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Joe-Hanson-Science-communication

Speaking to… Joe Hanson

 “science becomes infinitely more entertaining and valuable to people when they see that it doesn’t exist on some deserted island only inhabited by socially-stunted misfits in ill-fitting clothing, but rather that it connects to other things that they like, and that they don’t have to feel awkward or excluded by being “into it”.”

Joe-Hanson-Science-communicationThis is part of a series of interviews with science communicators about science communication. Today we are Speaking to… Joe Hanson

Name?

Joe Hanson

Where are you based?

Austin, TX

Who do you work for?

PBS Digital Studios, and myself. And for that glow cloud, hovering outside of town, that no one is sure actually exists.

What type of science communication do you do?

I write and host (and sometimes film and edit) a YouTube series about science called It’s Okay To Be Smart, which is produced by PBS Digital Studios (our public broadcasting service here in the States). I try to uncover the amazing parts of everyday life as they relate to science. One week that might mean thinking about how much air there is around Earth, the next week it might be about superheroes and their animal counterparts. I also write an award-winning science-themed Tumblr, which is just like a normal blog, but with more animated GIFs and the occasional picture of Carl Sagan riding a dinosaur while holding a light saber. I also do the occasional bit of freelance science writing.

Who is your main audience?

I make stuff for curious non-scientists of all ages. But since I’m on Tumblr and YouTube, which are pretty young, most of my audience is 15-35. But I resonate with people from 8 to 80.

I try to reach out and grab people who might not think they want to read about science, and then politely trick them into doing so. That might mean using super-engaging photos and videos, or internet memes, or art as a hook. My driving principle is “science plus ____”. By that I mean that science becomes infinitely more entertaining and valuable to people when they see that it doesn’t exist on some deserted island only inhabited by socially-stunted misfits in ill-fitting clothing, but rather that it connects to other things that they like, and that they don’t have to feel awkward or excluded by being “into it”.

Of course it helps if I can do that while being funny, or poetic, or dropping in references to pop and internet culture, all while clearly explaining why things are awesome. Someone once said “Never underestimate their intelligence, and never overestimate their vocabulary.” That.

How did you get into it?

Circa 2009-2010, like many people in their late 20’s, I started a Tumblr blog, because our parents were getting on Facebook and we needed a place to be goofy and express ourselves without them judging us. I filled mine with my interests, which are science and art and humor and Neil deGrasse Tyson GIFs. I started adding little explanations and curating interesting science from around the web, and people really seemed to enjoy that.

All this time, I was finishing my PhD in biology, blogging while a gel was running, or researching a script instead of reading that paper that I brought home to read before bed. One day, I realized that I was a science communicator and that people were actually listening to me! So here I am, 9,000 posts later. PBS apparently liked what I was doing and asked me if I’d like to make a science show for them. I said yes approximately 1.3 seconds after they asked. It was only in my last few months of my PhD that this became something I could actually do for a living. It took a great deal of practice and commitment to get there, and I still look at myself as a new kid on the block, wide-eyed, occasionally tripping over my feet and wondering if I really belong. But everyone feels like that, of course.

I got a great amount of support, coaching and encouragement from the science online community, too. I owe my peers a lot.

Why do you do it?

Mostly because I can’t not do it. I was already the guy at parties saying “Hey, let me tell you about this cool article” or “Did you know that bees can see ultraviolet light? How cool is that?!” This usually ended with people giving me a funny look and excusing themselves from my presence. So I decided that I might as well do it on the internet, where I could reach even more people, and where I couldn’t see them walk away.

