Hi there! I’m Hannah and I am excited and honored to write, share and learn here on the Scientific American blog network. I couldn’t be more pleased with the brilliance and diversity of my fellow bloggers and am humbled to be among them. (Hint: read the other blogs, introduced here by the blogfather, Bora Zivkovic.)

So what is Culturing Science? I always struggle to answer this question. “Erm, it’s about ecology and evolution and science education and natural history and stuff” is my standard response. But that’s not really the complete answer. While there are topics I write about more than others, the purpose isn’t to provide expertise on any one alone.

I aim to look down at the scientific world from the view of a soaring bird, focusing on the “big picture.” What I do here is put recent research into context, describe scientific ideas throughout recorded history, and reflect upon the importance and meaning of science in the modern day and age. It’s about placing isolated snips of science back into culture — scientific culture and beyond.

Though, I must admit, this blog is even more personal that that. Culturing Science is also a very public documentation of a girl growing up in love with science, constantly confronted by all she doesn’t know. I write to make sense of it all and to continue learning all the time.

Enough babbling. To get a sense of what this is all about, here are some example posts from Culturing Science’s former home.

  • I’m fascinated by what I see as the false dichotomy between human civilization and nature, a topic I’m currently researching in my spare time. (Let’s not talk about that “spare time,” shall we?) In a post published in 2010′s issue of Open Lab, I considered overfishing carried out, not by humans, but by a waterbird, the great cormorant.
  • When my pet turtle poops, it just gets sucked into the filter in his tank. But fish poop in the ocean has a more noble function: providing food for ocean creatures at depth. Read more about this marine snow here.
  • Developing a scientific worldview: why it is hard and what we can do
  • As a science-type and Latinist, clearly I have a penchant for ancient science. Here’s the first post of my ancient science series which I will continue here at Culturing Science’s new home.
  • How natural history collections have been used recently in ecological research.
  • And to get a little personal… a reflection on the year of 2010 primarily about my youngest brother, Jonah.

About the banner image

This is another clip from the same image that I also considered for my blog banner.

See that little picture up there next to the blog title? It’s a clip of a drawing from an 18th century alchemy text, currently in the holdings of Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript library.

Why that picture? Well, animals are cute, and animals doing science are even cuter.

More importantly, it’s a glimpse at a former scientific world. Alchemy, the transformation of lead into gold, is surely not science, but it is the basis of much of modern chemistry. We always need to remember that popular scientific ideas be wrong and that we can still learn from them.

About me

I’m Hannah Waters, dabbler and aspiring dilettante. I studied Biology and Latin at a liberal arts college in Minnesota a few years back and now live in Brooklyn, NY. I’ve done research on marine food webs, wetland conservation, tropical ecology and grassland ecosystems. I worked as a lab technician in Philadelphia studying molecular biology and the epigenetics of aging. I studied in Italy for a semester, imagining ancient Roman society in the modern city. I even worked on a tour boat off the coast of Maine, spouting wildlife facts over a loudspeaker while serving drinks.

I’m currently earning my wage writing news for an academic medical journal — though I am, admittedly, a career nomad at the present. But I don’t define myself by my job and you shouldn’t either. I’m just a girl who loves science, music, books, and living things of all kinds, from barnacles to aspens to bacteria to people.


Comments are great. I want to learn from you and hear your thoughts on anything written here. But if you’ve got an attitude that I deem unworthy, I will delete your comment. This is a place for discourse and unwarranted vitriol will not be tolerated.

I’m very excited to be here and hope you’ll stick around! Subscribe to my RSS feed, follow me on twitter and let’s be friends on the internet forever.

I highly recommend you go to the blog network landing page and dig around. Also check out SciAm Editor-in-Chief Mariette DiChristina’s welcome post.

Edited 7/6/2011 1:12 AM to correct RSS feed link.