Jonathan Eisen, PhD

Today we have another post in our Get To Know a Scienceblogger series.

Jonathan Eisen is a professor at the Genome Center at the University of California (UC), Davis and holds appointments in the Department of Evolution and Ecology in the College of Biological Sciences and Medical Microbiology and Immunology in the School of Medicine.  In addition to his research, Dr. Eisen is also a vocal advocate for “open access” to scientific publications and is the Academic Editor-in-Chief of PLoS Biology. He is also an active and award-winning blogger/microblogger at The Tree of Life and on Twitter.  You can learn more about him here.  The info in this biography and the picture at left have been taken from Jonathan’s blog, which uses a Creative Commons Attribution License.



What is the topic of your blog?

Many threads woven together

Open science and open access to scientific literature

Microbiology and microbial diversity

Genomics and evolution


What was your primary reason for starting a blog?

Sharing with others fun things I was doing — got sick of sending out lots of email messages and wanted a better way to share …


How often do you post, and roughly how much time goes into each post?

Varies – no system.  I post when I have time and have something interesting to post about.  Maybe 2-3 x / week.  Some posts take five minutes some take 4 hours …


How do you fit in time for social networking?

I view it as a fundamental part of my job as a scientist and an educator.  I use social networking to follow the literature, to do outreach, to communicate with colleagues, etc.


Have there been any benefits to blogging, either personally or professionally?

Lots. See for more detail [Travis’ Note: It’s a fantastic list of benefits including increased collaboration, reduced travel, and grant success – definitely worth clicking through]


Have there been any downsides to blogging, either personally or professionally?

#1 issue is when I write something that is too obnoxious and regret it later.  I have done this maybe 3-4 times and have learned to try and write about ideas without criticizing individual people too much.


What piece of advice would you give other scientists in your situation who are considering moving into social media?

Don’t be afraid.  Spend as much time or as little time as you want on this.  These systems are tools, no more or no less.  You decided how to use them just like you decide how to use a microscope.  But like a microscope they can be really useful – so consider experimenting with them.


What have been the most effective ways of promoting your blog?

Twitter …


Were you surprised by anything blog related, either good or bad?

Not really … it’s all pretty straightforward.  Main surprise I guess is how many people read my blog …


Any other information that you think people would find useful?

Blogs, twitter, facebook, etc are all just computer programs.  They are neither good nor bad.  They can be used well or poorly.

Thanks Jonathan!