Once upon a time, let’s call it 2006, I launched my very first ocean science blog post over at Malaria, Bedbugs, Sea Lice, and Sunsets. Back then, I was among a small cohort of ocean scientists who were venturing into the online social media wilderness. These were the early days of Deep Sea News, Blogfish, The Other 95%, Cephalopodcast, and yours truly. We were approaching ocean science communication from a fresh angle. We were irreverent. We were argumentative. We were all eager to use humor to make our points. And, we were all dudes.
That’s right. Ocean science delivered to the blogosphere by a bunch of Y chromos. This was ground-breaking?!
Well, all that changed when Miriam Goldstein logged-on in 2007.
I’m in Fiji with limited bandwidth as I write this so let me cut right to the chase and dispense with any pretext of objectivity: I love Miriam Goldstein and I love her writing. I think the latter half came first, but who the hell knows at this point. From her initial contributions in comments on our blogs, to her emergence as an independent ocean science voice via The Oyster’s Garter, to her formidable contributions during her Deep Sea News tenure (whilst concurrently pursuing her PhD), Miriam not only raised the bar for science communication as a whole but demonstrated that scientific rigor + deft story-telling + snark = online ocean science gold.
I met Miriam for the first time in 2008 at SciOnline in Research Triangle, after a year of trading comments and jabs at each other via our blogs. That first meeting is as vivid to me today as it was five years ago. There she was, in the bar of the Radisson Research Triangle Park, seated with a group of other ocean science peeps, all singing boisterous and bawdy sea shanties as the “serious science bloggers” scowled at their din.
I believe I may have described Miriam thusly: “Imagine somehow containing the zeal and energy of about 40 schoolgirls packed into a wonderfully sarcastic east-coast transplant, and you get a sense of Miriam’s contagious enthusiasm for science communication.”
I can provide a list of my favorite online contributions by Miriam (and indeed, that list would be long). But I’ll instead focus on an aspect of Miriam’s writing that has particularly resonated for me: her sincere passion for equity and diversity in science.
In The Oyster’s Garter, Miriam began weaving feminist dialectic and interpretation in many of her pieces. She was unafraid to call bullshit on sexist claptrap and fake science when she saw it. She opined on the lack of decent female characters in movies and books. She questioned and deconstructed the “hotness and female scientists” hubbub of 2009. And she shot a high brow “Fuck you!” to the assholes at AskMen.com with her pithy piece on how to tell your Elephant seal that she’s not fat enough. Touché.
Miriam even took me to task once over my commentary on whether conservation practitioners should be speaking out about human population growth. Miriam reminded me that it’s difficult to have a fair discussion on the issue because it is inextricably entwined with racism and coercion. As she admonished, “Speak out on overpopulation, but know the history first“.
But equally evident as her commitment to a feminist narrative in her science writing are her contributions to ensuring other marginalized populations are visible. As a queer ocean scientist and member of one of those marginalized groups, Miriam’s writing has expanded my own thinking on how to achieve greater representation of LGBT students in the ocean sciences. From her initial ponderings on the lack of diverse sexualities in the ocean sciences to her most recent post at DSN on privilege and lack of diversity in ocean science, Miriam continues to pave the way for a more inclusive and level playing field in our discipline.
When Miriam informed me that she was awarded a Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship, I knew instantly that this was the next logical step in her commitment to ocean science equity and diversity. As much as I will miss her online voice in the near term, I believe that Miriam’s actual voice is needed even more in the halls of Congress.
Love you, Bubbeleh, and so very proud of you!