A RefreshED Look Back at STS’s First Year

Sweet Tea, Science, the idea, was proposed by Rachel in November of 2013. However, it was during our annual get together with our wildly amazing group of friends for New Years 2013/2014 that the ball really got rolling over on our Tumblr. Recently, we’ve brought in the New Year once more with some of our favorite, most inspirational people in the world. Among these friends is the creative whirlwind that is J.D. VanSlyke, one half of the voices behind our favorite podcast: RefreshED! He was kind enough to lead this interview so that we may share some of what we’ve done over the past year, and a lot of what we’re thinking for the future!

HUGE thanks to JD for his completely fantastic interview questions. Be sure to tune into RefreshED this year. We are very much looking forward to the times ahead and the opportunities that may present themselves. Please let us know if you have any ideas for potential guest posts or if you’d like to collaborate with us in some way! 

Welcome to Sweet Tea, Science

Mt. St. Helens, Summer 2012

Let us start by first saying welcome! We are excited and proud to be launching the Sweet Tea, Science blog today. We are two scientists from Kentucky currently working on obtaining our PhDs.  Aside from academic pursuits, we are passionate about sharing our interests in various STEM topics, travel, and sustainable living. It is our hope that through Sweet Tea, Science we can share our knowledge, practice our communication skills, and learn from you!

Costa Rica, Winter 2007

In addition to being hysterical scientists, we are also real life friends! We met in 2005 at Western Kentucky University where we both obtained a BS in Biology with concentrations in Biodiversity, Ecology, and Conservation. Meridith is an overachiever, and also has a minor in mathematics! During our time at WKU (go Tops!), we both completed Honor’s theses and graduated from WKU’s Honors College.  While in college we studied (we took pretty much every biology class together), traveled (numerous Central and South American countries, Africa, Michigan…), and adventured together (everything is an adventure!).  After graduating, we continued to learn and explore as a team, and now we are tackling the blogging world as a dynamic duo.

Florida, Spring 2007

Meridith went on from WKU to study algae cultivation for biofuel production at New Mexico State University for her Masters in Wildlife Science, with a minor in Applied Statistics. Again, overachiever. Her blog and Facebook page, Always A Scientist, started in early 2012 as part of an application to HiSEAS. Meridith continued with the blog off and on for two years, enjoying it immensely, but never fully committing to posts. She is currently about to start her PhD in Statistics and looks forward to the opportunity to apply stats to ecological systems.  Rachel went from WKU to sunny southern California to work on a Masters in Biology at California State University, Long Beach.  She completed her degree in the summer of 2012 and moved on up the coast to the central valley to tackle a PhD! Similar to Meridith, Rachel started her blog, Practical Ecologist, in November of 2012 and really enjoyed it, but didn’t have the time to commit to it like she really wanted.  What were two lady scientists to do?

Grand Canyon, Spring 2010

In November 2013, we decided to combine our powers and create a new blog (and associated media) to share our passions and interests. By working together on this endeavor we hope we can stay motivated and provide more consistent content for our readers. We envision this blog as a way to share longer posts about STEM-related topics, advice for students, peaks into life as a graduate student, fun science-y projects, insights into sustainable practices, and snapshots of how the process of science works.  We imagine our audience to be diverse and include people generally interested in science (everyone?), those who want to explore science with their kids or friends, college students, and aspiring graduate students seeking advice.  We will share shorter content via Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Follow us on all the things!

South Africa, Summer 2008

With that being said, we also want to hear from you about your interests, questions, and requests. What topics would you like us to cover and how? All the content from our old blogs can be found on this website, so feel free to give is a look over and tell us things you like or dislike.  Do you need help in any of your classes and think we could explain a concept more in depth? Are you looking to plan a fun vacation and want some amazing science or nature related activities included? Let us know! We are also eager to find guest contributors of all ages.

Thinking About the Future of This Blog

It took me a few days of those unavoidable ‘woe-is-me-I’m-not-qualified-for-space-travel-research‘ blues, but I’m back in the pilot’s seat and already engrossed with finding my next potential 2013 adventure. Something has to distract me from writing my thesis, right?

I’d like to first extend a hearty ‘Best of Luck’ to the 30 finalists in the HI-SEAS program. I will be following along from wherever I end up and possibly providing updates to my readers from my position on the outside. I am also considering applying for the 2014 crew, so any advice for making it to the finalists would be greatly appreciated.

One last tidbit to carry with you to the Red Planet:

On To The Future


My main focus with this blog is still sharing an interest and passion for science. However, I am going to be focusing less on the space and astronomy aspects and more on general science topics. Are you ready to get your biology on? I hope to incorporate aspects of travel and food blogging and I’ll have a lot of time to focus on these topics once I graduate. Until that point, get ready for some grad school/thesis writing ‘How to…’ posts.

Do you have requests for blog topics? Please allow your voice to be heard in this week’s poll. The poll is located on top left side bar, and you may choose as many answers as your heart desires. Thanks for your support and advice! If you would like to request topics not on the poll, by all means include them as a comment here!

Be patient with me in the short-term. I’ll be playing around with different visual themes and layouts. A new outfit helps when starting something new! I also need to brainstorm for a new name. One that will apply to my blog over the long-term. Again, suggestions are appreciated.