Tag Archives: interviews

Alison-Aktin-Science-communication1

Speaking to… Alison Atkin

“I had such a great time with the students, schools, and other ‘role models’ that I knew I had found something I wanted to continue to do for a long time.”

Alison-Atkin-science-communication
Alison Atkin

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

Name?

Alison Atkin

Where are you based?

On either side of the Pennines (depends on the day).

Who do you work for?

I am a PhD student at the University of Sheffield; I also work at MOSI; the majority of my science communication is volunteer/freelance.

What type of science communication do you do?

I do lots of hands-on sessions and presentations, ranging from classroom settings to science festivals. I also run a website called Penny University, which interviews PhD students, post-docs, and early career researchers.

Who is your main audience?

I work with everyone – kids, schools, university students, families, special needs groups, retirees. It depends a lot on the event!

How did you get into it?

I actually got started in science communication during my undergraduate degree (in Canada). I got involved with a really great organisation called Techsploration, which aims to get young women to explore careers in science, trades, and technology. I had such a great time with the students, schools, and other ‘role models’ that I knew I had found something I wanted to continue to do for a long time.

Why do you do it?

I do it because I love it. I have always been hugely passionate about science – and learning in general – and I love to see people get excited about it too. It is an absolute privilege to share my experiences and education with other people and to bring them an opportunity they might not otherwise have (like getting hands-on with a human skeleton). I had some great science teachers in school (we built hovercrafts, trebuchets, dropped things off the roof… to, you know… learn about gravity) and it made me realise just how much fun science can be – and that it’s not necessarily that hard either. I think it’s important for everyone to have an experience like that in their life, whether they are six or 76!

Why do you think science communication is important?

I think that regardless of whether people pursue an education or career in the sciences, it is important to be exposed to it – and to understand how science works, because it is such a huge part of our everyday lives. I think a lot of people can be intimidated by science; science communication allows people to engage with science in new ways, making it less intimidating and more interesting. It also helps people to realise just how much variety there is when it comes to science – it’s everywhere!

What do you love about science communication?

The questions!  I have been absolutely floored by the questions people ask at events.  It confirms to me that everyone is a natural scientist – and I usually learn just as much from the people attending the events, as they learn from me.

What has been your favourite project?

It is quite difficult to pick a favourite, since I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in some really great projects.  I should say that Penny University is my favourite, although it only exists thanks to I’m a Scientist, so maybe I should tip my hat to them (side note: I would recommend taking part in it to anyone).  Penny University has only just begun, but I’ve learned a lot already – especially as it’s an entirely new style of science communication for me (online and a bit more academic).

Do you have any new science communication projects coming up?

Yes!  I am really excited to say that Penny University is working with Manchester Science Festival this year and we’re going to be running a live event: a 21st century coffee house where people can come, have some delicious science-themed coffees and learn about all kinds of incredible science research.  In addition to a couple of other events during Manchester Sci Fest that I’ll be taking part in, I am also attending some other festivals this summer with ScienceGrrl!

Any tips for those wanting to get into science communication?

It’ll be the best thing you ever do – so absolutely get involved if you’re interested.  There are lots of organisations and groups out there that are always welcoming new people – you will very quickly go from being a bit unsure, having never done science communication before, to filling up your calendar with outreach days, school visits, science festivals and more… I guarantee it.  It is also a very good idea to learn how other people communicate science: attend festivals, listen to podcasts, read science blogs, etc – you can learn a lot from other people!

You can follow Alison on Twitter at @alisonatkin or see what she’s up to on her blog. 

Speaking to… Robin Ince and Trent Burton about The Incomplete Map of the Cosmic Genome

TIMOTCG-science-communication
The Incomplete Map of the Cosmic Genome

This feature podcast is part of a series of interviews with science communicators about science communication. Today we are Speaking to… Robin Ince and Trent Burton about The Incomplete Map of the Cosmic Genome

Today’s feature podcast about science communication is with Robin Ince, “comedian, writer and that sort of thing” and Trent Burton founder of Trunkman Productions, who are the face and brains behind the new app The Incomplete Map of the Cosmic Genome. This app showcases a myriad of interviews with scientists and science communicators about what it is they do…..sounds slightly familiar…So I went to meet them in one of their pop-up studios at UCL to find out a bit more about the app.

It is a rather long interview, but super fun so stick with it!

You can find out more about the cosmic genome app on their website, or follow them on Twitter at @cosmicgenome

Dr Heather Williams

Speaking to…Dr Heather Williams

“Science it isn’t the preserve of geeks and nerds hiding away in laboratories, it is the means by which we grasp how our world works.”

This is part of a series of interviews with science communicators about science communication. Today we are Speaking to… Dr Heather Williams

Dr Heather Williams
Dr Heather Williams

Name?
Dr Heather Williams 

Who do you work for?
Central Manchester University Hospitals, as a Senior Medical Physicist for Nuclear Medicine
 
What type of science communication do you do?
I’m a STEM Ambassador and often give careers talks, guest lectures, and speeches at award ceremonies in that capacity. I’ve also acted as a demonstrator on Lab in a Lorry and science busker for Bang Goes the Theory: Live. I’m also active in discussing science – including the science I do – on Twitter (@alrightPET) and drew on these connections earlier this year to found ScienceGrrl (@Science_Grrl), a network of predominantly female scientists who are passionate about passing on their love of STEM to the next generation.
 
Who is your main audience?
Mainly secondary school and college students, although there are also adults at some of the guest lectures I give.
 
How did you get into it?
I registered as a STEM ambassador after taking on responsibility for work experience placements in our department, which I was given as I was a volunteer youth worker at the time and therefore thought to be the best person to relate to young people! It all sprung from there.
 
Why do you do it?
I love being able to make science understood, and helping people understand that it underpins every aspect of life – it isn’t the preserve of geeks and nerds hiding away in laboratories, it is the means by which we grasp how our world works.
 
What do you love about your job?
I’m a Medical Physicist primarily, I look after imaging equipment and the associated software, and make sure it gives reliable results, so the medics interpreting the images can trust what they see and make the right judgements about what is wrong with their patients.
 
What has been your favourite project?
At work? My PhD, which proved conclusively that my idea for imaging cell multiplication rates in lung tumours was rubbish. Within science communication? Passing on a demonstration from one of my lectures to the producer of Bang Goes the Theory comes pretty close (they used it in episode 2 of the last series), but if I’m honest it was how well my speech was received at the launch party for the ScienceGrrl 2013 calendar.
 
Any tips for those wanting to get into science communication?
Start by trying to explain what you do in simple terms, but don’t patronise your audience. Imagine you are trying to communicate your work to the person sitting next to you on the train or the bus; you want them to get off at their stop thinking your work is brilliant – and you aren’t bad either.
Speaking of Science globecolours

Welcome!

Speaking of Science
Speaking of Science

Hello, and welcome to Speaking of Science, a central hub for all things science communication!

So what is this thing we are calling science communication? Well, the answer seems to differ for everyone who does it. But the main theme is that they communicate and share science with others.

Who, what, how, when, where and why is what Speaking of Science is hoping to discover using interviews, news, events and guest blogs.

So, if you have anything to say on science communication, get in touch and we’ll let everyone else know too!

The logo for Speaking of Science has kindly been designed by Andrew Mehigan.