And You Are…? [Feeding the Meme]

By Carl Zimmer | July 5, 2010 9:45 pm

A couple years ago, Ed Yong, blogger/whippersnapper, asked his readers to describe themselves in a comment thread. It was a very successful experiment, one that many science bloggers have since replicated. Now Ed’s reviving the meme, which seems as good a time as any for me to join in (especially after a day so hot that my brain was parboiled inside my skull like some exotic delicacy). So, to quote from the memester:

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…who goes there? I’m curious.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: General, Link Love, Meta

Comments (64)

  1. My name is Stephen from Texas. My background is in education/literature/languages and I now serve as an administrator in a large elementary school. My interest in science comes from my desire to increase the quality of science teaching in school plus my hobby as an amateur wildlife and nature photographer, mostly birds. I discovered this blog through Twitter and I probably visit twice a month.

  2. I currently serve as the Community Liaison for Mendeley, a social sharing service for scientific literature. Most recently, I did assay development for Genalyte, a molecular diagnostics startup. My work involved developing protein, DNA, and small molecule assays on their novel high-throughput assay platform. I received my PhD from the Tulane University, where I studied under Dr. Darwin Prockop at the Tulane Center for Gene Therapy. My dissertation is entitled “Investigating the Role of Human Multipotent Mesenchymal Stromal Cells in the Repair of Bone”, in which I developed a model of multiple myeloma in mice and used it to test small molecule inhibitors of the interaction between multiple myeloma and bone precursor cells, promoting bone regeneration and repair of osteolytic lesions.

    I’ve always been interested in science. The first time I remember thinking about what I’d like to be when I grow up, I was reading an old Wired magazine issue about polymer science used to make prosthetics and I thought that was the coolest thing ever.

    I don’t remember how I came to the blog initially, but it was back when The Loom was on I’ve been following it a bit more closely recently since I had the great fortune to meet Carl and Jon Eisen at a tweetup after the American Society for Microbiology meeting. Our conversation was cut short due to parental duties that night, but hope to restart it again sometime soon.

    How can you improve it? Just keep blogging the science that interests you.

  3. I’m Margaret from Sydney, Australia. My career before I got to science has been varied. I started as a lawyer, became a writer (mainly screen-writing and stage) but after having a child, reassessed what mattered to me and how I should address it. And what really matters to me is biology and the natural world, particularly Australian flora and fauna, conservation, biodiversity and evolution. So I went back to university and hope to be starting my PhD in biology next year.

    As I recall, I first came to your blog while reading Microcosm (which I utterly adored!) and I now read every post thanks to my trusty Google Reader. The capacity to explain science to a lay audience is a great talent, and you have it in bucketloads, Carl. This is easily one of my favourite science blogs.

  4. khan

    I’m a retired cuberat in Ohio. Originally found you on ScienceBlogs.

    Your writings are just about the right level for me (not too simplified or overwhelming).

  5. I’m a biological anthropologist, and am interested in evolution and general themes pertaining to nature/nurture in phenotypic development and health. I’ve been coming here for a couple of months, but am not sure how the site could be improved. It’s great the way it is. Thanks.

  6. Fourth year grad student at USC studying Developmental Psychology. I do neuroimaging research of reading and dyslexia, and I also do research in animal cognition (which I also blog about – Been reading your blog for probably 3-4 years now. Something like that.

  7. I’m a 20 year-old university student from Australia doing a dual-degree In Science (Physics/Computer/Math) and Secondary Education. I’m currently a student teacher at a school with a large proportion of ESL students where I teach basic math and reading. I came across one of the Discover blogs a few weeks ago through Google Blog Search and subscribed to all of them with google reader immediately. They are both Interesting and Informative and in my opinion some of the best science blogs on the internet. I also have a blog myself where I talk about all sorts of things but mostly relating to Science, Education and Religion (I’m an Atheist).

  8. I am a blogger from Kentucky. I have a 31-year-old degree in psychology, but my work background is in media. I read about science because, well gee, it’s interesting. You don’t have to be a scientist to desire more knowledge about the world. Started reading this site before it moved to Discover, even before the Tattoo Emporium.

  9. My name’s Derrick, I’m currently an administrative support worker looking to move into advocacy/nonprofit work preferably related to science/skepticism, but mostly right now just blogging. *coughplugcough* Found you through the Skeptic’s Guide podcast a couple of years back.

