Tag Archives: TV

Speaking to… Adam Hart

” I love talking about science, I enjoy the theatricality of giving talks and broadcasting work, even at the early stages, has taken me to fascinating people and places around the world.”

Adam Hart Science CommunicationThis is part of a series of interviews with science communicators about science communication. Today we are Speaking to… Adam Hart

Name?

Professor Adam Hart

Where are you based?

Cheltenham

Who do you work for?

University of Gloucestershire

What type of science communication do you do?

All sorts! The last two weeks have seen me talking to various audiences about the cross-over between biology and engineering and insect pheromones; interviewing a developmental biologist for a Radio 4 documentary; helping to develop and plan an upcoming TV documentary I am doing; chaperoning undergraduate students in the Houses of Parliament learning about how science informs policy; analysing and planning ongoing citizen science projects with the Society of Biology (The Flying Ant Survey and Spider in da House); writing two magazine articles; assessing a CREST science project in a local 6th form; thinking ahead about National Insect Week and doing a local radio interview. Looking back through the diary that’s pretty typical and it can be a struggle fitting it in with university responsibilities, teaching and an active research programme. I’ve learnt to be very time efficient, I work well on trains and I have a very understanding employer! Continue reading

Minna Headshot (Credit Tamas Bansagi)

Speaking to…Minna Kane

Minna-Kane-science-communication
Minna Kane

“I’ve managed to travel to some great places and been exposed to some great scientific research.”

 

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

Name?

Minna Kane

Where are you based?

Currently, Boston, MA but I’m about to move to the DC Metro area. I also work on projects in the UK.

Who do you work for?

I’m a freelancer so I’ve worked for different people over the years including the BBC in the UK and NOVA in Boston.

What type of science communication do you do?

I produce science documentaries both in the States and UK. I’ve also done bits of voice-over work and recently presented a show for BBC Learning. Prior to TV I used to work in healthcare communications (PR and advertising) and the writing skills I developed there have allowed me to carry out other short-term projects (alongside TV work) for companies like Thomson Reuters.

Who is your main audience?

My TV work has a mainstream audience which includes both adults and kids. My writing work tends to be specialist.

How did you get into it?

Straight after completing my BSc I joined the graduate scheme at Weber Shandwick. After a couple of years working in healthcare communications, I decided I wanted to pursue TV. As I had done my BSc at Imperial, I knew about their Science Communication course and thus enrolled (I chose this over the Media Production course as I wanted to get a broad understand of science communication along with studying completely new areas for me, such as the history and philosophy of science. I then tailored my practical modules to TV and radio). As part of the course I did work experience at an independent production company and they offered me a job as a researcher. I’ve now been working in TV ever since.

Why do you do it?

I enjoy what I do and love the variety and flexibility it offers. Also, I’ve managed to travel to some great places and been exposed to some great scientific research.

Why do you think science communication is important?

When I was at school I used to enjoy science but hated the rep it had: “it was too hard”, “geeky”, “elitist”, etc. I always thought if there was a way to break away from this more people would feel they “could” like it and realise their potential in the subject. I still believe this and am yet to really fulfill this in my own work (though it is a goal of mine). Nowadays I also think having dialogue with the public is important as they fund lots of science research.

What do you love about science communication?

I enjoy learning new things and as every project is different I am constantly doing this. Depending on what you want to do in this sector there is also an entrepreneurial element – if you have a great idea, there is funding there to support you accomplish it.

What has been your favourite project?

There are a couple of things that stand out for me. I really had fun presenting the show for BBC Learning – it was nice being on the other side of the camera as I got to enjoy the experiences the production team had set up for me (such as driving at Silverstone Racetrack). Also, when I first moved to Boston I worked on the first series of the NOVA show “Making Stuff”. It was hard work as I had lots of responsibility and it included lots of travelling. Despite this it was fun and a great way to see parts of the States (and the down day and evening drinks in the Bahamas wasn’t bad either).

Do you have any new science communication projects coming up?

