Science Op-Ed Writing Bootcamp
- Hi everyone and welcome to the Graduate Center Science Communication Academy's op-ed writing bootcamp. This is what I think is the fifth in our series of events this semester, helping students and faculty learn how to better communicate their science to the general public. I'm Shawn Rhea and I am the media relations manager at the Graduate Center, communications and marketing department. And I very specifically focused on the sciences. So I'm the person to call if you have questions about how to interact with the media or if you are interested in support on social, because you're tweeting out or posting information about your science work. So today we're gonna spend a little time talking about op-ed writing, science op-ed writing.
So we'll cover why science-themed op-eds are important. And then we'll get into a few tips and tactics for writing your op-ed and making them strong. I'll also give some information about how you can reach out to get support for the communications department if you decide that you're interested in writing an op-ed and you'd like some help, both constructing it and getting support placing it. And then after we go through all that, I'm gonna, we're gonna have a really interesting and robust conversation with Anna Paltseva who is a Graduate Center alum.
She completed her PhD last spring in the earth and environmental science department. And I had the pleasure of working with her to place an op-ed while she was a student. And after she and I have a little bit of a conversation we'll open up the floor to a Q&A from you all. So let's get started. And we'll talk a little bit about why science-themed op-eds are really critical. First of all, we all know that more and more funders are interested in supporting scientists who show that they are intentional about expanding their work beyond the lab, out into the general public and showing the public why their work is important to their lives.
And in op-ed is a great tool for this for a variety of reasons. One, your writing can help empower the public with information about your particular area of science that impacts their lives. And it helps them make decisions about how they conduct their lives in very critical ways. And as we know that environmental science is a really key area but so are things like physics where all of the science that is being done through physics is impacting our communication systems. So they're really important things that seem very esoteric but can be communicated to the public in a way that is empowering to them. And I bet is also a great tool for influencing and informing policymakers, the people who are deciding about the rules and regulations and what funding is available to support your work.
It's also a great way to get the interest of funders. If a funders sees reads an op-ed that you've put out there and they find themselves drawn in and excited by your work or they get an inkling that this is really impactful to the public, they're more inclined to support your work. Also op-ed is a great way to encourage the next generation of scientists.
A young person may pick up and read about your work and really see it as a vehicle for impacting an issue that's affecting the world and now they're interested in it and it can become a career track for them. And finally, on a very self-serving way, an op-ed is a great way for you to highlight your work in your research and to grow your role as a science thought leader. So with all that in mind, I would like to just take a minute to share with you guys some examples of some op-eds that the Graduate Center communications department has been able to work with our faculty and our students over the past years to get placed.
We've got not best placed in CNN Opinions in Newsweek and the Gotham Gazette, which this that we're showing here is the one that we actually work with Anna to place. She'll talk a little bit more about that later. And recently the Graduate Center launched a medium vertical called the "Thought Project" and it is a place where all of our faculty and students can publish opinion and opinion pieces and essays. It's not exclusive to science but we are really encouraging our faculty and students in the sciences to write and to publish with us. And I'll share a little bit more about that later here as well. So you decided that you really are interested in writing an op-ed.
So here are some things to keep in mind as good guidelines for it. So first, consider your goal, I'm sorry, consider your goal. Why is an op-ed on your particular subject warranted? Is it a relevant topic that is tied to the news or is it information that the public just generally is unaware of, but it is impactful to their lives? If you're working on something that has the potential to revolutionize technology, that is something that the public needs to know about. If you're working on something that's basic research, but it actually furthers our understanding in how cells work in the body and really can up in the way we're thinking about medical approaches, these are things that the public needs to know about that you can write an op-ed about. Is it tied to a current event? Can you offer an opinion or information that's missing from the public conversation? These are things that you wanna think about and you wanna try and incorporate in your writing.
The other thing that is really, really critical is for you to know the audience that you're writing for. So who do you wanna speak to? Do you wanna speak primarily to policymakers? Do you wanna speak primarily to communities that are affected by the information, by elected officials or the broader scientific community? I think so often scientists, you know, science is a siloed area of work. If you are a chemist, your information may not be so readily understandable and available to physicist, but there may be an important reason for them to know this information. So these are all things to keep in mind in terms of targeting your audience. The other thing I would say about targeting an audience is that it's not, it doesn't always have to be a single audience that you're targeting, but there should be a primary audience that you're targeting when writing the op-ed. You may be sharing something that is important to multiple audiences, but knowing who you want to first and foremost speak to will be really helpful in deciding what you put into that op-ed.
And if you're gonna include a call to action, what that call to action will be. So in terms of the content that you would develop, what is really crucial to know is you cannot dump everything, it's not a kitchen sink writing exercise. You really have to decide what are the one to three points that you want to make and then you wanna support them. So you have limited space to convey your arguments. So you need to clearly state what that major point is or what the major points are with strong perspective and opinions. One of the challenges I think sometimes scientists encounter when it comes to kind of shifting the brain into op-ed writing mode is that scientists are very used to writing about things in a way that lets the facts lead and it's not opinion based, right.
It is literally what you found in your research. And yes, that is absolutely what you wanna be communicating in your op-ed, but you can have an opinion about it, right. Why is it important? What is the ultimate goal or possibility of the work and how will it impact people, real people and their lives every day.
