“children are very expressive and it’s great to know you’ve got them interested in something new.”
This is part of a series of interviews with science communicators about science communication. Today we are Speaking to… Rosalind Davies
Where are you based?
Who do you work for?
I’m a PhD student at the University of Birmingham researching into new hydrogen storage materials for energy storage.
What type of science communication do you do?
My aim is to get people talking about cleaner energy, especially the use of hydrogen as a means of energy storage. I do this via twitter, as well as school visits and talking to anyone who will listen!
Activities I have been involved with range from model city demonstrations at the Cheltenham science festival to acting out how a fuel cell works, and the addition of an exploding hydrogen balloon to a presentation always goes down well!
When I finish my PhD I’d love to work full time in science communication, engaging with the public and, in particular, with policymakers. I’ve just finished a summer school on ‘Getting research into public policy’ here at the University of Birmingham which has given me more of an insight into how policy is made and how to get involved.
Who is your main audience?
Most of my activities have been engaging with school children of a variety of ages but I think that communicating with adults is just as important. The main reason for this being that my research is funded by the UK taxpayer, so I think they have a right to know about the amazing things researchers like me are finding out thanks to them.
How did you get into it?
Part of my PhD involves outreach projects on behalf of the university and this gave me the opportunity to give it a go and discover just how much I enjoyed it.
After hearing about the STEMNET scheme, which aims to inspire a new generation of scientists, I became a STEMNET Ambassador and this gave me the opportunity to attend more events promoting science. I’ve also trained and volunteered as an Imagineering tutor: an organisation that runs after school clubs to introduce children to engineering as it is a subject they don’t study at school.
Why do you do it?
I love science and I love talking! A lot of people seem to have lost interest in science but don’t realise how big a part it plays in their everyday life: realising that you have re-ignited a scientific interest in someone is very rewarding.
Why do you think science communication is important?
In the area of research that I am involved with, there seems very little point in developing new ways of using and storing energy if no-one knows anything about them. I think that it is crucial to get the public excited about the technology as they will be much more likely to use it in the future.
What do you love about science communication?
Being able to use twitter to communicate to people all over the world is great – it gives everyone the opportunity to voice their opinion.
Going into schools is a lot of fun, as children are very expressive and it’s great to know you’ve got them interested in something new.
What has been your favourite project?
My favourite project has been taking part in FameLab – a science communication competition where you get 3 minutes to talk about a science topic of your choice – here is me linking chocolate with renewable energy
Do you have any new science communication projects coming up?
The University of Birmingham is hosting a communication competition for researchers called ‘Three Minute Thesis’ which I’m really excited about entering!
In addition to this, during the next academic year I want to become more active online, blogging on science topics.
Any tips for those wanting to get into science communication?
My best tip would be to register with STEMNET as a way to get started as they run lots of events ideal for people who are new to communicating science.
You can follow Rosalind on Twitter at @RDscience