Twitter and Science, revisited

By Lauren Dobischok

     When people ask me what my greatest influence was to pursue science in university, I think they expect to hear a vaguely inspiring story about how I was driven to make the world a better place or more deeply understand the intricacies of life around me. The real answer? Twitter. Upon hearing this many people are incredulous that material more complex than hashtags and memes exists on Twitter- isn’t that where people go to procrastinate on homework they have to do and complain about the state of their hockey team? Fortunately, over the years Twitter has evolved into a platform for professionals to network directly with each other, as well as interact with members of the public. Businesses, innovators, academics, artists, scientists, and the general public are now able to share content, provide opinions, crowd source, and meet new people with shared interests through a website initially intended to assist groups of friends in keeping tabs on each other. Not bad. As a student now in second year university who discovered the online scientific community in high school, Twitter changed the way I thought about science and how it is communicated, and continually introduced me to new research and current issues that I am simply not aware of through reading large, popular science magazines and websites. In my eyes, when academics use Twitter to network and educate, both professionals and the public are the beneficiaries.Read More »

Some thoughts on Twitter, and accessibility in science

By Emma Atkinson

I am an undergraduate entering my fourth year in Biological Sciences at Simon Fraser University (SFU). I ask a lot of questions, and I love that science rewards my curiosity by giving me a framework to tackle these questions. I love that my early scientific endeavours have taught me the fundamentals of experimental design, techniques, and analysis, and I love that they have also taught me to scuba-dive, drive boats, and hammer a nail (or several hundred…).

More and more, I find myself interested in how the answers to questions we ask as scientists are communicated (to each other, to decision makers, to the public), and how they are (or are not) translated into changes in action and in policy down the road. Perhaps the recent political climate in Canada sparked this interest. Or perhaps it was working in the lab of a professor who writes op-eds telling Justin Trudeau what to do.  In any case, it resulted in my investigating funding options for attending the Canadian Science Policy Conference (CSPC) taking place in Ottawa this November. While the organizers make efforts to welcome students including a discounted student rate and volunteer opportunities, it turns out that there are very scant resources for undergraduates seeking to attend conferences – or at least for this particular undergraduate.Read More »