It’s not an uncommon question, particularly after a speaking engagement when folks learn this site isn’t underwritten by a secret society of cheerleaders-turned-science advocates or sponsored by Final Net etc. The contributors and I do this because 1) we enjoy it and 2) it’s our personal passion to turn people on to science/engineering, get people involved in citizen science projects, and create novel opportunities for “average” people to weigh in on major sci/tech policy discussions.
We also have “day jobs”: One of our writers has a PhD and works at the Department of Defense (Dr. Ohab also hosts Armed with Science). Nathan plays a key role in pushing engineering advancements out of the National Academies and into the public sphere. Stephen works at the Mind/Brain Institute at Johns Hopkins University while Sarah’s about to earn her PhD from UPenn in biochem and molecular biophysics (and she *just* got married!). Georgette, our newest addition, is a senior at UPenn majoring in Science, Technology and Society. We’ve yet to figure out what the skeptical cheerleader, Occam’s Razor, does all day besides daydream about cheerleaders and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Last, but not least, is my “project X” partner, Michael, who is a journalist and partner of a firm that helps major science publications transition to the web.
From time to time, I write for Discover Magazine but I spend more time in my role as senior advisor building collaborations to bring science to the public. For example, Discover is wrapping up the first of a multi-year partnership with the National Science Foundation I direct. The NSF sponsors a 7-part series of Discover round tables examining grand challenges of science and engineering, hosted by various museums and universities throughout the country. You can read about them in the magazine and online and view videos here. The NSF and Discover have extended the partnership to include a 4-part series on Capitol Hill titled “The Road to the New Energy Economy” and we’re working with the professional engineering societies IEEE and ASME to make this happen. The first event (June 18) took a sharp look at the scientific, political and economic challenges and opportunities surrounding BioFuels. The next one, July 16, will examine Energy Storage and two more will follow in September and October. I’ll post details here later. These events are free and open to the public. (Contact Events@discovermagazine.com if you’re interested in attending.) If you’re not able to attend the Capitol Hill events, no worries! The (very cool) summaries can be viewed here.