Blogroll: The human element

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Editor’s note: As we continue to invite bloggers out there in the wild to compose our monthly Blogroll column, Vittorio Saggiomo penned the April 2014 column.


Chemists are people too.

What is behind that amazing paper you just read? A great idea, hard work and, possibly, good writing skills. But that’s only a small part of the story. That paper is soaked (hopefully metaphorically) with the blood, sweat and tears of the postdocs and students who have worked tirelessly on the project. Beneath that aseptically written scientific paper there is an army of young researchers for many of whom their daily job is an emotional rollercoaster. From the excitement of a good result, to the umpteenth failed experiment and the depression of a rejection.

Many researchers can relate to the feelings of doubt, anxiety and stress shared by Beth Haas who blogs at Casual Science. Beth’s words “I am good at what I do, and I am so very lucky to do something I love” should be engraved in every fumehood, to be gazed upon when dark periods descend. Dr. K. of Trockeneisbombe offers her point of view on work-life balance, which is that putting your life on hold is definitely not a good idea; friends and hobbies are important. And the one-year-old blog post from See Arr Oh at Just Like Cooking about the mental toll of grad school should be required reading for all researchers working in academia.

And finally, the fight against chemophobia continues in the blogosphere. ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’ is perhaps nowadays better expressed as ‘infographics are worth a thousand words’. James Kennedy‘s poster on chemicals in an all-natural banana has gone viral, reaching the mainstream media. Other eye-catching infographics can be seen on the blog Compound Interest, ranging from the chemistry of smartphones to chocolate.

Written by Vittorio Saggiomo, who blogs at


[As mentioned in this post, we’re posting the monthly blogroll column here on the Sceptical Chymist. This is the April 2014 article]

Stu Cantrill

Chief Editor, Nature Chemistry, Springer Nature