I started this blog in February of 2011, so while I haven’t been blogging for a full year, now seems as good a time as any to recap some of my more popular posts of the last year.   As a brand new blogger, my readership isn’t exactly what you’d call earth-shattering, but I am pretty pleased with myself for having caught the eye of some of the more prominent science bloggers.

To those of you who linked to me, tweeted and promoted my posts, and otherwise took notice, I am entirely grateful. You’ve been instrumental in bringing my blog to public light.

1.  For the Love of Chemicals

This post has garnered an enormous amount of interest, primarily because of its connection to Deborah Blum’s wonderful series on Chemical Free Chemistry.  Her posts (and others) inspired me to reflect on why our use of language is important when shaping young people’s image of science, in general, and of chemistry in this particular case. For me, the quotes from Primo Levi illustrate the true wonderment a scientist can have for his or her subject when they aren’t tainted by fear or social pressure.

2. If I am Eaten by a Polar Bear

This is one of those posts that I just dashed off in a reactive moment and which went largely unnoticed. Then months later, when the subject of “revenge killing” of animals came up in the news,  I tweeted it out again and it caught fire! (Timing is everything)  I guess informing the world that if I am killed by an animal, I do not want it killed, resonated with a lot of people.  Later in the week I was honored to feel the full shock and awe of the Ed Yong Effect after he put my post on his Missing Links Top Picks of the week.


3.  Romeo: A Lone Wolf’s Tragedy in Three Acts

While it didn’t get the most hits, this post received the biggest honor that I think a science blog post can get: Selection for publication in Open Laboratory 2012 as one of the top 50 science blog posts of 2011. I talk a little bit about that here, but I’ll say again, this is a huge honor for a new blogger like me.

This post is a great illustration of finding stories in unexpected places. I spent a week in Alaska touring, sighting whales and other wildlife, listening to naturalist lectures, and taking volumes of notes and photos, all the while trying to come up with something unique to write about.  This story came from an aside by our bus driver on the way to Mendenhall Glacier. She just casually mentioned that, among the wildlife at Mendenhall, there use to be a lone wolf who romped with visitors but he had been killed by hunters. She seemed unusually angry about the situation, so I made a short note to remind myself to follow up when I got home. That led me to Romeo’s story.

I feel pretty attached to Romeo now and bought myself a copy of John Hyde’s book for Christmas. The photos are, as predicted, stunning and his personal acquaintance with Romeo is touching.


4. And Then There Came Fungus

This post on the “mysterious and creepy tornado fungus” that wasn’t so mysterious or creepy, really, caught the eye of researchblogging.org editor Vincent Racaniello and garnered me an Editor’s Pick (and a nice rush of visitors) that week.


From: British Antarctic Expedition, 1907-9, under the command of Sir E.H. Shackleton, James Murray5. An Unlikely Heroine

This post tying bdelloid rotifers to feminist literature (Now there’s a combo!) was the other of my posts to be nominated to Open Laboratory. An exciting moment in my first 3 months of blogging!  I wish I could remember who nominated it (we had a brief Twitter exchange that I can’t track down).  But whoever you are, thank you again.


So those are the posts that had an impact this past year. I’m looking forward to 2012 and hope to get my blogging feet more firmly under me over the course of the year.  Really, writing this blog, specifically the science posts, has been some of the most rewarding writing I have ever done.

Thank you all for a wonderful inaugural year.