1st Anniversary at CENtral Science!

Thank you for your support! Now, tell me about YOU in the comments below. Photo Credit: DJ Kroll/Terra Sigillata

Many thanks to all of you, Dear Readers and C&EN editors and staff, I have been writing here for one year. Last August 24th, we moved the Terra Sigillata blog here after its purgatory in indie WordPress land following four years at ScienceBlogs. The announcement came at the a ACS Medicinal Chemistry Lunch-and-Learn session on pharmaceutical and chemistry blogging led by Carmen Drahl at last year's Boston meeting. the setting seemed appropriate for the launch because I was on the panel with two of my own blogging idols, Derek Lowe of In the Pipeline and Ed Silverman of Pharmalot. In my inaugural post here last year, The Right Chemistry, I expressed my sincere thanks to Carmen and C&EN Online Editor Rachel Pepling for taking in this wayward blogger. Although I am technically a biologist, I have appreciated since my undergrad days that chemistry was central to moving forward in this field. As a pharmacologist whose previous pseudonym acknowledged Journal of Biological Chemistry founder, John Jacob Abel, I have always appreciated that my field would not be here without the efforts of synthetic chemists. So, I hope that in the past year I have brought you a biologist's view of - and reverence for - the discipline of chemistry. I should also note that while Carmen and Rachel are my personal heroes, my extended family at C&EN have also been instrumental in helping me develop as a science writer. Amanda Yarnell has been a constant source of advice and inspiration, offering freely of her time to a guy who isn't even on staff. I had the delightful pleasure of spending a week with Lauren Wolf at the Santa Fe Science Writing Workshop and have been very impressed by how she has worked so hard to go from being a laser chemist to crafting engaging pieces in the neurosciences. C&EN Editor-in-Chief, Rudy Baum, was kind enough to spend one-on-one time with me at the ACS Boston meeting encouraging me in both my writing and chemical education and diversity in chemistry efforts. Lisa Jarvis keeps me keen on pharma & chemistry business with early morning tweets and I often finish the day interacting with Jyllian Kemsley on the Left Coast. Then there are also folks like Linda Wang who remind me that we actually did meet when I write to congratulate them on a great feature and say that I can't wait to meet them. Carmen even hosted me for a nice visit to the C&EN HQ at ACS in Washington when I was lecturing at Johns Hopkins for Mary Knudson's faculty writing class earlier this year. Good and patient folks like Stu Borman and Steve Ritter (Western Carolina and Wake Forest, w00t!) suffered with my n00b questions about how C&EN is put together every week. Every week! Readers have no idea what madness this entails. Robin Giroux and Cheryl Hogue took me to lunch with our venerable webmaster, Tchad Blair.

"'Cause I really wanna know." Credit: Amazon

I belabor this point because I'm not sure that ACS members realize how many outstanding people are working in their professional society on behalf of the profession. Being associated with ACS has not only improved my efforts as a communicator but has paid tremendous dividends to my students in the content and quality of my lectures and assignments. Now, tell me about you But enough about them. I now want to know about you. In the tradition of another of my mentors, Ed Yong at Not Exactly Rocket Science, I want to get to know you and how you happened upon this humble corner of the ether since we moved here. Several of us, as detailed by my pal DrugMonkey, ask this of you once a year or so, especially to get to know those of you who are "lurkers" - devoted readers who choose not to comment. So, here's the deal in Ed's words: "In the comments below, tell me who you are, what your background is and what you do. What’s your interest in science and your involvement with it? How did you come to this blog, how long have you been reading, what do you think about it, and how could it be improved?" "But really, these questions are a rough guide. I’m working on the basis that what you have to say will be far more interesting than what I think you might say." "So say as little or as much as you like, but do say something, even if you’ve never commented before and even if you commented on the last “Who are you?” thread." To give you a sense of how to do this, here's Ed's thread of 160 responses last year. In addition to the scientists, I am also particularly interested in stories about those of you who are in K-12 education or completely outside of the field. Once again, many thanks to those of you who read and to those at the home office who have welcomed me here over the last year.

