“Don’t over-analyze your plans- just go for it! Take risks; make mistakes; be human; give your communication a personal spin.”
This is part of a series of interviews with science communicators about science communication. Today we are Speaking to… Professor John Hutchinson
Professor John R. Hutchinson
Where are you based?
The Royal Veterinary College, University of London, UK
Who do you work for?
Same as above (in Department of Comparative Biomedical Sciences)
What type of science communication do you do?
General science communication (especially anatomy, evolution, biomechanics, zoology, palaeontology) but also communicating the research my team does (in those fields); online mainly but also in other formats including in person.
Who is your main audience?
People interested in nature.
How did you get into it?
I maintained an interest in biology since childhood; I followed in my father’s footsteps in terms of going into an academic, scientific career; I suppose just because it felt right and excited me most.
Why do you think science communication is important?
Science communication is important because without it, science gets overlooked even though it is probably the greatest human endeavour. Scientists tend to be too quiet and too reluctant to explain their technical work to the “outside world.” Yet our funding, our jobs, and our humanity depend on bringing the wonder of science to the rest of society.
What do you love about science communication?
Fun people, a change of pace from my normal research activities, and exciting new ways to test and refine my skills as a scientist and science lover.
What has been your favourite project?
In science communication, it would have to be my first experience explaining my work to the media – I published a paper in Nature in 2002 on T. rex and it was a huge media bonanza for over 2 weeks almost nonstop, and this ended up largely establishing my career. So I owe a lot to that experience, and learned immensely about communicating science from it.
Do you have any new science communication projects coming up?
Tons! My team is on a roll lately, generating some of our best work since the early 2000’s. We have new, exciting papers being published this year and will be pushing hard to make them accessible to the public and sharing the joy of our research.
Any tips for those wanting to get into science communication?
Start immediately! Don’t over-analyze your plans- just go for it! Take risks; make mistakes; be human; give your communication a personal spin. Get connected online (Twitter, and start a blog; minimally these things) and get involved, and figure the rest out as you go along. Listen a lot to the experts- there is a massive amount of helpful tips online. Read even more obsessively and broadly to diversify and deepen your knowledge.
You can follow John on Twitter at @JohnRHutchinson and read all about his work on his blog What’s in John’s Freezer?