Tag Archives: Sarah Chow

2012 Canadian science blog roundup and some thoughts on a Canadian science blog network

This is my 3rd annual roundup of Canadian science blogs and the science blogging scene in Canada seems to be getting more lively (see my Dec. 31, 2010 posting and Dec. 29, 2011 posting to compare).

As I did last year, I will start with

Goodbyes

Don’t leave Canada appears to be gone as there hasn’t been posting there since May 4, 2011. I’m sorry to see it go as Rob Annan provided thoughtful commentary on science policy on a regular basis for years. Thank you, Rob. (BTW, he’s now the director of policy, research and evaluation at MITACS.)

Cool Science, John McKay’s blog has been shut down as of Oct. 24, 2012,

Hi everyone. This will mark the final post of the CoolScience.ca site and it will be quietly taken offline in November. I will also be closing down the Twitter and Facebook accounts and moving everything over to my professional accounts that are all focused on communicating science, technology, engineering and medicine.

The Dark Matter science blog by Tom Spears, which I reluctantly (as it was a ‘newspaper blog’ from the Ottawa Citizen)included last year  has since disappeared as has NeuroDojo, a blog written by a Canadian scientist in Texas.

Goodbye ish

Marc Leger’s Atoms and Numbers blog’s latest posting is dated Oct. 23, 2012 but the pattern here seems similar to Marie-Claire’s (see the next one) where the posting is erratic but relatively regular (once or twice per month) until October of this year.

Marie-Claire Shanahan is posting less frequently on her Boundary Vision blog with the last posting there on Oct. 9, 2012.

The Bubble Chamber blog from the University of Toronto’s Science Policy Work Group seems to be fading away with only one posting for 2012, Reply to Wayne Myrvold on the Higgs Boson.

Colin Schulz’s CMBR blog hasn’t had a new posting since July 13, 2012′s 11 Things You Didn’t Know About Canada. In any event, it looks like the blog is no longer primarily focused on science.

The Exponential Book blog by Massimo Boninsegni features an Oct. 24, 2012 posting and a similar posting pattern to Marie-Claire & Marc.

exposure/effect which was new last year has gone into a fairly lengthy hiatus as per its last post in January 30, 2012 posting.

Theoretical biologist, Mario Pineda-Krch of Mario’s Entangled Bank blog is also taking a lengthy hiatus as the last posting on that blog was June 11, 2012.

Nicole Arbour’s Canadian science blog for the UK High Commission in Ottawa hasn’t featured a posting since Oct. 15, 2012′s The Power of We: Adapting to climate change.

Gregor Wolbring’s Nano and Nano- Bio, Info, Cogno, Neuro, Synbio, Geo, Chem… features an Aug. 4, 2012 posting which links to one of his nano articles, (Nanoscale Science and Technology and People with Disabilities in Asia: An Ability Expectation Analysis) published elsewhere.

Jeff Sharom’s Science Canada blog highlights links to editorials and articles on Canadian science policy but doesn’t seem to feature original writing by Sharom or anyone else, consequently, it functions more as a reader/aggregator than a blog.

The Black Hole blog which was always more focused on prospect for Canadian science graduates than Canadian science, hence always a bit of a stretch for inclusion here, has moved to the University Affairs website where it focuses more exclusively on the Canadian academic scene with posts such as this, Free journal access for postdocs in between positions  from Dec. 12, 2012.

Returning to the roundup:

John Dupuis’ Confessions of a Science Librarian whose Dec. 26, 2012 posting, Best Science (Fiction) Books 2012: io9 seems timely for anyone taking a break at this time of year and looking for some reading material.

Daniel Lemire’s blog is known simply as Daniel Lemire. He’s a computer scientist in Montréal who writes one of the more technical blogs I’ve come across and his focus seems to be databases although his Dec. 10, 2012 posting covers the topic of how to get things accomplished when you’re already busy.

Dave Ng, a professor with the Michael Smith Laboratories at the University of British Columbia, is a very active science communicator who maintain the Popperfont blog. The latest posting (Dec. 24, 2012) features Sciencegeek Advent Calendar Extravaganza! – Day 24.

Eric Michael Johnson continues with his The Primate Diaries blog on the Scientific American blog network. His Dec. 6, 2012 posting is a reposted article but he has kept up a regular (once per month, more or less) posting schedule,

Author’s Note: The following originally appeared at ScienceBlogs.com and was subsequently a finalist in the 3 Quarks Daily Science Prize judged by Richard Dawkins. Fairness is the basis of the social contract. As citizens we expect that when we contribute our fair share we should receive our just reward. When social benefits are handed out …

Rosie Redfield is keeping with both her blogs, RRTeaching (latest posting, Dec. 6, 2012) and RRResearch (Nov. 17, 2012).

