I've decided - it's time for me to come out of my pseudonymous virtual closet.
Earlier this year I attended the ScienceOnline09 conference - a conference attended by over 200 science bloggers, educators, journalists, and researchers.
One of the sessions concerned online identity and posed the question "should individual bloggers keep their online identity anonymous or pseudonymous, or should they consider it as an extension of their professional life, writing under their true identity?" Of course, each individual is different and there can be many real and valid reasons for not broadcasting one's true identity. Many people write about controversial subjects (particularly those writing on the incompatibilities or intersections of science and religion). Others simply write on topics that may conflict with their professional positions or institutional missions.
After much thought, I've decided that I do not see any of these reasons as applying to me or my writings. After the conference, Andrew, the Southern Fried Scientist, wrote an excellent piece concerning his own identity, essentially making the same arguments and coming to the same conclusion that I do here. I'll start by quoting Andrew, as I could not have said it better (it's hard to say anything better than he can say it):
"Two sessions that got me thinking about the direction of my own blog were centered around transitions in your blog as your career progresses and whether or not to maintain anonymity (and how one goes about doing that). For me, I’m using this blog as a tool to create a track record of public outreach and education, and to voice my opinions on various marine, mycological, and mundane issues. Since I’m using it as a mechanism for career building, I see no reason to be anonymous (in this case that would actually be counter-productive)."
I see this blog in very much the same light (minus the ocean and fungi). I do not write about the details of my current scientific research (that is, as a government researcher I make sure that there are no conflicts of interest between this blog and my job). I rarely talk about religion or controversial subjects these days (I have a few much older posts that delve into the subject and aren't particularly controversial, but I now try to strictly avoid it).
In fact, I think the goals of this blog and of my writings have evolved to become a critical aspect of both my professional and personal life: namely the goal of bringing the grandeur of nature and science to the masses. Most of my writings are of the general science and biology variety (such as my Adaptations of the Week), often written with the laypublic in mind.
I initially took the handle "Irradiatus" during the beginning days of widespread internet use (mid-nineties) - and I've used it ever since. I don't even recall where it came from. When I started this blog (or a version thereof under a different name many years ago), it was nothing but a mental release - just a fun, inane, ranting, and completely unread by anyone exercise in self-expression. Thus, I stuck to my handle out of habit and ease.
But no more.
Thus, I now announce that my real name is Daniel D. Brown (my name is too common to not include my middle initial).
*Cue psychologist wife: "you sound like a narcissistic crazy person." I'm not. I just thought it was a funny announcement.
I am currently a post-doctoral researcher at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (studying brain development), and sometimes an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Biology at Elon University. I received my Ph.D. studying the genetics of heart development in the lab of Dr. Frank Conlon at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
I have updated my "About" page if you want more information. If you link or refer to me, I don't really care which name you use. I will still be posting under my handle (much as Andrew maintains his "Southern Fried Scientist" identity), but that's mainly because my real name is lame and common. Of course, most of my regular readers know my real name already, and most of you probably could care less who I really am anyway.