  10. Gary U

    I’m lazily copying / pasting what I said over there.

    I’m a 46 yr old software developer in Cincinnati, OH (USA). I’ve always had an interest in learning new things, and most recently that “thing” was evolution. I don’t remember which blog I started following first, but I now follow quite a few (h/t to Carl Zimmer @ The Loom, and Phil Plait @ BadAstronomy), and not just evolution related.

  11. Tikirocks

    I’m 21 years old student in computer engineering. I live in USA/Mexico (live and study in the US but in vacation I stay in Mexico). I’ve been very interested in sciene since I was a child, and I came across to Discovery blog by searching about science and skepticism. I am curious about the world and I would like to other people to feel that same curiosity and skepticism and science is just the perfect tool (and the only tool) to do that. Saludos Amigos, keep the good work.

  12. I’m a professional mathematician. I think science is cool (always have) but don’t have much background in it. I’ve been reading this blog since one of my family members sent me a link to a post with videos on bat flight (because, well, I like bats). The blog is useful: I have some next-door-neighbor ducks and was able to sex one of them because I knew what the penis should look like, and because I learned that duck sex is regularly rape I knew to not herd a female duck back into the enclosure when she escaped but hung out nearby (and suspected that another female duck was chasing a male duck to tell him to stop trying to mount her or the other duck). Sometimes I relate a fact or idea from a blog post to my students, who are generally surprised and interested.

  13. I’ve been reading your blog for a few years now, I suppose, mostly following via syndicated feed over at LiveJournal. My undergrad work at the UTK studying with Bill Bass was focused on physical/forensic anthropology, but I also got a minor in biology, and greatly enjoyed classes in human anatomy, genetics, embryology, herpetology, and entomology. I ultimately opted for a masters in archaeology rather than going the med school / forensic pathology route, so over the years I’ve spent a lot of time pouring over skeletons, some human, some not. I’m fascinated by how we (and other species) are put together and function. And I’m just one of those people who likes to keep learning over the long term, so your blog’s a great way to feed that.

    In my present work as a manager for a land management agency in Alaska, I try to stay abreast of current science, because I want to make the best decisions based on sound science that I can for the resources in my care. Staying well-versed on a wide range of scientific research helps in that regard.

    I think the best thing to improve the blog is to continue what you’re doing: write for your own interests and passions when it comes to what’s happening in science, because following your own passions will make for the best, most engaging reading for your readers. Write about what you love, be yourself, and that enthusiasm comes through. Keep it up, and thanks for all the time you dedicate not just to the serious stuff, but to the fun stuff as well (I love the tattoo photos!).

  14. I’m a 50 yo physician who helps design decision support solutions (expert system sort of stuff) for use in patient care.

    I’m a geek. I’ve been reading and studying science all my life.

  15. My name is Meghan, and I’m a 26-year-old Texan. I live in Austin and work at the local newspaper. I studied journalism at the University of Texas, and my favorite stories to write were always about the school’s research. I don’t report or write anymore, but am more involved in copy editing and working with the paper’s website.

    My “involvement” in science primarily consists of reading the science sections of various news outlets; watching Nova, Discover and History Channel specials that appeal to me; and an addiction to WNYC’s RadioLab. I discovered this blog after hearing you on a RadioLab episode, though I can’t remember which. Being a journalist, I also avidly read your brother’s On Language columns.

    If you follow the link to my website, you’ll learn that I’m also a quilter (I wonder how many commenters will say that!). I really like the puzzle and mathematical aspects of quilting: figuring out measurements and drafting patterns.

    I think one of the best things about keeping up with science news and reading your blog is getting to learn about some of the new discoveries being made every day.

  16. Jude

    I’m a librarian from Colorado. I’ve been reading your blog since before it moved to Discover, which is why I have no idea how I found it. I’m not a scientist, but I gave birth to at least one botanist (my other two progeny are still in high school, so who knows what they’ll end up doing). I’ve also been a science fair judge for 13 years and I’ve led Cub Scout nature walks and end up taking one or two science courses a year, just for fun (e.g., spider biology). I love your blog. It’s in my top 20 list (out of over 400 subscriptions). Thus I think it needs no improvements.