I genuinely enjoy teaching people how the world works, and I think that’s a large part of what any science writer does, even if they don’t think they do that. Mostly I’m just tired of hearing how “the general public”, whoever they are, don’t accept science. I think “science” needs to accept part of the blame there, because it hasn’t always done the best job of telling people why its likable. It sounds very lofty, but I really believe that by giving people a positive experience with science every day, I can help change how they view it, and how they experience it, even if it’s just a little bit. There are a lot of younger science communicators that feel this way, like many of my YouTube comrades, or even pages like IFLS. We are not afraid to cover the “wow beat”, as Ed Yong calls it. We understand that not everyone needs to understand the math behind quantum mechanics in order to understand that magnets work because of quantum mechanics. It’s a different kind of magic. Will we make a difference? Ask me in ten years when our audience has voted a few times.

Why do you think science communication is important?

We have less than two years until Marty McFly lands in his DeLorean (October 21, 2015). We officially live in the future. Quite frankly, a person can not be a fully engaged citizen of planet Earth today without some knowledge, awareness and interest in science. And it enriches our experiences in the world. As Richard Feynman said of flowers, “science knowledge only adds to the excitement.”

If we can break down the barriers of intimidation and education that contribute to some people’s distrust of science, then I think we’ll create a better future. Politics, policy, jobs, environment . . . all that dire stuff, but also happier humans, who enjoy simply knowing more today than they knew yesterday.

What do you love about science communication?

You remember the old cartoon scenes where a light bulb goes on above someone’s head when they have that “Eureka!” moment? Well, that happens in real life, only the light goes on in their eyes. Every teacher already knows this, but that moment is like the best drug, in that it’s addictive and makes you feel really good, but doesn’t ruin your life or take your money. I get to experience that every day, in so many ways, with so many people. It’s awesome. I really feel like I make a positive difference in people’s lives, through science.

What has been your favourite project?

Making YouTube videos has just been the most fun ever. There are no rules. I get to create exactly what I want to create, to tell the exact story I want to tell, in whatever way I want to tell it. Sometimes, other people even enjoy it! My favorite project just wrapped filming, and while I can’t say exactly what it is, it involves several famous scientists that have turned into bobblehead dolls and have been transported to modern times via a temporal wormhole.

Do you have any new science communication projects coming up?

I am amping up my YouTube series to a weekly show, which means lots and lots more science and lots and lots less free time for me. I have some pretty special episodes and projects in the works for that, but too early to say.

Any tips for those wanting to get into science communication?

Don’t wait for someone to give you permission to start. Just start. Know that you will not be good when you start, and you will refuse to read your own writing a year later, on account of how much you hate it, because you were so bad. But that means you are getting better. Work every day, even if you’re just thinking about the project you’re working on. Reach out to our community and ask for tips and feedback. This has been the most welcoming and helpful professional community I’ve ever been a part of. Look for somewhere where no one is talking about science, or some subject that isn’t being covered in the right way, and do that. Write a lot. Read even more.

You can follow Joe on Twitter at @jtotheizzoe or see what he’s up to on YouTube or on his website.

NOTE: This interview happened before Joe’s A Very Special Thanksgiving video was issued, which proved to be both popular and controversial to many people. For those who thought it was controversial, Joe did write an apology and explanation behind this film. Because we’d already interviewed him we didn’t get the chance to discuss this with him, but hope to at a later date.

Speaking to… Hayley Birch

“When I finished my degree, someone suggested I should try to combine my love of writing with my love of science. I guess it worked out.”

Hayley-Brich-Science-Communication
Hayley Brich

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

Name?

Hayley Birch

Where are you based?

I work from a studio in Bristol.

Who do you work for?

I’m self-employed, mainly, although I also have a regular writing job with the Science Communication Unit at the University of the West of England

What type of science communication do you do?

Writing and editing for books, magazines and websites, and curating and organising science-inspired performances for arts events.

Who is your main audience?

I write mainly for adult audiences but I’ve also organised events for children and families. I really enjoy writing for a non-scientific audience – I’ll often try to imagine I’m writing for my mum, who would claim she knows nothing about science, and aim to keep her interested. There are a couple of publications I write for that are more specialist but if it’s going online I always bear in mind that anyone could read it.

