How Humans Make Sense of the World: a Q&A with Story Collider’s Liz Neeley and Erin Barker

Most of the ways people communicate, from research papers to news articles, are effectively forms of storytelling. But there’s a special power associated with spoken-word storytelling and listening to someone tell a story well. Continue reading “How Humans Make Sense of the World: a Q&A with Story Collider’s Liz Neeley and Erin Barker”

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”

A Voice with an Audience: an Interview with Hope Jahren

 

Photo credit: Kevin Doncaster. Shared under a Creative Commons license. Click for more information.
Photo credit: Kevin Doncaster. Shared under a Creative Commons license. Click for more information.

Lab Girl, by Hope Jahren, is one of the best books I’ve read in recent years. It’s a book about science. And about plants. And about people. As I wrote in a review earlier this year, Jahren manages to find a balance between entertaining popular science and compelling memoir. That’s a tough combination to pull off, and a hell of a read.

And I was far from the only one who enjoyed Lab Girl – it’s garnered positive attention in outlets from the New York Times to PBS to The Guardian.

Recently Jahren – who has relocated her geobiology lab from Hawaii to the University of Oslo – let me pick her brain about writing, blogging and how she balances her writing with her work as a scientist. Continue reading “A Voice with an Audience: an Interview with Hope Jahren”

We Are Here; Make Room: An Interview with Stephani Page

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The science, technology, engineering and math fields have a diversity problem: women and people of color are significantly underrepresented.

And while large institutions – from federal agencies to universities – are trying to address STEM diversity, a lot of the work is being done at the grassroots level.

One of those grassroots efforts was launched by Stephani Page, who spearheaded the creation of the #BlackAndSTEM online community in early 2014. Page, now a postdoctoral researcher at UNC-Chapel Hill, has a varied research background: a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and master’s in biology from North Carolina A&T, and a PhD in biochemistry and biophysics from UNC.

I wanted to talk with her about the creation and evolution of #BlackAndSTEM, and how science communication can make a difference in STEM diversity.

Science Communication Breakdown: Your background is as a scientist, rather than a communicator. When did you start thinking seriously about science communication? Continue reading “We Are Here; Make Room: An Interview with Stephani Page”

Taking Science Experiments (and Kids) Outdoors: an Interview with Liz Heinecke

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Summer is here, and for parents (like me) who have school-age children, that means finding ways to keep the kids occupied. And if those activities help to instill a love of science, all the better. So, what better time for finding a book of outdoor science experiments for children?

Well, folks, you’re in luck. Continue reading “Taking Science Experiments (and Kids) Outdoors: an Interview with Liz Heinecke”

One Scientist’s Attempt to Create a New Science Communication Platform

As someone who writes about science communication, I’m always interested in experiments designed to help people share information about research and research findings. Sometimes they are formal studies designed by science communication scholars, and sometimes they’re efforts by scientists, reporters or professional communicators to try something new and see how it works.

I work at NC State University, and in late 2015 met a postdoctoral researcher at NC State named Kamy Singer. His research focused on plant and microbial biology, but he was also the creator of a web platform called SPapers that aims to help researchers share their work more effectively. Continue reading “One Scientist’s Attempt to Create a New Science Communication Platform”