  17. PhD student in evolutionary biology. I spend too much reading blogs, but at least mostly about evolution. Most importantly, I won The Tangled Bank in a webinar. While you do mention two other species definitions in chapter nine, my opinion is that you and most biologists focus too much on the biological species concept. I find arguments about species definitions tiresome. I’m often sen scaling walls and crushing ice.

  18. Andy I

    I’m Andy, a 46 y o software engineer from St Paul, MN.  I’ve been interested in science my whole life.  My recent interest came about when I read The Coming Plague by Laurie Garrett, about what science and public health has done for us over the last 60 years.

    About 10 years ago my sister gave me a copy of Peeps, by Scott Westerfeld. Reading about parasites was fascinating, so when the author suggested Parasite Rex, I was all over it.  I’ve since found your blog as well as several other books you have written.  Just this weekend I discovered my niece loves working with E coli in high school so I urged her and her parents to read Microcosm.  I also read and share the Parasite of the Day blog and MMWR articles with my sister, who got me started in the first place.

  19. Hello! I’m Jennifer, a gardener, beekeeper, beginning cyclist, urban hippy, etc! I work in education and that is definitely part of who I am.

    Currently I work for a community college managing the chemistry labs. Previously I was a paramedic and a chemist. I adore working in education. I love finding ways to make the labs more interactive, enjoyable, and approachable for our students. Seeing “my” students grow and progress through their classes makes me happy.

    Science is an interest into itself. I love working in Chemistry. My co-workers in the building (Biology, Physics, Astronomy) are excellent sources of conversation. As a train commuter I have the luxury of reading and pick up many science books. (I thought Microcosm was brilliant, by the way!) Like beekeeping, we have the duty to be ambassadors to our fields. So many people are scared of science. I love getting folks excited about science.

    I came to this blog via the the science tattoos! I thought they were amazing – total nerd rebellion art, and I loved the stories. When the blog was moved, I started reading both (of course!) I enjoy the thoughtful updates and look at the greater science world. I think you are talented as a writer, and I enjoy the witty and thoughtful write ups.

  20. Jim

    I’m Jim, 53yo Science and Math teacher in a small rural high school in Northern Nevada. I’ve been teaching for about 11 years. prior to that I was a Naval Officer. Long ago I was a Physics major, and science has always been a passion for me. I found your blog via the tattoo emporium, and stayed for the science. I read your blog and several others daily to stay current.

  21. Andrew

    I’m a 23 year old PhD student in molecular biology. I first became interested in evolution when I read Dawkin’s The Selfish Gene when I was young, and now research the genetic basis of evolutionary changes in stickleback fish.

    I found your blog through your New York Times articles and appearances (which I miss, although I understand your rationale for leaving). I’ve been following it for about a year.

    I love most your longer essays dissecting recently published papers such as the essays on Ardi, the Neanderthal genome, or gene resurrection. I recently bought Microcosm and am looking forward to reading it.

    I also love the tattoos!

  22. Keith

    I’m a database admin/analyst – formerly a programmer – working on software to test school kids online and produce reports for teachers on their progress and abilities. I can’t remember how I came upon your blog, though it was the original one at , though it was probably after viewing and reading some of Carl Buells ‘Olduvai George’ blog – sadly since suspended but you can view some of his work on flickr at – this one will be familiar to you all. I was drawn here by my purely acedemic interest in biology and specifically discussions about evolution. Last year I managed to get through not only ‘The Tangled Bank’ but also ‘The Greatest Show On Earth’, ‘Your Inner Fish’, ‘Why Evolution Is True’ and ‘Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters’.

  23. Ed

    I’m a blogger and whippersnapper and I’ve been reading this blog since shortly after the Cambrian explosion. It all started a few years back when, having reached the very end of the popular science bookshelf, I found a copy of an intriguing book called Parasite Rex. That book now sits on my favourites shelf and this blog has a pride of place in my RSS list. It’s the vivid imagery and linguistic shennanigans that keep me coming back.

    [CZ: Grrrr….very end of the bookshelf. Hey, Mister, Y’s not that far ahead of Z!]

  24. Amir

    I’m Amir an Israeli postdoc at Weizmann Institute of Science. I came across one of your books (microcosm) and had great time reading it. Googling your name got me reading your blog which I enjoy a lot. I also came across one of your blogs describing my research and was very flattered. I get regular updates through my google reader right along with all major scientific magazines. Finally, I think that the balance in your writing between “popular science” and “scientific science” is just about right (in contrast to most scientific blogging that focuses on popular science).