How did you get into it?

I did a degree in biological sciences at Warwick University but there wasn’t one particular area that I wanted to pursue – I was interested in all of it – and I didn’t want to spend my life in a lab. When I finished my degree, someone suggested I should try to combine my love of writing with my love of science. I guess it worked out.

Why do you do it?

It’s a way to keep learning new things every day. You speak to people doing the most bizarre and fascinating things, and you never get bored. I love writing, but I probably spend less than 5% of my time actually doing it. The rest of it is research, so I might spend days learning about a new way of making energy or theories of dreaming, and only a few hours writing it up. So you have to enjoy the whole process, not just the writing.

Why do you think science communication is important?

Why is it important for people to understand anything? Science? Politics? Music? Economics? Obviously I realise communicating about science has benefits for those I’m communicating to, but I try to not to think about it as this “worthy” pursuit. Otherwise you have this perspective that people should be paying attention to you for their own good. That’s not the way to think about it. You have to remember you’re competing with all these other aspects of culture, so you have to make science interesting and accessible enough that people want to pay attention on their own.

What do you love about science communication?

I think I already answered that, but I do love it when I get into a conversation with a reader or an audience member who comes from a completely different perspective. They might be a basket weaver or a gardener and they’ll come up with an idea that would just never have crossed my mind, about something I’ve written.

What has been your favourite project?

That’s a ridiculous question, so I’ll choose the one I’ve most recently been working on. I’ve just arrived back from Green Man Festival in Wales, where for the past few years I’ve managed a solar-powered stage called the Solar Stage. I book the acts, which are all science-inspired, and make sure everything runs like clockwork (it never does) on the festival weekend. This year we had a cappella sea shanties, falconry, a theatre performance about memory loss, and Johnny Flynn playing a song about Einstein.

Do you have any new science communication projects coming up?

I’m just starting work on a big feature about marathon running – at the same time as training for my second marathon in April next year.

Any tips for those wanting to get into science communication?

Explore all the possibilities. You might think all you want to do is write, but my master’s in science communication really opened my eyes to everything else going on in this area – that’s why I’ve ended up getting involved in these interdisciplinary projects. You can be really busy if you have lots of different skills.

You can follow Hayley on Twitter at @gingerbreadlady

Katherine Harmon

Speaking to… Katherine Harmon

“Again, basically all of the above. It is also amazing to get to spend so much of my days learning about new things and always needing to deepen my understanding of others.”

 

Katherine-Harmon-science-communication
Katherine Harmon

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

Name?

Katherine Harmon

Where are you based?

Longmont, Colorado

Who do you work for?

I’m freelance–as of just five months ago. I’m currently a contributing editor for Scientific American, where I was an associate editor before going full-time freelance. I also write for WIRED, Gourmet, Nature, and others. I recently finished my first book, which will be out this October. It’s a nonfiction book about octopuses called Octopus! The Most Mysterious Creature in the Sea (Current/Penguin).

What type of science communication do you do?

Journalism

Who is your main audience?

Generally the science-interested. Although I always hope that my work will also reach folks who didn’t think they were interested in science, health or a particular field and turn them on to it–even if just a little bit (even if just for the duration of the story).

How did you get into it?

I’ve always hoped to write as a career, but I didn’t consider journalism until a couple years out of college. I wound up (happily) in science journalism by getting an internship at SciAm in the last semester of my master’s program (at the Missouri School of Journalism). As I was going through J school, I knew I was interested in “explanatory” journalism–and for that I figured either science or business journalism would be a good fit. Most of my family was much more into science than I was when I was growing up, which helped give me a comfort level with the subject even if I didn’t have the formal academic training. Although now I do wish I had taken more science and statistics in school.

Why do you do it?

