Signals Blog

This is the second time I have travelled down to Raleigh, North Carolina to attend the annual ScienceOnline conference. Conferences generally conjure certain standard stereotypes and expectations (i.e. lots of listening to presentations given by thought leaders standing on a stage interspersed with lots of coffee and rushed  conversations during breaks), but I can say that as an “un-conference” this one also delivers the “un-expected”.  Chief among these is the realization that science communicators are geeks too. ScienceOnline is like ComiCon for science communicators, without the huge crowds or Star Trek costumes. But it does explore and expand boundaries (or frontiers, if  you’ll permit me to borrow again from Star Trek), whether by using crowdsourcing to identify session topics, or by the very fact that attending the conference is only one small part of the experience, which is also shared via livestreaming and the #sciox hashtag (this year it’s #scio14 and the volume of tweets puts it on the trending list each day of the conference).

Given that this post is a Right Turn (go to the bottom of this post if you don’t know what that means), and I just happen to be geeking out in Raleigh, I thought I’d share some images of posters created by the ScienceOnline scribe, Perrin Ireland. Her daunting job is to capture (livescribe) the themes and points of conversation made in some of the sessions, in real time. The beauty lies not just in her artistry, but in the fact that you didn’t have to attend the session to get a sense of what was discussed or to then ponder how it applies to your own practice. I’ve included three examples of her work from this conference, with thanks to Perrin for her permission.

scribe_gap scribe_literacyscribe_women

Our regular feature, Right Turn, showcases the “lighter” side of stem cells and regenerative medicine. Every Friday, we will bring you cartoons, photos, videos and other content that may be just as thought provoking as the written submissions that you are used to finding here, but they definitely won’t be blogs.

As always, we welcome your feedback and we also welcome suitable submissions. Be creative! Use the right (!) side of your brain. Make us laugh! Let’s see if we can make this new direction a positive one for all of us. Send your submission to info(at)


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Lisa Willemse

Lisa Willemse

Lisa is a science communicator with 15+ years' experience in the fields of regenerative medicine, child development and technology. She launched this blog (first as the Stem Cell Network Blog) in 2009, and served as co-editor until April 2015. She is currently the Senior Communications Advisor for the Ontario Institute for Regenerative Medicine and has recently contributed to Motherboard, Science Borealis and the Genome Alberta and Canadian Blood Services blogs. Follow her on Twitter and Medium @WillemseLA.