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ScienceOnline2012 around the corner

If you didn’t already know this, ScienceOnline2012 will take place Jan. 19-21, 2012 at N.C. State Univeristy. Find details at

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June 30 event at NC Museum: Wild life of our bodies

If you participated in the belly-button swab at ScienceOnline2011, and you live in the Triangle, you’ll want to attend this event later this month. It’s to be hosted by the NC Museum of Natural Sciences, one of our new partners for ScienceOnline2011.

Museum to host award-winning author of “The Wild Life of Our Bodies”

Join popular science writer Rob Dunn for a lecture based on his new book, The Wild Life of Our Bodies: Predators, Parasites, and Partners That Shape Who We Are Today (HarperCollins, 2011), in which he uses the principles of evolutionary ecology to illustrate how humans have become increasingly disconnected from nature and are sicker because of it. The lecture and signing will be held at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences on Thursday, June 30, 7-9pm.

Dunn will be joined by other scientists who will discuss topics ranging from “The Secret Life of Termites” to “The Ecology and Evolution of Bedbugs and Roaches” to “The Top Ten Monsters on Your Backyard Flowers.”

Prior to the lectures, from 5:30 to 7pm, come meet a variety of scientists and discuss their findings on research ranging from bedbugs and forehead mites to owls and hawks. Or have your belly button sampled for bacteria as part of one of the most popular citizen science projects around. Light fare plus beer and wine will also be available for purchase.

Dunn is an ecologist in the Department of Biology at North Carolina State University where he studies the global distribution of life and how it is changing as we change the world. He also authored the award-winning book “Every Living Thing” as well as articles for National Geographic, Natural History, Seed, Scientific American and National Wildlife magazines.

The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, located at 11 West Jones Street in downtown Raleigh, documents and interprets the natural history of the state of through exhibits, research, collections, publications and educational programming. Visit us online at Hours: Monday-Saturday, 9am-5pm and Sunday, 12-5pm. General admission is free. The Museum is an agency of the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Dee Freeman, Secretary.

Everyone’s invited. Hope to see you there.

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ScienceOnline2012 to grow into new venue at NC State University

There’s gracious and very useful feedback about ScienceOnline2011 still coming in — the feedback form is open for two more days before we have to close it to write our final report — the blog and media coverage page is seemingly a mile long, the program suggestions page on the ScienceOnline2012 wiki is growing longer, and all the continued online discussions have us eager to start thinking about next year.

So why wait.

We’re delighted to announce that ScienceOnline2012, the sixth annual NC science blogging (and more) conference, will take place Jan. 19-21, 2012 at the McKimmon Conference & Training Center of North Carolina State University. The countdown is on at

Special thanks to Matt Shipman and Keith Nichols at NC State for helping to arrange this new venue for the conference, which will give us plenty of space to grow and allow more scientists, educators, students, bloggers and journalists to attend.

No matter how big we grow, though, know that we’ll keep true to the character of this conference, finding creative ways to facilitate connections that lead to conversations, conversations that lead to networks, networks that support communities, all in the name of promoting science and our understanding of the worlds around us.

In the coming weeks, we’ll put out a call for volunteers to help us plan ScienceOnline2012. Get your creative juices flowing, add them to the wiki, write your own blog entries about what would make ScienceOnline2012 the best conference ever, and tell your friends that Raleigh, NC in January is the place to be for a darn good time.

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They made ScienceOnline2011 possible

It’s time again to write the wrap-up post that reflects the amazing convergence of ideas, efforts, resources and funds that made the annual ScienceOnline conference possible. ScienceOnline2011, the fifth annual conference, was the biggest, longest and most intense yet, and so this will be our longest thank-you post. (We thanked the sponsors of ScienceOnline2010 here, ScienceOnline’09 here, the second event here and the first event here.)

ScienceOnline2011 almost didn’t happen.

Our fourth annual conference, ScienceOnline2010, was a resounding success in January 2010, but the months after were hard on both me and Bora. As I mentioned in the opening remarks (prezi here and video here and here), we each had personal and professional challenges that lasted into the summer — baby and a new job for me, Pepsigate and new job for Bora. We put conference planning on the back burner, and wondered if we’d really have the time and energy to devote to this ongoing volunteer project (a “labor of love” we called it last year, and repeat this year with even more pride and satisfaction).

