Should a Science Magazine Endorse a Political Candidate? Why Not?

This is a seal of approval. (Photo credit: Craig Adderley. He is not responsible for my awful pun.)

Scientific American has, for the first time, endorsed a presidential candidate. I have seen some commentators bemoaning this decision. I, however, believe that SciAm made the right call. Here’s why… Continue reading “Should a Science Magazine Endorse a Political Candidate? Why Not?”

Resources For Anyone With Questions About COVID-19

A lot of people have a lot of questions related to COVID-19. I shared a version of this note with friends and family, and some of them asked me to put it somewhere that would make it easier to share. I don’t have all the answers. But I can provide some basic background, and offer suggestions for places you can turn for additional information as we move forward. I’ll also provide what resources I can find that are relevant for both reporters and anyone interested in being a savvy consumer of news. Continue reading “Resources For Anyone With Questions About COVID-19”

hand writing in reporter notebook

Questions to Ask When Interviewing a Scientist

Approximately one gazillion years ago, I wrote a piece including tips from reporters about how to prepare for interviews with scientists. While that post is useful, several people have recently asked me for more specific guidance on how to interview researchers. Specifically, they wanted to know not only how to prepare, but what sorts of questions to ask. Continue reading “Questions to Ask When Interviewing a Scientist”

reporter writing in notebook

Why Reporters Don’t Let Scientists Review Their Stories

Many scientists don’t understand why reporters won’t let scientists review draft versions of news stories before the stories are published. Some scientists think this is unfair and leads to inaccuracies in news stories about scientific research – but there are reasons that news outlets discourage this sort of pre-publication review. Let’s dig in to that a little bit. Continue reading “Why Reporters Don’t Let Scientists Review Their Stories”

Outreach Is a Skill: a Q&A with David “WhySharksMatter” Shiffman

Photo credit: Ryan Espanto. Shared under a Creative Commons license. Click for more information.

If you are interested in sharks, and spend any time on social media, you have probably run across David Shiffman. Shiffman, a Liber Ero Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Simon Fraser University, has drawn thousands of followers on Twitter and Facebook by sharing facts (and correcting misconceptions) about sharks and other marine species.

But while his social media feeds can be entertaining, they are not simply a collection of amusing facts. Through social media, blogging, and freelance writing, Shiffman has been able to share information (and his own research) with a large audience – and to place that information in the proper context.

We recently had the opportunity to pick his brain about science communication, how he got started, and how social media can benefit the research community. Continue reading “Outreach Is a Skill: a Q&A with David “WhySharksMatter” Shiffman”

The Importance of Seeds: a Q&A with Rob Dunn

Photo credit: Paul Godard. Shared under a Creative Commons license. Click for more information.

In North Carolina, where I live, blueberries ripen between June and August. But I can buy blueberries throughout the year. That’s because most people only eat a few kinds of food, so farmers around the world grow the same crops, meeting the demand of consumers that live in another hemisphere. As Rob Dunn points out in his new book, that practice poses some significant risks. Continue reading “The Importance of Seeds: a Q&A with Rob Dunn”