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A Lorax of the Ocean: thanks and farewell, Marah Hardt – Real Scientists

A Lorax of the Ocean: thanks and farewell, Marah Hardt

Marine researcher Marah Hardt took the reins of RealScientists this February 8-15th. Marah, as you may recall, is the Research Co-Director for Future Of Fish, an innovative initiative of systems change consultancy Flip Labs, targeted at solving the problem of overfishing in the world’s oceans. In honour of Valentine’s Day, Marah themed her week’s curation around the theme of ‘Sex In The Sea’, which happens to be the title of the book she’s currently writing. Marah kept us entertained and informed us all about #sexinthesea, from spawning in coral to the ins and outs of whale penises.

Marah had the following thoughts about her time curating RealScientists:

How did you find your week as a curator?

It was a blast. I just wish I had had more time- too much work got in the way! πŸ™‚ I found everyone really supportive, and enjoyed the interactions greatly. I definitely would be keen to do it again, and would plan to carve out more time!

Were there any lowlights?

Not at all. There were a few lewd responses, but I expected that. Mostly, the lows were just that I had so much more I wanted to share and couldn’t get to each day!

It can be a shock talking to 15,000. Did you find the sudden rush of interactions (good and bad) daunting?

I think you guys are closer to 17k now, but yes. It was a little overwhelming but also so excited. My own feed has been awfully quiet, so it was a great feeling to be able to see how excited/responsive a good twitter community can be.

Is there anything you wanted to get out of / do on the RS account that you didn’t manage to fit in?

I wanted to solicit more expertise and would have liked to have identified a few other experts to help on some questions/topics I am looking to research. but I didn’t do a good job reaching out and making clear I was looking for folks to interview.

Do you have any tips or advice for future RS curators?

Plan to spend several hours a day of time if you really want to maximize the reach. Also, I found that having some simple engagement activities (hashtag along with request for a theme, such as the #sexseatrivia questions I put out). People liked chiming in with their thoughts and it provided a nice way to have continual engagement.

Other than yourself of course, are there any other people/accounts that people should follow if they liked you and what you covered?

Absolutely. I highly recommend @CoralSci (Kristen Marhaver); @jgold85 (Jason Goldman); @Drew_Lab; @lmcclenahan

What TV show do you think everyone should go watch right now?

Any episode of Blue Planet by BBC or COSMOS.

Did you have a plan? Did you stick to it?

Yes. No.

How much time did you spend tweeting?

3+ hours/day

What would you change if you did curate RS again?

I would offer more questions to solicit more engagement. I would work to get more images/videos and perhaps even some real-time interviews where others could ask questions of experts as I interviewed them.

What’s your impression of the science community on twitter? The RS community?

I don’t know if I can say I really have a good feel for the science community on twitter. I’d say that the marine science/conservation community seems to have a few strong voices, and lots of ones that chime in infrequently. The RS community seems brilliant- really smart, fun, supportive, and considerate. it was an absolute blast to work with you all and a privilege to have the opportunity. It is something I’d love to do again.

How would you go about getting more people interested in science on the net?

Competitions are always good ways to engage folks, such as a trivia games that combine knowledge but also demand creativity in the way an answer is presented (puns; rhyming couplets, etc). I think it is also good to have online twitter chats, where multiple experts can be available to engage on a single topic for a short period of time. I think the “how” is always intriguing to folks- so the “day in the life” kind of video clip that shows HOW we know what we know would be really cool from scientists in the field. Leverage World Science Fair in places like NYC to get the word out.

Do you consider yourself to be a science communicator? Why?

Yes. Because my passion is to become an effective Ocean Lorax- a voice for the seas. I am a scientist, and I know that science alone cannot solve the problems we face. Science is the source of information, but it doesn’t have a message. What we need now are really good storytellers to “turn the science into stories that make a difference.” That’s my tagline. That’s what I aim to do.

Thanks again to Marah for her brilliant week of curation. Follow her at @MarahH20, read her blog Sex In The Sea, and keep an eye out for her book of the same name when it comes out in 2016!


James is a recovering scientist and escaped postdoc who works in research management at the University of Otago, New Zealand. He's now retired from active @RealScientists duty, after serving from the project's beginnings in 2013 through to mid 2015. When not managing research, surviving #PlanetParenthood or pretending not to be an expat Australian in the Deep South of NZ, he tweets @theotherdrsmith.

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