“Science communication isn’t just about encouraging youngsters to study science and have a science career, it is so much more than that.”
This is part of a series of interviews with science communicators about science communication. Today we are Speaking to…Heather Doran.
Where are you based?
University of Aberdeen
Who do you work for?
University of Aberdeen.
What type of science communication do you do?
My role is to support researchers from all subjects to share their work with the public. I am part of the Public Engagement with Research Unit at the University of Aberdeen with Dr Ken Skeldon, and Dr Rhiannon Thompson. Previously I edited and co-founded the Au Science magazine which is still going and allows students (undergrad and PhD) to write about research from the University of Aberdeen. I also write a blog at Science had the answer which switches between talking about my PhD and writing about science representation in the media. In my spare time I organise skeptics in the pub talks (that tend to be science based) with Sonia Watson.
Who is your main audience?
Very varied! From ages 5 to 105 from all backgrounds through various activities, events and projects.
How did you get into it?
I really got into it when I was a PhD student at the University of Aberdeen. I felt the work many people were doing at Aberdeen was incredible and I found it really interesting and thought others would too. It felt like a whole new world that no-one knew about!
I started looking into ways to share research work and got involved with a number of activities with what was the Public Engagement with Science department at the University of Aberdeen.
Why do you think science communication is important?
Science communication isn’t just about encouraging youngsters to study science and have a science career, it is so much more than that. Science can be a form of entertainment and interest in the same way sports, music, art and performance are part of human lives. Science can also be highly political and influence our lives so a portion of communication is important to ensure that those that have the power to make our world better make the best decisions. I am very much a believer in evidence based decision making.
What do you love about science communication?
I just love being able to explain things to people! I really enjoy being able to support and allow researchers to share with a captive audience what it is they are passionate about.
What has been your favourite project?
My favourite project so far has to be the science magazine. It was an incredible learning curve and involved working with a fantastically talented group of people. It had science, writing, fun, talks, events, dragons den style media pitches, meeting some ‘famous’ scientists and it opened up lots of opportunities. I met so many people!
Do you have any new science communication projects coming up?
We are currently helping to put together a series of (very exciting) researcher led events for the May Festival that is happening at the University of Aberdeen. Along with a few other projects!
Any tips for those wanting to get into science communication?
Just do it! Get involved with those already active in your area. Try different forms of communication and work out what it is you enjoy the most.
You can follow Heather on Twitter at @hapsci