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Science Communication

20 Chemists Worth Following On Twitter

A panelist-selected primer for newcomers to the social network

by Lauren K. Wolf
September 24, 2014 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 92, Issue 39


UPDATE: In addition to the chemists below, we’ve got a new list of strong chemistry contributors of Twitter in 2017. You can check them out here.

Everybody loves a good “Top 10” list, right?

Credit: Shutterstock/C&EN
Iconic Twitter graphically tweets about chemistry
Credit: Shutterstock/C&EN

Turns out that’s not always true. Last week, Science magazine published “The Top 50 Science Stars of Twitter,” a list attempting to collect the most-followed, most-cited scientists regularly putting their thoughts into 140-character snippets. The list was assembled in response to comments made by genomics researcher Neil Hall, who suggested that scientists should stop wasting time on Twitter and publish more papers.

The list that Science produced was just as heavily criticized as Hall’s comments. The chemistry community was particularly irked over the fact that neuroscientists, biologists—even physicists—made the list. But nary a chemist is mentioned.

In response to the hubbub, Chemical & Engineering News (@cenmag on Twitter) asked members of the Twitterverse to list some of their favorite tweeting chemists. And we assembled a panel of experts to tell us which chemists on Twitter are “ones to follow”—in other words, those using the social network to discuss chemistry, everyday research, employment, science and society, and quirky or amazing experiments. “Interactions are the most important part of Twitter,” says one of our experts, Matthew Hartings (@sciencegeist), a professor of inorganic and food chemistry at American University and a member of C&EN’s advisory board. He argues that the best Twitter strategy is to follow individuals who interact often rather than people with “a bajillion” followers. Chances are, he says, those Twitter celebrities aren’t joining in conversations all that much.

Using suggestions from our panel and from the Twitterverse, we compiled a list of 20 chemists worth following. To be on this list, there were two requirements: You have to be trained as a chemist, and you have to be practicing chemistry. We realize this leaves out excellent writers such as Deborah Blum (@deborahblum) at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and popular editors such as Stuart Cantrill (@stuartcantrill) at Nature Chemistry. It also excludes collectives such as the Periodic Table of Videos (@periodicvideos), a group of chemists at the University of Nottingham who produce entertaining clips about laboratory experiments and much more.

But we had to start somewhere.

Along with our five panelists, we view this list of 20 as a primer for chemists looking to dip their toes into the ocean that is Twitter. Each of them is worth following because they contribute meaningfully to the discussion of chemistry on the social network.

Nature Chemistry’s Cantrill devised his own list of 100 chemists on Twitter using criteria different from ours. You can see and subscribe to that list here. It includes a number of journalists, including some of C&EN’s own. To see and subscribe to a list of our reporters, click here.

We’ve created a list at our @cenmag Twitter account containing our panelists and chosen 20. Our panelists, of course, are worth following, too (otherwise we wouldn’t have selected them). You can access the list here and subscribe to it by clicking the “Subscribe” button in the upper left-hand portion of the screen.

One of the reasons Science magazine’s list was criticized is that it contains only 8% women and few minorities. Our panelists certainly gave this some thought when selecting their favorite tweeters. But no list is perfect. So we hope you’ll comment below to tell us what you like about our list, what you don’t like, and who else you think should be on it. 

List of 20


Alex Goldberg; postdoc in organic chemistry at Weizmann Institute of Science, in Israel


Paul Bracher; professor of organic chemistry at Saint Louis University, author of ChemBark blog


Christopher Cramer; professor of computational chemistry at the University of Minnesota


Derek Lowe; drug discovery chemist in industry, author of In The Pipeline blog


Pseudonymous; forensic toxicologist and drug chemist, author of The Dose Makes The Poison blog


Suze Kundu; postdoc in materials chemistry at Imperial College London, author of Fun Size Scienceblog


Jen Dougan; postdoc in nanoscience/bioanalytical chemistry at Imperial College London, author of ExperiMentaliTea blog


Laura Jane van Laeren; chemistry graduate student at Stellenbosch University, in South Africa, author of Whimsical Science blog


Lee Cronin; professor of chemistry at the University of Glasgow


Nicholas Peppas; chair of the department of biomedical engineering at the University of Texas, Austin


Pseudonymous; graduate student in organic/organometallic chemistry at a major midwestern university, author of Colorblind Chemistry blog


David Smith; professor of nanochemistry at the University of York


Renée Webster; analytical chemist for the Australian government


Mark Lorch; professor of biological chemistry at the University of Hull, coauthor of Chemistry Blog


Pseudonymous; synthetic chemist in industry, author of Just Like Cooking blog


Simon Lancaster; professor of inorganic chemistry/chemical education at the University of East Anglia


Tehshik Yoon; professor of organic chemistry at the University of Wisconsin, Madison


Chad Jones; recent graduate student in physical chemistry at Brigham Young University, soon-to-be chemist in industry, podcaster/writer at The Collapsed Wavefunction website


Stephani Page; graduate student in biochemistry at the Univeristy of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; founder of #BLACKandSTEM, an online community for black scientists, technologists, engineers, and mathematicians; author of the My Purple Glasses blog


Vittorio Saggiomo; postdoc in supramolecular chemistry at Wageningen University, the Netherlands, author of Labsolutely blog



Pseudonymous; industry chemist, author of the Chemjobber blog, which discusses the chemistry job market


Jason Woolford; publishing editor with the Royal Society of Chemistry; founder of #RealTimeChem, a Twitter community for chemists; author of Doctor Galactic & The Lab Coat Cowboy blog


Raychelle Burks; postdoc in chemistry at Doane College


Jessica Breen; former postdoc in chemistry at the University of Leeds


Matthew Hartings; professor of inorganic and food chemistry at American University, author of ScienceGeist blog


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