Sci/Why is a science blog being written by Canadian children’s writers who discuss science, words, and the eternal question – why?

Mathematician Nassif Ghoussoub’s Piece of Mind blog continues to feature incisive writing about science, science funding, policy and academe.

Canadian science writer Heather Pringle continues to post on the The Last Word on Nothing, a blog shared collectively by a number of well known science writers. Her next posting is scheduled for Jan. 3, 2013, according to the notice on the blog.

A little off my usual beat but I included these last year as they do write about science albeit medical and/or health science:

Susan Baxter’s blog Curmudgeon’s Corner features her insights into various medical matters, for example there’s her Dec. 1, 2012 posting on stress, the immune system, and the French antipathy towards capitalism.

Peter Janiszewski and Travis Saunders co-own two different blogs, Obesity Panacea, which is part of the PLoS (Public Library of Science) blogs network, and Science of Blogging which features very occasional posting but it’s worth a look for nuggets like this Oct. 12, 2012 (?) posting on social media for scientists.

After posting the 2011 roundup,

I had a number of suggestions for more Canadian science blogs such as these four who are part of the Scientific American SA) blogging network (in common with Eric Michael Johnson),

Dr. Carin Bondar posts on the SA blog, PsiVid, along with Joanne Manaster. There’s more than one Canadian science blogger who co-writes a blog. This one is self-described as, A cross section of science on the cyberscreen.

Glendon Mellow, a professional science illustrator,  posts on The Flying Trilobite (his own blog) and Symbiartic: the art of science and the science of art, an SA blog he shares with Kalliopi Monoyios.

Larry Moran, a biochemist at the University of Toronto, posts on science and anything else that tickles his fancy on his Sandwalk blog.

Eva Amsen who posts on a number of blogs including the NODE; the community site for developmental biologists  (which she also manages) but the best place to find a listing of her many blogs and interests is at easternblot.net, where she includes this self-description on the About page,

Online Projects

  • Musicians and Scientists – Why are so many people involved in both music and science? I’m on a mission to find out.
  • the NodeMy day job is managing a community site for developmental biologists around the world. The site is used by equal numbers of postdocs, PhD students, and lab heads.
  • SciBarCamp/SciBarCamb – I co-instigated SciBarCamp, an unconference for scientists, in Toronto in 2008. Since then I have co-organized five similar events in three countries, and have advised others on how to run science unconferences.
  • You Learn Something New Every Day – a Tumblr site that automatically aggregates tweets with the hashtag #ylsned, and Flickr photos tagged ylsned, to collect the interesting bits of trivia that people come across on a daily basis.
  • Lab Waste – During my last months in the lab as a PhD student, I made a mini-documentary (using CC-licensed materials) about the excessive amount of disposable plastics used in research labs. It screened in 2009 in the “Quirky Shorts” program of the Imagine Science Film Festival in New York.
  • Expression Patterns – In 2007 I was invited to blog on Nature Network. The complete archives from 2007-2012 are now on this site.
  • easternblot.net – Confusingly, my other science blog was named after this entire domain. It ran from 2005 to 2010, and can be found at science.easternblot.net

I believe Amsen is Canadian and working in the UK but if anyone could confirm, I would be much relieved.

Someone, who according to their About page prefers to remain anonymous but lives in Victoria, BC, and posts (somewhat irregularly, the last posting is dated Nov. 10, 2012) on The Olive Ridley Crawl,

I am an environmental scientist blogging about environmental and development issues that interest me. I prefer to be anonymous(e) because I work with some of the companies I may talk about and I want to avoid conflict of interest issues at work. This gets tricky because I am at the periphery of a lot of events happening in the world of my greatest expertise, persistent organic pollutants, endocrine disrupting compounds, their effects on health and the policy fights around chemicals, their use the controversies! So, I’ve reluctantly moved away from writing about what I know most about, which means this blog suffers severely. I still soldier on, though!

I was born, and grew up in India, so I am interested in all things South Asian and tend to view most all Western government and Western institution actions through a colonialist scratched lens! I am also becoming much more active about my feminism, so who knows what that will do to this blog. I have been meaning to write a monstrous essay about women, the environment and justice, but that’s a task!

I used to live in Chapel Hill, NC with a partner of long vintage (the partnership, that is, not her!) and a crazy cat who thinks he’s a dog. We moved to Victoria, BC in 2008 and I’ve been busy learning about Canadian policy, enjoying this most beautiful town I live in.

Why Olive Ridley? Well, the Olive Ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys Olivacea) nests on the coasts of Madras, India and I got my start in the wonderful world of conservation working on the Olive Ridley with the Students’ Sea Turtle Conservation Network. So, I do have fond memories for this beautiful creature. And yes, as my dear partner reminds me, I did meet her on the beach when I was doing this work.

