This week, we were astounded to be nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award by
Schrodinger’s Cat is run by Natasha, a graduate in Earth & Environmental Science, Life Science and Physics from the University of British Columbia, who was inspired to set up her blog after seeing high levels of pseudoscience on social media. She aims to equip readers with answers they can trust, and encourage them to “keep looking for the science in things”. Go check out her blog for loads of great content on topics such as the science of fireworks, the impact of invasive species, and lots more!
The Sunshine Blogger Award is an accolade given by one blogger to another in recognition for work that they find creative, inspiring and positive. As a relatively new blog, we were incredibly honoured to be given such an award, and it means even more, knowing that it comes from a fellow science blogger!
The rules of the award are:
- Thank blogger(s) who nominated you in the blog post and link back to their blog.
- Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you.
- Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
- List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.
So, without further ado, here are the questions presented to us by Schrodinger’s Cat, we hope you enjoy getting to know the Seeking Science team a little better!
What first got you into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)?
Roisin: Personally, I was always more into English literature and history at school. But by the time I started my GCSE’s, I had some really great science teachers who were passionate about their subjects and inspired my curiosity about science. I went on to study Biology and Chemistry at A-Level and again had some amazing biology teachers who helped me fall in love with the subject. It just goes to show that the importance of good teachers can never be underestimated.
Arzo: I wasn’t actually born in the U.K. I moved here about 16 years ago at the age of 7, and education here is very different so going to school here it was really my first introduction to science. One of the very first lessons I can remember from primary school was one where we were shown a picture of a skeleton and I was completely amazed thinking wow that’s inside me. I loved learning about the world and us, the more I studied science, biology in particular, through GCSEs, A-levels and uni the more passionate I became about it.
Madeeha: I have always had a thing for science. During secondary school, biology and chemistry were amongst my favourite subjects, next to English literature – so you can imagine how much I enjoy writing essays on scientific topics! I then went on two study all three subjects at A Level. My biology teachers were absolute diamonds and made me realise the passion I had for the topic. Thus, I decided to take matters to degree level – and here I am!
Zarin: Heavy doubts still about whether I am! Kidding – although the feeling that my interest in science isn’t ‘enough’ still creeps in. Recently, I’ve had a rocky road to STEM, with detours to areas to which I am more naturally inclined, but I think I was always headed this way. I always wanted to know the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’. I spent many childhood hours in clinics, labs and universities around the world – watching scientists at work, looking at weird and wonderful specimens in jars, playing on the MyScene website – and I remember wanting to belong in those places in my own right and fiercely believing that one day, I would. I had a path mapped out from a very (read: too) young age, all the way to multiple PhDs. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the role culture played in my interest in STEM; like Arzo, my early years were spent abroad. While in my Bangladeshi family and the wider community, achieving in all academic areas was heavily emphasised, science was given particular importance. For better or for worse, this definitely helped shape my interest in STEM
If you could sit down with any famous person, living or dead, and ask them one question, who would it be, what would ask them, and why?
R: Freddie Mercury, because I’ve been obsessed with Queen from a very young age. I’d probably ask him to explain the lyrics and thought processes behind “Bohemian Rhapsody”.
A: I would love to meet Eric Kandel because I got to study a lot of his work on memory and learning during my undergrad studies and it’s what really sparked my interest in neuroscience. I don’t have any burning questions but to just sit with him and talk all things brain would be pretty amazing.
M: Muhammad Ali, hands down. He was such an inspirational character – so confident and true to himself and always standing up for what he believed was right. The way he carried himself with such dignity still amazes me. I’d probably ask him to come up with another cool quote so I can update my social media bios.
Z: There is a quote I read recently that was apparently written on the walls of a jail in a concentration camp: “If there is a God, He will have to beg my forgiveness.” At any given time, I can think of a few famous people I wouldn’t mind meeting but frankly, the only stranger I want to hear anything from right now is the person who wrote this.
What is your favourite thing about blogging?
R: I like the fact that it’s all in your own hands, no one is telling you what to write or how to write it or when to have it done by. It’s an exercise in creativity and allows you to learn about a variety of topics in your own time.
A: I like the freedom that comes with blogging because you can write about anything that interests you, I’ve written posts on pheromones, stress and evolution; hopefully some neuro ones soon. It’s like doing essays for uni except there’s no pressure, which is always great.
M: Blogging just feels so free. You can pick whatever topic you want and write it however you want. There are no rules. It’s literally your own domain.