Author: David Kroll

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  1. Hello. I’m a chemist not in the lab – I have a master’s degree and work in chemical information. (I am also the %@$* who accidentally insulted you at the Lunch-and-Learn talk referenced above. Sorry.)

    I look at the C+E blogs daily, and I used to read your blog when it was on SciBlogs (for probably a year or two) until they fragged themselves silly with Pepsi. I am interested in drugs and biology because the interaction of chemistry and bio seems neat to me, in keeping track of things that might affect my job, and because it seems like a place where people’s lack of understanding has bad consequences.

    I don’t know what to improve.

    • Hap, thank you so much! I appreciate the feedback. I actually don’t recall being insulted at the Lunch-and-Learn last year (it’s take a bit to insult me anyway). Actually, thanks for attending.

      Yes, I sadly see that ScienceBlogs will be fragmenting even further with their acquisition by NatGeo leading to a purging of bloggers who want to write under pseudonyms. A bad move, IMHO, and one that unfairly penalizes women.

      Thanks again!

  2. Holy mackerel! It’s been a year already? Happy CS anniversary. It’s been a pleasure having you as part of the crew.

  3. Seriously– it’s an honor to have you on our little corner of the web, David. In the last year+ you’ve been a great resource. Nice album cover choice BTW. On one of our first dates my now-husband took me to see The Who at Madison Square Garden when Entwhistle was still alive.

  4. Hi. My name is Matt, and I’m a chemist.

    As an interested party (and because its something I plan on doing myself), I’d like to know more about what YOU do in lab. (well, not you exactly, but your minions). I would love to get a profile of some of your students along with what they’re doing. What are their perceptions of the chemistry-side of their projects are, etc. I know that you guys at NCCU have another site to take on some of this, but I think that your CENblogs audience would like to see this too.
    As bloggers, many of us stress putting human elements into our pieces. However, we often neglect the human elements that are closest to us day after day.

    … just a humble thought

    Congrats on 1 year with this great crew, David

    • A true pleasure to get to know you, Matt. Not sure we’d have met without the C&EN connection.

      I really appreciate that you want to hear about our students. Our small NIGMS RISE program has a couple of outstanding chemistry students and mentors so I’ll certainly try to bring some crossposts over from the NCCU Eagles RISE blog over at Scientopia. The students’ perspectives are great for seeing the more personal side of science and, I have to admit, that working with them renews my enthusiasm for why I got into this business in the first place.

      Very much looking forward to our continued interactions.

  5. Happy anniversary, David! It’s been great to have you as part of the CENtral Science crew. 🙂

  6. …I’ve not read any blogs for months due to various time constraints and the psychological impact only backlog of quality articles from numerous excellent blogs can deliver… and, well, turns out it’s your CEN anniversary! Congratu-bloomin-lations! 😀

    Hope all is well, we’ll have to catch up again soon!

    For anyone thinking I’ve not adhered to the required comment format, a) I filled one in ages ago and b) I’m just some urchin from the internet that your parent(s) or guardian(s) would no doubt classify as “the wrong crowd” or “a bad influence”.

    • No, no, mate – you’re a real pharmacologist and quite a responsible member of “the wrong element.” 😉 You have some lovely content on psychoactive compounds and I wish I had students like you who understand structure-activity relationships as well.

      Yes, it’s been too long. We shall catch up soon.

  7. David already knows who I am :-), but I’ll pipe up anyway in the hope it encourages others.

    I’m an computational biologist, currently working as an independent consultant. (No, I didn’t “fall out” of a job – I chose to take this route ten years ago.)

    Like David, I also write a blog in New Zealand’s sciblogs (linked on my name). The closest I come to writing chemistry is macromolecular stuff – proteins, DNA, genomes ‘and all that’, and not as often as I’d like to either. A lot of the time I just write whatever vaguely science-y thing occurs to me that day, as something of a break from reading papers and coding. Occasionally I write on disability-related issues (I’m hard-of-hearing or deaf myself, depending on the setting.)

