Rob Denton

Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology

First publication from SciFund support

The reason I started this blog two years ago was to connect to those who helped fund my science through the SciFund Challenge. Crowdfunding has come a long way, even since then, and I hope that my funders have been able to check back time and again to see how my PhD is progressing. However, after the t-shirts were sent and the thank-yous were written, I haven’t shown much about the salamander for for which I was so graciously supported by a group of science-loving citizens. One thing that is difficult to appreciate about science: it takes a long time. Creating new […]

What I’ve learned about outreach

This past week was the last week of the first Scifund Online Outreach Class, in which more than a hundred scientists and educators from around the world got together to improve their outreach skills. I was excited to participate in the class, and ended up enjoying it more than I ever expected. My former advisor, Stephen Richter, identifying stream insects with local biology teachers. Science outreach is loosely defined as any activity that raises the public’s awareness of science. Unfortunately, that definition is a little too simplified. The “public” are a bunch of people: kindergartners, moms/dads, police, politicians, and retirees sitting on […]

Live slow and die old: why are we studying salamander cells?

The following post was written as part of a practice exercise for the Scifund Outreach Class. But it isn’t doing any good hidden away, so here you go:A few years ago, Ligers were all the rage. You remember Ligers don’t you? Here is a Liger looking right at you Ligers, of course, are the result of a mating between a lion and a tiger. I predict that the reason a hybrid animal like a Liger is so captivating to you and me is that it causes the imagination to run wild. You can’t help but think of wild combination of […]

NPR and the progress of science crowdfunding

As I was on the way to work this morning, I heard NPR’s science reporter Joe Palka doing a story about a very familiar theme: scientific crowdfunding. The impetus for this blog was my crowdfunding campaign from last year’s SciFund challenge, and has been only one example of how crowdfunding has affected my scientific career. I’ve had much more practice explaining why my research is interesting and important. I’ve learned how to incorporate principles of marketing and design into the way I present my work to other scientists and the public. The coolest perk of all? It has to be […]

SciFund Round 3: Jenn Hellmann

The SciFund challenge, a crowd funding experiment for science, is once again going strong this year. Since this blog started with my own SciFund campaign, it is only fitting that I use it to promote some of the fascinating research done by other students.This funding cycle, there are three other students in my department at Ohio State who are sharing their science with the world and looking for members of the public to participate with them. One of these students in Jenn Hellman.  Jenn looking for fish in all the wrong places. Jenn’s research centers around social networks in animals. […]

SciFund Facts and Figures

Year two of the SciFund Challenge officially ended last Thursday and I was lucky enough to meet my goal with time to spare. This year, 75 total projects raised $100,345.00 for scientific research, solely through soliciting donations from the public. I get pretty excited when I find a quarter, so I think that’s a lot of money. I’ve done my best to shower my donators with thanks, and I really do mean it. This was a neat experience that introduced me to crowdfunding and the details of advertising science to the public. I was amazed that I had folks donate […]

Salamander research featured on The Weekly Wienersmith

  Cool news! I got to talk about our salamander research on this week’s episode of Weekly Wienersmith, a really neat podcast about science. You can listen online or download here. The episode features the work of Dr. Ryan Earley at the University of Alabama. I got to meet Dr. Earley when he came to give a seminar at Ohio State in the winter, and he is one cool scientist. Check out his webpage for some fascinating research on the mangrove rivulus. Zach and Kelly are super nice and fun to talk to, so go to their webpage and give […]

SciFund Day 20

Just a few days ago, my SciFund project reached 100% of my goal thanks to some very generous folks. Unfortunately, I was preparing to leave for South Carolina and didn’t get a chance to properly document all of my gratitude.  Here are the folks who brought me to my goal and even pushed me over the top. I emailed everyone who I don’t already know and asked for some details that I could share. This is the result. Kari Bragg – Of course, my lovely mother chipped in to my project. Because she knows how much I love her, I […]

SciFund Day 7

It is day seven of the SciFund challenge and we are entering the marathon portion of the month. My project is still around 1/3 of the way to my goal after some generous donations from some family, some colleagues, and some folks I’ve never even met. Part of being a scientist that communicates with the public is challenging some common stereotypes, such as: I wear a white lab coat to work everyday, have crazy white hair, and laugh maniacally when I get an experiment to work. I have no personal skills. I only talk to other scientists and only speak […]

Plenty of thanks to give on SciFund day 3

SciFund Challenge Day 3 update: I’m now 32% ($511) on the way to my goal! I’ve got plenty of folks to thank from the last two days. Tim Earnest – Tim was my boss during my summer jobs as an undergrad and one of my groomsmen in my wedding. He told me that his oldest daughter wants to name their salamander “Glitter Shine” or “Tim Mannix”. Thanks Tim! Tim Mitchener and Kari Bragg – The first donations to come from family members! Thanks so much Mom and Tim! My Mom was the first to break the $100 barrier, so awesome. […]