Every week I post a quick Q&A with one of our bloggers on the network, so you can get to know them better. This week, I chat with Shuna E.Gould of the Lab Rat blog.

Hello! Let's start with first things first. What is the name of your blog and why did you choose that name - what does it mean?

My blog name is Lab Rat, and I chose it way back when I was an undergraduate student and just starting to blog. At the time I was doing my first ever lab project, which involved doing a lot of work helping a PhD student. As most of my lab-work as an undergrad was unpaid it seemed like a bit of a joke at the time. Once I started blogging with it, it sort of stuck and now I don't want to change it because it's become a bit of a brand to work under.

Where does the artwork for your banner come from, and what are you trying to convey with it?

Lab Rat blog banner

The banner picture actually shows some of my own work! The set of petri-dishes contain overlays of bacteria that have been given genes to make them turn all the different colours. I thought it was a nice colourful picture which was clearly science related and I was pleased that it showed the end result of a set of experiments that I took part in.

Coloured pigments extracted from bacteria, from the Cambridge iGEM project 2008

Tell us more about yourself - where are you from, how did you get into science?

"Where are you from" is a slightly complex question. I'm 'from' England, although I spent my childhood living overseas in the Middle East before going to university at Cambridge. I loved science when I was young, in fact I enjoyed most subjects at school because I was a complete little nerd. I went into science specifically because a degree in science seemed like it might give me more chances than a degree in literature, and because I found biology, specifically biochemistry, really fascinating at A-levels. I did a four-year Biochemistry course at Cambridge, coming out with an MSci and no real idea what I wanted to do next, except that I'd prefer it to involve both science and writing. I'm starting a PhD this year, but I've already started looking into options in science communications.

How did you get into science blogging and science writing? What were the early influences on you regarding your blogging style and topics?

I started blogging as an undergraduate student, and it really was mostly to do with Ed Yong (the blogger at Not Exactly Rocket Science). While at university you get the idea that science is an incredibly difficult and challenging thing to study. Your time is filled with lectures, seminars, practicals and reading-lists, all of which you feel are necessary to understand this important and mysterious thing that is Science. Then one day while I was on the internet waiting for a PCR to run I found Ed Yong's blog and realised that science could be explained with reasonable simplicity to a huge number of people. And I decided I wanted to do that.

I also started blogging as an attempt to channel my writing-power into something that would be useful for my degree. Ever since I was small I've always been writing; writing stories, writing ideas, writing all sorts of random things. Even at university I would write random little stories and fanfic, sometimes in the margins of my lecture notes! By starting a science-blog I was trying to direct the writing towards something that would be less distracting, and also help me through my final exams.

As I started blogging more I decided that rather than flitting randomly through science topics I should concentrate just on one thing. As bacteria were already the topic I was most interested in, it seemed sensible to concentrate on them. When I started I was a bit worried I would run out of things to write about bacteria, but I'm pretty certain now that I could write a post every day and never run out. They are amazing little creatures.

What is your blog about? Who is your target audience, and why do you think people should read your blog?

My blog covers all sorts of interesting stories about microbes and bacterial life. It's really for anyone who has an interest in bateria, or science in general. Ideally I'd love to be targeting a wide section of the population, but I think it's mostly scientifically minded people that find it and come back to it. I hope that as it gets bigger, and more widely read, it'll be a place people come if they want to find something interesting about bacteria, or the latest news from the microbiological world.

Anything else interesting about you, perhaps cool hobbies?

I like knitting, old-school rock music and yoga. I'm a feminist, but will never blog about it. I'm married, have pet fish, and still spend far too much time writing random fiction, usually when I should be blogging!

Sometimes I like knitting snakes

Thank you!


Previously in this series:

Michelle Clement

Janet Stemwedel

Charles Q. Choi


Jennifer Ouellette

Kate Clancy

Christina Agapakis

Melissa Lott

Jennifer Frazer

James Byrne

John Platt

Jason Goldman