All prejudices about scientists and their terrible writing skills turned out to be untrue upon a visit to LabLit.com! I am simultaneously jealous at and in love with all the superb writers over there. (Clearly that relationship won’t work out…)
One of my favourite pieces on the site is “The Scientific Chat Up” by Ian Brooks: “I wanted to be a drummer before I wanted to be a scientist. And if that’s not the saddest, most downright geekiest thing you’ve ever heard, read on!” Well, actually, that was the saddest, most downright geekiest thing I had ever heard (come on: scientist and drummer?!), but I read on anyway and laughed at the recognition of having to defend and explain science in front of music fans at bars. I think the trick is this: first you confess that you’re a scientist. Don’t be embarrassed, just pretend it’s cool. Then you slowly bring the conversation towards other topics, and here is where you casually mention that you’re also a musician. Obviously, if you’re a drummer (or, in my own case, a violinist) this is not going to make you any cooler, but it could work for, say, a guitar player.
Another great writer at LabLit.com is Kat Arney. The article “Underneath my Labcoat, I’m Naked” is over a year old, but I didn’t see it until today. This shows that the site was in need of some publicity, because this is exactly the kind of story that single female scientists link or forward to each other: “Come on, guys – free promotional T-shirts from biotech supply companies and the odour of mercaptoethanol are not the way to a lady’s heart!” I must point out, though, that she forgot to mention that it’s often the same promotional T-shirt every day. And it has holes in it. Incidentally, it also doesn’t really work to your advantage to wear it out to the bar and try out my aforementioned “by the way, I’m also a musician” trick.
Lablit.com also has interviews. Readers of easternblot.net will appreciate the interview with Lizzie Burns, who quit research to become a professional life sciences artist. She paints works inspired by biology, such as this painting of the ear canal, and uses art as a way to get school children interested in science.
There are many other fantastic articles about and by scientists on LabLit.com. After spending some time there you’ll be left with the idea that scientists are the coolest people ever…