Ariane Panzer, PhD

Immunology and microbiology enthusiast

Hello World

I began thinking of myself as a writer when I was ten. I wrote in my diary religiously, submitted poetry to contests, and when asked to submit one or two page stories in English class I submitted ten.

I began thinking of myself as a scientist when I was 12. For one of my elective classes I signed up for Genetics where I extracted DNA for the first time from dog testicles, learned about polydactylism, and bred fruit flies in an attempt to create a new mutant.

I continued to pursue science and writing in parallel. I wrote for my high school newspaper, became a section editor, took creative writing, submitted pieces to my school’s literary journal, and preformed in slam poetry competitions. At the same time, I took science tests for fun as a member of the Science Olympiad team, traveled to Illinois to represent my state in a national competition, and continued taking science electives.

Most of my high school friends knew me as a writer, but few knew me as a scientist.

Then college started and I had to chose.

In my first year I took journalism classes and science classes. While I loved writing I found the interviewing aspect of journalism difficult. It was hard to approach people and coax their stories out. One professor referred to my work as “decently done” but “tame.” And it was true. My classmates who were excelling were taking huge risks and weren’t afraid to push for a story whereas I was anxious about interviewing three elderly women who worked in a hospice shop.

In my genetics lab, however, I wasn’t tame. Any question that popped into my head I asked. When shown a new technique I eagerly volunteered to be the first student to test my skills. On weekends I happily trudged through snow to sit at my lab bench and read my meticulously kept lab notebook, musing over my next experiment. Biology was dynamic, complex, enigmatic. I could ask biology any question and every small answer emboldened me to dig deeper.

Most of my college friends knew me as a scientist, but few knew me as a writer.

Now a PhD student, I recognize there are more similarities between science and writing than there are differences. Scientists and writers are both knowledge gatherers, story tellers, and most importantly truth seekers.

My intent with this blog is to continue my learning, to tell stories of science and scientists, to discover truths, and to let everyone get to know me as a scientist and a writer.