, and I enjoy the pharmacology posts. I look forward to hearing more from you on issues of diversity, as well.

Long-time reader and lurker, occasional commenter here; I think I started reading your blog because of your posts on Colorado history and culture (we share some connections to that region). I'm a researcher and anatomy/neuroscience instructor in medical and dental school courses at an HSI, and so I share your interests in encouraging diversity of participants and voices in science and science education. I really appreciate your unique perspectives at ScienceBlogs, and look forward to reading many, many more of your posts on diversity and minority education issues.

Congrats on the 4th anniversary... from another greying member of the same academic demographic! The demographic "pie chart" is pretty similar where I am (UK) to the US version, I guess - although we are certainly seeing more women in academic posts, and my Univ now has a woman scientist as Deputy Principal (or equivalent).

Anyway, second what DrugMonkey said. Often wish I could follow your example and blog more about actual, like, science, but the need to vent/rant often overrides.

Congratulations, Abel. Why do I read? Because you're writing from a unique perspective. If I knew what to suggest you write about, you wouldn't be unique. Surprise me.

Congratulations! My story is typical of the people we lose in science. I am ABD, population genetics, but returned home to help take care of my family. I muddled through a few years as a project manager for a national tissue registry and medical communication firm before finding a passion for informal science. After a decade in science museums, I recently returned to academics where I write grants and increasingly serve as resident "STEMMologist" (thanks for the new word). I also coordinate a few grant programs and do little teaching, some internships, and a lot of facilitating communication/collaboration ("stealth professional development" per my dean). I've been reading Sb for a long time, but rarely have much to add. I come here because you all remind me why I love science - you're smart and funny - and I think those are two qualities that can bring us together regardless of background.

Hello there Abel! Look at that, my only 'blogspring' 4 years old already. *sniff* Though I shuttered my own blog long ago and don't read yours as often as I'd like, I definitely keep tabs on you via twitter. I go round and round with myself about whether to start a new blog with a new focus but don't think I'd keep it up very long.

Keep up the good work, I think your goal for the new year is admirable. Women and POC need more allies in places of power (so to speak) such as yourself.


I'm an undergrad microbiology student who's been going to school half-time while working full-time (in a diabetes lab), looking to finally graduate in the spring after 7 years. :( Not certain what I'd like to do most when I graduate - my grades aren't very competitive, but I'd like to do either basic science research or vet school... can't decide. If I can't get into vet or grad school, I'll work up to taking the firefighter exam and do that instead.

I started out on scienceblogs reading Pharyngula; these days I mostly only have time for Orac, though I've been trying to make time for others. I stumbled upon TerraSig when looking for some information about pharmacognosy for a friend whose daughter wanted to go to school for 'herbal medicine'. Now that the semester is out, I'll happily have time to start following more blogs again, including yours.

I'm pretty happy with the selection of topics to read about on scienceblogs. I'm also very gratified that there are voices like yours supporting demographic minorities in science. Thank you!

Why do I read TS? Why does one read any blog? Because it provides something that no other place does: unique topics given in a unique voice. There is stuff here every week that cannot be found anywhere else on the planet. Oh, and wine...

congrats and keep up the good work!!!

Abel, you rock!

To delurk: I'm Dr.AA, recently minted Ph.D. in sub-sub-field of biology. I read your blog for the great writing and to hear an advocate's voice - my current working environment provides little in this department.

Looking forward to many more years of reading here - great job and keep it up.

Enjoy your blog. Congrats on four years of blogging.

By Marilyn Mann (not verified) on 16 Dec 2009 #permalink

Hi Abel,

At your insistence and in commemoration of your fourth year, I'll respond:

1) I'm a Sr. undergraduate in chemistry and mathematics. My capstone project is assessing the properties of nanoparticles functionalized by antisense oligonucleotides. Most of my research experience is in physical chemistry and I've applied to several graduate schools in that area - I'm awaiting replies!

2) I started reading after Orac gave you link love in Jan. '06. I like to learn things about fields I'm not studying, because I often get bogged down in the minute details of my own stuff. Plus, your perspective is educational just by itself.

3) What I love are critiques or peer-review of published works. Heck, seeing seminal papers and their discussion is often very enjoyable.

Very Best,


1. I'm a massage therapist, fighting the alt. med stupidity on the front lines every day. I have a degree in English and an honors diploma in massage.

