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Best Of Lab Rat 2011

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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This seems to be a fairly popular thing to do, and the New Year is as good a time as any to look back over my SciAm posts and see which ones I like, which ones I dislike, and how to make the posts better in the future. I haven’t been at SciAm for a whole year yet, they only started having the personal blogs in July, but I’ve written enough posts to take a look through and pick out five of my favourite.

1) The First Post – electric bacteria

This was the first post I ever wrote for SciAm, and as such it felt like my first chance to prove myself on a shiny new network. I’m not totally pleased with the handmade drawings (they are somewhat confusing and the large marker doesn’t help) but they were my first attempts. Hand-made, or custom-made art is something I want to get a lot more into in the future.

2) The Joint Post – bacteria that stop at the blue light

This was part two of a two-part set written by me and James Byrne. Having two separate people writing about the same paper gave two different perspectives, which was a really interesting exercise. I would love to do more of these in the future, they help to introduce readers to new blogs, and also to create a sense of network within the science blogs. And they’re fun!

3) The Chemistry Post – hydrogen bonds

For a network wide Chemistry Day, I decided to write about the intramolecular forces that hold water together. I enjoyed it so much that I wrote a second one slightly later, about van der Waals forces. Although I try to primarily focus on bacterial and microbiology in this blog, I must admit to a small secretive love for chemistry and chemical forces. I’d love to write more chemistry posts in future; not an overwhelming number but one or two a month would be nice.

3) The Perfect Post – unculturable bacteria

Somewhere around September/October time I started to get into a proper rhythm with blogging. Read paper, understand paper, find two images for blog, formalise introduction, write post. This happened around twice a week, didn’t seem to take up too much time and had a positive effect on my page views. I love a lot of the posts I produced around this time, but my favourite is the  one on unculturable bacteria. There’s nothing I don’t like about this post. I could certainly make it better with more information, or a maybe a quote from the researchers, but as it stands it’s one of my favourites.

5) The Silly Post – bacterial X-men

During the run-up to Christmas I wrote two of the funnest posts I’ve ever done, finding bacteria to compare to X-men and sticking a little bit of interesting science information down for each one. The list form made writing a lot easier at a time when I was quite busy, and they were quite popular with readers as well. I certainly don’t want to turn this blog into “Cracked.com with added bacteria” but there might be the odd list going up every now and again. Particularly when I’m overworked.

It’s been a great year for me blogging-wise. Joining the SciAm network has been an amazing experience and I’m very much looking forward to blogging through 2011!

S.E. Gould About the Author: A biochemist with a love of microbiology, the Lab Rat enjoys exploring, reading about and writing about bacteria. Having finally managed to tear herself away from university, she now works for a small company in Cambridge where she turns data into manageable words and awesome graphs. Follow on Twitter @labratting.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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