Adrian Smith is a biologist and researcher on ants, who has written an account of his newfound skills for sharing his research highlights on video: “YouTube your science”.
He tells the story of sitting with his mom in a video studio, an experience which helped him realize how much his science was removed from the language that ordinary non-scientists can understand.
First-person accounts of science were not a part of my life when I was younger. I am a first-generation university graduate with no immediate or extended family members who are involved in scientific careers. As a child, I’d never known a working scientist. When I was filming that video with my mum, I realized that I was presenting myself as a professional scientist to a family member who also had never had a personal connection to science before me. Making videos and using press releases to distribute them has helped me to introduce myself and my colleagues to the world as scientists. I now view the impact of my research not just in relation to the metrics around my journal articles, but also in terms of how well I can make my work available to those outside my profession.
This is such an important moment in the history of science, and we need many more scientists to heighten the engagement of the public in our work.