“You won’t lose anything by trying.”
This is part of a series of interviews with science communicators about science communication. Today we are Speaking to… Louise Walker
Where are you based?
The University of Manchester, currently doing a PhD
Who do you work for?
Professor Woodman, Faculty of Life Sciences
What type of science communication do you do?
Who is your main audience?
I aim to write for anyone who has an interest in science but doesn’t necessarily do science for a living or come from a scientific background.
How did you get into it?
I’ve always liked writing so it’s something I’d been planning on doing for a while. The blog came about because there were plans to have an official “Faculty of Life Sciences” blog. Those plans fell through but a few of us started up our own blog, and it’s still going strong. The Fastbleep writing came from me answering an e-mail for contributors which was sent around the Faculty.
Why do you do it?
Because I love writing, and science is a fascinating thing to write about. I also think it’s incredibly important to have scientific stories, practices and discoveries explained properly and clearly. Misinterpretation of science is at best annoying and at worst disasterous.
Why do you think science communication is important?
See above. I also think it’s important to dispel the myths that scientists are either all chronic nerds with no social skills, or else we’re all out to dominate the world. I think scientists tend to get a bad rap with the media and that’s unfair. It also means sometimes people mistrust the science being reported because they don’t trust scientists – for example the GM crop debacle and Climategate.
What do you love about science communication?
I get to talk about things which I find interesting! I also like to explain exactly why the work someone has done is important, even if it doesn’t seem so at first. People deserve recognition for their hard work and amazing innovations.
What has been your favourite project?
The blog experience in general has been an incredibly fun learning curve. Not only have I learned lots about writing and editing, but we’ve managed to work together to produce a successful group blog. I’m very proud of that.
Do you have any new science communication projects coming up?
I’m still blogging! I’m taking a little break from science communication as my thesis for my PhD is due in in September, but after that I’m looking for a job that involves plenty of science communication (any offers?).
Any tips for those wanting to get into science communication?
The two “golden rules” are
1) Start a blog and
2) Get on Twitter.
Both of those are the best ways of getting your name out there. One of the other pieces of advice I’ve been given is “never say no”. Don’t decide against entering a writing contest because you think you won’t win, or not apply for a science communication job because you probably won’t get it. You won’t lose anything by trying and it’s all good experience.
You can follow Louise on Twitter at @thinkscientific