About the Scientific American Blog Network
The Scientific American Blog Network launched on July 5th, 2011. There are editorial blogs (more or less official voice of the organization), staff blogs (personal blogs written by our editors and staff), community blogs, and network blogs (written by independent bloggers and freelancers hired specifically for blogging, either as individuals or as co-bloggers on group blogs).
We have three editorial (or “editorially-controlled”) blogs – written or edited by Scientific American editors and staff in our official capacity.
– @Scientific American is a blog where several senior editors and managers will provide you with up-to-date updates on everything that is new at Scientific American: from product launches (including apps, books and more) to actions and events, from website enhancements to new issues of the magazines (both Scientific American and Scientific American MIND), from new hires to behind-the-scenes activities, including stories we are working on (and perhaps you can help us with your feedback).
– The Network Central is the blog where you get updates about the SA blog network, including weekly summaries, Q&As with bloggers, updates on all the new plugins, widgets and functionalities, additions of new bloggers, and more.
– With several posts daily, Observations blog is a busy place that features opinion and analysis by Scientific American editors, writers and correspondents.
– The Scientific American Incubator is a place where we explore and highlight the work of new, upcoming and/or young science writers and journalists, especially those who are current or recent students in specialized science, health and environmental writing programs in schools of journalism. There, we discuss the current state and the future of science writing, promote the best work that the young writers are doing, link to their new articles and blog posts, promote student-run publications, and profile websites that can be useful to new writers.
– The Guest Blog is one of our most popular blogs, with daily contributions (some invited, some submitted to us) by a wide variety of authors, in a wide variety of forms and styles, but particularly noted for the prevalence of good long-form writing. It was said that: “Based on #OpenLab nominations, @SciAm Guest Blog is becoming science blogging’s #TED: a place people step up and do their best work. ” And we overheard later: “The @sciam @sciamblogs Guest Blog is an incredible resource: a forest of stories planted by wonderful scientist-writers”. So, dig through the archives (just keep clicking on the “See More” button at the bottom of the page), and then come back to check it out every day.
– At the Expeditions blog, we invite researchers, students or embedded journalists to send in regular dispatches from their field work. Go on a virtual trip to explore the world together with our explorers! Or, if you are about to go out into the field to do research, let us know if you are interested in liveblogging your adventure.
Blogs by Scientific American editors, writers and staff
There are nine personal blogs written by SA employees:
– A Blog Around The Clock is personal blog written by Blogs Editor Bora Zivkovic. He covers circadian rhythms, sleep, animal physiology and behavior, and evolution – as well as more more ‘meta’ topics, like science communication and education, the world of media, and the World Wide Web. Tune in on Friday nights for Scienceblogging Weekly linkfests that will help you catch up with a weeks worth of science.
– Anecdotes from the Archive. You may have heard that Scientific American is almost 167 year old. That is a lot of archives to go through. Mary Karmelek is digitizing all those archives, and while she does that she often encounters interesting old articles and images that make great topics for blog posts: to see how the world has changed since then, and what we’ve learned in the intervening decades.
- Brainwaves is the personal blog written by Ferris Jabr, an associate editor focusing on neuroscience and psychology. At Brainwaves, Ferris focuses on the brain and the mind, from explaining the basics, to analyzing how science intersects art and popular culture.
– Budding Scientist. Anna Kuchment, the Advances editor, is the main host of this blog. Here, with the help of Scientific American editors, scientists, and other contributors Anna shares ideas for involving kids in science early and often. She also brings you up to date on the latest news about science education, encourages you to share your own ideas and projects, and answers your questions. This blog also serves as a hub for Scientific American’s many other education-related ventures, including the Citizen Science initiative, Bring Science Home, 1,000 scientists in 1,000 days, Google Science Fair, and more.
- Critical Opalescence is written by George Musser, a senior editor at Scientific American. His primary focus is space science, ranging from particles to planets to parallel universes. He is also the author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to String Theory. Musser has won numerous awards in his career, including the 2011 American Institute of Physics’s Science Writing Award. At Critical Opalescence, George gets into deep controveries of physics, as well as anything and everything else that may be on his mind at any given moment.
– Octopus Chronicles is a blog by Scientific American Associate Editor Katherine Harmon, who is currently writing a book about–you guessed it–octopuses! The blog features the latest and greatest from the octopod world as well as occasional tales of adventures as she travels to learn more about these super-smart cephalopods.
– Solar at Home started out as George Musser’s blog used to document his effort to solarize his home. Now that the project is finished, stay tuned – the blog will soon have a new scope, new co-bloggers and new energy.