October came, and we couldn’t resist the gravitational pull of ScienceOnline2011. This time around, we pledged to each other, we’d do it differently, by delegating key responsibilities to others, raising funds differently, and making the event not only bigger but more polished. Our goal remained the same: facilitate a meeting in which online conversations could be continued face to face, thereby helping to build the greater community of science communicators, educators, journalists and researchers.

Let the long list of blog and media coverage serve as record that that community, and the BlogTogether spirit, is strong and thriving. Ed Yong was one of the first to publish a post-event report, Scattered reflections on Science Online 2011 (#scio11), and when we read this:

It gave us a chance to take relationships that had begun on a screen and cement them in the flesh. It allowed us to trade ideas with like-minded people, and to gaze deeply into our navels so that we can do better at the things we love. As someone said on Twitter, it’s more like a family reunion than a conference.

we knew that the idea we’d conceived over coffee one day in 2006, and nurtured in the years since with chats over coffee or slivovitz or via late-night gchat, was real. Real because of the 293 people who participated on site — with hundreds if not thousands more taking part on Twitter and in the livestreamed sessions. Real because sponsors and volunteers and discussion leaders and keynote speakers and our spouses — we love you Erin and Catharine! — and so many others are committed to coming together to share, explore, question, listen and narrate in order to reflect the importance of science in our lives and how the Web can be used to share our passions for science.

Spend an hour or two reading through the #scio11 posts, or listening to their voices in this podcast from Alok Jha, and you can’t help but be amazed by the intelligence and thoughtfulness and politeness of our community. Thank you, one and all.

Please give us your feedback so we can make ScienceOnline2012 even better.

Special thanks goes to the following individuals and organizations who helped sustain this conference. Please thank them for making ScienceOnline2011 possible — click through to their sites to learn more about each person or organization.

Our hosts
Sigma Xi was founded in 1886 to honor excellence in scientific investigation and encourage a sense of companionship and cooperation among researchers in all fields of science and engineering. For the fourth year in a row, Sigma Xi opened its beautiful center for our use, and Meg Murphy made sure we felt at home.

Research Triangle Foundation, the granddaddy of science parks in the U.S., has been a friend to the conference for a few years now (they helped us even our accounts with a last-minute grant for 2009). Once again, RTP hosted our opening reception and keynote talk, this year by Robert Krulwich; the tasty beer and Pearse Lyons Reserve whiskey was provided by AlltechCara Rousseau and her colleagues also helped us stuff the grab bags of science swag.

Our institutional partner
The Contemporary Science Center is a catalyst for transforming science education in North Carolina, using innovative models of teaching and learning to inspire teachers and students statewide to embrace scientific engagement. Like last year, CSC Executive Director Pamela Blizzard enthusiastically agreed to help by handling our accounting (as individuals, Bora and I can’t accept foundation grants and donations). Her center is based in a hands-on learning lab in the building of our ScienceOnline’09 institutional partner, the Museum of Life and Science, and it’s a perfect place to encourage high school students to get the science bug.

Our sponsors
Because of the year-long online excitement about ScienceOnline2011, we were able to attract repeat and new sponsors who generously helped us grow the conference. These sponsors included the following:

Burroughs Wellcome Fund, an independent private foundation dedicated to advancing the biomedical sciences by supporting research and other scientific and educational activities, repeated its support of our conference for the fifth year in a row, and also offered an additional $5000 if we could find a matching donor. That match offer helped us attract a major grant from the National Association of Science Writers, which, combined with a grant from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, publisher of Science Magazine and EurekAlert!, (at double its 2010 level) made our dream of livestreaming our sessions a reality. Our thanks to Nancy Shute, Tinsley Davis and Robin Lloyd of NASW, Stewart Wills of AAAS (he also brought t-shirts for the giveaway table), and, as always, to our friend Russ Campbell, BWFund communications officer — we continue to be indebted to him for his cheerleading for our annual conference and his leadership in forming the Science Communicators of North Carolina (along with scientist and science writer Chris Brodie and science radio host Ernie Hood).

Science In the Triangle is an evolving experiment in community science journalism and scientific-community organizing, and the crew behind SITT was again instrumental in helping us make ScienceOnline2011 a much more professional endeavor, with a nicely designed program and donor poster designed by Tessa Perrien, the conference iPhone and Android apps programmed by Ben Schell, video support by Ross Maloney, and of course the strategic consulting by Christopher Perrien. Sabine Vollmer and DeLene Beeland, contributors to the SITT blog, also provided some great coverage of the conference in addition to their posts about science in this region.

