Because you’re mine, we walk the line

I’ve been cloistered in the suburbs of Shanghai these past three days, visiting family and listening to fireworks explode outside the window as we count down to Chinese New Year. Accessing the internet in China is an ordeal in itself; all I’ve had to stare at is my multipage to-do list and stack of journal articles (printed on actual paper). My stress level has been steadily rising as I’ve been pouring through unread e-mails I quickly downloaded before boarding the plane on Wednesday.

Still offline, I sat down to write my goodbyes to Kevin. Then it hit me: Science is a crippling profession without the internet. And even the internet can be a barrage of useless information without the trusted, thoughtful people who give a voice to science.

Kevin Zelnio has been a force of nature in the online scientific realm. He has actual groupies, for goodness sake. Kevin could talk about cool science, or he could talk about the chair he’s currently sitting on. Either way, people take notice and consistently marvel at his awesomeness. I have no doubt that he’ll gain equal traction in his beer-brewing endeavors, and soon be shipping 6-packs to fans around the globe.

My interactions with Kevin always boil down to two words: energy and enthusiasm. He has an inhuman ability to keep going, whether it be pushing through personal and professional struggles, or keeping the DSNsuite open until 4am on a 4th consecutive night. His enthusiasm towards science has been obvious in his insightful, often heart-wrenching posts. The passionate stories are vitally important: scientific careers are renown for their hardship (and often unfairness), and I believe that exposure is the first step towards change.

Kevin was one of the handful of people who helped usher me into the blogging world. He’s looked after the nuts and bolts of DSN, tweaking the website when we implement new features and helping sustain our communal social media presence. We couldn’t have done it without him, although now we’ll have to try.

When one journey ends, another begins. For Kevin, the cessation of his science writing duties has ushered in a new life as a brewmaster (probably involving an equal amount of science, with the yeast microbiomes and all). For Deepsea News and science communication on the internet, the start of 2013 has kicked off in a remarkably different landscape from when I started blogging in 2010. More scientists are taking us seriously, fewer of them think we just talk about our lunch. The altmetrics and open access movements have grown immensely in popularity and street cred.

Dreamers are consumed by their own fallacy of never accomplishing their dreams. But the dreamers aren’t necessarily the doers: they’re the planners, the schemers, the ones who feed the fire and help build momentum. They dream far and wide, and set their sights on many things. As Kevin shifts his dreams towards microbrews, he’s letting us Deeplings spread our wings and fly. We’re forever grateful for his dedication and contributions, and will always be inspired to keep moving forward in his honor.