Science Blogs and the Power of the Grapevine

Posted 4 April 2016 by Paige Brown Jarreau

Image by fdecomite,

A recently published study in Journalism, titled “The science grapevine: Influence of blog information on the online media coverage of the 2010 arsenic-based life study,” caught my eye this morning. Unfortunately, I couldn’t *access the full text of the study online or through my University library, so I requested a PDF from the author (but got the PDF much more quickly via #IcanhazPDF). *For a study on science blogs, I think it is unfortunate that this paper was so inaccessible.... Read more

Struggles for Women in Science – When Facts Aren’t Enough

Posted 31 March 2016 by Paige Brown Jarreau

Image credit: Quinn Dombrowski,

Do facts convince? It’s the classic question, which in science communication is often answered with a qualified “no.” Especially when it comes to the question of whether facts or evidence impact attitudes in the direction of the evidence. In an interesting study from June 2015, published in Psychology of Women Quarterly, Moss-Racusin and colleagues investigated public comments on three news/blog articles reporting evidence of gender bias among science faculty. The news/blog articles reported on a 2012 scientific study demonstrating that science... Read more

International Women’s Day – Being Female in Science

Posted 8 March 2016 by Paige Brown Jarreau

Image: Brick 101,

Today is International Women's Day. There isn't a more fitting day to publish an article on women's experiences in science that has been months in the making for me. This article was originally pitched to EMBO Reports, but for various reasons (including a critique that this article presents too many anecdotes without clear evidence that the examples represent what can be defendably defined as gender discrimination / harassment) the editors chose not to publish it. I have chosen to publish the article in... Read more

Zika in the Media – We Need More Research

Posted 2 March 2016 by Paige Brown Jarreau

Female Aedes aegypti mosquito. Image credit: CDC/ Prof. Frank Hadley Collins, Dir., Cntr. for Global Health and Infectious Diseases, Univ. of Notre Dame

Today I have a special post up at the Altmetric blog about some of the most popular research papers in the media this month, with a focus on Zika-related research in the news. Zika virus (ZIKV) is a flavivirus related to yellow fever, dengue and West Nile. On February 1, 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a public health emergency due to a concerning rise in symptoms and disorders potentially associated with Zika, including microcephaly (a condition in which children are born with... Read more

When the Universe Chirped – Detecting Gravitational Waves

Posted 12 February 2016 by Paige Brown Jarreau

Joe Betzweiser giving a tour at LIGO. Photo by Paige Jarreau.

When Joe Betzwieser found out that that a bright signal had been detected from the control room of LIGO Livingston, a Laser-Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory in Louisiana, he was just glad that he wasn't working. Just an hour or two before an instrument operator saw a squiggly wave run across a monitor in the LIGO control room, signaling gravitational waves or "ripples in spacetime" for the first time ever, Joe was making calibration measurements on the instrument. If he had been working... Read more

Using Twitter to Interact, But Science Communication to Preach

Posted 3 February 2016 by Paige Brown Jarreau

Image Credit: Matt Hamm,

“Science blogs were heralded for their potential to transform dialogue between science and society, yet studies suggest they have failed to do so.” – Alison Smith Can Twitter do any better? In a paper recently published in the Journal of Promotional Communications, Alison Smith investigates the ways that scientists use Twitter for science communication. Twitter, Smith proposes, may provide a medium for true public engagement with science by “allowing users to have conversations, form communities, share content, and build relationships.”... Read more

You don’t really know how to write a science STORY. Yet.

Posted 10 January 2016 by Paige Brown Jarreau

Stories. Image by Elias Ruiz Monserrat,

All is not as it seems. This week, I realized something incredible. I realized that until now, I didn’t truly know what a story was. I mean, I could recognize a good story when I read one, and I encouraged my students to tell good stories when writing about science. But if you’d asked me to define story, I would have gotten the definition all wrong. Myth: A story is plot. Over the past few weeks I’ve been reading Lisa... Read more

Key Points from SciCom15

Posted 14 December 2015 by Paige Brown Jarreau

Quentin Cooper talking about the image of scientists at SciCom15.

On Wednesday December 9, 2015, SciCom15 took place in Athlone, Ireland. This conference on communicating (Irish) science was sponsored, in part, by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI). Below are some of the key points from the conference. These key points are based on my own impressions, detailed conference notes provided by LSU colleague and SciCom15 attendee Peggy Miller, and #scicom15 tweets. Ireland has a rich culture of storytelling. Science communicators (including scientists) should be able to tell a science story. What does a scientist look like? Quentin Cooper delivered... Read more

Where were you when you heard there was water on Mars?

Posted 6 December 2015 by Paige Brown Jarreau

Image credit: (NASA/JPL/University of Arizona)

Here is a fun little poll I'm doing for an upcoming conference - Where did you first hear about the September 2015 announcement of hydrated salts, evidence of liquid water, on Mars? Take the poll: Please share this with your friends! ... Read more

Science Communication Echo Chambers – Now What?

Posted 17 November 2015 by Paige Brown Jarreau

Anechoic chamber - This room has long wedges of foam all over the walls so there are no echoes. Image credit: Gillie Rhodes,

Echo chambers are a hot topic in the online science community of late. I recently wrote a blog post about whether science blogs are echo chambers, and that post continues to get a lot of play on Twitter and elsewhere. And then just this last weekend at #SciCommCamp, we had an “un-conference” session on “Echo Chambers” in which a group of scientists and science communicators discussed how to break out of them, so to speak. “It is well known that when... Read more