Public Library of Science, which has been with us since the beginning, provided a grant to pay for the Friday books-and-beer happy hour at Casbah, where we served locally brewed beer by Triangle Brewing (cask-conditioned ale!) Fullsteam and LoneRider BrewingNature kicked in a grant to help pay for the Greenway biodiesel-fueled bus that shuttled us from the hotel. At the happy hour, everyone got a book by one of 25 authors in attendance (a list of publishers donating books is below). Then, we spread out among nine restaurants in Durham’s Brightleaf Square District for group dinners.

Juniper Networks is a high-performance network infrastructure company, and a first-time sponsor of the conference. Carter Kersh has been following our growth for years, and he helped Juniper become our first named sponsor for ScienceOnline2011 with a very generous cash grant.

Creative Commons is familiar to many of us for its dedication to making it easier for people to share and build upon the work of others, consistent with the rules of copyright. Thanks to John Wilbanks for providing a generous cash grant.

Thermo Fisher Scientific is a corporate leader in serving science, enabling its customers to make the world healthier, cleaner and safer. Keith Bisogno liked what he heard about the conference and provided a cash grant. He’s also looking for a freelancer to take on a social media project; contact Anton for more information about this opportunity.

Chemical & Engineering News, a weekly magazine published by the American Chemical Society with a blog network of its own, provided a grant to pay for custom-printed Field Notes notebooks — two of these went into each of the swag bags, and about 600 of the notebooks will go to North Carolina high school students engaging in science projects.

The U.S. Environmental Protetion Agency, which protects human health and the environment, provided a cash grant and welcomed a group for a tour of its RTP labs.

Sigma Aldrich, a leading life science and high technology company, provided a cash grant and swag for the bags, including the magic-8 cubes.

RTI International, one of the world’s leading independent, nonprofit research and development organizations, returned as a sponsor, and Patrick Gibbons has already pledged support for ScienceOnline2012!

APCO Worldwide is a communications and public affairs consulting agency; David Wescott is their rep in the Triangle, and he’s been a strong supporter of the conference.

The National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, which facilitates broadly synthetic research to address fundamental questions in evolutionary biology, repeated as a sponsor by providing travel grants to two contest winners (learn more here).

The North Carolina Biotechnology Center, which seeks to provide long-term economic and societal benefits to North Carolina by supporting biotechnology research, business and education statewide, was back for the fourth time with with a biotechnology event sponsorship grant, this year pegged to the wifi support.

CrossRef promotes the development and cooperative use of new and innovative technologies to speed and facilitate scholarly research. They were a sponsor of the 2008  and 2010 conferences, and returned this year with another cash grant.

North Carolina Sea Grant, which provides research, education and outreach opportunities relating to current issues affecting the North Carolina coast and its communities, once again provided a cash grant, arranged by Katie Mosher.

Science lab and museum tours

On Friday, Counter Culture Coffee welcomed a group to their weekly coffee cupping, and we sent groups for lab tours hosted by the Duke Lemur Center and Duke Forest (thank you to Karl Bates for facilitating these), Nasher Museum of ArtNC Museum of Natural Sciences, EPA, Golden LEAF Biomanufacturing Training & Education Center, UNC TV and the Aquarium at Fort Fisher. Thank you to Nancy Shepherd, Russ Campbell and Ernie Hood for coordinating the lab tours.

Main program
On Saturday and Sunday, more than 100 individuals participated as session moderators, discussion leaders and demonstration presenters. Without them, there would be no ScienceOnline, and we thank them for their program suggestions, ideas and proposals. See the official ScienceOnline2011 program page or download the program PDF to understand how these individuals provided their experiences as a way to spark the session conversations.

The generosity of our sponsors, noted above, also helped us pay for boosted wifi at Sigma Xi on Saturday and Sunday, again provided by SignalShare. We can’t say enough about the service SignalShare provided — and not just the great wifi coverage that allowed us to use more than 50 gigabytes of bandwidth in less than 48 hours. Last year, we described Joe Costanzo as “talented, hard working and simply the nicest guy we’ve met.” Same this year. Joe, monitoring Twitter and seeing that we had a stranded attendee back at the hotel, even jumped up from his computer at one point to retrieve the person. And Joe found the talented video crew that ran the livestreaming, including our new friend, Ken Waagner.

