Hungry for science like the wolf: thanks and farewell Toby Fountain

Toby Fountain (@toby_fountain) is  Postdoctoral Researcher in Molecular Ecology at Uppsala University and joined RealScientists in May.

One of the highlights was Toby’s easy-to-grok genetics lesson carried out with simple coloured markers on paper.

… and something many scientists understand, there was excitement over excreta!


Toby kindly obliged when we asked him to complete our post-curation survey, and his answers can be found below.

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

I had an awesome experience! There are so many enthusiastic followers out there who wanted to learn more about science and get involved in conversations.

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

I had to turn off my phone notifications pretty quickly! I definitely wasn’t used to that many reactions and interactions. I think at the beginning there were feelings of intimidation, and worry about saying something stupid or wrong, but quickly that went away and you got use to everything.

What were the highlights? Were there any lowlights?

My highlight was definitely starting a thread about topic (for example the benefits of learning coding as early as possible as a biologists) and seeing a whole conversation develop out of it. It was particularly cool to see other followers start to interact and share resources between each other. There weren’t any lowlights, although I was quickly called out for getting MS-DOS confused as a coding language (so I definitely won’t forget that in the future).

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

Hmm not really, although it did feel as if the week flew by. I didn’t manage to answer all the questions I got asked which I would have liked too.

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

I followed the RealSciMods advice and tried to start a new topic everyday, and have regular opportunities for Q&A and I think I mostly stuck to it. I felt it pays to have some flexibility though and have time to discuss things that might just naturally come up in your everyday week. For example, I unexpectedly had to do a bit of lab work but I turned that into a conservation about how we extract DNA from wolves.

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

From my experience following the account I would say try to keep threads linked, linear and easy to follow. If possible try to keep each tweet self-contained so it can be understood on its own. It can be a bit overwhelming sometimes as a follower to see lots of tweets in a short amount of time (and not necessarily displayed in the right order on the timeline).

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

I would recommend the Molecular Ecologist (@molecologist), the twitter account of a blog site that posts really cool articles about research in conservation and population genetics. Some of the research journals also post nice blogs and summaries of recent research, including Nature Ecology and Evolution (@NatureEcoEvo). You can also follow my account (@toby_fountain) and that of my weekly ecology and evolution podcast (@slightlyevolpod).

Thanks once again Toby 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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