  25. I’m a Human Resources Manager for a collection agency in New York City. My B.A. in English from Occidental College overprepared me to write disciplinary warnings, company memos and monthly newsletters.

    I am also a tattoo blogger in NYC, an avocation that led me to The Loom via the Science Tattoo Emporium. Clicking my name will lead you to my site, Tattoosday. I sing high praise to the Emporium whenever I encounter scientific tattoos in my travels, like the supermarket checker I met this past weekend in Woodstock, with the symbol for Chlorine tattooed behind her ear.

  26. REVEALED! University professor and cartoonist. Half analytical, half artistic. I live my days with mathematics and my nights with funny drawings. My science interests lean toward the biological (today’s comic is representative) but with ancillary interests in just about anything.

  27. I’m a old-ish gardener, blogger and photographer who has been following your blogs and NYT articles since about 2001. I came across your site through my interest in biology and, more particularly, evolution. I have always appreciated how you make relatively complex scientific issues not only comprehensible but exciting. I have so far neglected reading your books, but I intend to amend that this summer. I think the only way to improve your blog would be to post less tattoo images and insert a few more with bugs!

  28. Dan Eastwood

    I’m a 46 year old biostatistician working at a medical college, doing stats for research. I think my original career choice as a child was “Mad Scientist”, and while I didn’t quite achieve that end, I’m very happy to participate in the scientific process. I blog about the mathematics of games and (occasionally) about the humorous aspects of science.

    I want a scientific tattoo for my 50th birthday – not sure I can get that one past the wife. 😉

  29. SteveC

    I am a 54 year old consulting hydrogeologist living on a small island off the coast of British Columbia. Have read most of your books, even the ones that are printed at what appears to be 8 point font!
    Been interested in science since I was a wee lad with a microscope. It was a tossup at Hofstra University whether to go into biology or geology but geology won by a $ margin and have been avidly reading biology since. Have been reading your blog for ages. I keep ten or twelve feeds on my Google science home page that change periodically but yours always stays near the top. Keep up the great work!

  30. Mary

    I’m a 22-year-old aspiring science journalist who enjoys Discover’s fantastic blog coverage. I’m a biological anthropologist by training, but am fascinated by all forms of science. I’ve learned a great deal already about how to better communicate science from you and your colleagues.

    Though I’m a new follower, I have already found a strong appreciation for your balanced approach. Your commentary far surpasses that of most science bloggers who simply regurgitate the week’s findings.

    I wouldn’t change anything — thanks for the great reading!

  31. Michelle

    I’m a 28-year-old science writer. Started as a computer engineer who did a lot of writing. Ended up a writer almost exclusively covering science. For the last year or so I’ve primarily been focused on infectious diseases, the human immune system and public health. Good times!

    I’ve been reading this blog for… well, I can’t exactly recall. Since long before its most recent move, at any rate. I first found it courtesy of Google after searching for your name, because you’re one of my favorite science writers. I’m not sure I have any useful suggestions for improving the blog, though, since I already adore it.

  32. I’m an ex-engineer, now children’s picture book author/artist- new to Twitter – writing a book with (red) tapeworms and whales in it- saw your blurb about having a tapeworm named after you: ‘sure to make me follow your blog…

  33. Steph

    I’m a 37 year old Business Analyst for a software firm. I’ve had a deep passion for science since I was six and declared to my Mom that I would be a paleontologist when I grew up. I spent 7 years as a docent at a Natural History museum before graduating high school. While my education and career choices have led me away from a science based career, I still find myself bringing strange rocks home. Daily, I read science news and blogs. I look for opportunities to share this passion with my kids. My husband teaches them about tools, computers, cars and other related things. I get to teach them about geology, biology, chemistry and the like. If there’s a spider, insect, or snake in the house, I’m the one to capture, discuss and release. My husband is a beekeeper and we’re finding the hives to be a great opportunity for our kids to learn about the natural world.

    I love _Parasite Rex_ and regularly recommend it. I greatly appreciate that you write in a manner which makes a complex topic understandable for those of us who are arm-chair scientists.

  34. Justin

    28-year-old university administrator at Stanford, preparing to start a graduate physiscal therapy program next year. My background is music and dance, but I’ve always been hooked on science.

