I’m a circadian and evolutionary biologist with a background in cell and molecular biology and zoology. I’m also a science communicator having worked and volunteered at ZSL London Zoo, the Science Museum, and the Royal Institution of Great Britain. I also have an interest in international development, especially the role of science and scientific industry in the development of Africa, and am involved with two charities who work in this area, TReNDinAfrica and AuthorAID.
The blog stems from a passion to communicate about what I love: science and the world around us. It allows me to practice writing, editing, and presenting, to improve my communication. I tend to write about stories that grab me – they don’t have to be headline health breakthroughs, they just have to peak the curiosity within me. Obscure topics have run through my research career and have been a central part of my interest in science on the whole. I think curiosity-driven science has an important role to play within our modern world. I hope that here I can tell you some of these obscure topics and stories and share some of the fascinating science that newspapers might not always pick up on. The website as a whole also allows me to practice web design. Though wordpress.com is not the fully functional website host its html editor does allow a lot of customisation, giving me a place to see what works best – what helps and what hinders getting my message across.
I have enjoyed science since a young age, but it is only in the later stages of education that I grew to love biology as a science. Through university I gradually focused on evolutionary biology, but still enjoyed subjects as distantly related as palaeontology and cell and developmental biology. I found another branch of biology to love after graduating, circadian biology, and did a PhD in an area where circadian biology and evolutionary biology collide – circadian rhythms in the Mexican blind cavefish. Though I didn’t immediately progress onto a post-doc, I still retain a keen interest in this area and continue to contribute to books, reviews and current research from outside the lab.
Keen for a new challenge, after my PhD I chose to explore an aspect of science I very much enjoyed and considered very important, science communication. Working in science communication was an eye-opening experience and taught me a lot about what ‘science’ means to most people. It showed me that what I think is the most fascinating thing in the world might not be so for many other people. It’s the role of science communicators to take all this brilliant stuff we find out about our world and mould it into something that people can engage with. Thanks to some really inventive science TV programmes and local science events (Science Showoff, Pint of Science and others), I think more and more people are getting a handle on science and what it means for them, allowing them to share in the wonder of discovery. Like many biologists, my love for the natural world and curiosity to discover was shaped by BBC natural history programmes. I hope this blog can play a part in peaking someone else’s interest in some area of science.
Another passion of mine is the role of science in development. I believe that a productive science and technology sector is crucial for sustainable development and key to this is increasing the capacity of local researchers. I am currently involved with two innovative organisations that work in this area: TReNDinAfrica and AuthorAID. I volunteer as a local coordinator for TReNDinAfrica, working to expand the existing programmes to new countries and have developed a course in a topic, science writing and communication. For AuthorAID I volunteer as a writing mentor and have two mentees in Ethiopia and Iran. We’ve worked together on a number of papers, and one of my proudest achievements to date was when one of my mentee’s papers was published. I’ve also written for the Planet Earth Institute on the role of science education in development. See #ScienceAfrica for more Africa and Science related news.
Follow me in real time on Twitter @DrBatmo