– Streams of Consciousness is written by Ingrid Wickelgren, an award-winning journalist and author, and an editor at Scientific American MIND. On this blog, Ingrid explores the brain, the mind, and especially the minds and the brains of children.
- Talking Back is the place where neuroscience senior editor Gary Stix gets to talk – about any topic he wants – in public for everyone to see, instead of only to us during editorial meetings. Fascinating stuff, every single time!
Independent blogs and bloggers
There are four group blogs:
– Symbiartic is the blog dedicated to the exploration of the intersection between science and art, between nature and the visual representation of it. It is curated by artist Glendon Mellow and science illustrator Kalliopi Monoyios. This is a blog where the two of them act as hosts and curators. They look around our network and around the WWW as a whole, to find and present work by other artists in a variety of domains of visual art: art, illustration, data visualization, sculpture, architecture, design, cartoons, comic strips, photography, etc. They conduct interviews with artists and showcase their work, and invite artists to post guest-posts. They also showcase their own work, and also discuss how the widespread electronic communication is changing the notions of copyright in the visual realm. They sometimes write How-To technique posts and then conduct reader critiques and reader contests. They also help choose the “image of the week” for the blog network homepage.
– PsiVid is a blog very similar in concept to Symbiartic – except here, the images are not still but are moving. Hosted and curated by Joanne Manaster and Carin Bondar, this blog focuses on video, movies, television, animations and games – how they present and treat science, and how they can be used in science education and popularization. At PsiVid, Joanne (cell biologist) and Carin (evolutionary biologist) host discussions, interview film-makers, showcase interesting videos, teach video techniques and host reader contests. They also help pick the “video of the week” for the blogs homepage.
- Bonnie Swoger is a Science and Technology Librarian, while Hadas Shema is an Information Science graduate student. At their blog Information Culture they write about science information, scientific data, publication models, and the current culture of information sharing.
– At Plugged In, two young scientists – Melissa Lott and David Wogan – and two veteran writers – Scott Huler and Robynne Boyd – explore how our civilization uses energy, how our infrastructure works, how this impacts the environment, and what can each one of us as an individual do to make a positive impact on the health of the planet. This group blog has a breadth and diversity of topics, a broad range of ‘reading levels’, a lot of science, and a little bit of everything else. Both useful and fun!
Individual bloggers and their blogs:
– Anthropology In Practice – Krystal D’Costa is an anthropologist in New York, and a huge Mets fan. She is a writer and digital strategist and her interests include (online and offline) networks and identities, technology, immigrants, and history. And New York. And coffee. And baseball. This blog, continuing where she left off at the old blog of the same name (as well as at The Urban Ethnographer where she will make you fall in love with New York City), looks at the ways the urban environment shapes urban culture and affects the way we relate to each other – both offline and online. Advice: there is something essential to have when reading Krystal’s posts – a cup of good coffee, so you can sit back, relax and enjoy.
– The Artful Amoeba – Jennifer Frazer knows her fungi! With a degree in plant pathology and mycology, Jennifer decided to become a science journalist and writer. She graduated from the MIT science writing program and worked for newspapers and as a freelancer. And she has a book coming out in the near future. Her blog looks at biodiversity, especially of critters we don’t often hear about – not whales or pandas, but things like moss-animals, Ediacarans and giant viruses. Important to note: Jennifer’s posts are always a visual treat as well, with lush illustrations (sometimes drawn by herself) and photographs of the alien-looking creatures.
– Assignment Impossible – Charles Q Choi likes to have fun letting his imagination run wild. A long-time blogger and a frequent contributor to Scientific American, Charles likes to ask questions like “what is too hard for science to do?“, or “what is easy to do and why hasn’t been done yet?”, or “what discoveries come straight out of Science Fiction?”, or “what wild place on Earth can I travel to in order to report cool science?”
– Basic Space – Kelly Oakes is one of the youngest bloggers on the network, just about to shed the title of “undergraduate student” as she finishes her final year studying physics at Imperial College London. Kelly writes about space and astrophysics, trying to make it interesting to non-scientists and fun to read. Along with the research and studies, Kelly also edits the science section of Felix, the student newspaper at Imperial College.
– Bering In Mind is written by psychologist and author Jesse Bering, who does not shy away from controversial topics, ranging from science of religiosity, to science of sexuality, to science (and personal and cultural angles) of homosexuality. If you are looking for long, active, vibrant discussions in the comments, you are likely to find one or two on Jesse’s blog at any time.