Yes, I am currently partnering with Leeds University, the Society of Dyers and Colourists, and Rainbow Winters (all in the UK) on a project about Britain’s colour heritage. The subject is so broad but we’re focusing on pigments and dyes and it is great because it intersects science, art and textiles. I’m very excited about it for a number of reasons including the fact it is something different from what I’ve done before.

I’ve also just finished filming on a show for the second series of “Making Stuff” which will be aired on PBS NOVA in Oct/Nov.

Any tips for those wanting to get into science communication?

Get stuck in – there is no excuse really as you can blog, create videos for YouTube, and make podcasts all from the luxury of your home (these are all great ways to showcase your talent if you’re new and looking to break-in). If you think you know what area of science communication you want to pursue try and get work experience in it and volunteer at science festivals if that’s your thing. To me, all this should be a given and so the best piece of advice I can offer is to network. This comes in all shapes and doesn’t have to be daunting! In this freelance industry you often hear about jobs through your network – most of the work I get is through referrals – so be sure to do the best job you can and get on with people. If you don’t personally know anyone in the field you want to enter, find someone and drop them an introductory email. You will probably be surprised at how willing they are to offer advice and they may be your lead to a great job. Even though I had been working in the UK before moving to the States, I didn’t know anyone in TV here so I bit the bullet and just dropped someone an email and they led me to someone else and so and so on.

You may also want to consider an MSc Science Communication course. I did the one at Imperial and really enjoyed it. These courses tend to be good as you meet lots of like-minded people, they help you get work experience, and the people you meet (both on the course and at work experience) all become part of your network. However, these can be expensive so don’t feel this is the only route. I have met many great science communicators who didn’t do one of these courses and they are extremely successful.

You can follow Minna on Twitter at @MinnaKane

David Gregory-Kumar

Speaking to… David Gregory-Kumar

David-Gregory-Kumar-science-communication
David Gregory-Kumar

“It’s never the same day twice.”

 

This is part of a series of interviews with science communicators about science communication. Today we are Speaking to… David Gregory-Kumar

Name?

David Gregory-Kumar

Where are you based?

Birmingham

Who do you work for?

The BBC

What type of science communication do you do?

I cover Science and Environment issues for BBC TV, radio and online usually based here in the Midlands. So my job is to either find science stories that aren’t being covered elsewhere or to add expert commentary to science stories that are in the news.

Who is your main audience?

In terms of numbers the biggest audience I broadcast to will be those watching BBC Midlands Today at 1830 on BBC One which can get close to a million people on a really good day. But for me any one watching or listening is important.

How did you get into it?

I was a physicist but I’d always been interested in journalism. While I worked on the research for my PhD I managed to freelance a few pieces for the science sections of some newspapers and after I finished my research I did some work for BBC Radio 5 Live. Then I got this job.

Why do you do it?

It really is the best job in the world. I love science and I love explaining how it works to a general audience. And the tools I have at my disposal to do that have grown thanks to evolving technology. So we can create better tv and radio reports, go live from places it would never have been possible before and back it all up with more detailed analysis on my BBC blog.

Why do you think science communication is important?

Because there are big decisions made using science and research and we need to explain them clearly. We’ll shortly see the start of a badger cull and it’s vital to explain the science behind it to our viewers and listeners. Especially as both sides of the debate over culling turn to science to back up their arguments.

What do you love about science communication?

It’s never the same day twice.

What has been your favourite project?

It’s always fun to report from a big lab be it CERN or T2K in Japan.

Do you have any new science communication projects coming up?

This summer we’re looking to return to CERN and ask where they go next after discovering the Higgs.

Any tips for those wanting to get into science communication?

Be yourself.

You can follow David on Twitter at @DrDavidGK

Speaking to… Professor Jim Al-Khalili

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Professor Jim Al-Khalili

This feature podcast is part of a series of interviews with science communicators about science communication. Today we are Speaking to… Professor Jim Al-Khalili

Professor Jim Al-Khalili is a bit of a specialist when it comes to balancing his time between research and doing plenty of science communication. I went to visit him at the University of Surrey for a chat to see just how he does it.

You can follow Jim on Twitter at @jimalkhalili and follow his many activities on his website.

