We are delighted to announce our first birthday. BugBitten was launched exactly a year ago today as a blog for the parasitology and vector-borne disease community. Its objective is to highlight and discuss exciting developments in these areas in a manner accessible to those who were not necessarily in the immediate fields. With this in mind we aim to provide a little background to the relevant area, links to sites that provide further information and images to illustrate the text.
BugBitten was set up and initially managed by Kevin Tyler as an adjunct to the online journal Parasites and Vectors. A small team of editors (for details see this link) with diverse interests in the field undertook the composition of the initial posts, which rapidly gained the attention of the Parasitology and Vector Biology community. I took over the management of the blog in the spring of this year with help from staff at BioMed Central, especially Srimathy Sriskantharajah who assists us in numerous ways, particularly by spreading the word via social media.
Our intention was to have a small core of regular bloggers, the editors, with occasional guest bloggers making contributions about exciting advances in their field, including those that they had had a hand in.
Since October 2013 we have made 50 postings. Our readership is rising steadily and has exceeded 4000 for some recent posts. With the use of social media we are extending our reach to those outside the research community. Not surprisingly, postings concerning new advances in the fields of malaria and its mosquito vectors have topped the bill, but the topics have been very diverse, ranging from a meat allergy caused by tick bites to bumble bee diseases and covering a variety of epidemiological topics, modelling, helminth infections and various vector-transmitted diseases. In addition, topical news items, meeting reviews and parasitology teaching experiences have been aired and a more light hearted approach was taken at Christmas and on Valentine ’s Day. All postings are still available to be viewed on the BugBitten website.
Many of our readers have appreciated the cartoons drawn by one of our editors, Vera Unwin. Our logo, also designed by Vera, represents a chimera of some of the major insects responsible for transmitting parasitic disease. Can you spot them?
In January of this year our first guest posting was made by Julian Pelletier and concerned mosquito olfactory neurons. He followed this shortly afterwards by another posting on a similar theme and writes about Bugbitten:
“This is a great blog!!! I am really glad to contribute to BugBitten and would like to continue to do so in the future. I really appreciate the diversity of topics and expertise as well as the constant effort to make it accessible for non-specialists. I believe contributing to this blog made me more comfortable in translating high-impact but somewhat complex papers into something really exciting and easy to read. I am very happy to share my expertise in vector biology with the rest of the world on this blog.”
Some more quotes from those involved in our first year:
Fiona Tomley, our most recent guest blogger, thinks the posting of a blog “A really useful way to communicate”
Krisztian Magori, one of our editors, commented that “BugBitten is the perfect way to stay up-to-date and connected to the parasitology and vector biology community, even after starting a teaching-heavy tenure-track position. It also fits perfectly into the communication and outreach strategy of my lab by reaching a global and most diverse audience.”
Alan Harrison says “Writing for Bugbitten has helped me gain insights into aspects of vector-borne disease and parasitism that I might not normally have encountered given the focus of my research and it has also helped me gain skills to allow me to convey complex scientific material to the wider public. It has been great to be a part of and I look forward to seeing the blog continue to grow in the year ahead.”
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being a part of Bugbitten over the past year, it has been a creative outlet for me both in the sense of writing and drawing/designing for the blog. We have a lot of fresh ideas for the coming year, so I’m excited to see where it goes”, says Vera Unwin.
Finally, Shruthi Vembar a post-doctoral fellow at the Insitut Pasteur, Paris says “I find that the research that is highlighted in bugbitten is of interest to a varied audience, both specialists and non-specialists in parasitology. I especially like that the contributors to the blog are experts in their respective fields and at the same time, use easy-to-understand English to explain key technical findings. Overall, I really enjoy the ‘human’ aspect of the blog.”
Helpful comments concerning any of our postings are most welcome.
We are looking to recruit an additional editor who would contribute regular postings. Alternatively you may be interested in preparing a guest posting. If so, please contact Hilary Hurd at firstname.lastname@example.org .