  35. Melissa

    I’m a 33 year-old French Canadian mechanical engineer who always took more pleasure in pure science and mathematics than in technical issues. I stopped working a month ago to complete a master related with the uncertainties of error diagnostics in machine tools.

    I first read this blog after having been thrilled by Microcosm. The Tangled Band is my favorite bedside book and I plan to read Soul Made Flesh during my next vacation. Those kinds of readings have replaced novels for me as I find them now more fascinating than fiction – even if I once studied literature. Besides, since my daughter was born, I take a responsability in understanding the world we live in to be able to answer her questions.

    Your blog is like candy for me. No matter how busy I am, I almost never finish a day without reading your posts.

  36. Lawrence

    I’m an English teacher at a company in Germany. I’ve been reading popular science pretty avidly for about 16 years and I feel that Carl Zimmer has an accessible, entertaining style. I’m always pretty shocked how my (supposedly valuable and certainly expensive) education failed to tell me much about who we are, how we might function and how we might have got here. That’s “we” meaning me, ospreys, hookworms etc. At work I teach reasonably intelligent adults and I find non-contentious issues taken from current scientific research interest most people and lead to stimulating discussions but I would read this blog anyway even if it wasn’t related to my job.

    I think the blog is great. I asked Mr Zimmer a question a few weeks ago on the blog about an issue that wasn’t even related to his recent topics and he gave me a comprehensive answer almost immediately. I was well impressed with that.

  37. Tom Jones

    I’m 61 year old, recently retired, clinical lab supervisor with a BS in Microbiology and an MBA. I discovered your blog thanks to your talk at the recent American Society for Microbiology meeting in San Diego. My parents gave me a microscope when I was about nine years old, and reading Microbe Hunters not long after pushed me toward medical microbiology. An extraordinary microbiology professor I had at a local junior college pretty much sealed the deal. After almost 35 years on the clinical side of things, I’m spending more time now catching up on the research side, and trying to figure out a good way to help K-12 science education. I’ve acquired a few good quality microscopes and have begun giving talks and demos in microscopy, microbiology, and lab medicine to high schools in my area. I’ve been involved in a couple of National Lab Day projects so far with more to come. I think your blog will help me with those presentations. It’s a great blog!

  38. tcmJOE

    I’m 24 y/o grad student in sunny California who’s stumbled into doing acoustics research. I think I first found out about The Loom when some other ScienceBlogger linked to the first few photos that have now become the Tattoo Emporium. And now I’m a proud member:
    With all the fame and fortune that that has brought me.

    I stay because I’m very interested in science outreach and policy, and I secretly hope that they’ll clone you and create another Zimmer who will write about what’s going on in Math and Physics.

  39. I’m an evolutionary biologist writing a book on Darwinian Agriculture and doing experiments on plant-microbe cooperation. But you knew that.

  40. I am a PhD student in Immunology at Weill Cornell in NYC, focusing on a cell type called the macrophage and how they get activated by different signals from within and outside the body. I had the fortune of hearing your lecture in the “NYC Skeptics” series at Rockefeller University a couple of years ago and I have been a frequent visitor to your blog ever since then. I was inspired by the lecture as well as by many of the blog posts and other articles I have read here because they deal with a wide variety of scientific subjects and often show the interconnectedness of all the different fields. As someone who works on the biology of a single molecule in a single cell type in the immune system, I often feel like I get lost of the miniscule details. Your posts and articles remind me of the big picture and give me a wider perspective, which I find so important to keep in mind no matter how detailed a subject I study in the lab.

  41. I’m just an average guy, but I was converted from Mormonism to Atheism by the things I learned reading your book “evolution: the triumph of an idea” I started following your blog after that as a way to keep tabs on the guy who did more than anyone else to enlighten me.

    For my full deconversion story, click my link.

  42. Who am I? I keep asking that question and get a different answer. I’m from the Pacific NW, where I was a cook and then studied interdisciplinary humanities. I worked in theater and moved to San Francisco, where I did a master’s in music and got interested in science. Now I’m living in London and studying medicine.

    I was scared of science because of the math, but then read a book on chaos theory which helped me overcome my calculophobia, and read as many sci-non-fi books as I could get my hands on. Dating a molecular biologist gave me the confidence to go back to college and start all over, and now I am a scientist through and through. Medicine is less scientific than I thought, though I still love it.