2. I read several of the science blogs daily and you're on the list. I can't remember when I started, but I enjoyed your style.

Our blogs are almost exactly the same age.

3. I mostly enjoy fisking of poor research or, because my training is lacking in statistics and study design, I enjoy explanations of why a particular study is well done and why.

Abel: You were one of the first blogs I started following, and it's still on my go-to list daily. Your work has inspired others to speak up. Keep up the great work.

Congrats on 4 years!
Well I guess I'm a minority if we're speaking of American white males... I'm a 1st year surgical intern from Mexico, with interests in oncology; I really enjoyed your post about HeLa cells. I'll be sure to keep up and not lurk so much.

By Alejandro (not verified) on 16 Dec 2009 #permalink

This is a another Chris who lurks here. Hi!

Oh, and this Chris likes this part of your blog:

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.

Hi Abel

I read your blog most days and I have a special fondness for your scientific explanation of naturally derived molecules that we can use as drugs.

I can see what you're doing with your 2010 mission but it will have the effect of making your blog entirely US-centric.

By antipodean (not verified) on 16 Dec 2009 #permalink

Lafayette, we are here !
or something.
Keep up the good work!

First, de-semi-lurking to say, Happy Blogiversary!

Now, on to the test questions:
1) your general background I was born a poor black child, in a log cabin I helped my father build...okay, that was not entirely true. In fact, it was more or less completely false. I would even go so far as to say, a total lie. Female, white, fifties, some college (but a voracious reader). The degree I didn't finish was in biology, which won out over astronomy because the college I went to didn't offer it, and I was far too timid to fare alone into the unknown. Scifi geek, history & archaeology buff, serious D&D player, inordinately fond of tentacles. Says it all, really.

2) why you read I've got too much time on my hands at work, a vicarious-science monkey on my back, and access to a computer. I surf the Scienceblogoverse, and stop in here daily in the course of my travels, as I have since the day one of your sciblings linked to one of your blog entries. You have successfully caught and held my attention, and now you're stuck with me until and unless you become boring---which I see no symptoms of, yet.

3) what other stuff you'd like to hear from us. You're doing good; keep doing it. Add whatever suits you. As long as you don't become boring, or distressingly teabaggy or religious, I'm along for the ride.

Guess I'm a lurker. I post on other blogs, but don't think I've posted here...mainly because I spend more time 'listening' than 'talking' when I'm learning items outside my area of expertise. To answer your questions:

1) General Background: Wildlife biologist/ecologist, involved in research usually on small mammals, migratory birds, stress hormones in those populations, arctic and sub-arctic plant nutrient studies; also sessional professor teaching a variety of biology courses, ecology, genetics, chemistry to first and second-year undergrads when I'm in the mood to stay indoors over winter rather than freeze half to death doing winter field work on some high arctic mammal that doesn't know enough to get in out of the cold. Also former career as a social worker dealing with juvenile delinquents (young offenders, some were drug addicts).

2) Why I read: To gain knowledge, to understand, to expand my boundaries. What you blog about sometimes ties in with so many aspects of what I do so I drop by about once a week to soak up what you've written.

3) what other stuff you'd like to hear from us: I really don't know. Write about what interests you, and your interest in the subject may be contagious and I'll become interested in something I didn't even think about before. Science-blogs are avenues of exploration. You never know what blog post will catch your fancy and pull you along into the maelstrom.

By Daniel J. Andrews (not verified) on 16 Dec 2009 #permalink

Congratulations, and happy bloggaversary!

I started reading you relatively recently, and I enjoy your writing style & perspective immensely.

And now, if there were any justice, the gods of the blogosphere would reward you with a Martin Steve Earle Signature M-21 to replace that Taylor of yours...

Stumbled on your blog before you moved here, asked a question and we figured out that you worked with my spouse- small world.

You write good stuff, so I read!! Sometimes I comment, sometimes I lurk. I particularly appreciate the stuff you write debunking news stories that overstate what can be said from in-vitro and in-vivo cancer studies and plaster links to your blog all over cancer support boards when you do this.


Delurking now. ABD Plant Biology, MS Biology, BS Industrial Engineering -- time spent as part time adjuct at both Community Colleges and University levels. Left academics to help family with end of life care for grandfather. Choice made easier by deeply disfunctional lab and department. Now tech in a clinical lab area. God, I love health insurance! Lurk at work to cure bordom waiting for tissue to frozen section or slides to stain. Thanks to you and all your sci-blings esp when your tag lines let me filter what will get past the Big Brother work-place controls. Love it when pathology and botany meet.

