Would you like flies with that: thanks and farewell Thomas Merritt

Thomas Merritt (@tjsmerritt) is a Professor and Canada Research Chair at Laurentian University Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry and joined RealScientists in early September. Along with some good ol science staples like coffee and drosophila, Thomas also shared with us his commute (ohsoCOLDDD)… and a visit to SNOLAB (but no snow there).

… the secret to good cooking which of course is owning a nonna-endorsed magic spoon

Fly exercise. Flyxercise. Exerflies.


Thomas did us a solid with his awesome replies to our post-curation interview, so you should definitely read on.

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

Exciting, engaging, exhausting! I had a great week, but did find myself checking in with Twitter, a lot. Having followers around the globe meant that I could check in at the middle of the day – or middle of the night – and have people interested in interacting. I’m sure I sent out more 3am tweets last week than I had in the last years, combined.

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

The rush of interactions was energizing. It was a lot of fun to have so many people, from so many different locations and back grounds, chiming in on one topic or another.

What were the highlights? Were there any lowlights?

The highlights were the threads that generated unexpected interest. I was surprised that some threads I had thought of ahead of time – e.g. where is the coolest place you got to work – generated very limited interest. Maybe these topics were too obvious or had been done too many times before. Other threads that I didn’t plan and didn’t expect to go anywhere, e.g. Hey, I’m making pickles, took off and generated a wave of interest. I loved the interest in my Tweet about coaching accessible sport and how this makes me a better professor and mentor. The highlight was certainly #nerdycourting. That topic obviously tapped into broad general interest and excitement. I’m still getting hits on that one. The story of the engagement rings picked so that the isotopes matched the wedding date is awesome!

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

I had something like 4 pages of ideas. I got in maybe a little over half. I had hoped to spend a substantial amount of time Tweeting about my experiences as an ally for diversity in STEM. I just didn’t manage to get that in.

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

I had a general plan with themes spread across the 7 days. I followed that general plan – some ideas where set ahead of time, like the day I spent in SNOLAB – but within that general plan a lot of the little plans ended up being fluid. There was, for example, less interest in talking about issues of dual career couples than there was in telling stories about the nerdy things that scientists do when we’re dating. I absolutely loved the fact that so many people chimed in on this one – and so many people simply commented on how much they loved the thread because it was light and fun in a time when light and fun can be hard to find.

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

Balance. Hit the hard and difficult topics that you feel passionate about covering – and tell fun stories that are light and engaging. Be flexible. If a thread isn’t working, feel free to go a different direction. Engage, but don’t preach. Make things as personal as you are comfortable with. People loved the tweets about 45 fly traps in my office, about my wife’s and my matching coffee mugs – and they really loved the shots of my 40+ coffee makers. Who would have guessed.

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

@iamscicomm is very cool

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


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