Last year, I entered this $10,000 blogging scholarship on a whim. After all, why not? $10,000 is a lot of money, money that as a poor grad student, I could definitely use. I remember I was so excited when I saw that I'd made it into the list of finalists - the only science blogger in the running. I was even more excited, and a little amazed, when I won, thanks to the incredible support of the science blogging community.
This year, I'm thrilled to see that there are a whopping total of six science bloggers in the race. I'm glad I won last year, because I'd hate to have to compete with the talent in the running now! I encourage you to visit each and every one of the six blogs I'm about to link to, as well as the other finalists. These students need votes to win the scholarship, which means they need your help. All you have to do is follow this link and vote for the one you think deserves to win the most. I also want to encourage you to pass this along and get your friends, family and social networks to do the same.
So, without further ado, here are the science finalists:
Yes, I'm listing the bio blogs first. I'm biased. Given my career field of choice, it's no wonder that these blogs have a special place in my heart. Bio blogs are a whopping 15% of the entries this year - way to go, biology lovers! Here are the three bio-themed blogs, in order of appearance in the overall list:
David Shiffman: Southern Fried Science
Ahoy, matey! If you've never sailed over to Southern Fried Science before, you don't know what you're missing. This marine-themed blog is the perfect blend of science and saltiness. David's coblogger, Andrew, just posted a nice list of some of David's best posts, which I highly recommend reading.
Heather Cohen: Escaping Anergy
It's not easy to make immunology engaging and interesting, but Heather does a fantastic job of it. She clearly has a passion for what she does, and loves to share it with others. She hopes that her blog will help connect the general public to a field that is often overhyped and misinterpreted - and I'd say she's off to a damn good start.
Jacquelyn Gill: Contemplative Mammoth
I grew up reading prehistorical fiction like The Clan of the Cave Bear. As a child, I wished more than anything I could travel back and time and walk among mammoths. Well, Jacquelyn does, every day. Her job as a paleoecologist is to use clues in the fossil record and from the world around us to recreate and study the past. Her blog brings readers back with her, exploring the science which lets us learn about the world as it once was as well as what it's like to be a graduate student now, studing animals long since extinct.
Physics & Astronomy
I saw this great cartoon the other day, which definitely applies here. I guess if you can't study the life on this planet, studying the rest of the universe is not a bad compromise. Two finalists manage to make the non-life sciences fun to read:
Philip Tanedo: Quantum Diaries
A little confession: I almost became a physicist. At least, I listed myself as a physics major when I started undergrad. In the end, I couldn't hack it as a theoretical physicist, so I have a lot of respect for anyone who can make the Higgs boson into something I actually care about. Philip (or Flip) has a knack for turning some of the most complex topics out there into fun, entertaining reads.
Ray Sanders: Dear Astronomer.com
Ray wants to be sure that no astronomy question goes unanswered. If you have a question about our universe, he'll try to answer it. He started his blog with the express purpose of acting as resource, complete with a good helping of "cheeky shenanigans to help make Astronomy fun and entertaining."
What is science without good data analysis? Sure, the last blog on my list isn't *exactly* a science blog, but he sneaks in here because anyone who finds talking about data to be a fun hobby is a scientist at heart.
Kevin Flora: EdMatics
Kevin is a perfect example of why this contest is so great. I'd never heard of EdMantics before this, but when I checked out his blog, I was stunned. Who thought data could be so interesting? Kevin writes about presenting and analyzing data as if it is an art form - which, frankly, it is. He gets major kudos from me for turning most scientists' least favorite part of the job into something beautiful.