We could talk about my grandmother as someone who lived a life of service and gave of herself regularly to the community - both as the wife of two ministers, and in her own right as she navigated space as a single person.
We could talk about my grandmother as a professional in the medical field. Touched early by rheumatic fever and living ever since with its consequences, she contemplated a study of the sciences. But, influenced by family duty and gender roles, she found a career in hospital administration and made her imprint on medicine by influencing system structure and function.
With her recent passing, I’ve naturally thought so much of her, and how best to describe a long life well lived. What occurred to me is that, alongside the roles of wife, mother, parishioner, volunteer, and professional, one facet touched all the others: her love for, and expression through, fashion.
And because I can still hear her voice softly stating that she was not a “proper” artist, I’ve been exploring this idea that, somehow, art belongs only to professionals or particular domains.
Being someone who is a creative person by nature, I like to think (perhaps like many others) that creativity is something I can dip into without fail - a Mary Poppins' carpet bag of ideas and inspiration. However, there are times that I brush against the bottom of the bag.
How do you do that, though, when you're farming creativity? For me, a few practices have helped me move through these periods of creative rest.
Maybe it’s just me, but I find that staying informed of current research practice often feels like I’m trying to take a sip of water from a fire hose. Journal articles only scratch the surface, with vast more treasures lying in wait through social media postings.
Arguably, the biggest challenge we face in sharing our science and having an impact in our communities is the lack of trust in credible sources. To tackle this problem, continuing to simple share evidence isn’t enough; we need to understand the root cause.
Why is it that some people are willing to accept misinformation over the evidence produced by experts?
As I was thinking back recently to my own path through university, a particular event stands out that highlights one possible cause.
So when someone reached out to me a month ago, also armed with a PhD and desire to shift to a non-academic role, I shared with them the following advice.
If there's one thing I can achieve through my posts, it's that you are aware of the many more ways to #ShareYourScience beyond journal articles or conference presentations. One unique way of doing this is the sticky note challenge, where you have to communicate your research topic using only one sticky note. Let's check out some examples I've found below the cut, and then I'll show you how I took my own thesis and made it a #PostItNotePhD.
It seemed so effortless, but when I tried to do it during that first conference, it was frantic - simultaneously sharing tidbits as I tried to listen and absorb new knowledge, take photos, look up speakers' usernames and relevant hashtags, and edit my final message to fit the available 140 characters (at the time).
Since then, I've live-tweeted a few more conferences, and have figured out a workflow to engage folks online without being glued to your phone and losing the value of the in-person presentation.
(Spoiler alert: It's all about the pre-conference prep!)
The amount of information shared in the last ten months around COVID-19 and responses to pandemic management is incalculable. And, while it is an exciting time in science to realize that indeed we have the ability to rapidly develop, test and market vaccinations in the hopes of smothering the virus - what other diseases can we finally tackle with this vigour? - it has also laid bare the challenges that science has in the knowledge translation and implementation of its results.
Personal blog for Bryn Robinson, PhD. All opinions are my own.