Many thanks also to Duke Clinical Research Institute for loaning us five laptop computers, and to Andrea Novicki of the Duke Center for Instructional Technology for bringing cable locks to secure the laptops (a formality, since our attendees have got to be the nicest, most trustworthy people around).

Saturday’s banquet at the Marriott RTP, our main conference hotel, was a blast because of the passion and charisma of Meg Lowman, director of the Nature Research Center, and science comedian Brian Malow. They gave two funny, informative and memorable performances. Joanne Manaster and Carin Bondar also gave us the Film Fest awards.

Free books, and the grab bag of science swag
Karyn Traphagen (note the ‘y’) sent word to us early on that she wanted to help, so we asked if she’d take on the books and swag project. And did she — Sultan of Swag indeed! Karyn took the conference to a new level, working closely with the 30 science book authors (2010 and 2011 titles) among the registrants to get loads of free books from their publishers. The Friday night books-and-beer happy hour at Casbah showcased Karyn’s creativity and hard work, with everything from stacks of kraft paper-wrapped books to the #scio11 logo cutouts in paper luminaries to the fold-up author maps to the author readings on stage. (btw, the blame for mixing a happy hour and author readings falls on Anton; your feedback is telling us not to mix the two next year, and we learned the lesson.)

Books (see Karyn’s Authors posts) were donated by:

Karyn also spent countless hours providing graphic design services, including refining the ScienceOnline2011 logo (and that on top of many hours that Fabiana Kubke spent rebuilding the logo) and tweaking sundry other items.

And then Karyn was also coordinating the “grab bag of science swag.” The VIVO Network provide cash so we could order imprinted cotton tote bags from the Cloth Bag Company, and Karyn figured out how to fill it with all kinds of fun and cool science materials and resources, often coming up with creative ways for donors to be represented (Carl Zimmer gummy brains, anyone?).

Organizations, companies and individuals donated loads of materials for the bags:  Ryan Somma (300 copies of his book, Clones), Joseph Hewitt (300 copies of 2010: The Year in Science Blogging), Brookhaven National Laboratory, Grand Central (Kirshenbalm!), Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, Birchbark Studio, Dryad, ThinkGeek (Annoy-a-tron!), Zygote Games, MemexPlexDuke Medicine, Bronto, Scientific American, Mendeley, Central Science, Nature, American Scientist, NC Sea Grant, Dexy, Sigma Aldrich, NCSE, Geological Society of America, Scott Huler, Glendon Mellow, Mental Floss, Gotham Books, NASW, Jason Goldman, and others.

T-shirts were provided by Duke University, PLoS and AAAS.

Meanwhile, Jason Goldman and a slew of reviewers put in many hours to pare the 900 entries to Open Lab 2010 down to the final 50 posts, six poems and a cartoon. We’re all eager to get our hands on the finished anthology.

Logistics and our volunteers
This year, we delegated the important role of logistics and volunteer coordinator to Dawn Crawford, a self-proclaimed social media maven who lived up to her Twitter moniker, SocMediaRckStar. She was awesome, and relieved the burden on Anton and Bora. Thank you, Dawn, for your leadership.

Our volunteer corps included Evelyn Lynge, Jennie Orr, Anna Lena Phillips, Gloria Lloyd, Doug Johnston, Allie WilkinsonRyan ShalleySteve DiggsDipika KohliMaria Droujkova, Zach Byrd and Charles Yelton. Others helped out throughout the weekend, stuffing the grab bags, offering rides (thank you Fenella Saunders!), organizing the giveaway tables, keeping us on track, cleaning up and much more. Thank you to you all.

Food and coffee
Meals and refreshments were catered by the following: Fetzko Coffees kept us swimming in coffee and espresso drinks with their cool Kona Chameleon coffee truck, Crumb baked the morning muffins, Saladelia Cafe and Mediterranean Deli catered the lunches, OnlyBurgerSlippin Sliders and Parlez-Vouz Crepe brought their food trucks, and A Cookie a Day made the fun science cookies.

The organizers
And now I turn back to my friend, Bora Zivkovic, who continues to amaze me with his energy, insight, humility and dedication to the community. He is both the inspiration for the annual conference and the around-the-clock heart of the event’s online and off-line activities; he organized the program after many months of brainstorming with our session discussion leaders, and blogged continuously to let the world know what we had planned. I’m proud of him for his working so tirelessly to become an expert on science blogging, and doing it in a way that every single person coming to ScienceOnline2011 wanted to start their weekend with a hug from Bora. He’s one of a kind.

