#CalloftheScicomm: How Science Communication via Social Media Can Benefit Your Career and Your Research

Symposium
ROOM: Room 235 – Mesilla
SESSION NUMBER: 71
 
The scicomm session is designed to expose wildlife researchers to science communication using social media. Science communication is modernizing quickly through the use of a variety of social media applications and while the scicomm community of scientists is growing, many scientists are either unaware of new applications, hesitant to implement a science communication program that they do not fully understand, or skeptical that scicomm distracts from the “real science”. The goals of this symposium are to teach scientists of all scicomm experience levels which social media apps are available, how to use these apps, and how to apply the use of these apps to benefit multiple facets of their careers including networking, research, and community involvement. By the end of the session, audience members will have a new knowledge base that they will be able to start implementing immediately.

1:10PM #Scicomm-Unity: Representation and Finding Community Through Social Media #Scicomm
  Shelby Bohn
The growing popularity of social media websites including Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook are changing the ways we talk about science, both with members of the public and fellow scientists. Scientists who participate in science communication (#SciComm) using these newer technologies not only distribute their research widely, but also contribute to a complex picture of who is a scientist. Hashtags like #ActualLivingScientist, #BLACKandSTEM, #DisabledAndSTEM, and #WomenInSTEM allow us to be visible as scientists in ways that the classically stereotypical image of who is a “scientist” does not. These hashtags and the community of users participating in “Science Social Media” also allow us to find other people who have similar experiences or challenges and who may be able to offer support or insight regardless of geographic proximity. Building social networks online also has many of the same benefits that physical social networks may have. Social media can bring together a community that offers advice, encouragement, and collaboration between scientists from all over the world, which is a tool indispensable for many.
1:30PM Using #Scicomm to Create Buy-In
  Marcus Gray
The growing #SciComm (Science Communication) movement within natural resources management is addressing problems associated with agency relevance, reaching new demographics and providing scientific information in new ways. Basic principles of science communication have emerged in recent years that include increasing social media presence, optimizing web resources for mobile devices, relying on images and infographics to convey information and providing ample opportunities for potential supporters to engage with the organization. In Spring 2017, the North American Butterfly Association (NABA) implemented a free trial membership for butterfly count participants, volunteers and other supporters that were not currently members. This was in response to conversations with the NABA counterpart in the United Kingdom, Butterfly Conservation, that has tried gifts, reduced-rate pricing and a discount for multiple memberships. Butterfly Conservation grew membership from 10,000 to 30,000 between 2010-2016 through free trial memberships. Butterfly Conservation found that employing a membership database program which allowed for auto-renewal was a critical factor driving a retention rate of 66% after the 1 year term of the trial ended. The trial memberships allow patrons to learn more about the organization, see if the benefits are for them and otherwise further their relationship. Converting social media users to customers is of interest to many entities including state wildlife agencies striving to reconnect people to the outdoors. By promoting citizen science opportunities on social media then offering a trial membership to participants, NABA hopes to see a similar response in North America as Butterfly Conservation experienced in Europe. Citizen science initiatives, like butterfly counts, are a key mechanism for organizational growth through social media conversion.
1:50PM Creative Visual Experiences for Your Research
  Natalie Rogers
The importance of communicating science and research to the public cannot be overstated, but it can be a difficult landscape to navigate. Often, research scientists think of “communicating science” as something that involves talking to the media, or providing commentary to a Public Information Officer regarding a press release. While these actions certainly fall under the umbrella of “communicating science,” engaging with the public, either directly or through informal education resources, can have the biggest impact in terms of public perception of scientific knowledge. With the ever-changing landscape of communication in the 21st century, social media has become a force of its own, and video is now considered a quick and easy way to communicate important aspects of certain kinds of research. This presentation will focus on using video to communicate research and research findings, and the different outlets for sharing the information to the public. From a 60-second video explaining how gravity works to a full-length feature about the science of and in a national preserve in New Mexico, video can often convey what other forms of communication cannot. Examples, current statistics, and an overview of the process of making a science video may be discussed.
2:10PM #Sciencecandle: How Podcasting Science May Help Scientists Earn Public Trust
  Madhusudan Katti
Recent research on public understanding of controversial science topics (e.g., climate change, evolution) suggests that conveying scientific information alone is insufficient to increase acceptance of science even when there is a broad consensus within the scientific community. Traditionally dominant means of science communication, such as writing, and video documentaries, are great for communicating complex scientific information, but are not always effective in changing worldviews, especially around politically charged topics. People’s sense of self-identity and social networks of trust are more important in shaping how they fit scientific information into their worldview. To be more effective in fostering a scientific evidence based worldview, scientists must earn trust from a broader range of American society. Networks of trust develop through sustained engagement with community, conversations where scientists come to be seen as regular human beings rather than labcoat wearing caricatures in ivory tower laboratories. Radio and podcasting provide unique opportunities to present scientists as regular people who may be involved in unusual lines of work and have extraordinary tales to tell about the universe and our place within it. Our species has an innate love for the spoken word, ever since we invented language and started telling each other stories around the fire at night. A science podcast can build on this by getting scientists to tell their stories through informal conversation. While a variety of reporting formats—from formal story telling, to in-depth audio-documentaries—are possible, the core appeal of podcasts lies in conversation between people. I will share my experience in growing the radio show and podcast “Science: A Candle In The Dark” and how it has taken me from my own discipline of urban ecology to conversations exploring the farthest reaches of the universe, earning trust as a scientist in California’s Central Valley, and bringing science into the public discourse.