– Cocktail Party Physics – Yes! Scientific American and Discover are now officially connected through marriage! We don’t know if her husband, physicist Sean Carroll, checks her science while she fixes his prose, I still think we got the better half – the amazing writer Jennifer Ouellette. If you think it’s hard to make physics fun, think again, but first you’ll have to read Jennifer’s old blog, old news reports, or some of her books with titles like “The Physics of the Buffyverse”, “Black Bodies and Quantum Cats: Tales of Pure Genius and Mad Science” and “The Calculus Diaries: How Math Can Help You Lose Weight, Win in Vegas, and Survive a Zombie Apocalypse”. That is fun! As she was, until recently, the Director of The Science & Entertainment Exchange, it is not surprising that there is a lot about movies and Hollywood in her posts, along with the science and its history.
– Compound Eye – Alex Wild is an entomologist studying ants. He is also a professional photographer with his subjects, not surprisingly, being mostly small, six (and sometimes eight) legged, winged and with hard exoskeletons. It is this latter side of his expertise, the nature photography, that Alex mainly brings to this new blog. Amazing photographs, technical advice for amateur photographers, and what it all means for promotion of nature and science! All this with a touch of insect taxonomy and evolution on the side.
– Context And Variation – Kathryn Clancy is a biological anthropologist who focuses mainly on female reproduction – from physiology, to medicine, to society, to policy. Her previous blog got on everyone’s radar when she wrote (almost live-blogged) her own personal experience with in-vitro fertilization. That takes some courage!
– You may have already learned that Cross-Check by science writing veteran John Horgan is the place to go to enjoy John tackling controversial topics, and to jump into lively comment discussions on topics ranging from the origins of war, to evolutionary psychology, to ‘who is wrong on the Internet this week’. His long career in journalism and a huge rolodex of sources also allow John to be fast and accurate when there are breaking news for which the scientific angle needs to be explained before the rest of the media botch it all up.
– Culturing Science – Hannah Waters has done research in the field, studying coastal marine ecology, and in the lab, studying epigenetics of yeast ageing, before deciding to move in a very different direction and try for a career in science writing. Every area of biology, from molecules to ecosystems, is fair game for Hannah’s blog, as well as some wise discussions of science education and communication.
– Degrees of Freedom is written by Davide Castelvecchi, our former math and physics editor, and a wizard at making complex mathematical and physical concepts understandable, exciting and fun. And every now and then, you can expect a brain teaser or a math puzzle – something for you to try to solve.
– Doing Good Science – Janet Stemwedel is the Cool Aunt of the scienceblogging community. With two PhDs (in chemistry and philosophy), Janet works as a professor of philosophy of science and is a veteran blogger, covering philosophical, sociological and ethical aspects of science with a characteristic cool. Also, as a parent, she is involved in, and often blogs about, science education in everyday life, including her wonderful Friday Sprog Blogging series.
– EvoEcoLab – Kevin Zelnio is a marine ecologist, invertebrate zoologist, freelance writer, musician and a veteran of several blogs over the years. He is one of the editors (and the webmaster) at Deep Sea News. His blog here, EvoEcoLab, explores the intersection of ecology and evolution, as well as the way these two disciplines affect us, humans. His recent move from the USA to Sweden is also inspiring him to write about comparisons and contrasts between these two cultures.
– Extinction Countdown is one of the eight blogs we already had before the launch of this network. John Platt is a journalist specializing in environmental issues and, on this blog, he covers conservation issues, looking at various species (mostly but not exclusively animals) at the brink, their conservation status, the efforts to save and protect them, and the scientific, cultural and political dimensions of the struggle to preserve the Earth’s biodiversity.
– History of Geology – When the hustle and bustle of busy life wears you down, when you come back home exhausted after a long day at work, when it’s time to put on your slippers and fix yourself a Martini on the rocks – that is a perfect moment to visit David Bressan who will transport you to his small town in Italian Alps and take you to a journey through the slow history of earth science, and even slower movement of glaciers – David’s scientific expertise. You will notice your heart beating slower, and your high blood pressure going down. Be nice about an occasional error – I bet his English is better than your Italian.
– Lab Rat – A biochemist turned microbiologist, Shuna E. Gould writes about bacteria, bacteria and bacteria. And it never gets old – as there are so many bacteria and they do so many wondrous things! Alongside with her blog here, Shuna also hosts the ConferenceCast blog on our sister network, Nature Scitable Blogs.
