Sunshine Blogger Award Q&A

I am thrilled to announce that this week I was nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award!! Also, there’s a wonderful irony that I’m nominated for the “sunshine” award when it’s been raining for three days straight.

The Sunshine Blogger Award is an award given to bloggers by other bloggers for writing positive, creative, and inspiring content. I am so honored to be considered for this award and humbled that people are reading my content and engaging with it!

I was nominated by the awesome women of the blog Seeking Science. Seeking Science is a collaborative blog run by four female science students, Roisin, Arzo, Madeeha, and Zarin, who specialize in science fields ranging from medicine, neuroscience, pharmacy, and animal biology/ecology. In their blog, you can learn about a wide variety of science and biology topics in a fun and engaging way.

The rules of the Sunshine Blogger Award are:

  1. Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you in their post and link back to their blog.
  2. Answer the 11 questions that the blogger(s) asked you.
  3. Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write 11 new questions for them to answer.
  4. List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.

Here are the questions posed to me by Seeking Science:

What is the meaning of the title of your blog?

I came up with the title ‘Illuminated Brain’ for several reasons. First, one way to image structures in the brain is to label proteins with antibodies. These antibodies are attached to a fluorescent tag that can be visualized when observed under a laser microscope. You can see the brain “light up” in the presence of that particular protein. As a visual learner, seeing my results in this way is not only asthetically beautiful, but also helped me understand what my data was showing. The second reason is more relatable. In cartoons whenever a character has a brilliant idea a lightbulb appears on their head. I wanted to tap into the universality of that imagery and the connotation it has to convey the theme of learning and communicating science.

Why did you start blogging?

I started blogging back in January 2018 as a start to my science communication journey. I love science, writing, and conveying my enthusiasm for science, and wanted to share my science knowledge with scientists and non-scientists alike.

How did you get interested in science?

I’ve been interested in science since I was a little kid. I was fortunate to have parents that supported my interest in science and provided me with books on the subject. I remember this one book about human anatomy that had each body system printed on a separate piece of clear paper. You could “add” each system by layering the pages on top of each other to see how the systems worked together in the body. I remember being so amazed by how the body works and wanted to learn more about it. I also had some amazing teachers in my life who’ve supported my interest in science.

What do you find the most rewarding and most challenging about blogging?

The most rewarding aspects of blogging include writing a piece that I feel good about and satisfied with, but also seeing people engaging with the content that I write. When people leave comments on the blog or on Twitter and Instagram, and we start to have a conversation about science, that’s my main goal. The most challenging part of blogging is staying on a schedule with a set deadline for posting while balancing graduate school and thesis writing. I’ve definitely learned different skills for time management in graduate school that has transfered over to my blog writing.

Where do you hope your blog will be in a year’s time?

In one year, I hope to have established a repertoire with people in both the science and non-science community. Besides gaining followers, I want my blog to have a wider reach to science-interested people who want to learn more about science. In this way, I want this blog to contribute knowlege to the community to increase scientific literacy and change the stereotypes of what people think about science and scientists. Starting in the next few months, my posts on this blog will also be featured on Life Omic,  a health blog that addresses health, nutrition fitness, dieting (and more!) based on scientific literature. I can’t wait to see where my blog will go in the future!

If you could visit any place in the world, where would it be and why?

If I could visit any place in the world I would go to Italy. In addition to learning and experiencing the history, culture, art, and eating my way through some amazing food, my father’s family is from Italy. I would love to trace back my family roots, discover their history, and potentially find distant relatives who still live there.

Would you rather go back in time or to the future? Why?

As much as I love Jurassic Park and would like to see a live triceratops, I would rather travel into the future. I’d love to be able to see the advancements our society will accomplish, and how the culture will change over time.

What is your favorite book of all time?

This is an especially difficult question because I read alot and have so many favorites. But the book that has had the most impact on me is Pride & Prejudice. When I was in highschool my aunt let me borrow the 2005 movie version of Pride & Prejudice and I was hooked. I watched twice in 24 hours, and the next day went to the mall to buy the book, the soundtrack, and the sheet music for piano. Reading Pride & Prejudice while listening to the soundtrack is one of the best relaxing experiences. Plus, this was the first book that introduced me to a wide variety of other authors in British literature.

Do you prefer Twitter or Instagram?

I am active on both Twiter and Instagram, but I think I prefer Twitter for the community aspect. I first started on Twitter as part of an assignment for a science writing class, but after I started following scientists and science communicators (and worked up the courage to have conversations with them) I realized what an amazing, supportive community exists online to share your ideas/work with other people.

What has been the most exciting thing to come out of your blogging experience so far?

The most exciting thing is the community of scientists, writers, and science communicators, and science-interested people that I’ve met on social media. Connecting with these people helps me better picture my “audience” when I write, and helps create a dialogue that is essential for two-way communication.

How do you stay motivated to keep blogging?

I love to write so that naturally drives me to keep blogging. If I come across a topic that I am particularly interested in learning more about or want to share my knowledge for a science fact or phenomena that’s realy cool, I’ll develop a post around that. Mostly, sharing science and watching people’s reactions when they learn about science for the first time keeps me excited about science and helps me stay motivated to keep blogging.

My 11 Questions:

  1. What is your favorite way to communicate in your field/area?
  2. How do you want to spend your time after you retire?
  3. What do you want to contribute to the world?
  4. What inspired you to start blogging?
  5. What do you wish other people knew about you?
  6. What is your favorite piece you’ve written and why?
  7. Who is your favorite modern-day writer?
  8. If you could be best friends with any famous person alive or dead, who would it be and why?
  9. What gets you through the writing process, boosts you up through writer’s block?
  10. What is your best way to practice self-care?
  11. Who are your three favorite bloggers that inspire you?

My nominations:

  1. HerStemStory– In Prasha’s blog and podcast, she aims to support and highlight women in STEM fields by sharing their stories and have them as guest contributors.
  2. WastefreePhD– Laura is a PhD student studying Civil and Environmental engineering, and her blog aims to raise awareness about waste and address scientific misconceptions about waste and the environment.
  3. Mr. Shaunak’s Little Bites of Science– In Aran’s blog, he covers various fun science facts and phenomena to excite and engage non-scientists and scientists alike.
  4. PhDtoSuccess– Teresa’s blog started out as a weightloss journey and then transformed into blog about her research in chemistry and graduate student life.
  5. SophTalksScience– Sophie is a PhD student studying stem cell biology who blogs about her research, science communication, and life as a graduate student.
  6. The Effortful Educator– Blake is a highschool AP Psychology teacher who writes about all things teaching and higher education.
  7. From The Labbench– Paige is a scientist, science communicator, and science writer, who conducts science communication research and writes about all things science.
  8. The Female Scientist– The Female Scientist is a collective blog that aims to feature guest posts from female scientists sharing their research and the real-life issues of women in science.
  9. In A Science World– Lisa is a recent graduate for her PhD in developmental physiology. She blogs about science, science communication, and graduate student life.
  10. Real Scientists– Real Scientists brings a wide variety of science to their readers from “real” scientists–basically anyone who is interested in science and curious about the world.
  11. Science Geekette– Hollie is an EngD student who writes about physics and is “unironically enthusiastic about science.”

Again, thank you to Seeking Science for nominating me for this award, and I hope you all learned a bit more about me and my inspiration for communicating science!

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