Fireside Science

Welcome to Fireside Science: SciFund Challenge’s Guide to Life, the Universe, and Everything!

I’m proud to introduce a new blog brought to you by a group of graduates of the first SciFund Outreach course. Our goal is to bring you stories from all corners of the world of science and engineering. As our sub-heading suggests, the majority of our contributors will explore topics in the life sciences such as cell biology, ecology, and herpetology, but we’ll mix things up with posts from writers of all disciplines, taking you from the microscopic world of DNA and cell biology, unraveling the mysteries of life, all the way to the farthest reaches of the universe with astrophysics, searching for a deeper understanding of the very spacetime we exist in.

For our first post, I’d like to introduce you to our contributors. Below I’ve listed some information about several of us (including myself, the rogue physicist of the bunch), such as topics that we are likely to blog about. However, since this is a new blog, we’d love to hear what YOU want us to write about. If you’re particularly interested in any of the topics below, let us know! Further, if there’s anything not listed below that you’ve always wanted to know more about, definitely ask us about it in the comments. Sometimes science can be a pretty small world, and if none of us are knowledgeable about what you’d like to hear more about, chances are one of us knows someone who is!

Thanks for reading, and welcome again to Fireside Science!


Bradly Alicea
Research Postdoc
Research Interests: Systems Biology, Brain and Behavior, Artificial Life, Evolutionary Theory, Complexity and Computation, Scientific Innovation
Other Possible Topics: open-source science, the cognition, culture, and ideology of scientific ideas, and the technical and philosophical concepts behind measurement, modeling, and technology more accessible to other domains of science
Other Info:
Personal Website:
Synthetic Daisies: profile:

Claudia Baider
Herbarium Officer
Research Interests: Conservation, invasive species, plant animal interactions, plant taxonomy
Other Possible Topics: field biology experiences, living in the forest, the daily life of a scientist
Other Info: Claudia likes to cook, especially trying new recipes, and she has a ‘wild’ cat (picked as tiny kitten in the forest).

Becky Bola
Postdoctoral Fellow, The Paterson Institute of Cancer Research in Manchester UK
Research Interests: Cell biology, Preclinical Pharmacology, more specifically apoptosis and metabolism (not the two together)
Other Possible Topics: cell migration and trafficking
Other Info: Becky has a little boy and loves sports, specifically TaeKwon-Do– in her spare time she runs a club!

Abby Buchwalter
Postdoctoral Fellow, The Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, CA, US
Research Interests: cell biology, specifically nuclear organization in normal / diseased / stem cells
Other Possible Topics: cell biology, stem cells, cancer, intra- and inter- cellular communication; science / culture / policy / education
Other Info: Abby loves microscopes, running, knitting, and peanut butter.

Frederik Feys
PhD student, Free University of Brussels, Belgium
Research Interests: placebo effect of health interventions
Other Possible Topics: role of expectancies on our health
Other Info: Frederik has two kids, plays guitar in a band, and loves walking in nature.

Ruth MacKinnon
Research Fellow at St Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne
Research Interests: chromosomes and genetics, especially in cancer
Other Possible Topics:genomics, cancer genomics, chromosomes, the life of a scientist (trials and triumphs), and background into some scientific discoveries.
Other Info:
Ruth has a blog about her research here
and can be found on twitter @ruthnmackinnon. Her main past-time is as a musician (bassoonist) in the Essendon Symphony Orchestra, and she has three kids, a dog, and two cats.

Lisa Regula Meyer
Instructor, Eastern Gateway Community College and Kent State
Research Interests: Invasive plant-Native amphibian interactions
Other Possible Topics: Invasive species, Amphibian ecology, Conservation, Education, Citizen science
Other Info: Writer of all sorts, educator, researcher, and parenting partner

Katharine Servidio
Graduate Research Assistant – University of Georgia/Coweeta LTER
Research Interests: Amphibians, trophic cascades, ecosystem function
Other Possible Topics: General herpetology, general entomology, trophic cascades, invasive species, Amphibian ecology & conservation, population dynamics, the life of a graduate student
Other Info: Katharine is a musician (brass quartet), an avid runner, and a reader of all things.

Barbara Shih
Research Associate at University of Manchester
Research Interests: Vitamin D, DNA damage, sun exposure, keloid and Dupuytren’s disease
Other Info: Barbara enjoys board games, video games, and drawing.

Jenna Walrath
Ph.D. Student, Dept. of Physics, University of Michigan
Research Interests: Solid state physics: nanostructured semiconductors, thermoelectric materials (a type of clean energy)
Other Possible Topics: Interesting work in any and all fields of physics: the search for new particles, dark energy, new states of matter, advances in applied physics such as clean energy research, medical physics, anything else that sounds cool
Other Info: Jenna has two cats and loves swing dancing, bowling, and yoga in her spare time. She can be found on twitter @petitrenard6.

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