April update: Science tattoos, teen bloggers, copywriting, and comics

It’s been a little quiet on the blog lately as I ploughed through a swathe of writing assignments and tried (only partly successfully) to stay clear of the Internet.

I have a couple of articles out later this year for the Australian science magazines ScienceWise and Australasian Science, profiling scientists who featured in Carl Zimmer’s book Science Ink. Carl uncovered the weird and wonderful world of researchers who have their work tattooed on their bodies after he spotted a DNA helix inked on the arm of a respected neurobiologist at a pool party in the States. This led to a great book collecting photos of striking, beautiful and downright bizarre science tattoos from around the world.

After I saw Carl speak at the New York Academy of Sciences in January, I got in touch with some of the Aussie and Kiwi scientists featured in his book. The people of Australia and New Zealand are reputed to be some of the most tattooed in the world, and I soon found myself entering a strange world of needles, ink, Bayesian equations, passionate disputes over the evolution of venom, and superheated plasma on the brink of fusion. You’ll be able to read more on Australia’s most inked and outspoken scientists in upcoming issues of ScienceWise and Australasian Science.

Discovering how Carl Zimmer crowdsourced his book via his blog for Discover magazine – asking scientists to send in images of their science tattoos – also inspired my upcoming workshops for teen bloggers in Australia. Blogs have revolutionised writing, allowing us to share thoughts, words and pictures from almost anywhere in the world, at any time. I’ll be helping young writers explore ways to express themselves online in a series of workshops for Australian schools and libraries this September.

Alongside the science, blogs and body art, I’ve also been writing for UK local government websites, turning bureaucratese into something poppier and more palatable. This got me geeking out about copywriting, so there’ll be some posts on that in the not-too-distant future.

Finally, there’s more coming from the world of comic books and education this summer. As Marvel’s The Avengers gives us the biggest Hollywood superhero movie to date, I’ll be looking deeper into how graphic novels, comics and cartoons can be used in the classroom and the community to boost literacy, provoke thought and empower learners. Watch out for more from me on this topic, in print and online.

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