Tag Archives: Women in science

Lindsey Yoder

Speaking to… Lindsey Yoder

“I fully embrace my inner nerd and want to share with our youth that science is our future and it is so exciting!”

Lindsey-Yoder-Science-Communication
Lindsey Yoder

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

Name?

Lindsey Yoder

Where are you based?

Hillsborough, NC

Who do you work for?

Merck

What type of science communication do you do?

I am a Science Cheerleader, a group of current and former NFL and NBA cheerleaders that have STEM- based careers. We engage the public through appearances and on the web to learn about science. We inspire adults to participate in science experiments and activities, and our youth to pursue a career in science.

Who is your main audience?

We engage all ages but I connect mostly with young girls. I help them understand that you don’t have to fit a certain mold to be a scientist- you can be a cheerleader and a engineer or a gymnast and a doctor!

How did you get into it?

In college I was an ambassador for the College of Engineering. In this role I would recruit potential students to consider pursuing a degree in Engineering. I was on the college dance team and would share my experiences balancing school and sports to inspire students to take on the challenging Engineering courses. I would explain how exciting Engineering is and all the opportunities it presents. My passion for communicating how great STEM is has never left, and I was extremely eager to be a Science Cheerleader the moment I heard about it.

Why do you do it?

I grew up thinking scientists were born smart; that they solved math equations instead of playing with dolls and went to MIT and Harvard. I did believe the stereotypes, and found myself hiding the fact that I was smart so that I wouldn’t be labeled as a ‘nerd’. Now I fully embrace my inner nerd and want to share with our youth that science is our future and it is so exciting! The opportunities I have been given were given to me because of my science background and I want everyone to have these same opportunities to do really cool things that solve the world’s problems!

Why do you think science communication is important?

I think it is so important because science is what solves the world’s problems and if we don’t communicate how cool science is, then we won’t have anyone interested in science to help shape our future.

What do you love about science communication?

The thing I love most about science communication is seeing others get excited about learning something new, and then start asking questions about everything around them like ‘How is that made?’ or ‘Why use that material?’

What has been your favourite project?

My favorite project with Science Cheerleader has been Project MERCCURI (Microbial Ecology Research Combining Citizen and University Researchers on ISS) This research aims to compare microbes we collect at various venues across the nation, with those the astronauts find on the ISS. We’ll also compare growth rates by sending up to 40 of the samples we collect to the ISS!

Do you have any new science communication projects coming up?

I continue to do appearances and speaking engagements on behalf of Science Cheerleader, and our Project MERCCURI is still going on!

Any tips for those wanting to get into science communication?

Volunteers are needed so test the waters by contacting your local science museum. From there you can participate in events and get involved with communicating science to the public.

Francis Bacon

Speaking to… Francis Bacon

“I’ve always been interested in the work of the Society so was excited when the position came up. Quite a few people have said that with the name I have, it’s fate that I ended up here!”

Francis-Bacon-science-communication
Francis Bacon

This is part of a series of interviews with science communicators about science communication. Today we are Speaking to…Francis Bacon
Name?

Francis Bacon

Where are you based?

London

Who do you work for?

The Royal Society

What type of science communication do you do?

I’m the Digital Communications Editor at the Society so I help people at the Society use digital media to communicate about the organisation’s wide range of activities (e.g. our public events programme, scientific conferences and policy reports) and about the scientists with whom we work (e.g. our Fellows, our grant-funded scientists and winners of our prestigious awards). I’ve also developed some new initiatives including collaborations with Wikipedia and the development of video games about science.

Who is your main audience?

We have lots of audiences: our Fellows, scientists in the UK and abroad, people who are interested in science – and those who aren’t!

How did you get into it?

I previously worked for an online publisher writing content and developing new online products. I’ve always been interested in the work of the Society so was excited when the position came up. Quite a few people have said that with the name I have, it’s fate that I ended up here!

Why do you do it?

I’m interested in how historic organisations like the Royal Society can use digital media to transform their operations and have a greater impact.

Why do you think science communication is important?

I personally believe that science is the most powerful method we have of understanding the world around us and that it can help us to develop solutions for some of the world’s most pressing problems. It’s important that people who aren’t scientists have some understanding of and connection to it.

What do you love about science communication?

I think there are lots of exciting developments at the moment, particularly online. There are a lot of opportunities for using things like social media to make direct connections between scientists and the public.

What has been your favourite project?

I enjoyed working with Wikimedia on our Women in Science edit-a-thon. They kindly gave us an award for the work and we’re planning further collaborations with them.

Do you have any new science communication projects coming up?

We’ve just finished this year’s Summer Science Exhibition, which is our flagship public event for which we developed loads of exciting digital content. We’re starting planning next year’s already!

Any tips for those wanting to get into science communication?

The big opportunities are online: and the growth there is with social media and mobile technology. If you want to have maximum impact, that’s where to go.

You can follow Francis on Twitter at @andeggs or see what he’s up to 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

Ann Hoang

Speaking to… Ann Hoang

“As any writer will tell you, the best way to improve your writing is to read more.”

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

Ann-Hoang-science-communication
Ann Hoang

Name?

Ann Hoang

Who do you work for?

I founded STEMinist in 2010. It’s a website where we feature news and profiles about women in science, tech, engineering and math. In my other life I am a Software Engineer for a research group in the University of Oregon’s College of Education.

What type of science communication do you do?

On STEMinist our most popular feature is our profiles. We do email interviews with women from a variety of STEM careers, typically asking them questions about their backgrounds, interests, and advice they may have for other women in STEM.

In addition to the profiles, we publish links to articles about women in STEM.

Who is your main audience?

Our audience is mostly people working in STEM. There are also a lot of people and organizations involved in STEM education and outreach as well.

How did you get into it?

When I first joined Twitter a few years ago I discovered, much to my pleasant surprise, a large community of women in STEM. It was so inspiring to know I wasn’t alone. STEMinist initially started out as a Tweet aggregator and then evolved into publishing original content as well as curating relevant links.

Why do you do it?

There are many reasons behind the lack of women in STEM (see the AAUW’s excellent 2010 report “Why So Few?”) but one of the issues I felt I could take action on was visibility. Through our profiles, links, and social media we want to help women in STEM be seen and heard.

What do you love about your job?

The feedback from our followers. I work on STEMinist in my spare time and sometimes it gets hard to find the time, but then I’ll get a message or Tweet about how someone loves what we do. It reminds me that though the premise of our site is relatively simple, it fulfills an important purpose. Just the other day one of the first women we profiled on STEMinist reported a gal approached her at a conference and told her how inspired she was after reading her profile on our site! It doesn’t get better than that.

What has been your favourite project?

I have as much fun reading the profiles as much as compiling them! But last year around NCAA Basketball Tournament time we held our own “tournament” called STEMinist Madness. We started with a field of 64 historical women in STEM and readers voted on head-to-head match-ups until we eventually ended up with a champion (Ada Lovelace). I’d love to do more projects like that which intersect the worlds of STEM and pop culture.

Any tips for those wanting to get into science communication?

As any writer will tell you, the best way to improve your writing is to read more. So I would encourage you to find, follow, and read your favorite science writers (I’ve found great people on ScienceBlogs.com and Scientopia.org.

You can follow the amazing STEMinist profiles and features on Twitter at @STEMinist or visit the website directly at www.steminist.com