Kelly’s Profile


Kelly Weinersmith is a graduate student in the Graduate Group in Ecology at the University of California-Davis.   She is a behavioral ecologist studying interactions between animal behavior and parasites.



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15 thoughts on “Kelly’s Profile

  1. Hi! Just wanted to say that your articles are fascinating.. I am no scientist, but everything is so well written even an ignoramus like my self can understand! I was especially insterested in the article ‘you are what you eat’… the possible ramifications of such research are astounding, I think!
    Thank you very much for sharing with us! 🙂

  2. Hold on; your last name is Weinersmith and you are (presumably) dating a webcomic artist whose last name is Weiner? Okay, that’s beyond weird.

    On a side note, your article on toxoplasma gondii was quite disturbing. Now I’m going to have to watch my cats with suspicion and eat all my meat well done. Hmmmm, come to think of it, could this parasite be responsible for me liking rare steak?

    Oh and nice site; I can tell I’m going to be back to read every article.

  3. I’m in medical school right now and absolutely love the breakdown you give of a number of important concepts. Your area of research is so interesting, I will continue to visit your site for both pleasure reading and references. One topic that I’d love to see more on in parasite research is the possible link between allergic diseases and parasite infections in humans, theres alot of tentative observations to suggest lack of interactions with parasites in developed countries is responsible for our epidemic of allergies. btw- got the initial link to your site off SMBC, love those comics.

  4. Warning: long post! I wanted to email this to you, but I couldn’t find an email address/message system anywhere here, so I guess I’ll just leave this here. My email’s attached to this post, so feel free to email me an answer or whatever if you don’t want to reply to this comment.

    Hi Kelly. I was thinking about your post about the responsibility of scientists to explain things to the public. Recently, there’s been a renewed bout of global warming skepticism, and I’m not really sure how to get about the truth.

    The point is
    I’m a big fan of science.
    It works.
    But there’s a problem.
    Not with science itself.
    But with what we do after we’ve done the science.
    There’s a problem with informatin.
    I may be a big fan of science, but I’m not a scientist.
    I can understand basic principles, and I know that if I were to go and do enough research on physics, and pay attention, and work my way through stuff, I could understand it.
    But that’s mainly because people agree on stuff now.
    All the really hard work – slogging through experimental reports, searching for bias, ensuring people weren’t selective with their evidence – all that stuff’s been done for me.
    If I want to go and do that kind of stuff for myself, it’s a lot harder.
    Say I want to evaluate this climate change stuff, and get a better opinion about how important solar cycles and stuff are.
    It’s not that easy.
    I don’t know where to find the data, I don’t know where to find the experiments.
    Even if I do, it’s pretty hard for me to recognise where someone might have ignored previous research, or only used certain evidence.
    If I want to see that, my best bet is to find what other people have said about that paper or experiment.
    So there’s a lot of needless searching and taking other people’s opinions for granted.
    There’s no central place where I can go and search through documents, and compare conclusions, and judge stuff for myself.
    And I think that’s a problem.
    Because I read about global warming, and I take that for granted because “scientists say so”.
    And then I read some anti-global-warming thing, and I think, “Oh, well, these scientists say the first ones were wrong. So I guess they could be right.”
    And then the other group makes counter-claims.
    There are only two solutions.
    The first is to get one group to make a report, the other group to have a counter-report objecting to the first one, the originals to counter-counter report, and so on until we figure out who has a better grip on the facts.
    The second is for me to go and try and do that by myself, comparing their data and reports and positions.
    The first would be better, but it’s unlikely, because the job of scientists is to research science, not necessarily explain it to me or explain why the other people are wrong.
    And the second is more likely to happen/doable, but it’s really hard, because I just don’t have access to the kinds of materials I need.
    So I’m kind of stuck.

    How do you suggest not-scientists like me figure out the truth about science?

    • Adam,

      Firstly, there already is an answer to your problem: textbooks. Go find a good textbook on the subject area you’re interested in. If it’s any good, it will discuss uncertainties and multiple viewpoints.

      Secondly, your objection is perfectly valid, but it has a huge problem. You’re vastly simplifying the way science is done.

      You’re assuming that people *know* answers. Even when experts believe that something is well determined, there is always a large degree of uncertainty. I hate to use a cliche example, but for a very long time, people considered time to be absolute for all observers. It was only in the last 100 years are so did scientists seriously consider relativistic time (i.e. Einsteinian relativity).

      Something like climate change is very difficult to understand; it takes a lot of work to develop accurate experiments that produce unambiguous results. Pushing the boundaries of knowledge is *very* difficult. I work at a Patent Office and see new inventions all the time, but they only improve incrementally. Many subject areas are crowded with small improvements, each one building on the last.

  5. Hey, I’m an undergrad Genetics Major at UC Davis, maybe I’ll bump into you at grad school eventually. I also stumbled across this blog via the link from Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, and I just want to say it is refreshing to see scientific concepts so clearly explained. You’ve a talent which I hope to someday be able to develop myself.

    Anyway, Kudos to you.

  6. Hey. I appreciate way that you can communicate these topics that I would otherwise have little interest in, drawing me in. Also, I thought it was a bit funny that I recognized some of the things that you were talking about from a random fiction book I read previously. A silly book, but every even chapter was a few pages on a different type of parasite, and I find myself relating them to everyday life, and even read a few pages on toxoplasma gondii, which I was surprised to see here. Anyways, thanks. 🙂
    Oh, and you can thank the great Zach from SMBC for the link.

  7. Hey, I just wanted to apologize up front for causing a bit of a tiff in the comments section of your latest post. I hope you find it more amusing than annoying! Again, sorry ’bout all that 😛

  8. Please please please come back! Pretty please! We MISS YOU! (At least, I miss the thought provoking posts). Hopefully life will let you post something soon 😀

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