What we have here is the opposite of failure to communicate: thanks and farewell Michaela Maya-Mrschtik

To kick off the new year at Real Scientists, we welcomed Michaela Maya-Mrschtik (@MiMrMa), science writer at Spektrum der Wissenschaft, a German science journal.

Michaela clearly is a science communication EXPERT, seeing as she introduced us to her dog on Day 1 of curation. #NAWWW

But of course there was also science! From Michaela’s original field of cancer research…

… to engaging with the RS audience about their own scientific interests on the #mysci hashtag, and covering the always important issue of self care and mental health in academia including some startling poll results, and this excellent summary thread which you should definitely read.

Michaela was also generous enough to fill out our post-curation survey, and her answers are below.

 

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

Fun, interesting and exciting! It was a great experience, and the tweeps were just lovely. I never wanted to stop once I got started!

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

I think exhilarating is the right word for it. I was ‘overrun’ with interactions, which feels great because you know you are engaging the audience and talking about things that matter to them. The flipside is that at times it was just so many that I couldn’t keep up with all of them or answer to everyone – so to the ones I missed: I am very sorry I didn’t have the time to respond to all comments!

What were the highlights? Were there any lowlights?

Every day was a new highlight in itself, but what I will remember most is my very first day. I asked scientists to share their research in one tweet with #mysci, and the hashtag really took off and became a thing. It was beautiful to watch the fascinating and amazing science that is being done by tweeps all over the world!
I also enjoyed speaking about things that are close to my heart. One day, I talked about the mental health struggles that are all too common in academics, and I got a lot of lovely feedback for that. And through the #scibook hashtag I actually got a great list of books I need to read this year!

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

I think I got my central topics across. Of course, I had much more on my mind and I could have gone on and on… But I think in the end it was an exciting and eventful week, so I am happy with what I managed to squeeze in.

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

I actually had several handwritten pages of topics, subtopics and talking points – I am a list person, so I feel more secure with that kind of backbone. I even wrote down a full week plan beforehand, with a different topic for each day. Each evening, I would go back to my list and adapt it according to what I thought resonated most with the audience. In that way, I mixed my own preferences with those that I perceived there. So, in a way, I did mostly stick to my plan, but only because I continuously adapted it.

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

First of all: enjoy it, because it is an amazing experience. Second, listen to the people and what they want to hear and talk about – have a plan ready, but be flexible to change it if a topic hits a nerve. Use hashtags! Think about some you could use beforehand, and maybe even try to start your own.

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

I felt a bit of a backlash against science journalism, or journalism in general. So I’d suggest people to follow more science journalists on twitter and reconsider possible prejudices. There are fantastic science journalists and science communicators out there, and to condemn the whole profession because of a few “bad apples” is unfair and harmful. Give science journalists a chance! If you want a starting point: Three of my favourites are Ed Yong, Carl Zimmer and Julia Belluz.

Thanks once again Michaela 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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