Agence Science-Presse (based in Québec and headed by Pascal Lapointe) features three blogs of its own:

Blogue ta science : les billets dédiés aux jeunes.

Discutez avec notre expert : avez-vous suivi notre enquête CSI ?

Autour des Blogues : les actualités de nos blogueurs et de la communauté.

There’s also a regular podcast under the Je vote pour la science banner.

genegeek appears to be Canadian (it has a domain in Canada) but the blog owner doesn’t really identify herself (there’s a photo) on the About page but no name and no biographical details. I did receive a tweet last year about genegeek from C. Anderson who I imagine is the blog owner.

There’s also the Canadian BioTechnologist2.0 blog, which is sponsored by Bio-Rad Canada and is written by an employee.

These next ones were added later in the year:

Chuck Black writes two blogs as he noted in June 2012,

I write two blogs which, while they focus more on space than science, do possess strong science components and overlap with some of the other blogs here.

They are: Commercial Space and Space Conference News.

Andy Park also came to my attention in June 2012. He writes the  It’s the Ecology, Stupid! blog.

Something About Science is a blog I featured in an Aug. 17, 2012 posting and I’m glad to see blogger, Lynn K, is still blogging.

New to the roundup in 2012:

SSChow, Sarah Chow’s blog, focuses on science events in Vancouver (Canada) and science events at the University of British Columbia and miscellaneous matters pertinent to her many science communication efforts.

The Canadian federal government seems to be trying its hand at science blogging with the Science.gc.ca Blogs (http://www.science.gc.ca/Blogs-WSE6EBB690-1_En.htm). An anemic effort given that boasts a total of six (or perhaps it’s five) posting in two or three years.

The Canadian Science Writers Association (CSWA) currently features a blog roll of its members’ blogs. This is a new initiative from the association and one I’m glad to see.  Here’s the list (from the CSWA member blog page),

Anne Steinø (Research Through the Eyes of a Biochemist)
Arielle Duhame-Ross (Salamander Hours)
Bob McDonald (I’m choking on this one since it’s a CBC [Canadian Broadcasting Corporation] blog for its Quirks and Quarks science pr0gram)
Cadell Last (The Ratchet)
Edward Willett
Elizabeth Howell (she seems to be blogging again and the easiest way for me to get to her postings was to click on the Archives link [I clicked on December 2012 to get the latest] after doing that I realized that the images on the page link to postings)
Heather Maughan
Justin Joschko
Kimberly Gerson (Endless Forms Most Beautiful)
Mark Green (a CSWA member, he was born and educated in the US where he lives and works; ordinarily I would not include him, even with his  CSWA membership status,  but he writes a monthly science column for a Cape Breton newspaper, which has made me pause)
Pamela Lincez (For the Love of Science)
Sarah Boon (Watershed Moments)
Susan Eaton (she seems to be reposting articles written [presumably by her] for the AAPG [American Association of Petroleum Geologists] Explorer and other organizations in her blog]

Barry Shell’s site (listed as a CSWA member blog) doesn’t match my admittedly foggy notion of a blog. It seems more of an all round Canadian science resource featuring profiles of Canadian scientists, a regularly updated news archive, and more. Science.ca is extraordinary and I’m thankful to have finally stumbled across it but it doesn’t feature dated posts in common with the other blogs listed here, even the most commercial ones.

Tyler Irving (I had no idea he had his own blog when I mentioned him in my Sept. 25, 2012 posting about Canadian chemists and the Canadian Chemical Institute’s publications) posts at the Scientific Canadian.

I choke again, as I do when mentioning blogs that are corporate media blogs, but in the interest of being as complete as possible Julia Belluz writes the Scien-ish blog about health for MacLean’s magazine.

Genome Alberta hosts a couple of blogs: Genomics and Livestock News & Views.

Occam’s Typewriter is an informal network of science bloggers two of whom are Canadian:

Cath Ennis (VWXYNot?) and Richard Wintle (Adventures in Wonderland). Note: The Guardian Science Blogs network seems to have some sort of relationship with Occam’s Typewriter as you will see postings from the Occam’s network featured as part of Occam’s Corner on the Guardian website.

My last blogger in this posting is James Colliander from the University of  Toronto’s Mathematics Department. He and Nassif (Piece of Mind blog mentioned previously) seem to share a similar interest in science policy and funding issues.

ETA Jan.2.13: This is a social science oriented blog maintained by a SSHRC- (Social Science and Humanities Research Council) funded network cluster called the Situating Science Cluster and the blog’s official name is: Cluster Blog. This is where you go to find out about Science and Technology Studies (STS) and History of Science Studies, etc. and events associated with those studies.

