12th March 2018 – Shiz Aoki, National Geographic Magazine; Anatomize Studios

Shiz AokiShiz Aoki completed her graduate studies at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (in the Art as Applied to Medicine program) in Baltimore, MD. Combining her passion for science, art, and communication, she took her first job out of grad school as science illustrator with National Geographic Magazine in Washington, DC. Now based in Toronto, Canada, Shiz has continued to lead the science illustration efforts for National Geographic over the last 7 years, while also growing her own medical illustration practice at Anatomize Studios. Her team has won numerous global awards and was listed in both 2016 and 2017 Best American Infographics Books.

After turning away hundreds of scientists who couldn’t afford her services (and seeing the awful images that were being created in Powerpoint as a result), Shiz realized that there was a huge gap in the availability of resources for scientists to create their own images. She also noticed a growing distrust in science by the public, and realized the crucial role that effective images play in science communication. Over the last year, she has shifted her efforts from growing her client-base to leading efforts to democratize science illustration through a free DIY platform, empowering scientists to create their own professional images through a website called BioRender.io.

Shiz can be found on Twitter @ShizAoki and @BioRender tweeting about #SciComm, #womeninSTEM, #SciArt, and sharing everything she’s learned in the 10 years of visual scicomm into easy how-to tips to help improve the current state of science visualization. She is co-located in the Bay Area and will be tweeting out from both SF and Toronto where she will be giving talks in both cities.


5th March 2018 – Laura Treible, University of North Carolina Wilmington

Laura TreibleLaura is a 4th year PhD candidate in marine biology at UNC Wilmington. She obtained her BS in Environmental Science from the University of Delaware in 2010, and then an MS in Marine and Atmospheric Science from Stony Brook University in 2013. Her MS thesis work focused on ctenophores (comb jellies) in Long Island Sound, NY. This project involved quantifying the abundance and biomass of ctenophores and determining the relative importance of ctenophores to nutrient cycling within the estuary.

For her PhD, Laura is currently working on understanding drivers of global jellyfish populations and examining the response of early life stages of scyphozoan jellyfish (polyps and ephyrae) to various environmental conditions. Jellyfish are often claimed to be robust to environmental change, specifically factors such as such as temperature, hypoxia, and coastal acidification. The complex life cycle and short generation time of scyphozoans leads to the ability to answer questions regarding environmental stress and change. In general, Laura is interested in understanding how anthropogenic impacts and climate change interact and affect organisms and ecosystems at various temporal and spatial scales.

Laura can be found on Twitter @aqua_belle, tweeting about #jellyfish, #climatechange, #womeninSTEM, #scicomm, and trying to #pomodoro through the last year of her dissertation. While Laura is usually based in Wilmington, NC, she will be taking over @Biotweeps from KAUST (King Abdullah University of Science and Technology) in Saudi Arabia, where she is visiting to work with a coauthor.

26th February 2018 – Andrew Durso, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Utah State University

100px_amdAndrew Durso was born in New York and grew up catching snakes in North Carolina. He earned a B.S. in Ecology from the University of Georgia in 2009, an M.S. in Biology from Eastern Illinois University in 2011, and a Ph.D. in Ecology from Utah State University in 2016. He writes a blog about snakes called ‘Life is Short, but Snakes are Long’. He currently lives in Jena, Germany, where he works as a scientific editor for the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry.

19th February 2018 – Meghan Barrett – Drexel University

Meghan BarrettMeghan Barrett is a PhD student at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA. She studies arthropod neuroanatomy (a.k.a. bug brains), human and environmentally friendly pesticides, and bee diversity. Meghan is just getting started with her thesis work where she hopes to focus on the dimorphic males of the desert species Centris pallida (a beautiful, pale, fuzzy bee with huge ‘chaps’ on the legs).

Meghan is also earning her Masters in Undergraduate STEM Education through the Drexel PROFESS program, studying evidence-based techniques for teaching biology. In her ‘spare’ time, she enjoys pairing her love of science with her love of writing – she earned her B.S. in Biology and English/Creative Writing at SUNY Geneseo in New York. Meghan’s ecological poetry can be found on her website, meghan-barrett.com, right next to blog posts, a podcast interview, science articles, a bioethics play, and an interactive high-fantasy gamebook app.

The last of her time is spent kayaking/hiking/rock climbing with her fiancé, Alex, watching League of Legends eSports (her current favorite team in the world is Gigabyte Marines but TSM is obviously the best in the NALCS), playing with her cross-eyed cat, Nyx, and writing, then burying, her fiction novels.

Meghan is excited to talk about science in drama, insects, writing, and undergraduate STEM education on Biotweeps, and can’t wait to converse about all her favorite topics!

