Featured Blog: Southern Fried Science

Andrew Thaler blogs about deep sea biology, mycology, and general science issues as the Southern Fried Scientist. By day, he is a graduate student studying deep sea biology at the Duke University Marine Lab.

David Shiffman aka Why Sharks Matter, is a graduate student in South Carolina studying shark conservation. He is the author of the upcoming book “Why Sharks Matter: Using New Environmentalism to Show The Economic And Ecological Importance of Sharks, The Threats They Face, and How You Can Help.”

Why do you blog?

Andrew: I started Southern Fried Science at the encouragement of my officemate, Kevin Zelnio, who writes at Deep Sea News. I started as a way to keep myself writing, but soon discovered a huge online community of science bloggers. I had the good fortune of going to ScienceOnline’09 early in my blogging career, and meeting all those dedicated, passionate science bloggers really helped inspire me to keep this thing going.

A few months later I invited my best friend from undergrad, also a marine biologist, to co-write the blog with me, so it’s been a great way to keep in touch.

David: I blog to educate the public about sharks, the valuable role they play in our oceans, threats they are facing, and how people can help.

What do you like most and least about blogging?

Andrew: My favorite thing about blogging is all the people I’ve been able to meet through the blog. My favorite moment was when a piece I had written about brewing beer at sea made it out to some friends in Antarctica, who then forwarded it back to me, having no idea I was the original author, with a “Hey Andrew, this seems right up your alley.”

The thing I like the least about blogging is having to constantly police the comments.

David: My most favorite thing about blogging, aside from getting to keep in touch with one of my best friends, is the public outreach. I’ve gotten to work with science teachers, NGO leaders, private businesses, the press, and members of the general public, which is something that all scientists strive for.

My least favorite thing about blogging is that the Internet seems to bring crazy people out of the woodwork, and sometimes a valuable and productive dialogue is hijacked by one or two extremists.

How has blogging changed how you write?

Andrew: I don’t know if blogging has changed how I write, it has made me more willing to discuss topics with a broader audience. Seeing how people respond to different posts has led me to realize how hard it is to communicate clearly.

How do you promote your blog and attract readers?

Andrew: I use networkedblogs on facebook, technorati, and, of course, the Nature Blog Network. I also tweet as @SFriedScientist.

Is there a story behind the name of your blog?

Andrew: A little known fact about the Southern Fried Scientist is before grad school, he spent a few years as a professional rock climbing guide. In North Carolina there’s an underground book (well, maybe not underground anymore) called Southern Fried Ice – which lists all the ice climbing sites in the southeast. When I was picking a blog name, I saw a copy of the book on my desk, and though, heh, that’s pretty cool. I like fried southern things.

Have you made new friends through blogging?

Andrew: I’ve definitely met new friends and contacts through blogging. For the most part, I think nature blogging as a whole is pretty disjointed, but there are groups that form around shared interests.

David: I, too, have made many new friends through blogging. When I travel to scientific conferences, I’ve been amazed to see how many people recognize me. I’ve also intentionally met up with a few people in the real world as a result of blog interactions.

Any words of wisdom for new nature bloggers?

Just write.

Contact information for Andrew Thaler:

Blog : Southern Fried Science

Email : southernfriedscientist at gmail dot com

Contact information for David Shiffman:

Blog : Southern Fried Science

Email : WhySharksMatter at gmail dot com

Facebook : David WhySharksMatter Shiffman


  1. August 17, 2009 at 10:54 AM | Permalink

    great interview. congrats guys!

  2. August 19, 2009 at 1:37 AM | Permalink

    great interview. congrats guys!

  3. September 2, 2009 at 8:23 AM | Permalink

    Hi, this seems like a well structured interview giving the reader some insight on blogging and the correct attitude to have when imparting facts & information to others, especially in a friendly or approachable manner. Thanks for the education :)