September 12, 2008

Blogging Professors: Big Boffins with Blogs

Jeffrey Bates by Julian CashI’ve been hunting all over the interweb looking for Professors that have blogs. While it would be a good thing if there were more, (see the science blogging challenge 2008), there are surprising amount of big boffins that already blog. I should say that by big, I mean (full) professor. By boffin I mean a person practicing science including biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, engineering and hell, even computer “science” and the “dismal science” of economics too. By blog I mean, a web-log or a lab-log which is personal, frequently updated (with web feed) and allows comments. Here is my collection of big boffins with blogs, with a little help from friendfeed.com [1]. It is ordered alphabetically by surname and I hope it gives a flavour of some of the bloggers out there on the Web. If you know any more, please let me know.

Professor University Discipline Blog
Russ Altman Stanford University Bioinformatics Building Confidence
Gary Becker University of Chicago Economics (Nobel laureate) Becker Posner blog
Tim Berners-Lee University of Southampton (also some place called MIT too) Web Science (is it really a Science?) Tim Bloggers-Lee
Jonathan Butterworth University College London Physics (and life) Life and Physics
David Colquhoun University College London Pharmacology DC’s Improbable Science
Stephen Curry Imperial College London Biophysics and Crystallograpy Reciprocal Space
Brian Derby University of Manchester Materials Science Title to be announced
David De Roure University of Southampton Computer Science e-Research @ OpenWetWare
Bill Dutton University of Oxford Internet Studies William H. Dutton @ Oxford Internet Institute
Sean Eddy HHMI Janelia Farm Research Campus Biological sequence analysis Cryptogenomicon
Jonathan Eisen University of California, Davis Evolutionary biology Tree of Life
Michael Eisen University of California, Berkeley Genomics, gene regulation etc it is NOT junk: a blog about genomes, DNA, evolution, open science, baseball and other important things
Ian Foster Argonne National Laboratory, Chicago Grid and Cloud computing http://ianfoster.typepad.com/blog/
Mark Gerstein Yale University Bioinformatics and Biochemistry TextStream
Timothy Gowers University of Cambridge Mathematics (Fields medallist) Gower’s weblog
Steve Haake Sheffield Hallam University Sports Engineering Engineering Sport
Alon Halevy University of Google / Washington Computer Science and Engineering, databases, data mining etc alonhalevy.blogspot.com
Jim Hendler Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Tetherless world
Tony Hey Microsoft Physics, Computer Science MSDN blogs
Greg Hickok and David Poeppel UC Irvine and NYU Neural organization of language Talking Brains
Andrew Jaffe Imperial College London Astrophysics Leaves on the Line
Richard Jones University of Sheffield, UK Nanotechnology Soft Machines
Douglas Kell University of Manchester, UK Systems Biology, Biochemistry blogs.bbsrc.ac.uk
Andy Lawrence University of Edinburgh (currrently on sabbatical at Stanford) Astronomy The e-Astronomer: The Universe, the Internet, and Academic Life
Lawrence Lessig Stanford Law School Economics, law, copyright, creative commons etc http://www.lessig.org/blog/
Steven Levitt University of Chicago Economics Freakonomics at the New York Times
Greg Mankiw Harvard University Economics Greg Mankiw’s Blog
Laurence Moran University of Toronto Biochemistry Sandwalk: Strolling with a skeptical biochemist
Peter Murray-Rust University of Cambridge Chemistry and informatics A Scientist and the Web
Roderic Page University of Glasgow Taxonomy, Evolutionary Biology etc iPhylo, iSpecies and bioGUID
Massimo Pigliucci Stonybrook, New York Biology and Philosophy Rationally speaking
Henry Rzepa Imperial College London Computational Chemistry and Cheminformatics Chemistry with a twist
Stephen Quake Stanford University Bioengineering Stephen Quake guest columnist at Olivia Judson’s New York Times blog
Pamela Ronald University of California, Davis Plant genomics and pathology Tomorrow’s Table
Steven Salzberg University of Maryland, College Park Bioinformatics, Genomics etc Genomics, Evolution, and Pseudoscience
Stuart Shieber Harvard University Computer Science etc. The Occasional Pamphlet on scholarly communication
Barry Smith University at Buffalo, New York State Ontology, Philsophy, OBOlogy HL7-watch.blogspot.com
Terence Tao University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) Mathematics (Fields medallist) What’s new
Carl Wieman University of British Columbia Physics (Nobel laureate) Scientific Blogging
Richard Wiseman University of Hertfordshire Psychology Richard Wiseman Blog
Semir Zeki University College London Neurobiology Prof Zeki’s musings

(Some blogs also worth mentioning, not by full Professors (yet), but prominent scientists include Ensembl Web Log (Ewan Birney etc), Nicolas Le Novère, Christoph Steinbeck, John Overington, Jean-Claude Bradley, Alex Bateman and The Pfam and Rfam team at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Department of Plant Sciences at the University of Cambridge, Cameron Neylon, Hervé This, Casey Bergman and Luis von Ahn)

Professor Blogger, Free University of the Web, The Internet

We already have quite a few Professors blogging, but there is room for plenty more, so I’m hassling all the Professors I know to ask them if they have thought of starting a blog. Now, some people have argued that blogging is the new email, and that in ten years time every Professor will have a blog, just like every Professor has an email address now. I’m not so sure about that but I do agree with climate change blogger Gavin Schmidt, who says “scientists know much more about their field than is ever published in peer-reviewed journals. Blogs can be a good medium with which to disseminate this tacit knowledge” [2].

