About this blog
I am the author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to College Biology and currently working on a book about lice. Yep, I said “lice.” Promise–they’re fascinating. The College Biology book, which does not mention lice that I can recall, closely follows the first-year biology curriculum and is, I hope, a useful and accessible guide not so much for idiots but for people who simply need another perspective or presentation for learning biology.
This blog includes new pieces based on what grabs my interest that day and a series of articles I wrote for Biology Digest from 2003 until 2010, covering the “hot science” of the first decade of the 21st century (marked with “Timeline” and the year). My goal is to share with readers some of the weird and wonderful discoveries that have emerged in this decade and show the links among the sciences, history, and the human condition. Each piece not only discusses the findings but also provides context with explanations of the basic scientific tenets underlying them. My hope is that teachers and their students, especially, might find these articles useful in expanding on the essentials of teaching and learning biology.
I do have a personal life
And I blog about it here, at A Life Less Ordinary. Everything you wanted to know…or couldn’t care less about autism, parenting, special needs, general grousiness, and the occasional sciency breakdown.
About Me: The Official(-ish) Idiot’s Guide Author Bio
Emily Willingham was born in Texas during the terrible year of 1968, but that has proved the nadir of her existence to date. Despite blowing the chemistry curve in Chem II in high school and placing out of freshman biology in college, Emily ended up earning a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Texas at Austin because (a) she was in a hurry and (b) English is her native language. Realizing that in her rush, she had failed to gain a degree that would make her marketable to prospective employers, Emily dropped her budding career in public relations to return to school, this time in her true calling: biology.
Emily had felt the call to study life from early on, dissecting her first preserved frog from a chemistry set at age 8 and spending far too much time in the 1970s watching “Wild Kingdom,” back when there really wasn’t anything on television. Diverted from her true course by the wild idea that she could be a writer, Emily did not enter graduate school in biological sciences until age 26, emerging five years later, again from The University of Texas at Austin, with a PhD, a lot of not-very-useful knowledge about turtles, and a growing list of scientific publications. In the meantime, because the grass is truly always greener, Emily’s thoughts returned again to writing. She thought about writing even as she finished up a postdoctoral appointment at the University of California, San Francisco, that involved investigating the development of the mammalian penis, always a fascinating subject.
Luckily, she realized that writing and science are a pair of reagents that combine into the perfect lifetime pursuit. Since that chemistry-inspired epiphany, Emily has written about science, nature, and medicine for national, regional, and local publications, including Backpacker and Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine. In addition, she has taught dozens of college-level biology classes in California and Texas, blowing the minds of nonmajors who never knew that about the platypus and engaging graduate students in dissecting the finer points of the preservatives found in that mystery of mysteries, the Twinkie.
Living the life of a writer, teacher, and editor up to her ears in science, Emily cannot believe her good fortune. She shares that good fortune in Austin, Texas, with a direct descendent of the Vikings and their three sons, all of whom show similar tendencies to a love of all things biology.