  8. I loved reading the responses to Ed Yong’s recent “how did you get here” question. It showed me who science writers are. I was surprised at how many, like me, started in science and later turned to telling the fascinating stories of science.

    After doing science for 15 years at the University of Arizona and USGS I was tired of the boring (futzing with data) and frustrating (repeated time-consuming about-faces on painfully picayune paperwork policies) parts of science.

    Now I’m focusing on my favorite parts of science: writing about it and talking to people about it. (I haven’t figured out yet how to work in enough of my other favorite part: the travel.) I told a writer friend of mine recently that I had my first two “semi-real writing gigs.” He assured me that that’s the only kind.

    I attended the Santa Fe Science Writing Workshop in June, 2011 and met David Kroll. The list of things he does in life exhausts me, but I enjoy reading about them. If you haven’t met David, he’s an extreme outlier: one of the warmest, most appreciative and encouraging people on the planet.

    • “If you haven’t met David, he’s an extreme outlier: one of the warmest, most appreciative and encouraging people on the planet.”

      Amen to that!

    • OK, now you’re both really making me blush – perhaps I’m an outlier, but some would say so for entirely different, non-positive reasons!

      It was a delight to work with you (Cindy) in Gareth Cook’s group in Santa Fe and connect with someone who shares my love for all things about the US West and Southwest. I really appreciate your support of my writing and all of your encouragement on what I should be when I grow up!

      For those who want to read an excellent recent article by Cindy about the use of ground-penetrating radar and surface imaging for vegetation, water, and historic sites in the West, see this PDF of hers in a recent issue of Rangelands.

      • See?? See what I mean? He can’t stop!

  9. I had never read Terra Sigillata until I very briefly met David at the Santa Fe workshop this year. Not meeting him earlier in the schedule was probably the worst thing about the otherwise fantastic workshop (David, I haven’t forgotten about the T-shirts, an email is slowly being composed!). But, at least I did meet him, because otherwise it would never have occurred to me to look at the C&EN blogs, which are excellent (Artful Science!), or read anything about drugs (I thought it was off-topic, but I was wrong). Now I’m hooked. If you’re ever stuck for a post, please give us a “Kroll’s Greatest Hits” post list, because I’d like to see some of your other posts. Oh yes, I forgot that I’m meant to say who I am. I’m a postdoc working on yeast cell biology with no obvious professional reason to read about pharmacology. Unless it’s about a drug that can make yeast feel better.

  10. @ the above, now I’m going to have to keep my eye out for workshops. Sounds enticing!

    I’m a chemist with a MS in Analytical Chemistry and undergrad degrees in both Chemistry and Geology. I have professional experience in groundwater geochemistry,(including radionuclides), hydrology, industrial quality assurance, waste stream analysis, surface chemistry pertaining to the semiconductor industry and education and policy issues. Currently I am a partner in a small scientific software company.

    I’ve been enjoying David’s posts here at CEN and elsewhere for quite some time.

    Happy first anniversary!

    @Matt: IMHO, the “human elements that are closest to us day after day” are not to be called minions! (FYI, I am online acquainted with Matt and also have two student “offspring units”.)

  11. UBC PhD (theory and physical chemistry), post doc Holland (molecular physics), faculty U of W (Chem), now prof at McGill U chemistry.

    I started using multimedia in the classroom in 1993. I think it important to move away from hard copy books in favour of ebooks.

    Since I started blogging, I find it interesting to read what other scientists say, which is why I am here at this one.

    Fundamentally I believe that quantum mechanics is not the most fundamental theory, and Einstein was right when he said. “He does not play dice.”

  12. Happy 1st Anniversary, David. I read your blogs occasionally. Keep up the good work.

    • Abdul, as you are a chemist and an academic leader, I am very grateful that you check in with our content. I hope you will see that we actively pursue outreach activities that promote chemistry and the biological sciences to diverse audiences, public and professional.

  13. Not a scientist, just a friend, here to wish you a happy anniversary, David!