With all these Professors blogging, and many more to come, does that mean the Web will become a University?


  1. Various (2008). , friendfeed.com
  2. Gavin Schmidt (2008). Nature Geoscience, 1(4):208. DOI:10.1038/ngeo170
  3. Various (2008). discussion of this post over at friendfeed
  4. Peter J. Denning (2005). Is computer science science? Communications of the ACM, 48(4):27-31. DOI:10.1145/1053291.1053309
  5. Jim Hendler, Nigel Shadbolt, Wendy Hall, Tim Berners-Lee and Danny Weitzner (2008). Web science: an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the web. Communications of the ACM, 51(7):60-69. DOI:10.1145/1364782.1364798

Picture of Jeffrey Bates (top right) © All rights reserved by Julian Cash from his Perl Gurus set. I’ve probably infringed the copyright by reproducing it here, but I can’t resist using such a great picture.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.


  1. One more for you: Professor Ross Anderson, University of Cambridge (computer security): http://www.lightbluetouchpaper.org/

    Comment by Andrew Walkingshaw — September 12, 2008 @ 4:31 pm | Reply

  2. Impressed to see two Fields Medallist mathematicians up there. I guess the hunt for a blogging Nobel Prize winner goes on, though.

    And any other FRSes there apart from David Colquhoun and Tim Gowers?

    Comment by draust — September 12, 2008 @ 7:19 pm | Reply

  3. And (appropriately) Tim Berners-Lee appears to have a blog, though rather an inactive one:


    Comment by draust — September 12, 2008 @ 7:44 pm | Reply

  4. Semir Zeki: http://profzeki.blogspot.com/

    Comment by Mo — September 14, 2008 @ 10:08 pm | Reply

  5. @Andrew Light Blue Touchpaper is an intersting blog, but as far as I can tell, none of the posts there are authored by Ross Anderson.

    @DrAust thanks for reminding me of Tim, I’ve added him now

    @Mo ditto

    Comment by Duncan — September 15, 2008 @ 9:08 am | Reply

  6. Ian Foster (of Grid fame) is another professor with a blog – see http://ianfoster.typepad.com/

    – Dave (thinking about it!)

    Comment by David De Roure — September 15, 2008 @ 10:01 pm | Reply

  7. Gary Becker is a blogging Nobelist in economics.

    Comment by Michael Nielsen — September 16, 2008 @ 12:28 am | Reply

  8. Thanks, Michael, I’ve added Becker now. I think this list is always going to be incomplete and out of date, and I won’t be able to maintain it forever…

    Comment by Duncan — September 16, 2008 @ 9:54 am | Reply

  9. In case you still intend to maintian it: Alon Halevy (database VIP) has a blog http://alonhalevy.blogspot.com/, so does Barry Smith http://hl7-watch.blogspot.com/

    Comment by marijke keet — December 17, 2008 @ 11:35 am | Reply

  10. Thanks Marijke, I didn’t know about those, have added them now. I wonder if this list will ever get too big to manage?

    Comment by Duncan — December 17, 2008 @ 4:11 pm | Reply

  11. if the blogging really is catching on with the professors, then maybe you can make a mini-ontology with disciplines and main topics, affiliations of the prof etc to make it into a semantic search instead of browsable table ;-)

    Comment by keet — December 19, 2008 @ 11:45 am | Reply

  12. [...] all Duncan’s fault. For years I’ve known he lives in that other dimension, the parallel universe that is the [...]

    Pingback by Reasons to be Blogging 1 2 3 | e-Research — January 4, 2009 @ 9:45 am | Reply

  13. Richard Jones (FRS), Sheffield writes an excellent blog on nanoscience and nanotechnology - Soft Machines .

    Best wishes,


    Comment by Philip Moriarty — February 20, 2009 @ 5:31 pm | Reply

  14. Thanks Philip, I’ve added Richard to the list…

    Comment by Duncan — February 20, 2009 @ 5:43 pm | Reply

  15. This one by David Poeppl and Greg hickok is very cool

    Comment by Fabiana Kubke — June 16, 2009 @ 10:26 am | Reply

  16. You have managed to overlook the two most known economists with blogs:

    http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/ (Paul Krugman, Nobel Prize 2008; one of Time magazine’s top 25 blogs, together with Freakonomics).

    http://www.bepress.com/ev/ (The Economist’s Voice, edited by Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Prize 2001).

    Other interesting economists’ blogs:

    Brad de Long: http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/

    Mark Thoma: http://economistsview.typepad.com/ (which also includes a very comprehensive list of economists blogs on the right side column).

    Comment by Luis — August 6, 2009 @ 9:38 am | Reply

  17. Here’s another one for you:


    Astrophys prof at Imperial

    Comment by Stephen Curry — July 23, 2010 @ 4:28 pm | Reply

  18. If you’re wondering about the increased traffic, you got tweeted by @sciencegoddess.

    Although I qualify as a “professor that has a blog”, mine doesn’t have anything to do with science.

    Comment by Andre — July 28, 2010 @ 4:24 pm | Reply

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