Aside from always loving a challenge (switching gears from learning about how a new vaccine works to brushing up on the latest early human ancestor controversy in one day keeps one on their toes), I think there is a lot of good to be done by helping to bring more science and health information to more people. Huge issues of our day, such as global climate change and the current health crisis in the U.S., are at stake, and if people aren’t well informed about these issues, our future is going to be even more challenging. The hope is that by covering these topics responsibly, we can help create a better-informed public discussion and hopefully better policy. Additionally, being able to convey the “wow cool!” in a new scientific discovery, be it a crazy new species of spider or a new insight into how to study earthquakes, to readers is an absolute joy and huge honor.

Why do you think science communication is important?

See above. Also, I hope that it will help more people see that “Science” isn’t just some mysterious back-lab process but a way of looking at the world that we can each use (regardless of training) to better understand our world (from what to buy at the grocery store to what’s “out there” in the night sky).

What do you love about science communication?

Again, basically all of the above. It is also amazing to get to spend so much of my days learning about new things and always needing to deepen my understanding of others. And once the writing, editing and revision process comes along, I look at it as, essentially, problem solving, which helps even when I’m feeling uninspired to turn a project into a fun puzzle.

What has been your favourite project?

This is a tough one. I tend to get excited about just about every story germ that crosses my path (which means I have a hard time taking it easy). Of course my book was a huge, engaging and challenging project (especially since I had nine months to research and write the darn thing–while working full time as an editor at SciAm). I also will always have a special place in my heart for a newspaper feature I wrote in graduate school called “Murky Waters” about management challenges along the Missouri River. I was flattered that my editor gave me a Sunday front-page feature for a story about sediment (okay, it was a relatively small town). Plus I actually got a few awards for it, which was surprising and really nice.

Do you have any new science communication projects coming up?

There is my book, Octopus! coming out October 31, 2013 (from Current/Penguin). And I am working on a couple related pieces for national magazines that I’m excited about. I am also starting a small side project about the microbiome for another national outlet. And I’m hoping to be able to start on another book proposal soon!

Any tips for those wanting to get into science communication?

Take some stats classes! Read as much good writing as you can. But also save time for quiet, creative reflection of your own–I’m not great at always doing this, but it never fails to offer fresh perspectives for a story (whether that’s a better analogy or a better structure altogether).

You can follow Katherine on Twitter at @katherineharmon or see what she’s up to on her website

Colin Stuart

Speaking to… Colin Stuart

“network your backside off, particularly if you’re just starting out. The amount of opportunities that have come my way because of a Twitter conversation or a chance meeting in the pub etc is pretty high”

 

Colin-Stuart-science-communication
Colin Stuart

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

Name?

Colin Stuart

Where are you based?

London

Who do you work for?

and myself

What type of science communication do you do?

A mixture really. I am part presenter, part writer. At the Observatory it is face-to-face communication – presenting planetarium shows, showing people the stars and planets through telescopes, running interactive school workshops and teaching adult evening courses about the latest developments in astronomy. On the freelance writing side it ranges from “typical” science journalism, through to writing educational resources for charities and then onto books.

Who is your main audience?

I wouldn’t say I have one. Over the course of a week I could be singing nursery rhymes about the planets to five-year-olds in the planetarium or speaking to the retirees who often come along to the adult evening courses. I could be writing an article for a specialist science website, but equally I could be writing a feature for The Guardian or New Scientist aimed at the general public.

How did you get into it?

I did a degree in astrophysics and I got to that point in my studies that I think a lot of people get to in the middle of their second year: what am I going to do next? I’d always loved astronomy since I was a kid but by that point I’d realised I no longer wanted to be a researcher. I thought about other ways that astronomy could feature in my career without having to be a research scientist and I’d always been quite good at public speaking and writing so I thought maybe I could do that. I honestly had never heard of the term “science communication” before. But when I thought about what that sort of stuff might be called I googled those words and a whole host of information poured out. I found the Science Communication MSc at Imperial very quickly and within a few days set about getting the sort of experience that would make sure my application was successful. Part of that was volunteering at the Observatory and that has led on to a part time job there.