I probably should have started with this definition of a Canadian blogger, from the Wikipedia entry,

A Canadian blogger is the author of a weblog who lives in Canada, has Canadian citizenship, or writes primarily on Canadian subjects. One could also be considered a Canadian blogger if one has a significant Canadian connection, though this is debatable.

Given how lively the Canadian science blogging scene has become, I’m not sure I can continue with these roundups as they take more time each year.  At the very least, I’ll need to define the term Canadian Science blogger, in the hope of reducing the workload,  if I decide to continue after this year.

There’s a rather interesting Nov. 26, 2012 article by Stephanie Taylor for McGill Daily about the Canadian public’s science awareness and a dearth of Canadian science communication,

Much of the science media that Canadians consume and have access to is either American or British: both nations have a robust, highly visible science media sector. While most Canadians wouldn’t look primarily to American journalism for political news and analysis, science doesn’t have the same inherent national boundaries that politics does. While the laws of physics don’t change depending on which side of the Atlantic you’re on, there are scientific endeavours that are important to Canadians but have little importance to other nations. It’s unlikely that a British researcher would investigate the state of the Canadian cod fishery, or that the British press would cover it, but that research is critical to a substantial number of Canadians’ livelihoods.

On the other hand, as Canadian traditional media struggles to consistently cover science news, there’s been an explosion of scientists of all stripes doing a lot of the necessary big picture, broad context, critical analysis on the internet. The lack of space restrictions and accessibility of the internet (it’s much easier to start a blog than try to break in to traditional media) mean that two of the major barriers to complex discussion of science in the media are gone. Blogs struggle to have the same reach as newspapers and traditional media, though, and many of the most successful science blogs are under the online umbrella of mainstream outlets like Scientific American and Discover. Unfortunately and perhaps unsurprisingly, there is currently no Canadian science blog network like this. [emphasis mine]

Yes, let’s create a Canadian science blog network. I having been talking to various individuals about this over the last year (2012) and while there’s interest, someone offered to help and then changed their mind. Plus, I was hoping to persuade the the Canadian Science Writers Association to take it on but I think they were too far advanced in their planning for a member’s network to consider something more generalized (and far more expensive). So, if anyone out there has ideas about how to do this, please do comment and perhaps we can get something launched in 2013.

Science festival (?) in Vancouver, 2012 National Science and Technology Week in Canada; and a science writing session at ScienceOnline Vancouver

Thanks to Sarah Chow’s Sept. 4, 2012 post about science events around Vancouver for the month of September 2012 I’ve found out about something brand new and was reminded of two other upcoming events. (For a full listing and an absence of critique, please do read Chow’s post.)

The science festival (and I’m not sure why they’re calling it a festival) is scheduled for Sept. 21 – Oct. 21, 2012. ‘Around the Dome in 30 Days’ is  described this way on its events page on Vancouver’s Science World at Telus World of Science website,

Around the Dome in 30 Days is a month-long science extravaganza hosted by Science World British Columbia from September 21 to October 21, 2012. This series of activities will bring the community together to showcase and explore the science and technology all around us to cultivate a general public informed, inspired and engaged with the wonders of science. Signature events will be hosted at our expanded TELUS World of Science facility, which includes our new outdoor sustainability experience, the Ken Spencer Science Park.

Schedule of Events

• The grand opening of the Ken Spencer Science Park
• National Science and Technology Week (Oct 12 to 21)
• The Community Science Celebration family weekend (Oct 13 & 14)
• Café Scientifique evening events (Sept 22 & Oct 20)
• Events for teachers, teens, seniors and more!
• Partner events and activities
• A speakers series
. . . and much much more

Extravaganza? I guess their standard for one is a little different than mine. In fact, I’d be hard pressed to describe their lineup of events as ‘special’. Clicking on the Schedule of Events will bring you a calendar, which lists events such as ‘Start up Canada’ on Sept. 21. No details. On Sept. 22, there’s a Café Scientifque, Fall equinox activities and bubble programming, and a Meet a Scientist event. No details. In fact, there are no details for any programmes on any of the 30 days.

This festival (?) seems to be the usual programming albeit packed into a shorter than usual time frame. Where are the exciting guests? Where are the details? Where is the imagination?

You can’t advertize ice cream (a science festival) and then hand out a bowl of oatmeal (your usual programming in a compressed time frame with the addition of an opening event for your new science park). The substitution will be noticed and usually resented.

