HIV-Killing Condoms: The real story from the dendrimer who knows

Posted 24 July 2014 by Paige Brown


  In 2005, an estimated 4.1 million people worldwide were newly infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) (UNAIDS 2006). – Rupp, Rosenthal and Stanberry, 2007 Who am I? My name is SPL 7013. I am the active ingredient in those fancy new “HIV-killing condoms” you’ve been hearing about on Facebook and Twitter. The Washington Post claimed I could kill the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes AIDS. That is not true, for several reasons which I will get into later. The... Read more

False Balance: When Science Bloggers Get Science Right

Posted 23 July 2014 by Paige Brown


“Let me start with an audacious assertion:  A major problem confronting science journalists is that they have trouble communicating what’s true. Even when competing claims are wildly lopsided — think climate change, for example — science journalists feel that they cannot tell their audience that one of the claims is surviving scientific scrutiny better than others.” – Sharon Dunwoody, on recently posted an excellent piece by Sharon Dunwoody, Evjue-Bascom Professor Emerita in the School of Journalism and Mass... Read more

This Is NOT a Story about Sniffing Farts for Health

Posted 20 July 2014 by Paige Brown


Woe is the reporter who can’t help but make a new scientific paper into a fart joke. But seriously. Was there any reportable science behind headlines of Fart gas may help prevent dementia, heart disease: study and Cancer Risk Reduced by Smelling Farts Study Suggests? Forget farts, those headlines make me sick. A Liberty Voice reporter wrote “[h]ydrogen sulfide was previously considered to be a toxic molecule until more recent research has proved that in small doses it has its... Read more

Flying an Airplane isn’t Rocket Science. Wait…

Posted 19 July 2014 by Paige Brown

Shutterstock. Cessna.

FromTheLabBench note: My little sister Angie (a to-be undergraduate student at the University of Vermont) recently flew an airplane ALL BY HERSELF. If some of my readers don't know this about me, I am terrified of airplanes. So as soon as I heard she had landed safely, I did the first thing you'd expect me to do. I asked her to write a guest blog post here! “Are you good to go? No questions?” My flight instructor, Ron, asks me... Read more

Publiscize Your Research

Posted 17 July 2014 by Paige Brown


Author's Note: I recently came across an article talking about a new website called Publiscize, a platform that helps scientists break down and promote their published research for a lay audience. The platform, a service for science communication straight from researchers themselves, was founded by Robert Seigel, a postdoctoral research fellow in atmospheric sciences at the University of Miami. I contacted Robert to ask him a few questions about this new platform for sharing research. From The Lab Bench: Can you tell me more about, how... Read more

Why would you go and do THAT?

Posted 17 July 2014 by Paige Brown

Jason Snyder from Washington, DC, United States. Wiki.

“Kid, what do you want to be when you grow up?” "I’m going to be a writer!" Silence. "Or a dolphin trainer. Or a doctor like my dad." Fast forward. I’m a nerdy teenager who likes to dream big. One of my favorite memories from my homeschooling experience is sitting down in our sunroom every week with a heavily pierced and tattooed creative writing tutor who moonlighted as a fire baton-twirler. She would open a book of Georgia O’Keeffe paintings,... Read more

Pitching Science Blog Posts: A Guide

Posted 15 July 2014 by Paige Brown

Unfreeze those horses - turn your topic into a story. Shutterstock:

If you have a story to tell… Welcome to, where we now have a Guest Blog where you can pitch your best science blogging ideas! How do I pitch a blog post, you ask? The criteria are simple – send me (pbrow11[at]tigers[dot]lsu[dot]edu) a blog post pitch. Once approved, send me a draft in Word doc format with any visuals or embeds you’d like to include plus a headshot of yourself and short bio. Who is the audience, you ask?... Read more

Open Access to Science Communication Research: Your Options

Posted 9 July 2014 by Paige Brown

In a recent blog post on Communication Breakdown, Matt Shipman started a discussion about science communication journals and obstacles to making them open access (OA) for the benefit of science communication practitioners. Critiquing, suggesting, sharing ideas and data—this communication is the heart of science, the most powerful tool ever invented for correcting errors, building on colleagues’ work and fashioning new knowledge. – Waldrop, Science 2.0 There are a variety of issues at play in current obstacles to open access of... Read more

This is what your brain looks like on Super Mario Mushrooms

Posted 8 July 2014 by Paige Brown


Having trouble making quick decisions among multiple options in the real world? When to go for the goal and when to pass? Strategically planning a sport move or which questions to answer first on a timed exam? You might consider an unlikely pastime – playing video games. Especially video games that are cognitively taxing and that require planned moves in virtual physical environments. In a study published in PloS One in March, Simone Kuhn and colleagues found a positive association... Read more

Considering the Future of Science Journalism: Killed Darlings

Posted 3 July 2014 by Paige Brown

I recently had a Science & Society piece published in EMBO Reports on the explosion of alternative digital forms of science journalism. Science journalism is changing and the opportunities are as great as the pitfalls. Digital technologies, mobile devices and social media platforms are changing the communication landscape, reflecting a deeper, more general cultural shift in news production and consumption. – An Explosion of Alternatives, DOI: 10.15252/embr.201439130 As any writer knows, you often have to “kill your darlings” to get... Read more