I want to start by talking about one inspirational woman called Lynn Schreiber – an “optimistic freelance writer” as she describes herself on her Twitter page (@LynnCSchreiber). Lynn is the founder and editor of Jump, a non-profit magazine which aims to be different from the rest of the pre- teen mags. Instead of offering tips on how to look like the latest celeb, or gossip about Justin Bieber or One Direction, articles are on any subject from archaeology, feeling lucky to some easy-to-understand science. It’s a fantastic way to get young people interested in more than just celeb culture, helping them think independently and have great aspirations.
Lynn was a great example of how to communicate science in a better way which links to a discussion I had with Andrew Miller MP during my visit. Andrew Miller is an MP in the Labour party and chair of the Science and Technology Committee. It was reassuring to see he was standing up for his points of view delivering some controversial comments over GM, but what I found more interesting were his views on young career scientists (as that’s me! – bit egotistical!). One comment remains in my head and since I didn’t have a Dictaphone I may have paraphrased this a little, however, the message was about young scientists having an obligation to communicate to the public to ensure good public knowledge and good policy decisions. Obviously since I am writing this blog I do believe this, however I did raise a couple of issues with this viewpoint, firstly scientists aren’t trained for communications and a lot of great scientists do not enjoy communicating and secondly scientists are pretty busy and finding time to blog/ do interviews/ visit schools is a big time strain.
I am not sure how to go about solving these problems, however things that could help might be:
· More dedicated jobs in University to decrease the gap between the lab and the public.
· More funding for communications so it’s not an “add on” job scientists do for free when we are already limited on time.
I guess I don’t have the answers, but I feel Lynn is doing something very positive to fill the gap which still exists between science, communication with the public and policy making.
For information on JumpMag and how you can contribute visit: http://jumpmag.co.uk/contribute/
For more information on Andrew Miller and the Science and Technology committee visit:
By Carla Turner