Getting on to Canada’s National Science and Technology Week which is neither in September, nor one week in duration (Oct. 12 – 21, 2012) but does seem to be forgotten. Sadly, there are very few events listed nationally. This is the list as today (Sept. 11, 2012),

Western Development Museum

Title of Event: Saskatchewan Innovations – Virtual Exhibit
Location: www.wdm.ca/saskinnovations.htm
Date: October 14-20, 2012, All Day
Description: The WDM is proud to have a collection rich in science and technology innovations, from calculators to the ‘cobalt bomb.’ Our virtual exhibit Saskatchewan Innovations showcases seven inventions and their creators. New artifacts will be added to the website daily.

Alberta

Praxis

Title of Event: Family Science Olympics
Location: Medicine Hat High School, Medicine Hat, Alberta
Date: October 20, 2012, 10:00 am to 3:00 pm
Description: *Family Science Olympics’ fun-filled day will please, intrigue and inspire “scientists” of all ages. 10 “hands-on” events. Numerous draw prizes. *Family – at least one person over the age of 18. http://www.praxismh.ca/s&tweek.html

Ontario

Canada Science and Technology Museum

Title of Event: National Science and Technology Week
Location: Canada Science and Technology Museum, Ottawa
Date: October 12 to 20, 2012
Description: Celebrate National Science and Technology Week at the Canada Science and Technology Museum. On October 13, 14, 20 and 21, take part in exciting hands-on activities. Try your hand at science experiments, and discover how science and technology touch the lives of all Canadians.

Title of Event: Science and Technology Lecture Series
Location: Canada Science and Technology Museum
Date: October 16 and 17, 2012, 10:00 a.m., 11:15 a.m. and 12:45 p.m.
Description: Register for the Museum’s exciting lectures showcasing dynamic research by Canadian scientists and engineers. This is a perfect opportunity for students in grades 9 and up to explore potential careers in science, while supplementing your science curriculum! Each presentation is approximately 45 minutes.

Title of Event: What Museums Do
Location: Canada Science and Technology Museum
Date: October 18, 2012, 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.
Description: There’s more to museums than meets the eye! Go behind the scenes and learn more about some of the exciting work we do. Discover how we collect, restore, preserve and store artifacts as you visit our collection facilities and meet the people who work there. See some of the more than 40,000 artifacts in storage, and discover what they reveal about the transformation of Canada. For school groups only.

London Children’s Museum

Title of Event: National Science and Technology Week Celebration!
Location: London Children’s Museum
Date: October 21, 2012, 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Description: Experiment with us while we celebrate National Science and Technology Week! Play with polymers, create your own rollercoaster, investigate acids and bases, and make some slime.

Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre

Title of Event: ARTIE (Advanced Research Technology & Innovation Expo)
Location: Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre
Date: October 19, 2012, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Description: ARTIE brings together elementary and high school students in an expo format to interact with local businesses in the field of science and technology, while inspiring young minds to pursue academic careers in these fields.

By this time, the list is usually longer and includes events for most if not all the provinces. Like Vancouver’s 30 day science festival, I would describe these listings as lacking imagination. They certainly don’t rouse any interest or excitement. Hopefully, this is just an off year.

The last event I’m mentioning is the Sept. 20, 2012 meeting  (Writing for Action) for ScienceOnlineVancouver. I like the opening paragraph but after that I have some problems. Here’s the description from their website,

On 20 September, 2012 from 19:00 to 21:00

Science World at TELUS World of Science 1455 Quebec Street, Vancouver, BC Canada V6A 3Z7

You have an issue you’re passionate about – and you know all the information to back it up – but how do you convey that message to an audience that will promote action? You might need different goals and messages for government officials, funders, or even family and friends.

Here’s your chance to learn and practice effective communication to different audiences, with an online twist with Andy Torr.

Andy Torr is a communications strategist in the Office of the Vice President Research at UBC. He specializes in explaining complex scientific concepts to general audiences, and he develops targeted messaging about UBC research for government, industry, funding agencies, peer universities, and the public.

The panel will start at 7 pm but we’ll have mingling (with BEvERages) at 6:30. Please RSVP so that we comply with liquor laws.

So, who is this guy and why is he qualified to teach me or anyone else?  That description of Torr doesn’t provide many details. Exactly what has he strategized? Where is his science writing? Can I read it?

I did go searching and found a LinkedIn profile for Torr which lists his work experience and education (B.Sc. [Env.], Environmental Science, Water Resources at University of Guelph) but not much more.

The first para., which I’ve praised, does seem focused on a beginner with a science background who wants to get their message out to one audience or another. I notice there is no mention of a media audience. The reference to ‘promoting action’ seems similar to writing for marketing/sales collateral where they include what’s referred to as the ‘call to action’. As for learning to write for different audiences (government official, funders, family and friends), that seems pretty ambitious for a two hour event.