– Life, Unbounded – Caleb Scharf is currently the director of Columbia University’s multidisciplinary Astrobiology Center. He has worked in the fields of observational cosmology, X-ray astronomy, and more recently exoplanetary science. He is also the author of the undergraduate textbook “Extrasolar Planets and Astrobiology”. His blog explores the research on the origins of life and the possibilities of life emerging on planets other than ours.
- Literally Psyched is the writing pad for Maria Konnikova, a writer living in New York City, who is also a doctoral candidate in Psychology at Columbia University. Every post uses literary examples and sources to explain some aspect of psychological research. And although it is about science and all chock-full of facts, each post reads as beautifully as if it was masterful fiction. Her first several posts on this blog, taking Sherlock Holmes as inspiration, are about to be published in a book format.
- Molecules to Medicine is the place where Dr. Judy Stone keeps demystifying drug development, clinical research, medicine, and the role medical ethics plays in research, policy and society. If you are interested in clinical trials, this is the place to go, as Dr.Stone has written the textbook on the topic, and clearly explains the process in her series of blog posts.
– The Ocelloid – PsiWavefunction is the pseudonym for a young researcher in a relatively small but exciting field of Protistology – studying a wide variety of organisms with an amazing diversity of biochemistry, physiology and behavior, that all have a nucleus in their cells, but are usually too small to see without a microscope. As this group of organisms is much less studied than others, e.g., animals, plants, fungi or bacteria, new studies quite often completely reshuffle the taxonomy of the group, or even change the notions we have on the origins and early evolution of Eukaryotes (organisms with cells that have a nucleus). Thus, evolution and systematics are big topics on the blog. As many of those organisms are unfamiliar to most of us, and as images and photographs of them are not easily available, Psi often draws them or photographs them for the blog posts, and those images are really cool.
– Oscillator – Christina Agapakis is a biologist with a freshly minted PhD from Harvard. She is also a designer, a movie-maker and a writer with an ecological and evolutionary approach to synthetic biology and biological engineering. With her blog Oscillator, with the Icosahedron Labs and the video-making Hydrocalypse Industries she works towards envisioning the future of biological technologies and synthetic biology design. And makes really cool science movies! Check Christina’s Guest Blog post – Mixed cultures: art, science, and cheese.
– The Primate Diaries – Eric Michael Johnson got his Master’s degree in Evolutionary Anthropology at Duke, focusing on great ape behavioral ecology. Master of historical long-form writing, Eric is currently a doctoral student in the history of science at University of British Columbia looking at the interplay between evolutionary biology and politics in England, Europe, and Russia in the nineteenth century.
- Rosetta Stones is the online home for Dana Hunter who is a science blogger, SF writer, and geology addict. Although self-educated in earth sciences, Dana is highly regarded by other geologists as a real pro. And as she is also a professional writer, her geology posts are riveting to read, no matter if she explains the basics, delves into history, or covers the breaking news.
- Running Ponies (which is short for “Take your breath for running ponies”) is the award-winning blog by the Australian writer and blogger Becky Crew. The blog is also source of material for her first book, to be published in Fall 2012 – it is all about weird animals, their weird evolution and ecology, and their even weirder behavior. Sometimes in dialogue – spoken by the animals themselves.
– The Psychotronic Girl – Melody Dye has a degree in philosophy and intellectual history from Stanford University and is a current NSF IGERT fellow in cognitive science at Indiana University at Bloomington. She is interested in developmenal and cognitive psychology, especially the process of learning language in children. Melody is also a professional photographer. After a year-long hiatus, Melody will re-start blogging in the Fall of 2012.
– The Scicurious Brain – SciCurious is a neuroscience postdoc, researching actions of neurotransmitters. But on the blog, Sci is fun, and Sci writes in third person singular. With images – some funny images, some weird images, and some gross images. There are posts explaining the basics of how the brain works. There are posts covering the brand new research. There are posts covering old, classical papers. And there are posts covering bizzare research, especially about, erm, reproduction. Her Guest Blog post from 2011, Serotonin and sexual preference: Is it really that simple?, went on to win the prestigious 3 Quarks Daily prize.
– Science Sushi – Christie Wilcox is a marine biologist working on her PhD in Cell and Molecular Biology at the University of Hawaii. I once said about her blogging that “When Christie Wilcox dissects a scientific paper or an issue, that is the sharpest, most definitive and usually the final word on the subject. ” I still stand by that statement. Christie is thorough. Yet great fun to read. See for yourself.