Professor Athene Donald

Speaking to… Professor Athene Donald

Professor-Athene-Donald-science-communication
Professor Athene Donald

“As one of the relatively few senior women physicists I feel it is important for new generations growing up to realise that it is possible to be a physicist and a woman; a woman with children at that. And it’s fun!”

This is part of a series of interviews with science communicators about science communication. Today we are Speaking to… Professor Athene Donald

Name?

Athene Donald

Where are you based?

Cambridge (UK)

Who do you work for?

University of Cambridge, where I’m a Professor of Experimental Physics

What type of science communication do you do?

My most regular activity is blogging: I have my own blog at Occams Typewriter but I also blog approximately monthly through the Occam’s Corner Blog on the Guardian Science Blogs and most recently at the new Institute of Physics Blog PhysicsFocus (where we are meant to post every few weeks). Of these it is obviously the Guardian site which is most generally going to reach the general public. I’ve also written a few one-off articles for the broadsheets.

However in addition I talk to schools, science festival activities and the like from time to time, limited by the state of my diary. I’ve also done occasional mainstream radio programmes – by which I mean, not specifically science programmes like Material World, but programmes such as Desert Island Discs, Start the Week, A Good Read, Woman’s Hour, Essential Classics and In Our Time. I love these opportunities to sneak a little science into general programmes, and judging by the emails I get afterwards, these often strike a chord. I feel really fortunate to have been given all these golden opportunities.

I think it’s through my blogging I’ve recently become identified as a ‘science communicator’ – it’s not a label I’d apply to myself particularly. I’m a practicing academic scientist who likes talking about what I do, not a full time communicator.

Who is your main audience?

That depends, as indicated above. For many of these it is for the general public. I do think it is really important to convey to them that scientists aren’t all like they imagine Dr Frankenstein to have been. We are ‘normal’ people to whom they can relate and who do things that genuinely are interesting, creative and important.

How did you get into it?

I suppose the first major activity was when I headed up the team of 4 of us who gave the Institute of Physics 1995 series of lectures. This was about polymers and was called Building with Snakes. It taught me a lot about how to avoid jargon and put ideas across in a clear and lively manner. But shortly after that I had a bad experience with the media after a poorly worded press release discussing a major grant on colloids. That certainly put me off for at least a decade! Since then I’ve had media training and feel a lot more comfortable doing this sort of work.

Why do you do it?

Because it matters. As one of the relatively few senior women physicists I feel it is important for new generations growing up to realise that it is possible to be a physicist and a woman; a woman with children at that. And it’s fun!

Why do you think science communication is important?

Many people feel that science is too difficult for them, yet it matters to them at a fundamental level and they may have to make decisions relating to science, whether they understand it or not (for instance MMR vaccinations as a specific example which is back in the news again). Scientists need to share their love for the subject and convey its relevance to everyone. This is the only way we have to help citizens make informed judgements about everything from climate change to health risks they may be taking.

What do you love about science communication?

It’s an opportunity to share the excitement, not only of the science itself, but of the scientific process. It’s a way of engaging with young and old that can be very stimulating. I am often surprised by the sophistication of the questions that I get asked.

What has been your favourite project?

My blog gives me enormous satisfaction. It gives me an opportunity to write in a style far-removed from that of scientific papers or grant proposals, to have fun with the written word in ways I had forgotten for many years. But I also believe it’s important to get stuff out for people to read.

Do you have any new science communication projects coming up?

More of the same with nothing significantly different in planning, but in my experience one should expect the unexpected. Recently I recorded a brief bit of film for Flog It about the Young’s slits experiment (not sure when it will be broadcast) – you never know what opportunities may come your way, but you have to be up for them.

Any tips for those wanting to get into science communication?

If you’re interested in writing – do some. Starting your own blog is a good way to find out if you enjoy it and feel able to commit to it regularly. Get some media training if you’re more interested in oral communication; it will help you find out how to express complicated ideas in a sufficiently simple way. There are lots of opportunities to get involved eg through local science festivals, becoming STEM Ambassadors etc. Don’t just think about it – get going!

You can follow Athene on Twitter at @AtheneDonald