Forgotten (science) knowledge; the social media of science; and NanoSpace Invaders in the life sciences: 3 Vancouver events

Sarah Chow at her eponymous blog has listed some May 2012 science events taking place in Vancouver (Canada) in her May 1, 2012 posting. Here are a couple of excerpts,

ScienceOnlineVancouver #SoVan – 7pm

Continuing to connect the science communication community, this month’s Science Online Vancouver is all about making connections through social media.
Location: Science World
Time: 7 pm

Tuesday May 22, 2012

Cafe Scientifique – 7:30pm

Aye-matie! All you land lubbers out there don’t miss out Dr. Andrew Holding’s talk on Forgotten Knowledge: The discovery and loss of a cure for scurvy. Or you’ll be walking the plank! ARRRR!
Location: Railway Club – 579 Dunsmuir Street
Time: 7:30pmm

Tuesday May 29, 2012

Cafe Scientifique – UBC Life Sciences Institute – 6pm

Sometimes great things come in small packages. The Life Sciences Institute at UBC is presents “NanoSpace Invaders: Seeing into the Subcellular World” with Dr. Wayne Vogl and Dr. Edwin Moore, Professors in the Department of Cellular & Physiological Sciences.
Location: UBC – Life Sciences Institute
Time: 6pm to 8pm

Chow notes, as she did in her April 2012 roundup of science events in Vancouver, it’s always good to check with the organizers before going as there may have been some changes. She also invites people to send her information ([email protected]) about events she could add to her list.

I have been able to get a little more information about the events.

ScienceOnline Vancouver is holding its second event (ever) and features Eric Michael Johnson and Raul Pacheco-Vega talking about how to communicate science using social media. From ScienceOnline Vancouver’s May 15, 2012 event page,

Do you have facts that could could clear up confusion or an informed opinion to share? Do you know the question whose answer would help you and others better understand the issue? How do you contribute your knowledge and expertise to your community? Social media is supposed to make it easy but how to you pick between Facebook friends, twitter hashtags, google circles, blog posts and countless other online options?

In the 2nd ScienceOnlineVancouver event on Tuesday, May 15, [updated -- it's on the 15th, not the 17th] you’ll meet people who successfully use social media to communicate with their professional communities,  Eric Michael Johnson (@ericmjohnson, primatediaries.com) and Raul Pacheco-Vega (@raulpacheco, raulpacheco.org) They’ll describe what they do, what works (and what doesn’t.) You’ll have a chance to ask questions and share what you know, whether you’re a professional blogger or just-got-a-twitter-account-now-what-do-I-do?

Here’s a bit more about Eric Michael Johnson, from his Primate Diaries blog, which is part of the Scientific American Blog Network,

Eric Michael Johnson has a Master’s degree in Evolutionary Anthropology focusing on great ape behavioral ecology. He is currently a doctoral student in the history of science at University of British Columbia looking at the interplay between evolutionary biology and politics.

Here’s more about Raul Pacheco-Vega from his eponymous blog,

Raul Pacheco-Vega (BSc. Chemical Engineering, Universidad de Guanajuato; MBA/MEng. Advanced Technology Management, The University of British Columbia; PhD. Resource Management and Environmental Studies, The University of British Columbia) is a Vancouver-based researcher, educator and consultant in environmental politics and policy. He has conducted research in the field of environmental public policy and politics for over 10 years. Dr. Pacheco-Vega is also a Lecturer in the Department of Political Science at The University of British Columbia , a faculty member in the Latin American Studies Program at UBC and from January 2010 until February 2011, he was the Regional Director, Western Canada, for the Canadian Institute for Environmental Law and Policy (CIELAP).

Pacheco-Vega also maintains a personal blog, Hummingbird604, from the About page,

In a nutshell, I blog about myself and my life in Vancouver. Hummingbird604.com is my personal online canvas, where I write about restaurants I eat at, events I attend and things that make me think (in social media, in environment, in public policy and in global politics). I was educated as an artist (I’m a former competitive dancer and theatre stage actor) and so I write about theatre, dance fine and performing arts in Vancouver and beyond. I chronicle my travels and places I’ve visited in Canada and elsewhere worldwide. While I write this blog primarily for myself, it has gained popularity in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada and other areas of the world.

Café Scientifique’s Forgotten Knowledge May 22, 2012  presentation features a speaker from the UK, Dr. Andrew Holding. From the Home page on his website (I have removed links),

Welcome to the website of Andrew Holding. I am a research scientist who is currently employed by the Medical Research Council (MRC) in the Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge. My research involves the study of protein-protein binding by way of using small isotopically-labelled linker molecules. These linker molecules bind between residues that are within range of each other and then the cross-linked protein complex is digested and analysed by mass spectrometry. The interactions we investigate are important for understanding and developing new cures for a wide range of diseases including cancer.

