I am a Professor and Chair of Biology at Ashland University where I teach anatomy and physiology, evolution, marine and vertebrate biology. My NIH-funded laboratory research into the evolution and function of vertebrate eye lens proteins is done with undergraduate students. I am also interested in teaching technology, science communication and the use of social media.

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Young science bloggers need community

Bora at A Blog Around the Clock initiated a great discussion on young science bloggers and why they do not always stick with their blogs.  Bora was kind enough to talk about my senior capstone course at Ashland University in which my students start team science blogs to hone their science communication skills.  Only one of my former students has kept with their blog once the class was over.  So why is that?

One former student has commented that they felt uncomfortable blogging on controversial subjects and having their public writing come back to hurt them.  And a science journalist friend of mine noted that “the kids stop blogging because, you know, blogging is what old people do”.  It’s true that some of my former students share science thoughts on Facebook, but another avoids talking science on FB for fear of being ostracized as a science geek by her non-science friends.

The most common comment I read was that without a critical mass of people reading your stuff, there just wasn’t the motivation/guilt to get a blogger over the inertia of writing that next post.  I definitely felt this when I started this blog, and I remember the excitement of actually getting some comments.  Maybe we “minor” science bloggers, either young or old(er) just need to band together.  We can be our own community, encouraging each other to write, guaranteeing that there are at least some people waiting for that next post.

So I would encourage you to check out the two blogs below from my former students (and this one too!):

  • Amy writes about disease and public health at Plague-erism
  • Savannah and Neeley are true science geeks starting their careers in science, and blogging at Science Haggis

And while you are at it, check out some great student (or recently student) blogs and let them know you are reading:

7 comments to Young science bloggers need community

  • Neeley

    Awesome! Thanks for the plug Dr. Posner! I think its great that so many of your students are getting jazzed up about blogging again! Thanks for introducing us to fine art of science blogging!!

    I would also like to add that Savannah and I are changing the stereotype of the science geek. Considering we find ourselves to be two young, attractive girls, who are passionate about life and science!

    Happy Valentines Day!!

  • amy

    yes, thanks!! i read through a bunch of those blogs you have listed here…some really great stuff!

    in relation to your last point… today i received my first non-AU-related comments… that in itself was enough to keep me blogging for a while!

  • [...] Mason Posner himself weighed in with his thoughts – he’s found, through experience with his students that young bloggers need community, and will stop blogging if not enough people comment on what they’ve written. [...]

  • Hi! I’ve visited several of the links on this page, and it was great to find some other undergrad bloggers, almost all of the people I know through blogging seem to be postgrad at the very least, so it was great to find some student-written ones.

  • Mason,

    I am a little behind now, but I know what you mean about the crtitical mass. It can be frustrating in the first several months to feel like you are talking to anyone but yourself until the first comments start rolling in. One of the things that is important in building a community is to reach out to already established bloggers and comment on their sites. As you begin to become known to them, you’ll start to develop your own microniche in that community.

    Best,
    Isis

  • @Dr. Isis and @Lab Rat,
    Thanks for checking in. I have encouraged my students to read and leave comments on your blogs, so I hope you hear from some of them soon.

  • Savannah

    Thanks for the plug Dr. Posner, and also for spiking mine and Neeley’s interest in blogging. Like other people have stated, it’s difficult to begin a blog and find the drive to keep posting even though you feel like you are talking to yourself. I find that one of my biggest qualms is what to write about. I merely have a Bachelor’s degree — I have knowledge — but I’m afraid others won’t take us seriously. Hopefully people will catch on! I checked out some of the other blogs you posted — truly great stuff!

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