MiSciWriters member Kristina Lenn chatted with Nick Wigginton, the assistant vice president of research at the University of Michigan, about the importance of communication among researchers and the big responsibility science writers carry in the current political climate.
Anyone who has ever done collaborative research can list the benefits of being able to work with another group and learn about the cultural differences between researchers. Dr. Nick Wigginton knows better than anyone else how important communication is to successful collaborations.
Prior to his tenure at Michigan, Dr. Wigginton received his doctorate in Earth Science, and his dissertation was a collaborative effort by his department, physics, chemistry, and biology. This interdisciplinary gauntlet gave him the tools he needed to succeed as an editor for Science magazine where he needed to address the research and cultures of multiple departments.
Continue reading “Conversations about Science Writing: Nick Wigginton”
Author: Ada Hagan
Editors: Whit Froehlich, Scott Barolo, and Irene Park
I doubt Dr. Shaena Montanari ever thought that a single Twitter conversation would earn her 3,000 new followers (1,000 within two hours) and help launch a new hashtag. But that’s what happened when she replied to a political tweet that mentioned velociraptors.
Continue reading “#Scijack: Co-opting Twitter for Science Communication”
Author: Ben Isaacoff
Editors: Irene Park, Ada Hagan, and Scott Barolo
President Donald J. Trump is wildly inconsistent on many issues. Under different circumstances, it might be amusing how often he contradicts himself. But one issue he has unfortunately been very consistent about is a dismissal of science and outright attacks on the scientific enterprise. The Trump campaign, his transition and appointees, and now his nascent administration, have deeply scared many of us who care about science.
Continue reading “Opinion: The #Resistance Wears Lab Coats”
Author: Bryan Moyers
Content Editors: Christina Vallianatos, Molly Kozminsky
Senior Editor: Alisha John
“Well, that field isn’t really science.”
“Oh, that’s just a soft science.”
Most people who work in the sciences have probably heard phrases like these. Translation: that field is lesser. The physicists say it about everyone lower than them in the pecking order, as do the chemists, biologists, and so on down the line. The nuclear physicist Ernest Rutherford famously said, “All science is either physics or stamp-collecting.” People argue about this at scientific conferences and in the media. The science and pop-culture webcomic xkcd has even parodied the issue.
Continue reading “Science behind-the-scenes: Which fields are “real sciences”?”
By Ada Hagan
“Most of the fundamental ideas of science are essentially simple, and may, as a rule, be expressed in a language comprehensible to everyone” – Albert Einstein
We’ve discussed it on the blog before, but science has a communication problem. Sure, research is performed and shared via research articles or at scientific conferences, but rarely do scientists directly relay results outside of their academic niches. Few scientists disagree with broader science communication in theory, especially since much of the funding for research is provided by taxpayer dollars. And we learned in our first “Science behind-the-scenes” post that the final step of the scientific method is to “communicate your results.” So why is it that researchers don’t interact more with non-researchers regarding science? Part of the issue is that the intense specialization of researchers into a narrow topic, combined with a lack of effective communication training, makes effective communication a difficult task.
Continue reading “Communicating science: From Michigan, across the world (wide web)”
By Molly Kozminsky
Close your eyes and picture a scientist. What do you see?
In 1983, David Wade Chambers published results from a study conducted on 4,807 children as they progressed from kindergarten through fifth grade in the United States and Canada. The test? To draw a scientist. In what must rank as one of the most adorable research experiences ever, the drawings were scored for seven indicators of a “standard image of a scientist:”
Continue reading “Communicated, not classified: The importance of collaboration in science (Science behind-the-scenes)”
By Ellyn N. Schinke
Growing up, I was an avid soccer player. But, I never wanted the glory of being a team’s leading scorer. Defense was my home. That is until I scored my first goal. I was elated, but quickly realized that I had never in my time on defense received anywhere near the validation that I had for that goal. I could save goals or shut down the other team’s star player, but that usually went unnoticed. If anything, I was typically criticized for something I didn’t do more often than I was praised for something I did. This experience taught me something important – defense is a thankless job.
The same pattern that I saw in my soccer experience happens all the time with public health.
Continue reading “Defending human health: A thankless job”