I'm A Panelist at the European Science Blogging Conference in London

I have more news about the European Science Blogging Conference in London, England. First, we have an official logo (see left)! Second, I just learned that I will be a panelist with two Nature Network Science Blog writers! We will be discussing a topic that is near and dear to my heart; Science, Blogging and the Public. To do a good job as a panelist, I have some questions that I plan to ask you over the next week or so, and I will use your responses to write about those topics and seek more responses from you after I do that so I can refine my knowledge for this panel.
The first question; Do science blogs change your perceptions about science and scientists? How?

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About GrrlScientist

grrlscientist is the pseudonym of an evolutionary biologist and ornithologist who writes about evolution, ethology, and ecology, especially in birds. After earning a degree in microbiology (thesis focus: virology) and working at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, she earned her PhD in zoology from the University of Washington in Seattle, where she studied the molecular correlates of testosterone and behaviour in white-crowned sparrows. She then worked a Chapman Postdoctoral Fellow at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, where she studied the speciation and distribution of lories and other parrots throughout the South Pacific Islands. A discarded scientist, she returned to her roots: writing. Formerly hosted by The Guardian (UK), she now writes about science for Forbes and for the non-profit think tank, the Evolution Institute and she writes podcasts for BirdNote Radio. An avid lifelong birder and aviculturist, she lives with a flock of songbirds and parrots somewhere in Germany.
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0 Responses to I'm A Panelist at the European Science Blogging Conference in London

  1. John says:

    Yes, it has, in the sense that, as a humanities/liberal arts person, I didn’t have much interaction with scientists before I started reading science blogs. So it provides a different perspective than I was used to.

  2. john, what is different about a scientist’s perspective?

  3. Bob O'H says:

    Oh, excellent – does this mean we get to throw peanuts at you?

  4. Sigmund says:

    If I were you I would be brave and pose the question about the dark secret about science advocacy and the reality of the scientific job market.
    The current spate of science blogging is kindling a new interest in science amongst the population and encouraging a many young people to chose a career in scientific research.
    Scientific research, most of us agree is very important.
    For the economy as a whole this new influx of science positive youngsters is excellent. For the research base of the nation its also great.
    So far so good.
    What students are not told, unfortunately, is what awaits them on the other end of their training.
    Many who go into science were the best in the subject in their high schools. Often they were the best in their university years too. When they qualify however they find that they are competing for tiny numbers of permanent jobs with students who were the best in their own university and often in other countries (unlike almost every other profession science is international – meaning that you not just competing against your own nationals for small numbers of jobs, you are often competing against highly qualified scientists from all over the world).
    The end result is that even if you do qualify these days there is a very small chance that you can make a career of it.
    The reality of scientific life also holds other problems, apart from the lack of permanent jobs.
    Here in europe the European Union tries to harmonise employment laws such that you cannot keep taking people on in short term contracts and thus avoiding giving them the benefits that permanent work contracts bring. They passed a law that made it illegal to hire people in this way. The response of many scientific employers (such as the Karolinska Institute here in Sweden) was not to give scientists longer term contracts, but to terminate the jobs of anyone over three years, creating a disastrous situation for the many scientists in this position.
    OK thats the background, the question is how do we balance the good points of encouraging students to become interested in Science with the reality that the chances of them actually making a permanent career in academic research are incredibly slim. Is it not unethical to fail to point out to students the dangers of a career in research?

  5. Pat Silver says:

    Personally no, since I am a scientist, however science blogs such as yours give me somewhere to send non-scientists because it gives them some insight into why scientists find the world both fascinating and beautiful.

  6. doug l says:

    It certainly underscores the fact that entire paradigms can be inverted almost overnight with new discoveries and that it is good to keep the options open even when doing the smart thing. In other words, political decisions based on science are problematic because the science is not about setting limits, regardless of consensus, but looking beyond them.

  7. El Fields says:

    I’m applying to a bio grad program next year, and I started reading science blogs to get an idea of what goes on in the everyday life of grad students, postdocs, junior faculty, and scientists working in industry. The demographics of the science blogs that I read are pretty varied, and while I can’t really say that it has changed my perception of science or scientists (since I was more or less a blank slate on that subject), it has definitely given me a better understanding of how the community works.

  8. Science blogs have definitely changed my view of scientists. The little insights into scientists lives that are often incorporated into posts have changed my perception of how scientists live, challenges they face, and issue and causes that are important to them on a personal level. What has amazed me is that scientists are activists at heart and live to promote the expansion of scientific reason into everyday life.

  9. Barn Owl says:

    As a scientist, I don’t think that science blogs change my perception of science or of other scientists. However, I don’t think that this lack of change in perception detracts from any enjoyment I gain reading the blogs, and that’s especially true for those blogs outside my areas of research. I like this blog because there are always interesting posts about birds, and Deep Sea News because there are great posts about marine biology. Tetrapod Zoo never disappoints, for well-written posts on ancient creatures and comparative vertebrate biology. None of these topics is directly related to my research or teaching, but my background and interests make them really attractive snd fun to read. Orac’s and Abel Pharmboy’s posts are often tangentially related to my research, but different enough to give me new perspectives on some things.
    If any of the science blogs came close to changing my perception of scientists and science, it would be Coturnix’s and Zuska’s…and I would then use the term “broaden”, rather than “change”. Coturnix, because he often blogs about Open Access, and about science and scientists in other countries, and Zuska, because her posts forced me to face some science community issues that I’d been shoving (figuratively, of course) into the back of the -80C freezer.

  10. Mus says:

    Absolutely. As a future biologist, science blogs have completely changed my perception of science and scientists. Besides the fact that I have learned a great deal about various fields of science through science blogs, they have also given me a chance to see that I am not the only one who is passionate about science and that there are lots of very smart and passionate scientists out there who want to share their knowledge and opinions with the public. Science blogs have also contributed in the sense that I get to learn about specific fields in science in far more detail than I could otherwise, and that has and will definitely influence what I study and what job I will eventually get.
    In short, and as corny as it sounds, it is no understatement to say that because science blogging has changed my perception of science and scientists, it has and will continue to change my life.

  11. Msn Nickleri says:

    Science blogs have definitely changed my view of scientists. The little insights into scientists lives that are often incorporated into posts have changed my perception of how scientists live

  12. sea creature says:

    From your blog I’ve discovered the beauty of birds, and that there is a whole scientific community that studies birds. Neat!
    I’ve also had confirmed my discomfort with schools of alternative medicine when reading science bloggers. Years ago I considered attending Bastyr (the big naturopathic school near Seattle). So much of it seemed so cool, the rigorous science part of the curriculum, the wamth of the faculty and students. However I nearly fainted when a graduate told me she made her living testing for allergies by giving people a bottle of a substance to hold and seeing if their arm was weaker when they held it than when they didn’t. It was obviously garbage, yet the school still taught it along with biochemistry. Some friends told me I was close minded to not go because of this. These days I am glad to find that I was right.
    I’ve also learned a lot from you and some others about the difficult career path that science can be, though a few scientist told me about it earlier, during my exploration of science and alternative heath careers. An adjunct biology professor shocked me with his story of not being able to find a permanent research job, and introduced me to others in his cohort in the same boat. (one went on to law school, another writes computer graphic software today).

  13. rpg says:

    Hey Grrl, it’ll be good to meet you. I’m summing up, along with Cameron and Peter M-R. That’ll be fun!