Learning about the readership - keep 'em coming

I wanted to issue a great big thank-you to all of you who came by to comment on the 4th anniversary of this blog and share with us who you are and why you read. After a slow start, a few blog links and Twitter-prodding by my colleagues got the commenting going full bore. I intend to respond to each of you in the comment thread but it may take a couple of days.

I have been very pleasantly surprised by how many of our readers are not trained as scientists but are simply interested in science or in the scientific topics we present here. That is completely AWESOME because one of my concerns is that science blogging might simply become a bunch of scientists talking to one another in a vacuum. But when we're talking about engaging folks who care about science in their lives and want to learn more about it, well, you are the people who are very, very important to us.

Some of you have even been kind enough to write personal e-mails and for that I am very grateful. If it takes me a few days to get back to you, please don't be offended. It's lovely to get so much positive feedback, learn of your own personal reflections, and suggestions or ideas for writing that I hadn't given much thought to previously. Yes, I will write back.

Finally, I just want to clarify our expanded mission for 2010: the increased representation of information on and for underrepresented minority groups in the sciences. Some commenters were concerned that such a declaration meant that I was going to abandon posts on pharmacology, natural products, and pseudoscience re-education.

Nope. We're simply going to expand our posts to these other issues. That is why I asked for others to suggest to me their own announcements, essays, and links to information relevant to non-white, bespectacled, graying, goateed natural products pharmacologists. I figure that I can expand my coverage of these areas if other groups can make me aware of what they'd want to see on ScienceBlogs.

Here's a good example, in fact, from the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute at Duke University calling for applications for faculty from the nation's historically-black colleges and universities (HBCUs) to come study in Durham for a year in their area of research: paid, one-year residential fellowships ($40,000 to $60,000 depending on academic rank) and NO TEACHING REQUIRED. (HBCUs are notorious for teaching loads of four, three-credit classes per semester).

I'll have a separate post on this next week, but that's the kind of thing we can help to support without compromising our core mission of talking about drugs from natural sources. In fact, some commenters have even mentioned that I should consider talking about the ethnobotany and traditional folk medicines of underrepresented groups in the context of today's science.

So, that's all for now - just a big thank-you.

And if you wish to delurk and let us know about you and your interests, go on over to our 4th anniversary post and drop us a note in the comments!

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the increased representation of information on and for underrepresented minority groups in the sciences.

I'm really excited about your expanded mission and so looking forward to your panel at ScienceOnline2010. These outreach efforts are needed and the documentation is always good. I hope you're able to participate in the Diversity in Science Carnivalsince it also aims to increase the information on & for minorities in STEM.

B