Scientists on the water: thanks and farewell Katherine Alfredo

Katherine Alfredo (@KathAlfredo) is a Fulbright-Nehru postdoc in Nagpur, India and also an Adjunct Scientist at Columbia University in the Columbia Water Center (CWC). Kath joined Real Scientists in August, where she wasted no time in pointing out some of the sights that may seem a little odd to those of us who don’t conduct our research in a country where cows are revered.

Kath also discussed some of the realities of conducting field work on tight budgets…

…parenting while conducting field research…

…and kept a running tally of “mysterious bites”!

Kath graciously agreed to fill out our curator exit survey, and you can read her answers below.

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

Overall, great. It was challenging to talk about my work so much and to be on twitter that much. I think the time difference between when I was on and tweeting and when people in the U.S. woke up made it difficult to get discussions going. I started trying to save topics to tweet late at night for me so that people were seeing them in the morning in the U.S.

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

Daunting, no. Stressful! It was another “score” to follow. To look at likes and retweets etc. I wanted to make sure I was doing a “good” job talking about my work and trying to initiate discussions—-when threads that I thought would be interesting did not take off it was disappointing. 🙂

What were the highlights? Were there any lowlights?        

Highlights: feeling like for a week I really did have a large audience for what I place a great value on in my life, my research. It was really great to talk to people and answer questions about water.

Lowlights: I really wish some of the discussion threads I tried to start actually turned into larger discussions. It seems like very few people wanted to really ask questions, which I hope is not a reflection of poor curating.

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 get more people to give opinions and thoughts about their water. I tried a few times, but then moved on to reporting on what I was doing.

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

Yes. I did have a plan. I thought of 7 themes and tried to stick with them, but, as I mentioned earlier, when certain themes did not generate any response or feedback I changed it up. I really wanted to have a longer conversation about water quality regulation, but that fell COMPLETELY flat.

If I was to do it again, I would email some of my friends on twitter and have them “get the ball rolling” on those days. BUT, again, my social network is in the US and I was posting on India time.

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

DON’T OBSESS OVER THE NUMBERS! My friends later told me they enjoyed following me on the RS feed, but they did not retweet or add to the conversation (!!) so I did not even know they were following along. I think that is just how many people (myself included) browse twitter. I am committed now to responding to other RS curators! 🙂 It’s like being in front of the classroom and no one is participating. The first couple of times it is stressful, by the end of the week I was like, meh–this is what I want to talk about. I suggest other curators be aware of the quiet classroom, sometimes that is harder to prepare for than the odd troll.

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

I follow mainly other water geeks. @Alanthewaterman is great for US policy related to water quality regulations.

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


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