Why do you do it?

For the love of it (most of the time!). Astronomy has always been my passion and passion can be infectious. I wanted to share my love of the universe with others and get across that sense of awe and insignificance that astronomy is so good at delivering. At the same time it keeps me honest. My job forces me to keep up-to-date with the latest research and I get to talk to some of the scientists doing some really cool research. Basically I get to geek-out on a daily basis and get paid for the privilege.

 

Why do you think science communication is important?

Well first there are the clichés. That science is funded by taxpayers and so taxpayers need to be engaged in science. That our world is becoming increasing scientific and so people need to be more engaged with science and perhaps we can inspire the next generation of scientists by grabbing their attention early. Those things are all true in varying degrees. But the more I do science communication the more I think that the answer is because it is real. Particularly for my line of work in astronomy, we’re finding out the ways in which our universe really works and often that is so far removed from our everyday experience of the daily grind. Science communication, done well, can offer the same escapism as novels or movies with the added bonus of being real. If that doesn’t sound too pretentious! That’s certainly what got me hooked as a kid. I could read story books, but I could also read equally exciting books about the planets and their moons but the latter stories weren’t make-believe.

What do you love about science communication?

The fact that I get to immerse myself in science every single day. And the fact that you can often see the effects of a job well done. If a kid gasps during a planetarium show because you’ve shown them something that’s blown their mind or when an adult laughs at one of your jokes – I’ve been doing it five years but that still gives me a buzz. I also love the fact that I am always learning, about astronomy but also about ways to communicate. I am a much better presenter and writer than I was five years ago, but I know I’ll go on improving because there is always something to learn or another way to look at things. I also still love getting my head around a new concept, just as I did at uni.

What has been your favourite project?

That’s a tough one. What I do can be so varied that it is hard to compare projects, but I think it was writing my first book. As as writer I have always dreamed of having a book out there on the shelves and that’s nearly a reality as The Big Questions in Science is published soon. It is co-written with two good friends – Hayley Birch and Mun-Keat Looi – and it tackles twenty of the biggest unanswered questions in science today detailing the efforts of extravagant millionaires, biologists, chemists, physicists, mathematicians, computer scientists, philosophers, explorers and engineers to push the boundaries of our knowledge. My chapters tackle concepts like dark matter, dark energy, exoplanets, antimatter, parallel universes, time travel, alien life, black holes, wormholes and quantum physics and so it was really fun to write.

Do you have any new science communication projects coming up?

I am currently trying to get a kids book on astronomy off the ground, so watch this space!

Any tips for those wanting to get into science communication?

Work hard, the competition is becoming increasingly fierce. Love what you do, you’re going to be spending a lot of time doing it so you better enjoy it. Practice, a lot. You might think you are good, and you might be, but you can always be better. Lastly, network your backside off, particularly if you’re just starting out. The amount of opportunities that have come my way because of a Twitter conversation or a chance meeting in the pub etc is pretty high. There are plenty of opportunities out there if you do enough digging.

You can follow Colin on Twitter at @skyponderer or find out what he’s up to on his website.

Speaking to… Caren Cooper about citizen science

Caren-Cooper-science-communication
Caren Cooper

This feature podcast is part of a series of interviews with science communicators about science communication. Today we are Speaking to… Caren Cooper

One type of science communication is getting big. Citizen science is getting big: volunteer computing, volunteer thinking, volunteer data collection.

Caren Cooper, from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Ithica, New York, is part of a lab that is taking citizen science very seriously, and there are some great reasons why.

In this podcast I speak to Caren about her research, and how citizen science has helped her set up new initiatives. We also talk about what the citizens get out of it, and how they give Caren a new perspective on her research.

