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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 “ 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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