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Why did I start blogging?

I’ve been selected as a finalist for the CollegeScholarships.org Blogging Scholarship! You show your support for The Contemplative Mammoth by voting for me here from now until November 23rd. (Update: due to ballot stuffing– not for my blog– all votes have been re-set to zero, and there’s a new ballot. Voting has been extended a week, and you can now vote once per day. Please vote again if you’ve already done so, and tell your friends! I have a lot of lost votes to make up!).  In the meantime, I thought I’d share my answer to the question below, which was my entry for the scholarship.

Why did you start blogging? What does blogging mean to you? Why is blogging important to you?

The author, contemplating her next blog post.

I am a scientist blogger. Some might say that, as a PhD student, I’m really a scientist-in-training-who-also blogs, but I see science as a never-ending process; we’re always scientists-in-training-who-may-or-may-not-do-other things. In fact, it’s the Other Things that I think often make the work of scientists interesting and relevant. For this reason, I’ve decided it’s really important to me to be a scientist who is committed to communication and outreach. There are many people out there who do great science, and many people who do an even better job of writing about it. Many science writers started out as scientists, but decided that writing and outreach was more interesting than research itself. There are definitely days when I feel the same way; days when the excitement of discovery is dulled by the tedium of repetitive lab analyses or decidedly un-Indiana-Jones-like fieldwork.

Perhaps ironically, this is one of the reasons I want to be a scientist-who-blogs, rather than a blogger-who-writes-about-science. I think it’s important that scientists are able to communicate their own work, and to comment on the work of others from their unique perspective in their chosen field. However, I think it’s equally important to communicate the process of science– whether that’s the everyday labor that goes into our work, the biases we fight against but must acknowledge, our struggles with methods, or communicating uncertainty. Scientists can give a unique perspectives from within our field, which can nicely complement the commentary by other science writers. But it’s more important to me that the public– including would-be scientists– see a representation of science that isn’t just the perennial wild-haired old white guys in lab coats with test tubes. It’s important to me that, as a publicly funded researcher, I give back to the public that I serve by sharing my research and passion for science in an accessible way.

My research, as a paleoecologist, focuses on ecological and climatic change since the end of the last ice age. I blog because I have a perspective to offer on modern global change problems; clues from the past may help us understand the present and prepare for the future. I blog because I studied theater, English, and history for the first half of my undergraduate degree; my love of science unfolded for me through a series of happy accidents, and that process of serendipity is something I want to share with others who may find that their future holds surprises in store. I blog because, as a woman scientist, it’s important to me to mentor others and to work for diversity in the science fields. I blog because it keeps me honest, reminding me (and others) that I’m a human being and not a string of code, an equation, or a lab protocol.

I blog because I am a scientist, not in spite of it.

Categories: Good Causes

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Jacquelyn Gill

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