Meet the Editors: Shelly Fan

We are featuring short interviews with each of our editors, so that you can get to know those folks who are responsible for highlighting your posts each week as editors’ selections. For the last in our series, meet Shelly Fan.

Hello! Let’s start with first things first. Where are you from, what do you do how did you get into science?

I'm originally from China, but I grew up in Belgium, the US and Canada. It's such a simple question but difficult to answer. ;)

I'm currently finishing up my PhD in Neuroscience at the University of British Columbia. For my thesis project I looked at ways to eliminate disease-causing proteins with custom designed molecules. The goal of the project was to develop something that clinicians may eventually use on human patients, but of course that's still a ways off.

Growing up I was generally more interested in the arts than sciences, but I did find biology absolutely fascinating! Every biological process is like a delicate, well orchestrated machine and every molecule in our bodies has its own "life story" waiting to be uncovered. I went into Pharmacy for my undergraduate degree and the rest is history.

What is the name of your blog and why did you choose that name – what does it mean?

My blog is Neurorexia, which is quite the mouthful. The word combines "neuro" with "orexia" (appetite), so to me it means an appetite for neuroscience. When I first started blogging it was mostly on eating disorders-related research (including anorexia), so that had some influence on picking the name as well.

How did you get into science blogging and science writing? What were the early influences on you regarding your blogging style and topics?

I first started blogging because I was/am a terrible writer and I wanted to get better at writing. I also love talking about new research and my friends/housemates were tired of hearing me ramble non-stop so I turned to the internet instead. Another reason was that as a scientist you tend to focus on areas related to your research, but there's so much cool stuff out there and I wanted to push myself to read more.

The great Scicurious strongly influenced me when I first started out. I love her wit, her humour and her astute take on scientific research. Plus she's one of the nicest people I know.

What is your blog about? Who is your target audience, and why do you think people should read your blog?

I focus mostly on new research in neuroscience, although once in a while I foray into the interplay between diet, exercise, health and the gut microbiome as well. I picture my audience as curious people who want to know more about neuroscience (without the hype) and with a high-school level understanding of basic biology. I tend to cover research papers more in depth than other blogs so if you like a play-by-play breakdown of how the scientists designed and conducted the experiments then Neurorexia is the blog for you.

How do you spend your time when you're not doing science or science blogging? Any interesting hobbies?

Not doing science or science blogging...? Huh?

I binge watch British TV shows. My recent obsessions are Sherlock, Doctor Who and Torchwood (Sherlock actually spurred me to write a series of posts on the "mind palace"). Occasionally I go rock climbing or scuba diving.

Why did you decide to become an editor at ScienceSeeker? How do you use ScienceSeeker aside from when you're making your editors' selections?

I like what ScienceSeeker is doing for the science communication community and I wanted to contribute. I browse SS quite a lot even when I'm not making selections, mostly to discover new blogs.

As you make your editors' selections, what sorts of things do you look for? What's the best way a blogger can get your attention, as an editor?

I generally read and pick articles not related to neuroscience, so first off it has to be free of jargon, at least to the degree that I can understand the article without consulting Wikipedia. Then I ask if it's interesting, easy to read and/or novel (for example, an article about whether using the passive voice is really that bad).

Easiest way to get my attention is to email me. Don't be formal, just "hey, I'm so and so and this is what I want to talk to you about" works perfect for me.

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