    I don’t remember how I found your blog, perhaps through google reader recommendations. Parasite Rex has been on my wishlist for too long, and I also recently subscribed to your podcast. My podcast listening is in remission until my exams are over, so I can’t say more about it. I enjoy your photos of tattoos, and keep wanting to send in my sleeve of diatoms. Not sure how it could be improved, as I appreciate the balance of short posts and longer essays.

  43. 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?

    I’m an elementary school librarian who blogs about reading and critical thinking. I have always been interested in science and science popularizers from Carl Sagan on and have many scientist and skeptical friends. (However, one of them is a parasitologist who will not let me read Parasite Rex. She’s an expert on t. cruzi and seemed miffed about that book for some reason. But I loved the other ones I’ve read and have the ones I have yet to read in my To Be Read stack!)

    I don’t know how long I’ve been reading your blog exactly but well before you moved to Discover. I love it and can’t think of any way to improve it. Thanks!

    [CZ: Thanks. Send your parasitologist to me and read Parasite Rex for yourself!]

  44. Zack

    I’m a 25 year old high school drop out living in rural Wyoming. I’ve been absolutely enamored with everything scientific all my life. Didn’t finish school due to issues with depression, which I’m still battling unfortunately. Started reading your blog after I read your book Parasite Rex, which I saw when It first came out at my local library. Yours is one of about fifty blogs I have subscribed to using an RSS reader on my smartphone. I spend many hours per day reading blog entries, and news stories. I spend many more hours per day learning about the topics these entries cover.

    As far as my involvement with science, it’s strictly amateur. I go hiking, fishing, or fossil hunting at least once a week. I’ve identified most species of organisms (especially ants) that I come across . I’ve got a large collection of fossils, including a legally owned gar fish I found on private property. My telescope sees more starlight than my body can stay awake for. My thoughts are consistently focused on the natural world.

  45. Jac

    Literature and Language graduate, worker in the education industry, currently caring for Aged P (91); live at the edge of the Pennines. I read.

    I grew up surrounded by chemists and engineers, so perversely pursued literature and languages yet kept a broad reading interest. I like writers who engage in new ideas or new ways of looking at things and write well while they are doing it.

    I found this blog through Twitter and appreciate it because of the above and because I enjoy the quirks you pass on (opera; tattoos; and isn’t ‘The Loved One’ an understated gem?).

    I also follow The Language Log, CERN, Darwin Evolution, Jack of Kent, Thomas Palley and others. I find yours is one of the sites that provides an antidote to the tediously smug orthodoxy of most journalism. Thank you.

    ‘But well to say and so to mean,/ That sweet accord is seldom seen.’ (Wyatt)

  46. gaddeswarup

    I am a retired mathematician (low dimensional topolgy, geometric group theory) and have been living in Australia since 1988. I have always been interested in science but did not keep up with many of the developments. In my younger days I was attracted by the power of abstract thinking but now I find that poverty bothers me and am trying to keep in touch with developments in the subcontinent where I had some touch with real things.
    I noticed your blog off and on in Science Blogs and felt that there was passion and modesty in the posts and the author was developing in to one of the best communicators of science topics.

  47. ted

    I’m a NYC book fanatic. Spent 25 years as a theatre and opera director and teacher. Now I’m getting a PhD in neuroscience and neuropsychology. I’m generally interested in top-down phenomena and am specifically studying basic visual processing in autism spectrum disorder. I love writing about science for the lay-reader and am particularly concerned about how the public receives its information about science, but not when I read you. I blog too at

  48. Uncle Ebeneezer

    I’m a 36 year old musician and I just happen to find science (particularly evolution) fascinating. I am a frequent watcher/commenter at where I first saw Carl do a great discussion on Parasites (so impressive that I got my band to write a song called Ampulex Compressa):
    and have been a fan of his books and blog ever since. I have read many popular science writers in recent years (George Johnson, Neil Shubin, Phil Plait, Stephen Pinker etc.) and I put CZ way up at the top of the list. He is one of the best at taking some very tough subjects and “dumbing them down” for the rest of us and tying everything together in a coherent and poetic way.

