Welcome to Telliamed Revisited

Welcome to my blog, Telliamed Revisited.  I’m an evolutionary biologist. I’ll write about evolutionary science – past, present, and perhaps future – and some of the goings-on in the life of a scientist.

Why am I starting this blog now?  One of my colleagues, Titus Brown, gave a great talk last week on “How to build an enduring online research presence using social networking and open science.” He made a compelling case for the value of social media for scientists that led me to take the plunge.  So on Friday I started tweeting as @RELenski … and here I am blogging.

Titus spoke at the annual meeting of the BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action.  The meeting was superb, so I used some of my first tweets to highlight events where I could point to on-line resources that should be useful to others who weren’t there.

I tweeted about a talk by MSU professor Jim Smith on the Evo-Ed project.  Jim and his colleagues assembled teaching materials about several in-depth studies of evolution.  Each case has been studied from several angles, so that students can get an integrated understanding of evolution and its relationship to what they learn in other courses.  The project site provides fact-filled sets of slides (which you can tailor to your needs) along with related games and simulations – for example, check out The Hungry Monkey game. And since all the information is there in the background material and slides, you won’t have to spend hours tracking down how an insertion mutation in the SBE1 gene leads to a change in the conversion of sugar to starch that, in turn, leads to wrinkled instead of round peas and how that phenotype affects taste and was selected by Neolithic farmers.

I also tweeted about an amazing film that was shown at the conference called the Ordinary Extraordinary Junco. Anyone with any interest in nature and science should see it – your kids, your students, your parents, your friends … and you. It can be downloaded as eight “chapters” from the website. The film was produced with NSF support by Indiana University professor Ellen Ketterson, who has spent many years studying the ecology, behavior, and evolution of juncos.  The film is about the birds and the scientists who study them, but it also conveys a great deal about human nature – from the engaging curiosity of the scientists to profound questions about whether those juncos are really all that different from us in their interactions with families and mates.

The sage Hillel the Elder asked:  “If I am not for myself, who will be? If I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?” This blog will often be about me and what interests me.  At the same time, I hope it will convey the excitement I find in the work of others. And as for when, now!

In a future post, I’ll explain this blog’s name …



Filed under Science

18 responses to “Welcome to Telliamed Revisited

  1. I’m SO pleased to see you blogging. I have always admired your combination of technical and philosophical thinking. I think that I (and a lot of other people) will learn a lot from this blog!

  2. This should be fun for you and for the rest of us!

  3. Welcome to the blog-o-sphere! I am excited to see you blogging, and look forward to keeping up with your posts. I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read of your academic work so far, and recently surveyed some that is relevant to understanding the structure of fitness landscapes. It’d be very happy to read a few introductory posts about your on-going E.Coli evolution, I want to see if I was far off the mark or not… Always hard to get oriented in the experimental work as a theorist.

    • Thanks, Artem! Lots to cover in a blog. I will certainly discuss the E. coli long-term evolution experiment (LTEE) at some point. Your recent post on fitness landscapes was also pointed out to me by a grad student who works jointly in computer science and in my lab.

  4. Pete Moulton

    Bookmark duly installed. I’m looking forward to this!

  5. This better be good!


  6. Awesome, I have been waiting for this moment ever since I read about how Dr. Lenski completely destroyed Schlafly and Conservapedia.

  7. Ermine!

    Marvelous! I too have been following the progress of your LTEE ever since I first stumbled across an article about it. (You started the experiment on my 20th birthday!) I too was in awe of your responses to Schafly and his acolytes – keep up the fantastic work! Now that you have a blog, I’ll be following you directly.

  8. Possibly your first Australian subscriber? Regardless, delighted at this news and looking forward to any and all updates.

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  10. Thanks to everyone for the kind welcome to the blogosphere!

  11. duffymeg

    I love that you’re blogging (and tweeting!) Welcome to the blogosphere!

  12. Interesting. It was after a conference in Chicago last year (Soil Metagenomics) which featured many speakers, including Titus Brown, with strong online presences (Twitter, wordpress, etc) that I decided to take the plunge, get with the times and get active online. Been interesting and worthwhile so far.


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  14. Elizabeth Ostrowski

    Great news – looking forward to reading your posts!