Social media has become an important tool in science, for everything from getting your results out into the ether, recruiting students and faculty and to educating the masses. Content creators invite us into their world and this week we’re given behind-the-scenes access. PhD student Phylindia Gant from the University of Florida shares some pearls of wisdom to help us get started.
Hi, I’m Philly! I am a scientist and the content creator behind Glitter and Geodes. I love creating content around my experience as a scientist. I work as a research technician in the Prime Lab at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, USA. We have an accelerator mass spectrometer that we use for geochronology. Now, that is heavy on the physics, and I am NOT a physicist! My responsibility is to take the rock samples that were submitted by scientists all over the world and extract the quartz from them so they can be mixed with an appropriate carrier and then ran on the accelerator. One of the most common uses of this equipment in Earth sciences is surface exposure dating to determine when things like lavas flows, meteorite impacts and fault scarps occurred and formed. One of the segments that I recently did was showing everyone a day in the life of a research technician in a cosmogenic nuclide lab.
I enjoy sharing content as a geologist because I feel like so many people don’t really know a lot about geology. I think people are really enjoying the content that I am creating because it exposes them to something new and I make it fun! Communicating science is so important for garnering interest in science, gaining support for the science community, and effectively communicating important topics in science (i.e. climate change, vaccine science, and did you know some people think the Earth is flat??). We need more science communicators to get people interested in science. If you’ve ever thought about being a science communicator in the social media sphere, here are a few tips to help you on your way!
- Don’t be too fancy – you don’t need the best camera equipment or to hire a fancy editor, science communication is easy to DIY. All you need is your phone! If you want to take it up a notch, there are plenty of microphones that plug directly into your smartphone that will help get you crisp audio. Instagram and Tiktok have ways within the app to add graphics and texts to your video. For even more impressive graphics, you can use other apps to get killer graphics as well. My favourite is Canva.
- Remember who you are talking to – are you making content for scientists or for non-scientists? Create with your audience in mind! I recommend that you make content that is easily accessible i.e. easy to understand! So that a wide variety of people can learn something from your content – not just other people in your field.
- Don’t be afraid to try new things – Instagram and TikTok may be scary at first, but they’re very easy to get the hang of. They are social networks, be social. Jump on trends and tailor them to your content. Having fun is one of the most important aspects of science communication.
- And finally – Be yourself! – I am a firm believer that I can make science fun because I AM fun! People want to not only know about the science, but they want to know about why YOU like the science. Why are you interested in this topic? What does it mean to you specifically? How does this affect you moving forward? Put a whole lot of yourself into your projects and let people know you for who you are!
These are just a few tips to help you get started on your science communication journey! One of the best ways to get started is to connect with other members of the science community, so let’s connect! You can find me on Instagram @gitterandgeodes and on Twitter @glitter_geodes.