Easy-to-read bits of biology, other fun stuff

CorrespondentApril 19, 2010 

Meet Christie Wilcox, 24, a graduate student of cell and molecular biology at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu. Earlier this year, SciTech ran an excerpt from her blog; since then it was nominated as the Best Biology Blog of 2009 on ResearchBlogging.org and was acquired by Seed Media Group's prestigious ScienceBlogs.com.

Read the blog at scienceblogs.com/ observations/ . Wilcox tweets as @nerdychristie. Questions and answers were edited.

Q: How does the recent limelight feel?

I'm not used to it, but it feels pretty good! I don't blog for personal attention, I blog for a purpose, and it feels nice to be recognized when you do something well.

Q: You seem to have an intuitive feel for breaking down research for lay audiences. Where does this come from, or what (or who) has influenced your communications?

I break it down to that level so I can understand it! In my undergraduate studies, I often wrote to break down science papers, so writing is part of my learning process.

Q: Biology is a vast field. What are you most drawn to within it?

I love animals so I was originally drawn to animals as a larger organism, and then over time I became more and more drawn to their details - how the cells work, how their genes work. So I went from the macro-scale down to the tiny scale of cell biology.

Q: When the Chilean earthquake struck in February, your area of Hawaii was on alert for tsunamis. You tweeted live news and later blogged that the experience "made me into a citizen journalist." What does that phrase mean to you?

To me, it's someone who goes above and beyond the regular action of telling others what is going on around you to being responsible for the information you are imparting and having a level of duty to talk about what you are seeing. It's like you suddenly have an editor in your head, except you don't really.

Q: What's the focus of your research?

Right now I'm working on jellyfish venom biochemistry. But when I get more funding, I'm going to start working on lionfish venom and genetics. That's my pet project. I want to figure out what's going on biochemically with their venom, which is different than jellyfish venom.

T. DeLene Beeland: scwriter.db@gmail.com

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