Tag Archives: Imperial College

Speaking to… Roberto Trotta

“Everywhere I go, everywhere I talk to the public, I always find very enthusiastic, very involved people who are really keen to know: what have we learned about our place in the universe.”

Roberto-Trotta
Roberto Trotta

This is part of a series of interviews with science communicators about science communication. Today we are Speaking to… Roberto Trotta

Roberto Trotta is a physicist, a cosmologist, to be precise. He’s always had a fascination for space, which has determined the direction of his career. Continue reading

Juliette Mutheu

Speaking to… Juliette Mutheu

Juliette-Mutheu-science-communication
Juliette Mutheu

“Do it for the passion. I feel science communication demands a lot of creativity. If you have no passion chances are you will have pretty low levels of creativity.”

 

This is part of a series of interviews with science communicators about science communication. Today we are Speaking to… Juliette Mutheu.

Name?

Juliette Mutheu-Asego

Where are you based?

Physically: Nairobi, Kenya
Mentally: Anywhere in the world where interesting things are happening J

Who do you work for?

The African Institute for Development Policy (AFIDEP)

What type of science communication do you do?

Well, as opposed to communicating basic science i.e. explaining to people how the malaria parasite develops and affects the body. I am now focusing more on communicating scientific research evidence; providing research evidence in a simple way and encouraging its use to inform action or also just gained/shared knowledge with no expected action.

Who is your main audience?

At the moment my major focus is policy makers, and then media, development partners as well as the general public-‘man on the street’. Providing them with well packaged information on issues on population and reproductive health, more specifically family planning.

How did you get into it?

I usually like to link it back to when I was doing my honours degree on population health and epidemiology at Monash University. I joined a radio station at RMIT in Melbourne, Australia, called SYN 90.7, a community radio station for students. At SYN a group of young researchers and medical students run a programme called DrWhat which really spoke about various health issues: the facts, the stats and the people living with these health problems. Basically, during the week, I was involved in research and on weekends I spoke about it; what scientific research evidence there was about the various diseases we were talking about, sharing the data and the knowledge I was acquiring which I was pretty sure was not being accessed by our listeners! The best thing about the radio show was being able to interview experts (doctors, researchers etc) as well as interviewing other people which at times included celebrities.

Why do you think science communication is important?

The type of science communication that I do I feel is important because it informs policies that play a role in improving the lives of citizens. Take for example population growth, research from various sources suggests that the population of Africa will grow from its current 900million or so people to about 2billion by 2050. Majority of the population is youthful and provides an opportunity for African governments to tap into this future large labour surplus. These governments can do so by adequately investing in sectors such as education, health, and creation of more jobs to build the capacities and opportunities for this large future workforce. Providing this needed evidence to support development and seeing policies begin to change is really exciting. As a researcher I felt as though with my research lens I was zooming into one of the worlds millions of problems and trying to really understand this one issue in great detail. As a science communicator I feel like I am bringing various sources of information together and then sharing it in a simple way and building on the quality of discussions people are having.

What do you love about science communication?

That it UPs the level of debate/discussions people are having. Engaging people in scientific research evidence leads to people having debates based on evidence as opposed to myths, old wives tales or speculations. I sometimes listen to people debating on something that I think could be answered by someone doing a research on that problem or perhaps finding out if answers to those questions are already available. I feel that Science Communication elevates discussions; as opposed to having a debate on the question/problem it allows people to have a debate on the available answers/solutions.

What has been your favourite project?

Not one but three. The DrWhat show on SYN 90.7 in Melbourne, Australia, the Science Café’s in Kenya and doing a stint as a science writer for the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, in Okinawa, Japan. They were all different in their own merit. The radio show and the Science Café’s happened before I did my masters in science communication at Imperial College, so they were more experimental and relied a lot more on raw enthusiasm and dedication. The science writing skills I gained from Imperial College London, has sort of challenged me to really think about issues as I write about them as well as thinking about my audiences and if what I am writing will make sense to them. The beautiful thing about writing is that it cuts across the board; one needs it in radio, TV, Web etc.

Audio: DrWhat show

Audio: Science Café’s on BBC

Do you have any new science communication projects coming up?

No not at the moment. I am on hiatus, almost like I have taken a break to build on the basics of science communication; improving on my writing, learning from others as well as just reflecting on the few things I have done and looking outwards and onwards.

Any tips for those wanting to get into science communication?

Do it for the passion. I feel science communication demands a lot of creativity. If you have no passion chances are you will have pretty low levels of creativity.

You can follow Juliette on Twitter at @JulietteJM

Stephen McGann

Speaking to…Stephen McGann

“Do it because you love it. Enthusiasm is the most connective form of communication.”

This is part of a series of interviews with science communicators about science communication. Today we are Speaking to… Stephen McGann

Stephen-McGann-science-communication
Stephen McGann

Name? 

Stephen McGann

Who do you work for?

Freelance – so that means everybody. I’ve just finished working as an actor on a BBC TV series called “Call the Midwife.”  I play a doctor in the early years of the NHS, which can involve communicating quite graphic medical detail for a general audience. This feeds into my sci-comm interests rather nicely. I wrote about these experiences for the Imperial College Sci-com blog Refractive Index.

Most recently, I’ve been developing corporate communication skills training for a business in the Middle East, whilst planning the next stage of my academic studies in the field of Science Communication. Also, I’ve just begun collaboration on an great new theatre science project with a children’s theatre group in Essex.

What type of science communication do you do?

As much as possible! It’s such a diverse field, and I like to experience as many channels of science communication as I can. I enjoy STEM print journalism, and spent some time writing for the BBC Online Technology website. Also, my past experience in Arts media has given me some useful insights into live presentation, interview skills, radio and TV, narrative structure, and PR. I enjoy using these media as a means to communicate complexity in a connective, engaging way.

Who is your main audience?

All of us. Like many, I’m sceptical of the idea of some generalised non-science ‘public’ . The best sci-comm I read or watch is multi-layered – allowing for concurrent access points for audience comprehension and appreciation at different levels of expertise. For instance, the night sky is awe-inspiring to the youngest of minds. Yet it is also full of complex physics. Both things needn’t be mutually exclusive in a good communication. Drama understands this layered narrative. Good Sci-comm does too.

How did you get into it?

Like all the best things I’ve done – Circuitously! I am what might charitably be described as a mature *cough* student. I returned to STEM education ten years ago, after many years spent in screen and theatre Arts. My undergraduate degree was in computer science, followed by an MSc in Science Communication at Imperial College London. I was driven by a lifelong interest in the popular view of science, and felt that my communicative work experiences might have something to offer.

Why do you do it?

Because I believe there has never been a more important time to engage with complex scientific issues as a global citizen. Science is ours. It belongs to all of us – not simply to an imagined elite. It brings enormous societal benefits. It saves lives. Yet this power entails a collective responsibility to understand, explain and listen. This can require some intimidating multi-disciplinary skills – yet there can be few more useful vocations in the 21st century.

What do you love about science communication?

Its breadth. It is a field which embraces science education, exhibitions, policy, journalism, history, broadcasting, philosophy, documentary, sociology, PR. An enormously varied and vibrant world.

What has been your favourite project?

At Imperial I worked with two fellow students on a project to construct a hoax scientific documentary. This aimed to demonstrate how easily our personal human biases can be manipulated – despite scientific background or training. It was enormous fun to be so duplicitous and unethical for the sake of research!

Any tips for those wanting to get into science communication?

Do it because you love it. Enthusiasm is the most connective form of communication.

You can follow Stephen on Twitter at @StephenMcGann or read his blog The Theatre of Reason