And yes,I would be female. And yes, only after I joined the "pink collar" work force did my father say he was proud of me. I'm older than you might think -late attempt to bloom. And oh how I love health insurance -- and therefore my job.

A great many thanks to the first 12 of you who commented in before I tweeted today and was retweeted by many of you on the occasion of this birth - afterbirth, if you will.

#1 DrugMonkey - I know who you are indeed but I still look forward to getting to know you in meatspace someday. I really appreciate the support of you and all the other neuropeeps, not just for reading but for also referring our posts and drawing others over to join the conversation.

#2 Chemgeek - Fabulous to have a fellow homebrewer (me, formerly though) and honest-to-goodness chemist among this gathering. And yes, being the father of little women simply encourages us in the pursuit of equality. Not a bad thing. Especially if they learn to homebrew. It's biochemistry, right? And pharmacology, too.

#3 arvind - If you are a lurker then you are the most active lurker I know. I really appreciate your pointing out your favorite posts as they are some of mine as well! But be sure to come and ask questions if the science posts are over your head. This is supposed to also be a place for general science ed so jump in from time to time. I say "musician" but, honestly, I'm more a guy who plays guitar and bass with other musicians. What I hope to do someday is to go for a run with you and Mrs Arvind. Be well, and thank you.

#4 Roger - Are you *my* Roger Austin? If so, thanks for hunting me down. If not, thank you for hunting me down. The PharmKid has actually learned more than I about going down to the river and picking some medicinal plants. Lots of folk history of such here in NC and her nature camp counselors have shared a lot with her. That'll be a future project: to translate the truth behind some of these folk stories. Thanks for the suggestion.

Yes, I promise to respond to each and every one of you - Thank you for reading and writing. It's a pleasure to see my old friends and to make new ones.

Hi there Abel,
I first met you near the (delicious) sweet potato beer being served up by FullSteam at the spring tweetup at Bronto, and have popped in to your blog on occasion ever since. I probably see more of you on twitter than on this blog. I have enjoyed your tweets on many topics and came across the book Killing Bono because of your coverage of the U2 conference. I love in particular your local social justice connections. Best wishes with the new mission- I hope to find ways to contribute to its success.

Hi Abel,
I found Terra Sig about a year ago through science blogs and science-based medicine. I grew up in northern Arizona and developed an interest in edible and medicinal herbs under the influence of parents and friends who were foresters, botanists and biologists. Living on the border of the Navajo and Hopi reservations also helped. I will keep my eyes and ears open in relation to your mission, and if you need anything from this area investigated, let me know.

Hi Abel,

I'm not a new reader here but I haven't visited you blog in the last year except for the post about squalene which did help me craft a good answer on vaccination on a forum so I wish to thanks you for that.

Happy blogiversary :)

By Autistic Lurker (not verified) on 16 Dec 2009 #permalink


Who am I? A Canadian university student. (Arts, not Sciences.) Irregular reader and mostly a lurker.

Why do I read? Usually it's 'cause I clicked on an interesting-looking link to one of your articles. Or I just check in to see what's new.

What else do I want to see here? Can't think of anything offhand, sorry.

...More congratulations! Four years is pretty darn good for a blog, no? Especially a science- and news-based sort of blog, as opposed to your basic what's-going-on-in-my-life-right-now sort of blog. Keep up the good work!

I've been lurking for about a year and a half. I teach English at two community colleges in California, and I often point my students toward your blog and those of your sciblings.
Science blogs in general and Terra Sigilata are excellent examples of well-written essays, and a good source of information to rebut some of the nonsense floating around college campuses.

By Shadowcatdancing (not verified) on 16 Dec 2009 #permalink

[Ouch! Quit it Orac!]

An electrical engineer working in IT (I really wanted to build trains - welcome to the job market).

Why pharmacy? I've always loved the progression from inorganic to organic chemistry, and then on to biochem and the effects of 'stuff' on animals then to the effects on humans. Where is the disctinction between a poison and a drug? So how do they work anyway?

I dunno. I think all the pharms out there do (or ought to) know.

Can I ask for a few more, um, technically-oriented posts?

Bring back the Phriday Phermentable!


