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”

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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”

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 Reason Scientists and Science Writers Want to Talk About Game of Thrones

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

From dragons and dire wolves to the arid Red Waste and the frozen lands beyond the Wall, Game of Thrones is teeming with exotic creatures and habitats. It’s also teeming with violence, disease and cultural practices that often swing from pseudo-historical to utterly bizarre.

And, in an impressive collection of blog posts, there are scientists and science writers who want to talk about Game of Thrones and the world in which it takes place. Continue reading “One Reason Scientists and Science Writers Want to Talk About Game of Thrones”

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”