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15 October 2021

#AntarcticLog: 200 million displaced by climate change

It’s a week to celebrate for me: #AntarcticLog #200 just posted.  Here it is. To acknowledge the moment, I looked for a topic that would reflect that number: 200. And what I came up with was sobering: the World Bank’s assessment of the number of humans due to be displaced by climate change. (And that’s just the humans.) 


4 October 2021

Not-so-plain written: Can we infuse science writing with creative literacy?

Most information transmission among scientists comes in the form of written publications, and a science paper’s clout is too often granted through its tenacious use of a lexicon only understood by other experts in the field. Put this paper in front of a less-than-expert (me), and I’m left picking through sentences word by word trying my darndest to glean some sort of meaning out of it all. It’s not only exhausting, but frankly, it’s pretty boring.


1 October 2021

#AntarcticLog: Visualizing climate change

At the Bigelow Laboratory in East Boothbay, Maine, the walls are made of glass. It facilitates communication, not just because it’s transparent, but because it gives the scientists something to draw on. Did you realize that scientists are dedicated doodlers? They embrace visual imagery to convey their processes and their findings. Case in point: Stephanie Peart’s demonstration of cloud formation, in this #AntarcticLog comic: 


17 September 2021

#AntarcticLog: The importance of stories

By now I shouldn’t be surprised — just grateful — at the way certain stories have broad appeal.  I’m beginning to learn to trust myself — that stories and images that appeal to me will affect others too. Maybe not the same way as they affect me, but in the way of individual people wherever they are. For example, this one, featuring Mother Earth. 


10 September 2021

#AntarcticLog: Caring for one ocean

The idea of the seven seas is a romantic notion; every ocean on Earth is one ocean. What happens in one part of the ocean system — say the melting of glacial ice into the Southern Ocean — impacts the rest. Likewise, the global warming causing glaciers to melt comes from an excess of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and that makes the ocean warmer — and more acidic. 


8 September 2021

Blogging for Science Unsealed

For six years, I participated in one of the most impactful science communication endeavors I’ll ever embark on: I ran Science Unsealed, the blog from the Illinois Science Council. The ISC aims to give folks an opportunity to explore their scientific curiosity, and the blog was my opportunity to further their mission. Besides educating the public, running Science Unsealed did something extra for me: it helped me discover my passion for science writing.


3 September 2021

#AntarcticLog: Melting glaciers

The most vulnerable part of the Antarctic Ice is the Thwaites Glacier, part of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Could it melt? Yes — and it’s likely that it has, under different conditions many years in the past.


24 August 2021

#AntarcticLog: Science Education

Unlike many people in the sciences, I didn’t have much formal education myself. Much of what I’ve learned, I’ve learned on my feet, by wandering around behind scientists, watching and asking questions. All the more reason that the moment I first walked into the science classroom at my middle school looms large in my mind. 


4 August 2021

#AGURocks: Soon May the Kennicott Thin

We arrived in the small town of McCarthy, Alaska in early June 2021 to quantify the retreat of the Kennicott Glacier just up the valley. As part of a project under direction of Dr. Regine Hock, formerly at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and now at the University of Oslo, we measured glacial melt and installed weather stations on debris-covered ice, bare ice, and high up in the mountains.


2 August 2021

Astrobiology Studies for Kids (ASK)

This summer, something beautiful and unique took place in the STEM education world. Run by Blue Marble Space Institute of Science (BMSIS), an online Astrobiology Studies for Kids (ASK) program invited undergraduate students from all over the world to discuss astrobiology with dozens of pre-teens. The topics ranged from exoplanets, planetary geology, and ocean worlds to space fungi, astrovirology, and cyborgs.


26 July 2021

Community Science as a Method of #SciComm and #SciPol

Are you interested in breaking down jargon in your scientific field to be more inclusive of others?  I found a community-oriented science project did just that.  After receiving messages and questions about the state of water systems in Oklahoma during late spring/early summer of 2020, I knew there was an interest within my community to understand water quality.


16 July 2021

#AntarcticLog: Feeling Dumb and Doodling – My Superpowers  

Every #AntarcticLog starts with a doodle: an image that comes to me while I’m reading or listening to or otherwise learning something; an image that leads to a story I’m about to tell in comic form. 


9 July 2021

#AntarcticLog: Midwinter Celebrations

This June things seem special, and fragile. Might as well say hooray about what I can  say hooray about.  Here are a few celebratory #AntarcticLog to mark this June. 


6 July 2021

#AntarcticLog: The Value of Light

Summer light: isn’t it glorious? Here in the Connecticut woods, in the northern hemisphere, we’re experiencing the longest days of the year, with dusks speckled by bats and sparkled by fireflies. In Antarctica, the dark days reign.  It’s clear enough why: the sun’s angle relative to your spot on Earth makes the light wax and wane around the winter and summer solstice.


4 June 2021

#AntarcticLog: Antarctic Trees (from long ago)

No, there are no longer trees in Antarctica — though there were, many thousands of years ago. (Did you know Antarctica used to be unfrozen? But that’s another story for another post.)  But trees — especially the oak trees featured in these three #AntarcticLog comics — have plenty to say about what’s going on in their environment, and around the globe. 


28 May 2021

#AntarcticLog: Reeling in Kids

#AntarcticLog is created with a broad audience in mind — from the savviest adults to kids new to the subject of scientific research — and adventure! — in the Antarctic. This week’s examples come from a series created to introduce kids (of any age) to the Antarctic food chain. 


21 May 2021

#AntarcticLog: Plankton is (surprisingly) cool

Before the pandemic, a long time ago (or so it seems), I used to go to New York City and wonder at all the people — and their brilliant personalities, ideas, forms, and functions — concentrated in that small space.   One time I made my way to a midtown gallery where Pete Countway, a researcher at the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Science, had plankton on display. 


14 April 2021

Creating accessible and interactive visualizations with Adobe XD

An integral and critical part of scientific research is science communication and dissemination, making scientific findings accessible to all. Data visualizations, such as maps, graphs, and infographics are commonly used as they are easy and fast to read and understand. Interactive web-based infographics are one way to make data representation more accessible, more complete, and more engaging to people. Static visualizations are indeed often oversimplified or overwhelming.


24 March 2021

It’s time, now more than ever, to stop saying “now, more than ever.” At least in the sciences.

There are hundreds of articles out there using “now, more than ever” to try to illustrate the importance of a scientific point (and I know that I’m guilty of this as well). But what does the phrase actually mean and why is it so ubiquitous when discussing science?


12 March 2021

#AntarcticLog: Antarctic Service Medal

Last week I received a special package in the mail: my Antarctic Service Medal, made for my contribution to U.S. efforts to understand the continent — and the planet.