I don't read the blog daily, but I read everything on it. Usually I drop by once or twice a week, but sometimes less.

Now, as for your questions:

1) your general background
Danish/Australian IT consultant living in Copenhagen. Pro-science in all aspects.

2) why you read
I like your take on, especially, medical issues, and your good fight against pseudo-science and pseudo-medicine.

3) what other stuff you'd like to hear from us
Your mission statement sounds interesting, but I would definitely like you to continue fighting against homeopathy and other woo.

Congratulations on your anniversary.

I am a low-level college administrator, responsible for emerging technologies software development. I read your blog to gather ammunition to use in my own tiny campaign against pseudo-science. You do a fine job, providing that ammunition. Thank you and keep up the good work!

By ancientTechie (not verified) on 17 Dec 2009 #permalink

I refuse to cease lurking, ever!

...oh, crap. This is how I ended posting on a messageboard for 5 years...

Never again!

I'm a first time reader to this blog, coming via link from Orac. While pharmacology is not a big interest, I have had contact with the NIH efforts to promote scientific careers for minorities.

I worked at a small women's HBCU for a year at the beginning of the decade putting together a database of MARC graduates for tracking purposes. The program director mailed a survey to the MARC alumni asking about where they have gone on to train and what they have accomplished since finishing the MARC program. Aside from those students who went on to successfully complete medical school, only one graduate actually went on to earn a Ph.D. The rest dropped out of school somewhere between the first year of graduate school and post master's degree. Aside from monetary issues, which were compelling, the most common complaint was social isolation. Whether this arose from the culture of scientific graduate work or from being a minority in science work was not clear. The immediate response of the faculty at the college was to discount social isolation as a reason for attrition. "If they can't take it, they don't belong!" A significant reason for the failure of their program (they were in serious danger of losing funding) was staring them in the face and all they could say was, "That's not important!" Clearly it was important enough to several very promising scholars that they chose not to pursue full academic training. My point is this: Social support is important for the success of some minority students. The tendency to overlook this need may contribute to the dismal number of minority Ph.Dâs.

Congratulations! Here's to four more!

I am a dedicated lurker for about two years now, scientist/management in biotech. Why I read: you're a good writer, and I like your rational take on the topics on which you post. I particularly like your posts on drugs of abuse, having worked on the research side of the field many years ago.

Who: lurker, social science PhD working in higher ed admin, with a family member who has non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (I think I found you through one of Anjou's links).
Why: Good writing, excellent information that helps me better understand pharmacology and research (which has directly impacted us, since my family member's current remission is due to recent innovations in radiolabeled immunotherapy) and explain it to friends and relatives who are pushing all kinds of pseudoscience woo at us. Oh, and I like wine, too :-)
What: What you've been doing is terrific; I applaud the new direction you propose as well.

I follow you on twitter and read your blog occasionally. I am just a regular person who is interested in getting reliable information about drugs and natural cures. It gives me the facts I need to combat woo and misinformation.

I work as a medical technologist in a hospital based clinical laboratory. I'm interested in many science and medical topics and I'd like to see you expand to any topic you wish to expound upon.

More thank-you!

#5 k8 - Way to go! Congratulations on sticking it out and making lemonade out of lemons. Even if you don't go back to finish the master's, it sounds as though you have a very enriching life. I know that recovery can be hell; not sure if you've read my eulogy to my Dad but alcoholism runs strong and deep in my family. Also, as you know, many natural products are among are most frequently abused drugs. So, while I'm not a neuropharmacologist, I like to write about psychoactive substances and substance abuse and dependence as honest-to-goodness pathophysiology. I really love your spirit and blog tagline, "I used to be drunk all the time. Now, there's really no excuse for the crazy." And thank you so much for the nice comments on the writing style. We try our best to make it personal and real.

#6 Dr. Brain - Many thanks and keep coming back to comment.

#7 Katherine Sharpe - THE Katherine Sharpe! Thank you, thank you, thank you for inviting me here on my birthday in 2006. While I have technical mentors for the blog, you were the first person in real journalism who gave me a shot. I am so happy for you with all of your new projects and employment and I will be sure to follow your new blog.

#8 Liz Ditz - Hi Liz, I see you so much on Twitter that it seems odd to talk to you here. Thank you for all the great referrals and for all of your support in vaccination education. I particularly appreciated your exhaustive blog round-up of dialogue on Amy Wallace's Paul Offit article in Wired. And thank you for sharing in the effort to enhance opportunities for women and people of color in our respective fields.