– Science With Moxie – Princess Ojiaku is studying neuroscience at North Carolina Central University, and plays bass in an an awesome band. So it is not surprising that her blog often connects these two aspects of her life, from discussing neuroscience (and other science, like physics) of music perception, to interviewing scientists who are also musicians. Obviously, this blog rocks!
– Tetrapod Zoology – there is no science blogging network without someone writing about dinosaurs, right? Well, Darren Naish does it here, and he knows what he’s talking about as he’s named and described a few. But his blog is about much more than just dinosaurs. Darren covers, in great detail, all kinds of living and extinct tetrapods (vertebrates with four legs, or whose ancestors had four legs), their taxonomy, their anatomical, physiological and behavioral adaptations, and why some of them are so hard to find out in the wild. He has published Do Giraffes Float? in the Scientific American print magazine. Needless to say, there are always interesting discussions in the comments, often featuring quite a range of experts in various areas of zoology.
– The Thoughtful Animal – Jason G. Goldman is a graduate student in developmental psychology at the University of Southern California, where he studies the evolutionary and developmental origins of the mind in humans and non-human animals. On his blog, Jason usually discusses the latest research in animal and human behavior, neuroscience and cognition. He was the Guest Editor of Open Laboratory 2010, and is an editor for ScienceSeeker.org.
– Thoughtomics – Lucas Brouwers received his MS in the program for Molecular Mechanisms of Disease at Radboud University Nijmegen. He also writes about science for a Dutch newspaper. Lucas covers mainly evolution, usually from a molecular or bioinformatics angle.
- Unofficial Prognosis is written by Ilana Yurkiewicz, a second year student at Harvard Medical School who graduated from Yale University with a B.S. in biology. She was a science reporter for The News & Observer in Raleigh, North Carolina via the AAAS Mass Media Fellowship and then went on to write for Science Progress in Washington, DC. She has an academic interest in bioethics, currently conducting ethics research at Harvard after previously interning at the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues. She blogs about medical ethics, and about being a medical student. You can learn along with her!
– The Urban Scientist – Danielle N. Lee did her PhD research in animal behavior and she sometimes blogs about it, as well as about evolution, ecology (often urban ecology) and mammals. But her main strengths are in blogging about science education and outreach, especially to women and minorities, and she does it herself very well – often using hip-hop to explain basic evolutionary concepts.
– The White Noise – Last on this list due to the vagaries of the alphabetical order, but most certainly not the least, this is the blog by Cassie Rodenberg. With a degree in chemistry, and love of herpetology, Cassie turned to science journalism and never looked back. After stints in local newspapers and another popular science magazine, Cassie is now interactive producer for Discovery’s Emerging Networks, including Discovery Fit & Health and Planet Green. The topic of her blog is addiction. Every angle of it: chemicals, brain, behavior, culture, society, policy and more. And yes, personal experiences with addiction involving people around her. That is courageous.
Slow rotation of blogs in and out of networks is a reality. People move, have big changes in their lives and careers, and find themselves unable to write frequently enough, or well enough, or topically enough to satisfy their own high quality criteria. But we will always keep their archives saved as their writing was good and helped the network launch with a strong start for which we are very thankful.
– Creatology – Creatology is a blog run by three recent graduates from the Science Journalism program at City University London. They are Christine Ottery, Gozde Zorlu and Joe Milton, covering a variety of topics ranging from global health to environment to the intersection between science and art.
– Crude Matter by Michelle Clement is about all the gunk and goo that makes the bodies of humans and other animals work, all the solids, liquids and gasses that exist in our bodies and are sometimes ejected out of them. In one word: physiology! How the body works can be approached in different ways, from medical perspectives to energetics, from ecology to evolution. Michelle does a little bit of all of it. And she is not afraid to sometimes blog about her own body – what it is, what it does, what it wants, and what it is hurting from. Another recent refugee from the lab bench to the newsroom, Michelle is a fascinating person and an exciting writer.
– Disease Prone – James Byrne is a PhD student in Microbiology and Immunology all the way in Adelaide, Australia. His interests, well represented in his blogging, include the cause of diseases (human and non-human patients alike) and the history of medicine.
– Guilty Planet is written by Jennifer Jacquetwho you may remember from her old blogs – the original Guilty Planet or, before it, Shifting Baselines. Her blog bio states that she is “a postdoctoral researcher at the University of British Columbia researching cooperation and the tragedy of the commons” yet what this means is that Jennifer studies ecology, mainly marine ecology, often in a very complex mathematical ways, as well as conservation and the cultural, societal and policy aspects of saving the biosphere, especially the oceans.