Snail away, snail away, snail away: thanks and farewell Matt Kuchta

April saw Matt Kuchta (@kuchtam), Associate Professor of Geology at the University of Wisconsin take the reins of RealScientists. Matt started out the week with a frog call survey, which on reflection seems like the perfect setting for a horror movie…

Sticking with the “things that belong in a horror movie” theme – here’s a leech! Cool and ewww and cool and ewww.

Matt also introduced us to his favourite snail. Nawwww.

And kicked off a splendid discussion on #gatewaytoscience, with loads of people chiming in about how they first got hooked.


Matt was kind enough to complete our post-curation interview, and his answers are below.

In general terms, how did you find your week as a curator?

It was a blast! It was fun seeing the science being shared by followers of @realscientists, and we got to have some fun conversations, too. I had some really great discussions about snails and compost.

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

It wasn’t daunting, mostly because I was using Tweet Deck to manage the account, so I could keep track of hashtags, replies, and new posts without having to backtrack too much.

What were the highlights? Were there any lowlights?

The highlights were obvious. We got three different hashtags to show up as trending: #ScientistArtist, #BarrierToScience, and #GatewayToScience. The last one I started on Wednesday and we managed to keep it going through Saturday. The only lowlight was one person tweeting “unfollowed until you stop being so #selfaware.” Protip: if you don’t want to know about scientists, following an account about scientists is probably not for you.

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

I was hoping for more questions in general, but the #GatewayToScience tag become such a hit, I just went with the flow. It was kind of the “tail wagging the dog” towards the end.

Did you have a plan? If so, did you stick to it?

Speaking of “wagging the dog,” my plan obviously changed about halfway through. Part of that came from a friend reminding me that I could do more to draw people in and make them a more active part of the conversation. So instead of just tweeting out information, I asked the audience what things got them interested in science. Given that it was Wednesday, April 20th (4/20 in US notation), the idea of asking them about their “Gateway” was an obvious way to get people to participate (pun intended).

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

Don’t just tweet information and declaratives. But unlike good classroom interaction, your audience is too broad/varied to respond helpfully to open-ended questions. Directed questions pertaining to your field of expertise, especially the kinds of questions that aren’t commonly asked, but can lead to further discussion are useful.

What other people or accounts should people follow if they enjoyed your tweets this week?

@DNLee5, @DrRubidium, @mikamckinnon, @carrieeaton, @lisavipes, @JacquelynGill, @highlyanne, @callanbentley, @Laelaps are among my favorites.

Thanks once again Matt from all of us here at RealScientists HQ. If you missed anything from his week, the tweets are all collated at the following link.


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