Category Archives: blogging

Squirrels, serendipity, and the reach of a blog

Photo: Whitehead’s pygmy squirrel (Exilisciurus whiteheadi), © Chi’en C. Lee via, used by permission.

Inspired by similar exercises from Small Pond Science and The Lab and Field, I present a few more weird and wonderful search terms by which Scientist Sees Squirrel has been found.  These are all real, I swear – and they’re only the tip of the iceberg.

But while the searches are amusing, at the end I do want to draw a couple of serious conclusions – feel free to scroll right down there if you’re not in the mood for frivolity.

Search terms in bold italic:


squirrel simulations Continue reading

Is this blog a “science blog”? If not, what is it?

Warning: mostly navel-gazing, albeit with some thoughts about SciComm and the openness of science.

I didn’t know much about the blogosphere before Scientist Sees Squirrel was born. Turns out maybe I still don’t, since I’m asking the rather obvious question in the title of this post.

So is Scientist Sees Squirrel a “science blog”?  Well, it’s about science (inasmuch as it’s about anything), so in that sense, surely the answer should be “yes”.  But I’ve just read Science Blogging: The Essential Guide, and according to that book, the answer is pretty clearly “no”.  This surprised me a little, but it also crystallized something I’d been wondering rather vaguely about anyway: what is, and what should be, my audience here? Continue reading

Four famous introverts

Blogging as an introvert

Photo: Four introverts in far more public eye than I’ll ever be.  Clockwise from top left: Marlon Brando, photo Carl Van Vechten, public domain; Lady Gaga, photo Gabrisagacre14 via, CC BY-SA 4.0;  Jimi Hendrix, photo A. Vente via Beeld en Geluidwiki, CC BY-SA 3.0 NL; Greta Garbo, photo MGM (work for hire), public domain.

Warning: navel-gazing.

I told the story, a while back, of how I survive conferences, given that I’m an introvert and don’t particularly like putting myself out there.  Quite a few people told me they were surprised to learn I consider myself introverted.  In part, this reflects decades of practice at pretending otherwise, at least when professionally and socially necessary.  But it occurs to me that there’s another reason people might be surprised: I blog (obviously), and that means every week, I put myself out there by posting an opinion for all to read.  Why, one might quite reasonably ask, would an introvert do that? Continue reading

Student blogging on insect conservation: a success story

Image: Skillet Clubtail dragonfly, by David Marvin (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

This year in my 3rd-year Entomology course, we introduced a new student assignment: to write a blog post about an insect of conservation concern in Canada. (I say “we”, because most of the credit goes to my TA and PhD student Chandra Moffat. I’ll link to some of the resulting posts below; but first, a few thoughts. Continue reading

A year of Scientist Sees Squirrel: thoughts and thanks

Image credit: Eurasian red squirrel, Sciurus vulgaris, © Peter Trimming via CC BY-SA 2.0

Today is Scientist Sees Squirrel’s first birthday!

 When I wrote my first post, I didn’t have a very clear idea of where blogging would take me. In fact, I was quite explicit that my blog’s content would be unpredictable, both for its readers and for me. It’s good to know I got one thing right, because otherwise blogging has brought me mostly surprises. The meta-surprise: they were almost entirely good surprises. I’m going to tell you about a few of them, chiefly because if you’re intrigued but unpersuaded by the idea of taking up blogging yourself, this might help. Continue reading

How I started blogging (reposted interview with Paige Brown Jarreau)

Over at From the Lab Bench, Paige Brown Jarreau has been running a series of interviews with new science bloggers, asking them how they got involved and what they’ve learned from the experience. I was #10 in her series, which continues here (includes links to all previous posts).

Paige kindly gave me permission to repost our conversation. I’ve taken the opportunity to make a couple of very minor edits, but otherwise, this is verbatim from her original post (so if you read it there, save your time). This post marks 6 months of Scientist Sees Squirrel!

Warning: self-indulgent, meta, and rather long.

Paige: What motivated you to start blogging about science? Why did you start a blog, vs. using only other newer forms of social media like Twitter?

Steve: I suspect my friends and colleagues would tell you that I’ve always had plenty of opinions and have been quite willing to share them over beer and in hallway chat.  It hadn’t ever occurred to me to write these things down.  About three years ago, though, I started working on a scientific-writing guidebook (in press; more about it here), and I discovered two things.  First, I really enjoy writing in a nontechnical style.  And second, I enjoy writing less technical material – about peculiar facts or interesting connections in what we know about nature, or about things like history of science, career advice, and why we do things the way we do. Continue reading