Z: As someone who has not yet written an article for Seeking Science, it’s a bit cheeky of me to answer but one thing I like about blogging is how accessible and connected it makes the scientific – or really, any – community. When you are studying or gearing up for a career in STEM, you can feel quite disconnected from the ‘real’ science world. There is a mental divide of sorts – there’s you and then there are the ‘actual’, ‘serious’ scientists. Blogging shows that this is not the case at all. Where there is passion and interest, there is community. It dissolves the inaccessibility that can sometimes make pursuing STEM isolating.
What is your biggest challenge blogging generally, or as a science blog?
R: It’s quite a niche field so it’s difficult to compete for exposure on social media amongst the more general “#blogging” hashtags and posts. Also, as mentioned above, you have to motivate yourself to get posts written and do all the social media promotion, sometimes it might be useful to have someone bossing you to get things done!
A: The biggest challenge would have to be fitting it around your life although with four of us it’s not too bad. Oh and coming up with a name, that was probably the hardest part, but we did it! Other than that it has been such an enjoyable experience so far and I’m excited to see what the future holds.
M: The biggest challenge would have to be the motivation to get the posts done. If you’re like me and struggle with time management, sometimes it feels like trying to hand in your coursework last minute!
Z: Time! Making the time to write well-researched articles, especially ones that will actually appeal to and help inform those beyond the scientific blogging community. That science blogging is academic in nature can also be intimidating and a less natural process for me than writing for other types of blogs.
What is your day job or are you solely a blogger?
R: I’m about to start a new job as a research assistant in a neuroscience laboratory, which I’m very excited about!
A: I work in retail. Let’s just say, I am very very very excited to be going back to uni soon. Aside from that, I volunteer in a dementia ward in a local hospital once a week too.
M: I work as a pharmacy advisor in a chemist. It’s good fun since I get to exercise my medicinal knowledge in real-life situations.
Z: I am a painfully unemployed medical student.
If you couldn’t have studied the science field that you are in now, what would you have chosen (doesn’t have to be science) and why?
R: I was actually planning to do a History degree at university, but in the end, I decided that I enjoyed biology too much to face never being able to study it again. So, I would be a History BA graduate right now, doing goodness knows what.
A: I always knew I’d study science. Medicine is a field I am interested in and working towards, but at the moment I’m really focused on going further into research on neurological disorders especially dementia. At one point in life, I was intrigued by engineering, as I enjoyed studying mechanics and physics at A-levels, but I am glad I stuck with Biology.
M: I most likely would have chosen either an English literature or a geography degree. I really enjoy reading and creative writing, as well as learning about physical geography.
Z: There is no end to what I would want to pursue; the list goes on ad nauseam. Writing, filmmaking, acting… It sounds like a fantasy wish list and I know people say you choose Medicine because you cannot imagine doing anything else but I believe that life is long and there is time enough.
How long have you been blogging?
We set up the blog in late March 2018
What is one thing that you hope comes from your blog?
R: We hope that our content and ideals inspire curiosity in our readers – if just one person feels motivated to read up about an area of science they don’t yet know much about, we’ll consider that a success.
A: I really hope this blog reaches people from all walks of life and gets them as excited and passionate about science as we are. I’ve actually had friends and colleagues from a non-scientific background telling me they’ve read the blog and asking further questions on the posts. So I hope we can just reach more and more people and get them curious to learn more.
M: When studying or writing on any topic, you often have to research online for references as well as general background knowledge. I really hope that our blog can serve as an information point for scientific research purposes!
Z: Free, useful information that is accessible to anyone who reads it! While science is mainstream in our wider world, science blogging is a niche corner of social media and it takes an arm, a leg and a whole load of intrigue-worthy marketing to reach a wider audience. There is so much scientific information out there that would be beneficial to everyone and I hope we reach and are useful to those who do not have privileged access to it.
Who’s your favourite superhero and why?
R: Captain America, because he values kindness and compassion above all and always strives to do the right thing.
A: Thor. Coz thunder.
M: Black Panther, and not just because black panthers are my favourite animal! To me, Black Panther is one of the most relatable superheroes. At first, he becomes a lost puppy and allows his emotions to take over his judgement and purely seeks revenge for personal satisfaction. However, when it came to the crux of things, he realised that nothing good really comes out of vengeance. It’s a belief I hold strongly. Doing bad to bad people does not make you feel good – it only does worse.