In the podcast we also talk about Caren’s new venture: a book about citizen science, so if you know any citizen scientists, or someone who is using citizen science as part of their research, then please do get in touch with Caren either via Twitter at @CoopSciScoop or via the Ornithology Lab at Cornell.

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

Jack Croxall

Speaking to… Jack Croxall

Jack-Croxall-science-communication
Jack Croxall

“Learning and communicating things about how the world works is an incredible way to spend your life, I find I’m surprised and fascinated by something every day.”

 

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

Name?

Jack Croxall

Where are you based?

A small village in rural Nottinghamshire, it’s lovely!

Who do you work for?

Myself! I’m a science writer and an author, but I’m also the co-creator and editor of Unpopular Science, a website which aims to share and discuss the science stories which missed the front pages with anyone and everyone.

What type of science communication do you do?

I write a lot of short articles for Unpopular Science and other media outlets, but I’ve recently got into writing/presenting little videos and have even tried my hand at radio a couple of times. I think a science communicator should always be attempting to gain experience in a variety of mediums so he/she can reach as many people as possible. Science is for everyone, not just scientists; the best communicators will use a variety of platforms to connect with as wide an audience as possible.

On the author side of things, I have recently released my debut novel Tethers.The book is a Victorian adventure story that sees two teenagers, Karl and Esther, drawn into a treacherous conspiracy. That conspiracy has been engineered by a group of scientists who have discovered something with world-changing potential, and the novel asks the question, just how much does the justification of ‘the greater good’ allow a scientist to risk.

Who is your main audience?

We try to make Unpopular Science as accessible as possible, which means keeping things fun and simple, as well as clarifying any jargon. We try to include links and facts at the end of our articles that may interest anybody involved in the specific field we are talking about, however. As for Tethers, the genre is young-adult fiction, but, to me, that does not mean that only teenagers are welcome. The novel has a variety of themes and characters of different ages and so I would hope that anyone, young or old, would find something to enjoy amongst its pages.

How did you get into it?

I started writing science stories for student publications and blogs whilst I was an undergraduate. I quickly worked out it was something I enjoyed immensely, so, after I graduated, I sorted myself out with some work experience at BBC Factual. That cemented my desire to become a science communicator and so I enrolled on a postgraduate course to learn more. There I met Charlie Harvey who I eventually set up Unpopular Science with.

Why do you do it?

Quite simply, because I love it. Learning and communicating things about how the world works is an incredible way to spend your life, I find I’m surprised and fascinated by something every day. On top of that I feel as though I’m doing something worthwhile and important, and I’ve met some truly wonderful and remarkable people along the way.

Why do you think science communication is important?

Science is a hugely important aspect of our society and no one owns the right to scientific knowledge. A science communicator’s job is to bridge the gap between the public and experts in a specific field, essentially helping to share the knowledge around so we can all benefit from it.

What do you love about science communication?

I’ve already written that I love learning fascinating new things, but I love it even more if I can be the one to inspire that reaction in other people.

What has been your favourite project?

Probably writing Tethers. I had to learn a lot of new skills and do a lot of research to produce that book, and I am immensely pleased with the result. When I was younger and reading His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman (based around The Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics) I never dreamt that anyone would read a story that I wrote and possibly even enjoy it. So, when people write a review or get in touch with me, it really does make me so incredibly happy and thankful!

Do you have any new science communication projects coming up?

As well as continuing to work on Unpopular Science, I’m currently working on the second instalment of The Tethers Trilogy, but I’m also planning on making a few more videos.

Any tips for those wanting to get into science communication?

Start practising and get on social media and start connecting and chatting with other sciency types! If you want a platform for your work, we consider articles from anyone, no matter what their experience level! If your work isn’t quite up to scratch, or it doesn’t quite match our ethos, we’ll let you know what you need to do to change it, or where you can take it if it matches another outlets brief better. So please, get in contact, we’d love to hear from you!

You can follow Jack on Twitter at @JackCroxall and Unpopular Science at @UnpopularScience