#9 Pascale - Always great to see you, Dr. Lane. I am also a huge fan of the kidney and am always blown away each time I teach renal excretion in my intro to drug action lectures. And yes, even though it's not Thanksgiving, I am still thankful that I can pee!

#10 Marco Valussi - Thank you for checking in across the ocean. I'm delighted to learn of your ethnobotany interests. You raise a good point about an area I know very little: urban pharmacognosy. Yes, while the rainforests are romantic, there has to be intense biological competition aongst plants and microorganisms in urban areas. That's a really good suggestion for future investigation and education!

#11 Biochem Belle - It's great to learn of you as well and your excellent blog on being a postdoc. I think I learned of you via comments at DrugMonkey or nearby. I originally trained in toxicology and look forward both to reading more of your blog and getting you involved in discussions here.

#12 Barn Owl - Ah yes, my dear Barn Owl; it has indeed been a long time. Thank you for reminding me of our mutual love for Colorado. I sometimes hesitate to talk about local stuff or fondness for places I've lived but many of us train in so many different places that there's always bound to be more interest in hyperlocal things than one might think. Thank you for your endorsement and for jumping in to discuss so often.

#13 Sheril - Hey neighbor - you need to come to my office and go through my plethora of pharmacology texts for your book. I'm here, sadly, through the holidays.

#14 Dr Aust - Great to see you, sir - I also follow you on Twitter. Yes, we will continue with science-y posts
but feel free to rant any time you wish.

#15 - Stephanie Z - Great to meet you last year at ScienceOnline, albeit briefly. Yup, I'll continue to pull topics out of thin air - thanks for being unique yourself.

#16 Peggy - Hello, Peggy, and thank you so much for your kind and generous comments both here and on Twitter. I am honored and hope I can keep up with your expectations. Thank you for mentioning STEMM and making it easier to me to talk about "STEM, and medicine, and allied health professions." Yours is indeed a typical story but I am glad that your science background has put you into an environment where you are making huge contributions! What a fabulous way to make a great impact at your institution and wherever your trainees end up - I love "stealth professional development."

Congratulations! I too am a (rather infrequent) lurker, albeit my visits here have become more frequent since I started twittering and came across many a worthwhile RT with your twitter name attached. And I also write a small blog (or two) when I have time in between teaching and research. Coming up soon on the third anniversary of my blog Reconciliation Ecology shortly!

Oh, and might I add that I am a non-white (male) science blogger? One who wouldn't mind being asked to join this collective if you folks at SB are serious about adding some color and perhaps a perspective from the global south too! :-)

I am a documentary filmmaker from Canada with no science background whatsoever, but a double dose of curiousity about a lot of science-y subjects. I came across your blog while spellunking around the 'net for a project concept, and was very impressed with your writing style and you've had a several posts that have piqued my interest - not necessarily about what I was originally looking for, either. I've been lurking away every so often ever since.

Just keep writing about what interests you. And congratulations on your anniversary!


1. Former Christian, discovered the joys of science and skepticism just over a year ago and haven't looked back! I have a modest blog where I write about skeptical things that interest me, and try to broaden my knowledge by doing that.

2. I read your blog and other scienceblogs to learn, obviously, but also to try to make up for all of the lost time I spent thinking that science was boring and of no interest or consequence to me. I learn so much from blogs like yours, not only information, but also about the experience of being a scientist and the scientific method (which is in reality so much more exciting than the way I learned the method in school).

3. Keep doing what you're doing!

Congrats Abel!

I just started reading your blog--not always as regularly as I'd like, but I enjoy it. You've probably surmised most of this from my tweets, but I'm a postdoc at Columbia University in New York. I specialize in using NMR to study protein dynamics. I spent several years doing vaccine research/development as well.

I applaud you on your expanded focus. I have made it a goal to mentor minority students and have found it to be incredibly rewarding.

I'm also female, from rural Nebraska, and am a bit of a sports nut. :)

Hoping to get my own blog going in the new year. Until then, catch you in the twitterverse!


Undergraduate student studying neurobiology. Frequently a curmudgeon. Am an atheist. Frequently fascinated by pharmacology.

I have not found a better place on the internet to read about the latest science.