Z: Mohabbat Man, the great uri baba himself. If you know, you know.
Why did you start blogging?
R: I had just lost my job and was bored out of my skull so I decided to do what I enjoy most, learning about science and communicating it! I managed to get Arzo, Madeeha and Zarin on board, and the rest is history!
A: It’s something that we discussed loads as we felt a bit lost after uni and out of touch with the science world. It finally happened mostly thanks to Roisin, she took charge and here we are now.
M: I started blogging since Roisin randomly popped up with the suggestion one fine afternoon. The four of us wanted to stretch our scientific interests and keep engaged within the scientific community – so what better way to do so than make our own mark on the world wide web?
Z: I was watching a video where a beauty blogger/STEM student was speaking in detail about the biology and chemistry of beauty ingredients and research she had done. The more she spoke, the more I unravelled. I realised how disconnected I had become from the wider world of science and how everything I was doing was in service of my exams and degree. I had stagnated. I made a list and chief among the things I wanted to do was expand my scientific knowledge outside of what I learned at uni. Later that same day, Roisin and I were speaking about the science blog she and her friends were starting and she asked if I wanted to join them. I almost declined out of intimidation and feeling like an imposter but thankfully, common sense hit me on the head and I realised the opportunity was an exact answer to my new goal and I would prove myself to be the idiot I always knew I could be if I didn’t take it. I don’t put any stock in stars aligning but that day sure made a heck of a case for it!
If you could say only one thing about yourself, what would it be?
R: That I’m funny!
A: I have a weird sense of humour, only few seem to ever get, or maybe they just go along with it.
M: I’m a little too much on the naïve side of things…
Z: Now accepting sizeable cash gifts from strangers on the internet.
Our 11 questions:
- What is the meaning of the title of your blog?
- Why did you start blogging?
- How did you get interested in science?
- What do you find the most rewarding and most challenging about blogging?
- Where do you hope your blog will be in a year’s time?
- If you could visit any place in the world, where would it be and why?
- Would you rather go back in time or to the future? Why?
- What is your favourite book of all time?
- Do you prefer Twitter or Instagram?
- What has been the most exciting thing to come out of your blogging experience so far?
- How do you stay motivated to keep blogging?
- Motivelina – run by Ewelina, a Human Genetics PhD candidate with a passion for science communication. The motto of her blog is “know more, do more” and her mission is to improve lives through research and motivation. Visit her blog for a variety of scientific topics explained in a clear, concise and engaging way.
- The Catalyst In Me – the creation of a medical physiology student, aiming to provide career advice and profiles for a plethora of scientific careers. Her slogan “no goal too high, no accomplishment too small” is a message we can totally get behind! Check out The Catalyst In Me for simple breakdowns of scientific topics, as well as a great musical playlist!
- OncoBites– the go-to for all the latest oncology research news, simplified. The site is run by a group of graduates and PhD candidates aiming to eliminate the jargon from cancer research to make news accessible for everyone. They also have a bunch of great sister sites such as EvoBites, ImmunoBites and many more!
- She Go Say – subtitled “the PhD experiences of a Nigerian woman”, the She Go Say blog documents the ups and downs of PhD life, as well as exploring topics such as mental health and sexual harassment.
- The Dirty Lab Coats – a fellow new science blog, The Dirty Lab Coats is run by two chemists aiming to explore the nitty-gritty of science, policy and grad school.
- Gaia-s – aiming to share knowledge about the environment and ecological protection, as well as connecting nature lovers.
- Brittany Fair – You might recognise Brittany’s name from a guest post she wrote for us on phenylketonuria – visit her personal site for neuroscience, yoga and science communication galore!
- The Science Femina – Tess studies protein misfolding in Alzheimer’s disease and blogs about the struggles and rewards of academia, as well as advocating women in STEM.
- Illuminated Brain – Amanda is a PhD student in developmental neurobiology and uses her blog to share stories in science, in order to explain and communicate research being carried out in labs across the world. Like us, she is an avid fan of science puns.
- Labcoat Tales – Nduta Mugo runs Labcoat Tales, a blog focused on making science accessible to everyone. Check out her site for lots of great resources, including content on healthcare in Africa, career profiles and research news.
- The Solution is K – Karelly is a Chemistry and Science Communication undergrad and blogs about study tips and her experience in science. She has also recently set up a company to encourage and support women in chemistry (Girls Who Bond)