Somehow I couldn’t get the New York Times to interview me for the exciting release of my new blog. So I decided to do it myself….bear with me.
Jessica (Interviewer): So what made you want to do a blog?
Jessica (Responder): I really enjoy doing research and I love Immunology. Being in the lab is great, but I also get a lot of satisfaction out of either writing about it or discussing it with people who aren’t exactly in my field. Those opportunities to effectively communicate what I know with others are times I feel accomplished and useful! I have also considered teaching as a career. And writing about the immune system on a weekly basis will help me to think up new ways to relate this complex system to students.
Jessica (I): So are students your target audience?
Jessica (R): Well I do hope that students read this blog and find it useful in understanding what they are learning. But I hope that the general public will also read.
Jessica (I): Why would the general public even care about the immune system?
Jessica (R): It’s such a cool system!!! There is so much going on with the immune system: different types of cells, ways they communicate, ways they get from one place to another, all of the foreign pathogens (those are things like viruses and bacteria and parasites) that it needs to protect us from. It has such a tough role of making sure to protect us from those pathogens but also protecting us from bad things that happen in our own bodies that aren’t foreign (think cancer). And if that wasn’t enough the immune system also need to recognize our own healthy tissue as safe and not something to be attacked. The immune system is kind of omnipresent….thus the blog’s name: Omnimmune. From the food we eat, to different diseases like diabetes and multiple sclerosis, to trauma, to heart attacks…the immune system is effecting all of those things. And that’s the point of this blog. To explore the immune system in all of these different processes.
Jessica (I): So the point is to explore the immune system in diseases? What else will readers learn from your blog?
Jessica (R): I’m planning on going off of what is in the news at the time. So Ebola is big in the news and that will be my first post. Describing what the immune system is doing during this infection and why it oftentimes can’t control it. ALS is in the news a lot too. That’s not really a disease that is associated with or caused by the immune system. But it’s there, and it’s definitely having an impact on those that have the disease. Immunology (the study of the immune system) is dense in the lingo so you’ll also find a page called “So much immuno lingo”. This will help readers to follow along if I start using jargon. I hope that there will be a wide spectrum of readers with different backgrounds in the sciences. So I will target the main post to readers without any biology background and have links to expand on ideas for those who are interested.
Jessica (I): Why should people trust you?
Jessica (R): Great question. I’ve had about ten years of training in Immunology and received my PhD in 2010 from the University of Rochester. A lot of the topics that I’ll be writing about aren’t exactly in my area of expertise. But I have the knowledge base to research them on my own and report back. Hopefully in a manner that will be easy for the reader to understand and relate to and fun at the same time.
Jessica (I): Do you have a life outside of science?
Jessica (R): Luckily yes….I mean it’s not the most exciting life in the world but it makes me happy! I’ve got a good base of friends here in St. Louis (and worldwide!!) that keep me busy. We’re just finishing up a beautiful summer and the weather was perfect for lots of outdoor concerts and movies in the park. I play volleyball once a week which has been really fun to get back into…thank you Maria! I do lots of yoga…mostly for the health benefits but it does relax me as well. I love reading fiction….I wish I was more of a nonfiction reader but they just don’t grab my attention all that often. I like to knit, and go to concerts, and travel (anyone wanna take me to Cambodia…or I’ll settle for the Caribbean?). I’m obviously a bit of a nerd as evidenced by the format of this first post and the blog topic in general. But I’ve embraced my nerdiness and you should embrace yours too! I have loved living in St. Louis after about 12 years away. My parents live here and my sister and her family are nearby. Great to be back by two crazy nieces and a nephew and watch them grow! And fun to explore a city that I grew up in with new adult eyes! Oh and I have a really fun dog named Huckleberry who is quite neurotic but oh so lovable!
Jessica (I): Anything else we should know?
Jessica (R): I think that’s about it for the blog. Check in weekly to look for new posts. I hope you enjoy it and would love to hear suggestions for things I should write about!