By Katharine (not verified) on 18 Dec 2009 #permalink

I have a B.A. Anthropology and I've been a Science geek all my life. I'm interested in Ethnomedicine and the "alternative" medicine scene as a cultural phenomenon. I'm 46 and over the years my Alternative friends have subjected me to everything from Bach Flower remedies to herbal concoctions pounded into beeswax paste, but I'm still here and healthy anyhow.

I've been reading your blog for about three years. I very much enjoy your informed voice and your ability to speak clearly on subjects that seem to make a lot of people incapable of rational thought (like vaccinations).

My dad was Eastern Shoshone and I very much approve of your expanded mission statement. I do hope you'll also keep fighting the good fight against the modern versions of Patent Medicines and other dubious things.

Thanks for all that you write here!

I have a business admin degree and work as a software developer on a open source project. Always been fascinated by science. I'm disturbed by pseudoscience and the harm it can cause people who rely on it instead of evidence based medicine. As a minority female in a male dominated profession, I appreciate your expanded scope.

Junior TT faculty in physiology as well as being a rather bitter and sarcastic blogger. I am a regular reader but don't tend to comment often because your stuff is always right on the money. I thought the guy wearing the funny hat and playing the guitar was pretty cool, too.

I suppose I'm a semi-lurker though I have commented on a couple of things in the past.

I first came to find your blog when I read on Pharyngula about your live-blogging experiment during your Vasectomy. I thought that such a brave, brave man would be worth following and I subsequently subscribed to your RSS feed.

I read most of your posts via Bloglines but do come and read the odd one or two that take my particular fancy on your website. I'm not a scientist (I'm a software tester for a telecomms firm) but I enjoy reading about the sciences. Also wine.

I've learned a lot about pharmacologically-related stuff here and I hope to continue to learn new things for a while to come now. I love Scienceblogs for this - it's humanising the presentation of scientific ideas.

Congrats on 4 years!


I'm a lurker and erratic reader, too, but then, I was only recently introduced to your blog. I'm not a scientist, nor do I have any scientific or medical training. My interest in scientific subjects was ignited by watching the "Mr. Wizard" television show (this gives you an idea that I ain't young...) and my interest in science has never waned since. Congratulations on your fourth year of writing this interesting blog and may your interest never wane, either!

greetings Abel and happy 4th blogoversary!

for the sake of adding another comment to your excellent blog, here i am! you already know that i'm a fellow pharmacologist, interested in toxicology and natural products pharm/tox but looking at some different applications. just wanted to leave a note of encouragement and say keep up the good work, friend!

Still getting back to all of y'all. Thank you very much for continuing to write in!

#17 Melissa/BotanicalGirl - Wow! If you look back at my first post, you will indeed see that I am your blog spawn! So great to hear from you and, yes, lovely to follow you on Twitter. Congratulations on your marriage and job. You must get back to blogging. While I don't think you do botany any longer, you always had a great voice and I know several people who'd be happy to see you back.

#18 smaller - Thank you for reading and congratulations on finishing the semester. You probably already know that microbes (bacteria and fungi) have given rise to many natural product therapeutics, including the statins and a great many antibiotics and anticancer drugs. Good luck in your decision in what to do and be sure to read other blogs here and elsewhere. I had a pharmacy students who was also a paramedic so firefighting sounds cool. But if your grades aren't that good and you want to do vet school or grad school, try and get some research experience while you are an undergrad.

#19 Greg - Thanks for the kind words and thank you for linking to me throughout the year. All the best to you and Amanda on her master's and your new baby!

#20 Coturnix - Thank you, Bora, for being among the first big name bloggers to link to me in the lean days. You continue to be a mentor, wonderful friend, and are always generous with praise and links. You're a good egg, brother. Happy Hanukkah!

#21 C.E. - You are too kind; I'm glad that you seized upon that line. For others in this thread, you really should do yourself a favor and bookmark Candid Engineer. She does a terrific job day in and day out of capturing the postdoc life with great straight-up advice, a great attitude, takes no crap from asshats, and is most deserving of an tenure-track faculty position very soon. She rocks.

#22 Paul Browne - Hey! Great to learn that you are a reader - what a nice surprise. Paul runs Speaking of Research, a campus-oriented blog that supports the lifesaving research conducted by researchers whose work requires the use of laboratory animals. Paul's site is designed to combat the animal rights extremism and terrorism against researchers whose lives are dedicated to improving human health and relieving human suffering by the most responsible and humane use of laboratory animal models.