2:30PM Reaching Kids with Your Science: Strategies from eMammal Citizen Science to Foster Future Conservationists
  Stephanie Schuttler; Rob Dunn; William J. McShea; Robert Costello; Roland Kays
Most of the world’s population lives in urbanized environments where people largely spend their time indoors with limited opportunities to interact with nature in their daily lives. Conservation attitudes and behaviors are predicted by experiences in nature and this “extinction of experience” is a threat to biodiversity conservation. To ensure the next generation cares about nature and wildlife, scientists should cultivate relationships between kids and nature. In this talk, we will explore ways to integrating research into K-12 classrooms in, drawing upon experiences from the eMammal and Students Discover program. eMammal uses citizen science in combination with wildlife camera traps to study the distribution, conservation, and behavior of mammals. Through the Students Discover program, scientists and middle school teachers have developed lesson plans integrating research and aligned with national and state science standards, while allowing students to ask their own scientific questions. We will discuss how to create and foster relationships with K-12 teachers, align research with school curricula, and conduct live and virtual presentation with classrooms. Collaborating with classrooms ensures equal opportunities to students, which is necessary to foster the diversity traditionally not represented in science. By working with student and teacher citizen scientists, researchers have benefited from improved communication skills, media exposure, an increase in grant opportunities. Scientifically, researchers have benefited through the accumulation of a large range of mammal data across the globe including the detection of endangered species. Conservation outreach to kids not only helps ensures the next generation of conservation advocates, but also provides important data for monitoring the status of biodiversity across the world.
2:50PM Refreshment Break
3:20PM Scicomm: Normalizing Science for Future and Contemporary Success
  Imogene Cancellare
Public perception of and interest in science has been dictated by the accessibility of data and the willingness of researchers to share their efforts with non-scientists. Social media can and should be used by scientists to encourage interest in wildlife and natural resources. However, finding the balance between accurately relaying information while also providing the instant-gratification indicative of social media can be difficult. The goals of the #scicomm movement are to normalize science for public audiences by saturating social media platforms with interesting, easily accessible data that has relevance to the audience. Effective science communicators make science relevant not by watering down data, but by jump-starting public interest with enthusiasm and transparency through the scientific process. The idea that scientists are lofty and disconnected from the public can be reversed using social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, which in turn allows researchers to generate an interest in science in the next generation. This talk provides a toolkit which scientists of any discipline can use to effectively draw engaged audiences to promote the conservation, wildlife management, and the importance of the scientific process to our natural resources. The benefits of these efforts include inspiring the next generation of scientists as well as drawing positive attention to your research.
3:40PM Busting Out of the Bubble: Outreach to New Audiences
  David Steen
A common criticism of science communication efforts is that they tend to be “preaching to the choir”. It is true that it may take some time, effort and strategies to conduct science communication that qualifies as outreach (i.e., reaching new audiences). In this presentation I will discuss a few case studies demonstrating how I use an online science communication framework to break out of the bubble by A) piggy-backing on current events, B) making my own news (e.g. giving CPR to a turtle), and C) combining these strategies. Finally, I will discuss how Twitter can be useful for finding people that are looking for help answering their science questions.
4:00PM A Carnivore-Based Soap Opera: Using Stories and Social Media to Disseminate Research
  Asia Murphy
Since the beginning of time, information has been shared by people through stories. Jurassic Park taught readers the basics of genetics. A traveler might share information about another culture with their friends via anecdote. National Geographic’s Clash of the Hyenas uses narrative to walk audiences through hyena society and the maturation of two cubs. However, due to the way young scientists are taught, it is uncommon that scientists share the findings of their science through stories. I will discuss various ways I have tried to disseminate findings from my research in Madagascar, from summarized versions of scientific papers to Fosa Forest, a fictional soap opera I wrote about life in Madagascar’s rainforests from the viewpoint of Madagascar’s apex predator, the fosa (Cryptoprocta ferox). I hope to summarize how those interested in science communication can share information in a way that tugs at the audience’s imagination.
4:20PM Live Streaming Your Science: Engaging Scicomm Via Periscope and Facebook Live
  Nicole Wood
Science communication is nothing new for scientists. Traditionally researchers have communicated with their intended audiences via print or television. Emerging technologies have changed how we as a society communicate and scientists must update their communication tools, so they don’t lose touch with their audiences. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram allow researchers to engage with audiences directly, enabling for a greater exchange of information. While these apps foster a dynamic interaction, they still lack that personal touch of being able to engage with a “real live” scientist rather than just words on a screen. Apps, such as Periscope, let a broadcaster live stream an audio video feed directly to their audience via their phone, tablet, or computer and viewers can communicate back in real time to the broadcaster, during the live stream, through an integrated chat module. Live streaming can be used for a wide variety of science communication options, such as interviews, research presentations, and fieldwork showcases, for both inreach and outreach audiences. Science communication is an ever-evolving set of tools for the scientist’s toolbox. Live streaming is an emerging tool that can be easily added to the toolbox and one that researchers must take advantage of to stay relevant in today’s social media world.
4:40PM Panel Discussion
 

 
Organizers: Auriel Fournier, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR; Nicole Wood, Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, MI
 
Supported by: N/A

Symposium
Location: Albuquerque Convention Center Date: September 26, 2017 Time: 1:10 pm - 5:00 pm