I’ve worked on many Science outreach projects including founding and organizing Skeptics in the Pub in Cambridge, which holds monthly talks by various speakers with the aim of highlighting the application of critical thinking and scientific method. …

I have been a guest on The Naked Scientists Q&A radio show as Dr Andy, answering the public’s questions on science, and have spoken at several outreach events both around Cambridge and nationwide. I produce and host my own radio show on CamFM every Sunday that covers the science behind movies, books and TV shows with a selection of music that relates to the discussion. In addition, I have written for The Guardian’s ‘Comment is Free’ section and BlueSci magazine.

In my spare time, I have written and acted in several performances put on by the Cambridge University Light Entertainment Society and Two Shades of Blue. One of the most prominent of these was “The Matrix: The Pantomime”, which was taken to the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh in 2007 and became a sell-out show. … I still continue to part in such events; for example, in 2010 I acted in the annual Christmas skit at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology and have participated in Bright Club in London and Festival of the Spoken Nerd, the latter two of which focus on the communication of science through comedy.

I am qualified first-aider at work and am a volunteer at Addenbrooke’s Hospital for one evening a week.

As a preview, I found a five-minute video version of Holding’s talk, Forgotten Knowledge (not the greatest quality) which he gave on May 3, 2012, from the Forgotten Knowledge page on Vimeo,

The third event I’ve chosen to highlight is a ‘nano’ presentation at the Life Sciences Institute (LSI) Café Scientifique titled, “NanoSpace Invaders: Seeing into the Subcellular World.” There aren’t any more details on the website than Chow was able to cull for her posting although there are some pictures on the event page.

I had a chance to chat with one of the speakers, Dr. Edwin Moore, who told me that he and Vogl are aiming to give a fairly accessible talk, in other words, you won’t need a medical degree or training in microbiology. Dr. Wayne Vogl will be  (pun alert!) focusing on modern microscopes and what they can do while Ed will be discussing cell work and microscopes.

I wonder if they’re serving food (cheese on a toothpick, a grape, and celery stick,perhaps?) and drinks (cash?). After all, it’s being held from 6 pm – 8 pm.

If none of these tickle your fancy, please do check out Sarah Chow’s posting of May 2012 science events in Vancouver.

Comments on ScienceOnline Vancouver’s first event

Bravo to the organizers, Catherine Anderson, Sarah Chow, and Peter Newberry of Vancouver’s (Canada) first ScienceOnline event last night (Thursday, April 19, 2012 first mentioned my April 4, 2012 posting). They attracted, by my count,  a crowd of about 75-80 people. A free event held at Science World, there were three speakers Rosie Redfield, Lisa Johnson, and Anthony Floyd. Here’s a bit more about them from the event description page,

  • Rosie Redfield – Named Nature’s most influential person of 2011, this associate professor of microbiology at UBC [University of British Columbia] hit science fame through her blog RRResearch disputing NASA’s claim life exists in arsenic.
  • Lisa Johnson - Multiplatform journalist with a keen interest in environment and science stories. She enjoys digging, storytelling, and finding context in breaking news.
  • Anthony Floyd – aerospace research engineer with a PhD in Civil Engineering from UBC. Although strictly a digital immigrant, Anthony grew up with technology as technology grew up. He is quite active in social media. Anthony’s a proud dad to two boys, year-round bike commuter, opinionated political observer, and Maritimer-in-exile.

The event was titled, Where do you get your science? It was the third event I attended yesterday so maybe I was a little less tolerant than I can be. I was expecting a lively discussion about finding science what I got was Redfield and Johnson talking about the arsenic life story and their roles in that story locally and, in Redfield’s case, internationally. The only one who really talked about finding science online was Floyd.

I’m not sure if the organizers were hoping that the ‘arsenic life’ stories would somehow tie into the topic or if the two speakers just went off on their own tangents.

Redfield gave an ‘ignite’ talk, which is five minutes long with 20 slides in a timed slideshow where the speaker has to keep time with the slides. I’m sorry to say she overmodulated (used the storytime voice usually aimed at an audience of five-year olds)  for much of the talk. Johnson made the point several times that it wasn’t her fault that the story was wrong. She did admit at one point that she could have dug more deeply and, in fact, someone suggested that she talk to Rosie Redfield for advice about this story at very early stage, something she failed to do. Most valuable to me was the reminder of the constraints that journalists are under.

Note: I, too,  got caught up with my Dec. 6, 2010 posting and I subsequently apologized, Dec. 8, 2010 posting.

Floyd, as I noted earlier, did address the question, Where do you get your science?, although he did ask his audience to make a bit of a leap when he used a story about searching for information about bicycle helmets and bylaws to illustrate one of his points.