12th February 2018 – Adam Marcus, Emory University

Adam MarcusAdam Marcus, PhD is an Associate Professor in the Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology at the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University. Dr. Marcus’ laboratory (marcuslab.com) studies how cancers invade and metastasize, with the goal of developing treatments that target cancer metastasis. Dr. Marcus’ research has been funded by the National Cancer Institute, American Cancer Society, the Winship Cancer Institute, private foundations, and through philanthropy. Dr. Marcus is a former Georgia Cancer Coalition Scholar, has over 75 scientific publications, and has received national and local awards for his research and teaching.  He has given numerous seminars on his research to both scientists and the general public. He was a recent TEDx speaker (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LgntY0dOf_c) and part of the Atlanta Innovative Index and Atlanta 40under40. Dr. Marcus serves as the Director of the Emory Integrated Cellular Imaging Core (ici.emory.edu), which provides cutting-edge imaging technologies to scientific investigators, as well as Director of Graduate Studies for the Cancer Biology PhD program.

Dr. Marcus also leads a science education outreach program, Citizen Science HD (citizensciencehd.com). The goals of this program are to use STEM-based initiatives in K-12 classrooms to stimulate critical thinking, diversity, and enthusiasm for the sciences. This program has visited over 35 schools, 150 classrooms, and 3000 students. In this role, he serves as the Director of the Center for Advancing Health and Diversity through Citizen Science, which is funded through the NIH. Dr. Marcus has received institutional, regional, and national awards for his teaching, outreach, and research. He also is on Twitter and can be found at @notmadscientist

5th February 2018 – Morgan Jackson, University of Guelph

Morgan JacksonHi! I’m Morgan Jackson (@bioinfocus), and I’ll be your BioTweeps host for the week. To poorly paraphrase a classic Steve Miller Band song,

I’m an entomologist, I’m a taxonomist
I’m an educator, and I’m a science communicator
I do my research in a museum
I’m a PhD Candidate, I’m a father
I’m a terrible songwriter
and I want to share it all with you (woooooo woooooo).

I work in the University of Guelph Insect Collection on the taxonomy and systematics of flies. I’m fascinated by biodiversity, and have spent the last decade trying to figure out the identity, names, and relationships of species of stilt-legged flies (family Micropezidae) from around the world by spending most of my time either in front of a computer (aligning and analyzing DNA data) or in front of a microscope (aligning and analyzing morphological data). The species that I primarily work on are found throughout Central and South America, where they’ve gone largely unnoticed and unstudied. By giving them names and placing them onto the larger Tree of Life I hope to raise their profile (even just teeny, tiny bit) and allow other scientists and naturalists to observe, identify, and make new discoveries about their natural history, behaviour, and biology.

Most of my research is dependent on specimens archived and cared for in natural history museums around the world, and I’ve been lucky enough to visit dozens of collections to explore the hidden treasures they keep safe. Museums and natural history collections are my happy place, and I’m just as likely to geek out over cabinets and cases as I am the incredible biodiversity contained within them. Needless to say, I’m a big advocate for museums and natural history collections, and love reading about and sharing collections-based research.

So what are we going to talk about this week? All things entomological. Got a bug you want to know more about, or a photo of something you’ve seen but didn’t know what it was? Send it along and we’ll figure it out. Curious whether there are still species left to discover (spoiler: yes, plenty), or why taxonomists are constantly changing the names of species just as you’ve learned them? We’ll talk about all those things, plus how social media & smart phones are opening up new opportunities for natural history research. And seeing as I’m currently teaching the very university course that got me hooked on insects, expect to learn alongside my students as I prepare my lectures, and I’ll share my experiences as an early career scientist learning what it takes to plan, prepare, and teach a course that covers 50% of Earth’s known biodiversity.

Strap in and get those insect questions read; it’s gonna be a buggy ride!

29/01/18 Robin Hayward (University of Stirling)

Robin HaywardHello Biotweeps! I’m Robin, a first year PhD student in the department of Biological and Environmental Sciences at the University Of Stirling. My research focusses on the impacts of selective logging on rainforest flora in South East Asia and I am particularly interested in the way that tree communities regenerate following human disturbance. Because of this, I’ll be spending a lot of my time over the next few years either furiously reading journal articles or staring intently at saplings and seedlings in the Danum Valley Conservation Area in Malaysia. To follow along with that (there’s amazingly some wifi in rainforests now!) you can check out my everyday twitter account: @CanopyRobin.

Before starting this PhD I was based at the University of York for four years, where I studied for my Masters degree in Environmental Science. As you might imagine from the subject title, this was a pretty broad course but I quickly realised my passion lay in forests and was soon doing everything I could to pick all the forestry and ecology modules available. At the end of my first year, I also discovered the immense joy that is roped tree climbing and that (brilliantly!) this was a skill that could be used to conduct great research in an exciting environment high above the forest floor. Over the following year I got trained in canopy access, found a supervisor, planned a project, and conducted two months of epiphyte research in Indonesia, which eventually culminated in a Masters thesis and my first academic journal publication. I have been in love with the canopy ever since.

This week I want to chat with you all about these awesome subjects and the techniques involved in studying them but it would be great if we could also have some conversations about the slightly less academic side of academia. I want to talk about identity and inspiration within science and, having had the privilege of working with several school groups in the field, I’m also interested in discussing some of the difficulties and rewards of engaging with young people in settings well outside their usual comfort zone.

Hopefully we’ll all get to know each other a bit better as the week goes on so I’ll leave my bio at that. I can’t wait to get this conversation started!