Iowa Alumni Magazine | February 2009 | People

"Social" Scientist: Brian Krueger

By Shelbi Thomas

On any given day, thousands of scientists log onto Brian Krueger's webpage to engage in what one user calls a "wonderful nerd-fest."

The action takes place at LabSpaces, a social networking site where science lovers can exchange ideas, post blog entries and research articles, and read about the latest scientific discoveries.

Krueger, a UI biochemistry graduate student, launched LabSpaces in August 2006 following the rise of Facebook and MySpace. Like those popular sites, LabSpaces allows users to create profiles, add friends, and join groups. But more than that, the site acts as a forum where scientists can collaborate on research. Users can start a group for their lab, post their publication history or research protocols, and discuss the science news that Krueger updates daily.

LabSpaces currently has about 200 regular users, but the site receives about 4,000 visitors per day. Traffic has increased significantly since Krueger added the science news page. "It really bothered me to see science articles produced by the mainstream media that were sensationalized and twisted to barely coincide with actual science fact," says the Schaumburg, Illinois, native. "My goal with the news section of the site is to get both the public and scientists at the same place on the Internet discussing science and current breakthroughs in the field."

Krueger also plans to add video conferencing and a contest to attract more users to the site. The "Pimp My LabSpace" contest will encourage scientists to blog about equipment that their labs need for a chance to win those supplies.

Web design has always been a hobby for Krueger, who sees connections between the transcription research he conducts in a UI lab and his role as LabSpace's webmaster. "The cool thing about programming is that you can see your results instantly, [while] sometimes in science and my lab experiments, I have to wait days," says Krueger, who hopes to graduate with his Ph.D. in December. "There's a lot of trial and error involved [in both], but I really enjoy learning new things."