I wasn’t able to stay for the more informal discussion after the speakers finished but the organizers  did manage a good icebreaker exercise at the beginning. The audience seemed mostly to be mostly in their 20s and 30s.

It was a very technology-heavy event in that there was livestreaming, multiple computers and screens, references to tweeting and Storify, etc.

Aside: All three of the events I attended yesterday had technology issues of one kind or another. I’m not especially happy when almost all of the attention is on the technology while the live audience is left waiting or is interrupted during question period to accommodate a tweet or has to endure feedback.

I did mention Storify, the ScienceOnline Vancouver Storify ‘story’ is here and you can check #sovan on Twitter for other responses to last night’s event.

All in all, it was a very promising start, despite my nitpicks.

Sarah Chow and science events in Vancouver (Canada)

Vancouver-based, Sarah S. Chow writes an eponymous science blog (thank you for the tweet Robyn Sussel) and her latest post, March 30, 2012 offers a listing of April 2012 science events being held in Vancouver (Canada). I’ve excerpted a small portion of her listings and I encourage you to take a look at the full list (there are close to 1/2 dozen more listings plus she may be adding to these as the month goes on) and to read her blog. Tonight,

Wednesday April 4, 2012 – 6pm

Nerd Nite (formerly known as Beer and Brains)

Hang out with the cool people for a change! Every first Wednesday of the month, scientists, science journalists and science communicators congregate at their favorite watering hole for some good, thought-provoking conversations. And of course, some awesome beer.
Location: Railway Club 579 Dunsmuir Street
Time: 6 pm

In a couple of weeks,

Thursday April 19, 2012 – 7 pm

Science Online Vancouver #SoVan

It started in New York City #SONYC, and now it’s coming here. Science Online Vancouver is a monthly discussion group led by a panel who are experts in the  topic of the month. This month: Where do you get your science?
Location: Science World
Time: 7 pm

Brain Talks

BrainTalks is a series of talks designed to invigorate your brain, and how you think about your brain! Neurologists, neuroradiologists, psychiatrists, neuroscientists, and related professions, gather to discuss current leading edge topics on the mind. Speaker this week: Dr. Max Cynader [

Director of the Brain Research Centre and the Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health at Vancouver Coastal Health and the University of British Columbia (UBC) and he holds the Canada Research Chair in Brain Development and is Professor of Opthalmology (UBC)], whose research is focused on the neuronal and molecular mechanism of the sensory cortex.
Location: Vancouver General Hospital
Time: 5:30 pm – wine and cheese
6 pm – presentation

Events can get cancelled or rescheduled so please do check the links to the event websites for confirmation.

I did some further checking on Brain Talks and Science Online Vancouver.  Here’s the Brain Talks website/blog (excerpted from the home page),

… talks include:

  • dialogue around current topics in the news and popular press
  • up-to-date reviews of current literature in academic press
  • videos and/or film excerpts of relevant discoveries
  • CME [continuing medical education] credits for select talks

I also found the title for the upcoming talk by Dr. Max Cynader, Enhancing Brain Plasticity. (The March 22, 2012 talk was titled, Art and the Brain: How dance, music, sports, and storytelling may support critical cognitive development in children and youth.) They do request an RSVP although they have yet to provide the function online. More details about the talk and the ability to RSVP are coming here soon.

ScienceOnline which originally started out as a science blogger’s conference then morphed into a very (my Nov. 2, 2011 posting notes that they sold out their first block of tickets for the 2012 conference in roughly two minutes) successful ScienceOnline conference in North Carolina is rapidly becoming an international brand. The ScienceOnline Vancouver website, understandably, doesn’t provide a lot of information at this point. They do encourage you to sign up/register and become part of the community.

I was intrigued to note that the journal Nature is supporting this effort, from the ScienceOnline Vancouver home page,

ScienceOnline Vancouver is a local meeting of the ScienceOnlineNOW community and is co-presented by nature.com. The local co-organizers are Catherine Anderson, Sarah Chow, and Peter Newbury. ScienceOnlineVancouver.com built and hosted by the Open Science FederationExcept where otherwise noted, content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

I’m glad to see so many science-themed get togethers in the Vancouver region.

ETA April 5, 2012: The ScienceOnline Vancouver event may or may not be free on April 19, 2012. There’s no information about cost but I did find some more information about the inaugural event which features a panel  (from the April 19, 2012 event page),

  • Dr. Rosie Redfield – Named Nature’s most influential person of 2011, this associate professor of microbiology at UBC hit science fame through her blog RRResearch disputing NASA’s claim life exists in arsenic.
  • The local reporter will depend on availability but he/she will focus on science and work for a mainstream media organization.

Rosie Redfield and her blogs were last mentioned in my Dec. 29, 2012 posting, my annual roundup of Canadian science blogs.