The Artful Amoeba
A Blog About the Weird Wonderfulness of Life on Earth
My name is Jennifer Frazer, and I'm a science writer living in Boulder County, Colorado, land of Subarus, microbrews, and overpriced outdoor gear. Welcome to my natural history and biodiversity blog, The Artful Amoeba. I have a bachelor’s degree in biology with a concentration in systematics and biotic diversity from Cornell University, a master’s degree in plant pathology with a concentration in mycology also from Cornell, and a master’s degree in science writing with a concentration in finishing my thesis from MIT. I loved my studies, helped teach classes in biochemistry and general biology, discovered a passion for Metallica, and learned to hunt mushrooms.
But there was one little problem. I set out to be a scientist, but like many science writers, realized in horror that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life in a windowless lab staring at racks of Eppendorf tubes filled with clear liquids. I had, however, learned enough in school to know there are hordes of fascinating life forms in the world that few people ever studied or wrote about, either because there was no money to do it, or their doings had no "economic importance". Things like red algae. Diatoms. Plasmodial slime molds. Zygomycetes. Liverworts. Placozoans. Gradually, I realized I wanted to learn more about them and share that with the world.
So I took a different path, one that led me through grad school in science writing, three months as a reporter intern at The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Kentucky, three years in Wyoming as the health and environment reporter at the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle, and three years as a science writer for an educational science nonprofit in Colorado. I chose to go west because I loved the sunshine, the open spaces, and the chance for adventure. And as a reporter in Wyoming, I certainly had my fair share (highlights included riding I-80 with the four-time Wyoming State Trucking Champion, chasing giant butterfly-net-wielding wildlife officers down prairies to capture antelope fawns for a Mexican antelope transfer program, and covering my own misadventures in chili (and propane) as a contestant in the Chugwater (Wyo.) Chili Cookoff). As a mushroom forager and hiker, I've also spent hundreds of hours in the mountains, observing life and reading field guides.
In 2007, I won the AAAS Science Journalism Award in the small newspaper category for work I did into the investigation of a swarm of mysterious elk deaths in Wyoming. You can find the links to the story on the Portfolio page of my personal blog. In 2013, I won the American Meteorological Society Award for Distinguished Science Journalism in the Atmospheric or Related Sciences for this story in Nature. Nowadays I'm a freelance science writer; interested editors are invited to contact me. The artist who assisted me with my blog banner and icons is Brannan McGill at Protist Design.
I began this blog independently in 2009. It has been so satisfying to finally share the stories and photographs of all of Earth's occupants in the way I always wanted. And for that, I'm grateful.
For a portfolio of my all my work, awards, and speaking engagements, click here.
I am borrowing heavily (with thanks and apologies) from Jennifer Ouellette and Carl Zimmer, who both have "light but firm" comment policies. In a nutshell, my comment policy is: please be nice to each other (and me), please be coherent, and please don’t spam.
Things that will get your comment deleted include:
* obvious SPAM
* comments that are more than 600 words (write a separate post on your own blog and link to it in the comments);
* comments that are off-topic, including long rants about pet theories
* comments that are un-scientific. This is *Scientific* American. This a fact-based and reality-based web site. Science means accepting results we don't always like because they are true.
* comments complaining about how your previous comment was "censored";
* comments that are rude, crude, or vulgar, contain obvious hate speech, or sexually explicit language.
As Jennifer O. says, "If you're not sure if the above apply to you, consider this Golden Rule: if you wouldn't say it to my face while a guest in my home, don't say it on my blog. This is my virtual living room. And I am under no obligation to tolerate bad behavior."
As such, I reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments per my own judgment. This is my blog. If you want to write whatever you want, kindly start your own blog.