Beyond the impact factor - communicate science
We all love science and we would like to talk about it or write about it all the time. Some people can. What does it take to become a scientific journalist for a non-scientific magazine/newspaper? What are the challenges when writing about science for a non-scientific audience? In this panel we will gather journalists that curate the science and technology section of magazines and newspapers and science bloggers and we will learn how they ended up doing what they do, as well as the various differences between the different media.
Jennifer Tsang is the science communications and marketing coordinator at Addgene, the nonprofit plasmid repository. She has completed a Ph.D. in microbiology at the University of Georgia and studied antimicrobial resistance as a postdoctoral fellow at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. During this time, she started to explore writing and started a microbiology blog called The Microbial Menagerie. Since then, she has written for the American Society for Microbiology, the Marine Biological Laboratory, and Massive Science.
Professor Huth joined the Harvard Physics Department in 1993. His research emphasis is on experimental particle physics, and is currently a member of the ATLAS Collaboration. ATLAS is an experiment located at the European Center for Nuclear Physics (CERN). It records the result of proton-proton collisions at the highest laboratory energies ever achieved at the Large Hadron Collider. A major discovery announced in 2012 was the discovery of the Higgs boson, the so-called ‘god particle’. One of Prof. Huth’s recent work was the observation and measurement of the Higgs boson decay into a pair of bottom quarks – the largest final decay state. Prior to ATLAS, he worked at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory on the Collider Detector at Fermilab, and participated in the discovery of the top quark. In addition to his work on ATLAS, he investigates cultures of navigation, in collaboration with anthropologists and is the author of the book The Lost Art of Finding Our Way, which accompanies a course he developed for the General Education offerings in the category of Science, Technology and Society. Huth continues to study indigenous navigation techniques, with a focus on the tradition of wave piloting in the Marshall Islands and analysis of tables of latitude and longitude from the Middle Ages.
After doing a degree and doctorate in biology at the University of Oxford, studying with Prof Richard Dawkins, Alex embarked on a career in science communication. She spent 17 years at the BBC, working on series such as Walking with Beasts, Life in the Undergrowth, Bang Goes the Theory, Climate Change by Numbers and, most recently, was the series producer of Trust Me, I’m a Doctor. Her work has won a number of awards, from a BAFTA to a AAAS Kavli gold award for science journalism. In addition to developing and making television series, Alex has worked with associated content across a whole range of other media – designing websites, games, formal learning resources and social media content – to bring science to the widest possible audience. Now back in academia, she leads the Winton Centre for Risk & Evidence Communication, an inter-disciplinary team working on research and translation in practice. Alex has a particular interest in helping professionals such as doctors, journalists or legal professionals communicate numbers and uncertainty better, and is an advocate of Open Research practices. Outside of her work at the Winton Centre she has developed the concept of Octopus, a new platform designed to replace the current scientific publishing system of papers and journals and encourage good research practices.
Jeff Hecht writes about science and technology for magazines including New Scientist, Laser Focus World, Nature and IEEE Spectrum. He also has written books including Understanding Fiber Optics; Understanding Lasers; Lasers, Death Rays and the Long Strange Quest for the Ultimate Weapon; City of Light-The Story of Fiber Optics; and Vanishing Life-The Mystery of Mass Extinctions. He received a B.S. in electrical engineering from Caltech and a M.Ed in higher education from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.