  49. Susan

    When my dad was laid-off for a while and I was about four years old he would take me to the zoo every Tuesday which was the day with free admission. It got me hooked on nature. I am presently an unemployed science teacher (a bit of a shock to be unemployed but also a bit of an adventure.) I can’t remember when I started reading The Loom but I know that it has moved twice since I started reading it. It has been an invaluable source for biological curiosities with stories that can be made into to quick lessons for high school biology on the fly. The emerald green sea slug, tasmanian devils, Ardi, and the Cordyceps fungus are just a few of the biological wonders that have made it into lessons. I don’t know that The Loom needs improving. What ever inspires you to post seems to inspire readers also.

  50. I’m a 49 year old writer/blogger, raising 3 teenagers, having SO MUCH FUN with their erratic brain development so I developed an interest in science with a sociological, behavioral, and physiological bent. There is so much to know, so many interconnected ideas. I’ve been reading your blog for a year or two, love your wife’s gardening blog too. My 17 year old is very knowledgeable, thru self-paced reading and research online, about the biology of transcendence, which also interests me. I think kids have their finger on the pulse of the next evolutionary period, where we’re all one human tribe, not fractured into self-preserving nation states…

  51. I’m a post-doc working on various aspects of “next-gen” sequence analysis. I did my graduate work studying phylogenetics and comparative genomics. As a practicing scientist I tend to get bogged down in the particulars of my work, and I sometimes forget to think about the incredible stories that got me interested in Biology in the first place. This is one of the places I go to read and enjoy science.

    It’s sometimes hard to find popular science writing that isn’t so over-generalized or full of mistakes that I can stand reading it, so it’s a great pleasure to read things that get it right (or at least right enough that I can’t tell the difference). I most enjoy the articles/stories, clicking-through to read them when necessary.

  52. John Kwok

    Am a former evolutionary biologist who studied invertebrate paleobiology and evolutionary ecology in graduate school and have published research in public health in collaboration with others. Am in the midst now of revising an unpublished near future novel that could be viewed as both alternative history and post-cyberpunk fiction (Won’t say anything more except to note that a young book publicist told me once that what I was writing was “William Gibson meets the McCourts”. Will only confess that, indeed, Gibson is one of my favorite writers, but whether he is more of a favorite than Frank McCourt – who was my high school creative writing teacher – I plead the Fifth.). Another of my favorite writers is of course, you, Carl, but I will note that I haven’t had time to read everything you’ve written and hope I’ll find time soon to read “The Tangled Bank” ( but have to purchase a copy first). Can’t think of anyone more thoughtful or more skillful as a science journalist who has conveyed so successfully the excitement and knowledge of current research in evolutionary biology.

  53. Diane

    Stephen J. Gould’s books got me excited about science and evolution. He made eloquent arguments against creationism, and that led me to the skeptic community and to “armchair science.” Carl, I love your books. Microcosm is one I have read many times, and Parasite Rex was wonderfully skeevy. I love science books that can deftly take a subject, even arcance technical ones, and convey the information, the coolness and the intellectual excitement to the lay reader without dumbing down the material.

  54. Greg Peterson

    I’m nearly 50, live in Minnesota, been working in health care communications for about 20 years. I have a life-long love of science and was lucky enough to have parents who supported that love, providing me a microscrope and dissecting set and chemistry set at a young age, all of the “How and Why Wonder Books” I wanted, trips to the library, and a couple of trips to the Florida Keys where I feel deeply in love with marine life. Coming close to high school graduation I applied to and was accepted by a Florida college (I forget which one now) and planned a career in marine biology. I had even gotten a couple of pre-reqs out of the way, including my scuba certification.

    And then I had the misfortune of having a radical conversion to a fundamentalist brand of Christianity that pushed creationism and was deeply suspicious of science. I felt “called into the ministry” and attended an evangelical school in St. Paul and got degrees in journalism, sociology, and biblical studies. I wandered around in the wilderness of evangelicalism for about two decades and then gradual came to a place of skepticism and suspicion, started reading more widely and talking to more people of diverse views and regained my love of science and reason, which had gone into hybernation but had not died.

    Carl, one of the reasons you have a loyal fan in me is that among the first biology-themed books I read during that period of burgeoning questioning was “At the Water’s Edge,” and it was extremely useful to me in helping to understand evolution. To be clear, accepting evolution was not responsible in any way for my “losing my faith.” Evolution just provided a satisfying–much, much MORE satisfying–explanation for many things ones I had already decided that much about my faith had been untenable.

