If I am honest, I am very new to the realm of science communication. It was something that I have considered important, but in an ephemeral way. If you had asked me in the early to mid-months how to engage with both the scientific community and the community at large, I would have been completely stumped. I had just started giving lectures in community centers and working a bit with policy makers. All of this changed when I joined Twitter, and somehow navigated through thousands of tweets and profiles to find my SciComm tweeps.
My early involvement in Twitter was entirely through coverage of the annual Society for Neuroscience Conference (#SfN15). At first, I was both excited and confused by people were following my account, in some way I still am confused. What unfolded across the past four months has been more than I could have ever expected. My first experience with the support an advice from Twitter was the day my CV unexpectedly went viral. I asked what I thought was a reasonable question about feedback on my scientific work:
I had somehow poked a beast awake that I didn’t know how to control. I received many supportive responses with general advice and also some direct messages with people offering to read through my CV. I took many people up on this offer, and received some great feedback. Beyond the constructive feedback I had received, I finally had found a community struggling with the same set of problems and questions.
There have been chats on postdoctoral fellow compensation, academic burn out, the value of joint first author publications, and tenure track applications. Twitter has also helped me understand how pervasive the feeling of imposter syndrome can be. But again, beyond the practical value of this information, I find myself mostly enjoying the great company and the community. I now have internet pen pals across the globe. Every one of them has an amazing academic journey, world perspectives and specialized knowledge that have helped me appreciate academia a bit more.
Going into 2016, I just wanted to acknowledge that without this collective of strangers, I would probably be feeling lost in academia. Instead, I am hopeful about starting the New Year with a few short-term goals, and a long-term goal of staying in academia. And to paraphrase a wise shrew, any day you get paid to science is a win.
Here is to a successful 2016, and some more posts!