Last, but certainly not least, we thank Catharine Zivkovic and Erin Shaughnessy Zuiker and our children for their forebearance, patience and support as we organized this conference.

And with that, we thank each and every one of you for your roles, big and small, in making this a most memorable conference. A toast of slivovitz — or that Kevin Zelnio aquavit, if you were lucky to get some — to you!

See you at ScienceOnline2012.

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Stats about our attendees

Some charts about the nearly 300 people who attended ScienceOnline2011 (click on them to see them move):

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ScienceOnline2011 final program in PDF

Download the scio11_program_FINAL here.

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Lodging information update

The primary hotel, and site of the Friday workshops and Saturday banquet, is the Marriott at Research Triangle Park.

Rates for single or double occupancy rooms are $95/night plus applicable taxes and include in-room Internet access. To reserve your room — you’ll need a credit card — call 1-919-941-6200 or 1-800-228-9290 and identify yourself as an attendee of ScienceOnline2011. Reserve rooms online with the group code ‘socsoca’.

I was at the hotel today, and I think you’ll like it. Doesn’t hurt that the bar/restaurant is called Newton’s, and with an apple logo.

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Look who’s coming to ScienceOnline2011

Registration for the conference is now closed (but we have a waitlist).

See a list of who will be attending ScienceOnline2011 at the Look who’s coming page.

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Reduced registration fees

We heard a bit of feedback about the registration fees and the barriers for attending the conference that the higher prices might create for many of you.

Through the years, we’ve worked hard to make this event as inclusive as possible — the BlogTogether spirit that undergirds the conference is dedicated to facilitating conversations among a diverse community (we’re the rare science-related conference to have gender parity, for example).

For our past conferences, we were fortunate to get support from local and national organizations, foundations and corporations. We’re introducing our sponsors on the conference website, and still lining up additional sponsors, so please help us make connections to potential donors.

Your registration fees are important, too, and help us provide the good food, great support, transportation and session discussion leaders that will make ScienceOnline2011 a memorable experience.

We have decreased the registration fees to the following levels:

  • Conference pass — $149
  • Student pass — $50 — from high school to graduate school
  • Saturday banquet — $50
  • Good Samaritan Option — donate additional funds to cover a student’s registration or help the conference in another way.

We will reserve 10 spots for volunteers, so if you can’t afford the registration fee, fill out this form for a chance to attend the conference free as a volunteer.

Registration will open Wed, Nov 10 at 12noon EST (this is also a change, to allow West Coasters a chance to register). There are a limited number of seats, so don’t delay in registering.

Don’t hesitate to share any other feedback, and please check the conference website later this week to review the conference program so you can begin to prepare your contributions to the many conversations at ScienceOnline2011.

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Registration update: opens Nov 10 at 10am EST

Thank for you for your continued interest and patience as we pull together details for ScienceOnline2011. Here’s an update:


  • The conference will kick off with a reception and keynote address at the Research Triangle Park headquarters on the evening of Thurs, Jan 13.
  • Friday morning will be dedicated to tours of science labs and museums around the Triangle. In the afternoon, we’ll convene at the Marriott RTP (where we have reserved a block of rooms for out-of-town visitors; rates and reservation codes will be posted on the website Nov 10) for workshops and demonstrations. In the evening, we’ll have buses to take you to group dinners at some of our best restaurants in this region.
  • Saturday we’ll be at the Sigma Xi Center for a full day of sessions. We’ll have a banquet dinner at the Marriott.
  • Sunday we’ll be at the Sigma Xi Center for sessions, closing around 3pm.

Please note that, while we had intended to find a new, larger venue for the conference, we will remain at Sigma Xi (in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina) this year, meaning that we will have space for 300 individuals — but we are making plans to livestream and/or record all of the sessions.

Your session proposals and ideas posted on the planning wiki will be organized into a program and posted Nov. 10.

Registration will open Wed., Nov. 10 at 10am EST on the Register page.

Note also that this year we will require the following registration fees, paid by credit card or PayPal at time of registration:

  • Conference pass plus banquet dinner: $250
  • Conference pass without banquet dinner: $200
  • Student pass: $100

Again, thanks for your enthusiasm for this conference. We’re excited as ever to spend a few days with you exploring science on the Web. Watch the website, @scienceblogging and your inbox for future updates.

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