About

Bio

I’m a biochemist by training, but now I work with scientists rather than as one. Professionally, I’m interested in the way scientists communicate with each other and share information, via the web or otherwise. Outside of work, I support the idea of science as a part of everyday life, going almost unnoticed, and involving far more people than just those working in or studying the field. That’s originally why I started blogging, and I’m trying to get back to my roots.
Sometimes I play violin, but not right now: Now I’m typing this.

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 Node – My 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

Some of my other projects are listed in the “Online history” section, below.

Writing

See the portfolio page for some of the things I’ve written.

Interviews and panels with me

Online history

I know I’m dating myself, but I had never been online until I started university. Five or six months later I was building websites by emailing html files to the server, and since then I’ve been polluting — no, enriching the internet with all kinds of random things. Lists of children’s books, diaries of internships, a video of celebrities as Sims characters, a collection of photos of Dutch people posing in a Toronto discount store, mouse drawn pictures of trendy viruses, a Livejournal containing only lists, vacation photos of pencil sharpeners and squishy cows, whiny (and overly parenthetical) questions to authors, a Christmas carol performed partly on kitchen implements. Honestly, anything.

Somewhere along the line, I ended up with a science blog, and that got a bit out of hand. I now have multiple science blogs, past and present, and in fact get paid to maintain a science blog full time.

There are bits and pieces of me all over the web, and I thought I’d gather everything together on one page. That’s where you are now. It also has a space for new things and ideas, so that I can give a bit of attention to the part of my brain that doesn’t have anything to do with science. It got a bit dusty over the last few years…

Eastern what?

An eastern blot is a non-existent biochemical technique. Mr. Southern invented the Southern blot to detect DNA of different sizes. Later, northern blot was used for a similar method involving RNA, and western blot for protein, but there is no eastern blot, because there is no fourth molecule in the DNA/RNA/protein set.

A note about all the techniques that are called “eastern blot”: Too many different things are all called “eastern blot” by people who wanted to market their method as something to do with blotting and biochemistry. It’s too confusing. You can insist that it has something to do with glycolosation detection, but someone else might think you mean that you just switched the poles on a western blot. The name “eastern blot” only makes perfect sense for a technique that detects a fourth type of molecule in the DNA/RNA/protein set, but such a technique cannot exist, because that molecule does not exist. I have addressed this issue, and my screen name, and the emails I receive that inform me that technique X is called eastern blot, all in a column for the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Chemistry World magazine in 2010.