“If you are a beginner you might be afraid to start writing or getting involved in events: don’t be!”
This is part of a series of interviews with science communicators about science communication. Today we are Speaking to… Ivette Hernandez Negrete
Ivette Hernandez Negrete
Where are you based?
University of Birmingham
Who do you work for?
I work in the Neurodegeneration and Repair group led by Dr. Zsuzsanna Nagy. I also do collaboration work for CyTOX.
What type of science communication do you do?
I am relatively new to the science communications arena and haven’t had much experience. I am a STEM ambassador and a few months ago attended the Big Bang Near Me at one of the Colleges in Birmingham. While there I tried to explain my research to students which was a bit difficult being my first time! I also started a blog, The Blog-ical flask last year, including short posts about topics that I like and hope people will find interesting too.
Who is your main audience?
As a STEM ambassador I am focused on working with school children and young students. However, I am hoping that my blog posts and my volunteering activities will reach a wider audience.
How did you get into it?
It all started last year when my supervisor at the time organised a “Postdoc Away Day” in Stratford Upon Avon. Sarah Blackford was one of the speakers and she was the one that made me realise I was missing out by not having a Twitter account or a blog! I have also attended workshops involving public engagement and communication like the one organised by Voice of Young Scientists.
Why do you do it?
It is fun and gives me the chance to develop new skills. It has helped me to see my research from a different perspective, one that is more down to earth. By exploring creative ways in which I can communicate science, it has helped me find my inner artist.
Why do you think science communication is important?
It makes the public realise that scientists are not weird unapproachable people, but normal human beings. At the same time it helps improve the impact of our research and in my particular case as a STEM ambassador, it also shows kids the fun side of science.
What do you love about science communication?
I like its versatility: you can write papers for science journals and at the same time write for a lay audience. You can step out of the lab and show people what you are doing by exploring your creative side.
What has been your favourite project?
As I mentioned before, being new to this I have not had many opportunities to participate in projects yet. My blog has kept me busy. I like to add photos that I have taken in my posts, and am thinking about trying to sketch sciencey things. The only sketches I have done so far are of fluffy animals!
Do you have any new science communication projects coming up?
I am volunteering for the British Science Association to help organise new events in the West Midlands. I have also joined a new team at Birmingham University in charge of developing and improving the public engagement activities. We are still in the “planning” stages but there soon will be lots of interesting projects.
Any tips for those wanting to get into science communication?
If you are a beginner you might be afraid to start writing or getting involved in events: don’t be! Like in everything else, practice makes perfect. Keep writing and participating in public engagement activities. Follow science communicators and read their blogs, you can learn lots from them!
You can follow Ivette on Twitter at @Ivette_Negrete