#23 Thank you, ana!

#24 ambivalent academic - Great to see you, Dr. AA! Yes, Doctor AA - congratulations on your defense!

#25 Marilyn Mann - Thanks, Marilyn!

#26 Chris - WOW! Reading since Jan 2006? That's basically my entire blog life. Haven't scared you away yet? Good luck with the grad school applications - hope we haven't scarred you or led you astray. I'll definitely do some more peer-reviewed papers; I've slacked off lately.

#27 BigHeathenMike - A beloved Canadian! Thank you for all you do to fight the antivaccination death march. Doesn't matter when you started reading; I'm glad you still do. You know, for some reason I was just thinking I was in need of a good, deep-tissue massage.

#28 NoAstronomer - Thanks for the brief delurk!

#29 PharmacistScott - No, Scott, thank *you* for being a vocal pharmacist and taking so much effort to support your profession with science-based information. I don't see as many pharmacists in the blogosphere as, say, physicians. So, as a former pharmacy prof, I'm so glad that you started Science-Based Pharmacy. Keep up the great work, beloved Canadian!

I'm not a scientist. I have an undergrad degree in Anthropology and am interested in the intersection of science and culture--especially the way that culture influences epidemiology.

Thanks for your blog!

Happy Blogiversary, Abel.

1) you already know who I am, anyone else can figure it out from my blog if they want to

2) I come here for the physiology/pharmacology and diversity related content

3) just keep up the good work!

I have a couple of friends with more melanin and less testosterone than the scientific promotion process seems to prefer, so I'll be sure to point 'em here in light of your renewed focus on diversity.

#30 Alejandro - We are very fortunate to have readers like you from the Mexican medical community. I'm so glad that you enjoyed the HeLa post and I encourage you to get Rebecca Skloot's book on Henrietta Lacks when it is released on 2 febrero. I'm sure you know that while does not exist, will ship the book to Mexico.

#31/32 Chris - Hey, it's been a pleasure to work with you behind the scenes on other projects. You might also be very interested in my recent post on Dr. Nora Volkow.

#33 antipodean - I will certainly continue to write about naturally-derived drugs - I'm glad you enjoy those posts. A new facet on diversity, I hope, will not make us too US-centric as issues of race and diversity exist in the scientific community in other countries as well. For example, I spoke recently of Guadeloupe-French footballer Lilian Thurman's fight against racism from the Sarkozy administration. If you know of such issues internationally, please do send them to me. This is a world blog!

#34 DLC - Well, I hope you are not uttering "Lafayette, we are here," at my tomb. But yes, I truly appreciate the gesture, your continued reading, and active commenting. btw, I just learned that while the quote is oft attributed for Gen. John Pershing, he noted in his autobiography that the words were spoken instead by Col. Charles Stanton.

Hi Abel,

I only occasionally visit, esp. now I have my own blog to babysit...

I'm interested in the disabilities side of what you're proposing. I wrote a post about some parts of this about a month ago, prompted by a post Isis wrote (see link on my name).

One point I mention in it is that disabilities are less often raised, as most people writing seem focused on ethnic background or gender.

It doesn't seem right to be offering a caution seeing as you've been blogging for a while now, but just a thought: be careful about how issues span international borders.

As a very silly example, apparently people from the USA complained about the to them racial tone of an TV advertisement in Australia, featuring a well-known (white) Australian cricketer looking awkward and glum surrounded by cheering West African supporters. It seems that some from the USA took it to mean that the guy was awkward and glum because he was surrounded by "blacks". Any Australian (the intended audience of the advert) or New Zealander would instantly know the actual subtext: he was awkward and glum because he was faced with watching the Australian team losing to the West Indian team while being surrounded by their supporters innocently rubbing it in by cheering madly... nothing to do with "race" at all...

This example is a silly one, I know, but I wanted to give an overly light example that's off-topic as such to avoid kicking up a fuss in the wrong place.

(FWIW, I've had a nearly identical experience involving watching NZ lose to Pakistan at the 50-over World Cup many years ago. It's a great story, but this isn't the place for it.)

No need to reply to this, I'm guessing you're might have to take back the idea of replying to each and every person judging by how the list is growing faster than your responses... :-)

Now I wish my own readers would kindly delurk...

Grant (also sometimes 'BioinfoTools')