Do the bio-robo-boogie: thanks and farewell Ritu Raman

Ritu Raman (@DrRituRaman) is a engineer, writer, educator and postdoc MIT, and joined RealScientists towards the end of April. Ritu introduced us to her passion, #biobots – robots that use biological materials.

…aided by some particularly cool artistic representations of such.


We asked Ritu to complete our post-curation survey, to which she kindly obliged.

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

I enjoyed my week as a curator, and found the learning curve quite steep – I think my instincts about what qualifies as “interesting” about my work are not exactly in line with what the @realscientists audience found especially engaging/exciting. I learned a lot about what resonates with this audience, and by some extension the general public, and this will inform how I frame my scicomm efforts in the future.

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

I found the sudden rush of bad interactions quite daunting, not just in terms of the negative feedback, but in terms of the moral dilemma surrounding how to respond. I believe that winning over a person is key to winning them over to your side of the argument, but that can be very hard to do in the face of negative/hurtful comments. I tried my best to engage with those posting negative comments, and felt that I had fruitful interactions with a few, but there were a few people who I could not get through to this week, and that was quite disheartening.

What were the highlights? Were there any lowlights?

The highlight was being re-invigorated and re-inspired to pursue my scientific research by seeing how excited other people were about it. Sometimes its really easy to feel bogged down by the details of failed experiments, and not feel like your progress has any meaning in the “real world”. Sharing my science with this audience really gave me the boost I needed to keep at it! In terms of lowlights, I wish the negative comments were more about my science, as I find that easier to understand and address. Unfortunately, a lot of negative comments appear to be people who don’t believe you “know what you’re talking about” and, as a young woman of color in engineering, thats something I am very sensitive to and its hard for me to have a measured response to that.

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

I wish I had better integrated the tweeting with my personal/professional schedule that week – I don’t feel that I tweeted as much as other curators, and I felt that there were many topics in biohybrid design ethics, education, biohacker spaces, outreach, etc. that I should have covered and didn’t have a chance to based purely on my time constraints.

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

I had a list of topics listed out by thematic area in a document, and I had a plan for which days I wanted to address these. I only made it about 1/3 of the way through my list, partly because of the difficulties with my own schedule (see above) but partly because I did not correctly anticipate which topics would be especially exciting to the @realscientists audience and would hence need more time for discussion & responses etc.

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

Allot specific times of your day for tweeting, and include lots of multimedia (pictures, videos, etc.) throughout the week. Also make sure to reiterate/invite questions periodically, so people know you’re open to and excited about addressing questions/concerns.

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


Thanks once again Ritu 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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