Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Blogging Scholarship: On the importance of science research blogs and how YOU can vote to support students who blog about science!

"The academic research and teaching communities for science and related fields need to see blogging as more than a casual hobby, as core outreach for their science. It is an effective way for scientists to counter the misunderstandings, deliberate and otherwise, of popular culture...In this way, we can ensure that the quality of the science that is communicated to the public is high, while the personality of working scientists humanizes science." -John S. Wilkins "The roles, reasons and restrictions of science blogs. (2008).
I started Escaping Anergy because as a PhD Immunology student I wanted to get the public psyched up about the amazing role basic research plays in improving human health! Whether you have supported this blog since its beginning or if you recently stumbled across I hope you find this blog to be a unique place on the web where scientists and the public can discuss research and its impacts together. Your support and interest in Escaping Anergy is what motivated me to apply for a $10,000 scholarship for full-time students who blog and...

I JUST found out I was selected as a FINALIST! However, the winner will be chosen by the online community. Because my blog is still in its infancy, my chances of winning this scholarship are STRONGLY DEPENDENT on the great support of my family, friends and fellow science enthusiasts! 

Some of the other finalists have been blogging longer than I have and may have more followers on their blogs, so your vote is vital to my chances of winningNOTE: You can only vote once per device, therefore feel free to vote using your work, home computer(s) AND smart phones! Voting ends November 23rd. 

Please click here to vote for me!
It only takes a second!

Below is an excerpt from my submitted essay:
" Although I have taught microbiology and immunology to hundreds of undergrads and launched two newsletters that are distributed throughout my department to foster interdisciplinary communication, I yearned to discuss interesting research discoveries with the public at large. I continue to believe that blogging provides me with the unique opportunity to do exactly that, while giving me a forum to improve my writing skills.
  I soon began thinking of what kind of blog I would be proud to write. As an immunologist, I have noticed that although there are ample blogs, news columns, and television programs conveying general science and health issues, there wasn’t any public space devoted to discussing basic immunological research. To fill this important niche, I launched “Escaping Anergy: The Immunology Research Blog”. Anergy is an immunology term describing the state in which a T cell is inadequately stimulated and unable to actively participate in the immune response. Because of this, the anergic T cell is doomed to wander throughout the body quietly, doing essentially nothing. So how do individuals, like T cells, become active and prepared to take on whatever health challenges comes their way? The answer lies in the fundamental basis of my blog: to provide a second signal called co-stimulation. Co-stimulation refers to the guiding signal that T cells must receive to strengthen their ability to do all the things a powerful, active T cell can do. The purpose of my blog is to help reverse the process of anergy in our community by getting us psyched up about the biology behind human health issues so that we can become active members of society and engaged in furthering scientific discovery.
  I began this blog out of my genuine interest in both research and science communication. Although still in its infancy, I feel empowered with every new visitor who reads my blog, and I believe it is succeeding as I have received much praise from the online community for my in-depth analysis of the latest research articles in the fields of immunology, human health, and disease. I strongly believe that my experience as a blogger has strengthened my career, my research, my quality of teaching, and perhaps most importantly, my confidence in my ability to achieve my ultimate goals. I would be truly honored to receive this award and believe that it will provide me with significant resources to help publish my research findings, travel to conferences, attend writing seminars, and ultimately enrich my communication skills within both the scientific and public communities."
I hope you will help advocate science communication and can help spread the word! 

Thank you for support, it is truly appreciated!

Heather Wilkins JS (2008). The roles, reasons and restrictions of science blogs. Trends in ecology & evolution, 23 (8), 411-3 PMID: 18597888