How do we science? / Science and Communication

UNderthC’s Year in Review

New YearIt has been a great year for UNdertheC! We have hit some exciting milestones and traveled to some great places. We are also excited to introduce two new bloggers and new plans we have for 2015. Thank you to everyone who has helped us have such a great year!

Blog Milestones

  • UNdertheC had its first birthday on October 10th! We started this blog with the intention of practicing our science communication skills and with the hope of making science interesting and accessible to a broad audience. This has been such a great experience for all of us and we hope all of our readers have enjoyed our posts so far!
  • UNderthC made Southern Fried Science‘s list of Top 5 New Ocean Blogs! We are so grateful for the support from Southern Fried Science as well as other prominent science bloggers/communicators including Sea Monster, Christie Wilcox of Discover’s Science Sushi,  Beneath the Waves Film Festival, and Ocean 180.
  • We have published 151 posts and have almost 20,000 views. 117 of these posts are from 2014 (as are most of the views)! We are looking forward to continued growth in 2015!


Top Posts

1.)  The lionfish ciguatera controversy: “Since lionfish invaded the Caribbean and Atlantic, there have been programs promoting the consumption of lionfish in an effort to control them. There have been lionfish cookouts following lionfish derbies, restaurants serving lionfish, and even fishermen selling and exporting lionfish filets.  But in 2012, Florida Sea Grant and the FDA found detectable levels of ciguatera toxins, or “CTX’s”, in lionfish samples. Have lionfish been promoted as food when they are actually unsafe to eat? A recent study explores the lionfish ciguatera controversy and finally provides some answers…”

giphy (4)2.) ‘Twas the night before Christmas (graduate student edition): “Last year, we brought you 12 Days of Marine Science Graduate Student Christmas. And this year, we’ve tackled the holidays again with our very own remix of a beloved children’s poem (with Christmas gifs, could you ask for more!). Best enjoyed with a mug of hot chocolate (or something stronger) and with this playing in the background…”

3.) The ‘Nature’ of scientific publishing: are high impact journals distorting the scientific process?: “A Nobel Prize winning biologist has announced a boycott of high impact journals such as Nature, Science, and Cell. When a Nobel Prize winner says something like that, people listen.  The question is really whether or not that stance is well founded. Randy Shekman, the Nobel winner in question, is the editor of an open access journal called e-Life, and is former editor-in-chief of PNAS (impact factor >8)…”



4.) “The sci-poetry of sleeping dinoflagellates”  Dinoflagellate; the combination of the Greek δῖνος/dinos, “whirling” and Latin flagellum, “whip, scourge.” I recently ran across a poem, written back in 2001 by a scientist named Mary Harrington who was in the midst of some phytoplankton research. She published her poem, transcribed below, in the Journal of Biological Rhythms. Science to follow!…”



5.) “Leaving academia: a perfectly reasonable option for science PhDs” “An interesting editorial appeared in the most recent issue of Nature entitled: There is life after academia. In it, the author points out that so called “alternative” careers are in fact the norm for science PhDs. The info-graphic below shows that about one half of one percent of all STEM PhD graduates end up as tenured professors. 0.45% of STEM PhD students end up as tenured professors. Do I need to say that  a third time? According to the Nature editorial, only 10% of biology PhD students end up as tenured profs. That is a very very small number. Ever wonder how many of us think that is our ultimate career goal?…”

Around the World with UNdertheC

*All links below link to articles written by us about our travels this year.

The UNdertheCblog team has been all around the US and the world this year!




Serena attended Science Online Oceans in Miami in late 2013. She carried the travel bug over to 2014 by attending ASLO Ocean Sciences in Hawaii, where she learned all about communicating science stories.






She also traveled to the UK to attend the International Marine Conservation Congress. In addition to all of this conference travel, Serena spent some time in Mexico doing fieldwork with the Bruno Lab.


Megan was on a trip to deploy a NOAA/ NWS monitoring buoy in the Atlantic (off the coast of North Carolina). Check this post for more on this video she took.

Kelsey zoomed up to Boston, MA for the awesome 2014 ComSciCon. She also went out to the Pacific to search for diatoms. If you want some background on what a scientist does at sea, check out her two great posts, here and here.


Kathleen moved from Chapel Hill to Beaufort, NC to start working on her MS fieldwork at UNC IMS. She had a busy summer working in the oyster reefs.

Kathleen hard at work

Kathleen hard at work

Justin did his share of traveling as well. He kicked off 2014 at Benthic Ecology Meeting in Jacksonville, FL. He then stayed at home to do some exciting work organizing the first annual SciREN Triangle outreach event before heading to Belize for coral reef and climate research in November.


The research team above a Siderastrea siderea colony. One of our target species.  (Credit: Joe Townsend)

(Credit: Joe Townsend)

Hello’s and Goodbye’s

We are growing! UNdertheC is gaining two new bloggers. JP Rippe and Alex Hounshell are joining the team. JP is a coral physiologist and Alex studies nitrogen cycling in estuaries. They are first year graduate students at UNC. Read more about them on our “About Us” page. Alex has already written for us once, but stay tuned for more content written by each of them!

Alex H Rippe1-2



We are also saying goodbye to one of the original UNdertheC co-founders. Serena defended her Master’s research and graduated from UNC in December. She will be starting an internship with CIEE Bonaire at the end of January. She will act as a teaching assistant and research mentor the coral reef ecology undergraduate study abroad program. We are sad to see her go, but excited to see where this year takes her! She isn’t leaving UNderthC completely, though, and will continue posting with us as much as she can.

New Plans for the New Year

UNdertheC is pleased to officially announce that we are launching a blog Instagram. We have been posting pictures off and on for a month or two now, but we will start posting consistent content starting in January. Follow us @underthecblog.

Several UNdertheC bloggers are active in other forms of outreach as well. Kelsey is helping run and organize the first ever ComSciCon satellite event this year. It will take place in Raleigh! Check out the website for more info. Justin has been helping organize SciREN events since summer. This year’s SciREN Coast will take place in early February at Pine Knoll Shores, NC. The 2015 SciREN Triangle event is still being planned, but it will take place in Raleigh sometime next fall. Stay tuned for more on that.

We also plan to start highlighting local scientists to give our readers a taste of the current research happening at UNC and other near-by institutions.

And, as always, if you would like to see more posts on certain topics, please let us know! We appreciate any feedback and you can contact us at underthecblog[at]

Cheers to a new year from UNdertheC!

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