    And that experience with that book has kept me interested in your output, even when you’ve covered topics of less immediacy to me (“Sould Made Flesh” seemed like a fine book…just wasn’t my thing, really). I am most impressed at the amount of new material you are constantly creating for a variety of media, and the way you stay on the cutting edge of discoveries and provide laypersons like me access to some of the brightest and most interesting minds around.

    I hope to do some more science writing someday (some of my health writing has come close, but it’s not exactly what I have in mind for myself ultimately) and knowing that you, technically a non-scientist, can produce clear communications that scientists themselves respect is an inspiration to me.

    So that’s me in a nutshell, and a summary of why you can find me poppinging in here every other day or so to peek around.

  55. karen

    Karen from Ireland. Followed most your writings after reading the excellent Parasite Rex. Decided to go back to college to study ecology after doing an arts degree. Im about to start a PhD in parasitology, so that worked out pretty well!

  56. I’m a news reporter turned science writer, free lancing for a number of magazines and national radio on my side of the world – and in my own small lingual niche.
    I’ve been an follower of Zimmer’s since about 2006, and I must confess to stealing a few ideas and themes from these posts. Always interesting and superbly well-informed, but what I like best is the writing. CZ, like myself, is a writer and not a scientist, and that makes a lot of difference.
    I try to keep up, but of course it’s impossible. If you can read swedish, take a look at my website. If not, you can just enjoy the layout and the exotic spelling.

  57. Lauri Törmä

    My name is Lauri Törmä and I’m from Finland. I have always been interested in science but little over a year ago I read Dawkin’s Blind watchmaker and something just struck me. I wanted to learn more about biology and fossils and I started reading lots of books and searching information from the internet. I read At the water’s edge last summer and I wanted to know more about the author and thats how I found this blog.

    I’m going to army next Monday and in 2011 I’m going to start my studies in biology in University of Turku.

  58. Cedric

    I’m a 30 years old engineer in a software company. I come from France but currently live and work in Japan. I love reading and learning about new things in astronomy, biology, physics, mathematics, psychology, history… and any Terry Pratchett stuff.
    I love your blog because it has what makes science reading interesting to me: exciting things to think about, new concepts that give the WOW effect yet does not dwell on details that I would not understand. The feeling reminds me of when I was a kid going through the dinosaur books, looking at the illustrations.
    Oh and I also have two wonderful kids and play in a punk underground Tokyo band. 😉

  59. Faibsz

    I work with a clinical database in London.
    Came to your blog five (?) years ago after picking up, by chance, a copy of ‘Evolution’ in a library while waiting for rain to stop.
    It is one of my top three science (and not only) blogs; always interesting and very well written.

    Can’t think how the blog can be improved. Perhaps, by a parallel translation into Biblical Hebrew (another hobby, along with popular science reading).

  60. Roy Marsden

    Found the blog when searching for articles about ‘The Hobbit’ in Flores. Been hooked ever since and bought some of your books.

    Went in the wrong direction at university and soon after – ended up in the world of finance. So now do conservation weeks when I can (which mostly have involved killing the wrong plants in the wrong place) and 2 ‘expeditions’ (Earthwatch in Argentina, Biosphere Expeditions in Slovakia)assisting scientists in mammal studies (pampas foxes/wild cats and wolves/lynx respectively.

  61. jdmimic

    I’m Joe and I teach anatomy in Arkansas’s one and only medical school. I am also, as far as I know, Arkansas’s only currently employed paleontologist (sadly, my state is woefully bereft of dinosaurs with the exception of one sad little foot). I started reading this blog several months ago after I learned of it from Ed Yong’s blog. The reason I came to the site was because I also read Parasite Rex and loved it. I group my books by subject, not alphabetically, so your book has a prominent place right in the middle of the shelf over my desk.

  62. I am a PhD student studying deep sea microbiology. I am 28 years old, and used to be a middle school science teacher. I have started blogging and following blogs over the last year, and yours is one of my favorites. I am passionate about scientists communicating their science more effectively to non-scientists and scientists in different disciplines, and blogging is a way that I try to practice and improve my communication skills.


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The Loom

A blog about life, past and future. Written by DISCOVER contributing editor and columnist Carl Zimmer.

About Carl Zimmer

Carl Zimmer writes about science regularly for The New York Times and magazines such as DISCOVER, which also hosts his blog, The LoomHe is the author of 12 books, the most recent of which is Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed.


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