So you wanna state your issue, the problem, the conundrum in the first paragraph. I'd actually say in the first two paragraphs, you have a little bit of leeway there. But we are in science writing, the conclusion or the main point is actually comes at the bottom.
It's the actual opposite op-ed writing, you start with the main point and then you support it. And you wanna support that argument with your, or as well as others' scientific evidence that is been generated by others and additional relevant information. You can include a call to action for the reader if it's appropriate. And a call to action can be something like let your elected official know that it's important to support this work. It could be prepare yourself because we know climate change is affecting our lives on a daily basis and here are some things that you can do. It could be just make yourself familiar with this.
Add this information to to your arsenal. So a call to action can be broad. And again, just to emphasize, it's not just the facts, it's the point of view.
The other thing that's really critical is that you abide by the word limit of a publication. Word limits vary and it's typically five, roughly 500 to a 1000 words. I think the New York Times can go as high as 1200.
So it varies. And you wanna write with a publication in mind. Now, the one thing I would say about that is don't be too locked into it because if you write an op-ed and you wanna get it placed and you work with us, there may be multiple publications that this will be right for but one of the things to know is to really be clear about, we talked about, I talked about audience a little bit. So if you're writing an op-ed that is focused on policy that is affecting your science then that is going to focus to a different publication and say one that is really strongly about the excitement of the science and how it can change someone's life.
So, you know, kind of think about what publication might be right for that. And if you're interested in the publication, then you can check with the publications, check the publications op-ed or contributors section on the website for the word limits. And I've got a list in here a little later that you guys can take a snapshot of with some key publications. So, sorry, bear with me one second here. Yeah.
Okay. So this is just a chart that is emphasizing several things that we've already covered. So use, and this might be good to take a snapshot of as well, because it's a quick reminder.
So you wanna use layman's language, that is really, really critical. You are not writing for scientists who are steeped in your area of expertise. You may not even be writing for scientists.
So you really wanna, you know, use that language and break it down in broad strokes about your work, where scientists write very long sentences so that it really is specific about what the findings are. You know, the average person, for example, doesn't know what a plural potent cell is. So instead say, you know, it's a self-renewing cell, right. You wanna use short, concise sentences. And because this will help your audience better absorb absorb new concepts. You wanna communicate the new information first, you have a few seconds to capture your audience attention.
So you do not want to vary your point in a bunch of information that is supportive, but not specific. And then you wanna know your audience. We talked a little bit about that and you wanna help them, this will help you determine why, what you're writing about matters and what message, and your message is likely to be different depending on the audience that you're targeting.
So this bottom graphic illustrates the difference between how researchers are typically trained to write for the research, for research publications as opposed to if they're writing for general market, consumer oriented publications. So we're, you know, research would go background, supporting details, results and conclusions, for the general market, the bottom line which would be the conclusion, the idea, the result, why it's important and then your supporting details. So now I just wanna spend a few minutes kind of unpacking on op-eds so you can see how this plays out and you can see how this plays out. I'm having a little problems here, done. I'm sorry.
I have a few too many windows open. Come on. Oh, come on, where are you? I'm gonna have to stop sharing for a minute just so I can, I can actually get to the document I'm trying to share with you all. Okay, there we go.
Okay, so we're gonna spend a little bit of time now deconstructing an op-ed. This is something that ran in the thought project. I mentioned that a little bit ago by one of our researchers who wrote about how, he does author in environmental research and he very specifically has been writing about how trees, how movement into the suburban area has been affecting tree's ability to absorb carbon. And he was able to tie this through how life has changed under COVID-19.
How more people moving out into these less populated areas is actually threatening to expand this phenomenon. So as you can see here with this first paragraph, he ties it to a current event. And then in the second paragraph which is what people in the world of journalism called a nut graph meaning it's the nut of the argument. He states very clearly that the effort to find more space, maybe having an indirect effect on how COVID-19 is affecting the planet well beyond the pandemic's timeline. So he's talking about the longterm effects, obviously.
Then he goes on to have several supporting points where he talks about everything from the fact that we may be setting up a trend that living outside of cities that moves far beyond the pandemic and how it affects trees ability, you know, how more people being out in suburban areas will stress the trees that are there and ultimately impact the ability of trees to absorb the carbon that we're admitting. I'm just quickly going through this, just so you can see how it's set up. And then he ends it after several paragraphs with a call to action for people to consider how their personal choices, where they live, maybe impacting the environment and how city planners and community planners can look to regulate these movements into the less populated areas. I will actually share this. We'll share this online, this particular document online since I ran through it so quickly so that people can look at it beyond this event, so. Okay, let me back to- Okay.
So I'm gonna just share a couple of tools with you guys. We launched, and this will actually be where the presentation is posted, this entire presentation if you wanna revisit it and some of the tools that I've shared throughout. We launched this past spring a Science Communications Academy page.
This is the URL. If you have a chance to check it out, it would be great. There are a lot of tools there, both around op-ed writing and some other tools for science communications. And I mentioned earlier that we, that the Graduate Center launched a blog on medium called the "Thought Project."
This is the hyperlink here for this. I encourage all of us to check it out and see, and you can take a look at the kind of pieces that we're posting and this would actually be a great start, a great place for you all to start and get your feet wet on op-ed writing, if you're interested in contributing. And finally, I mentioned earlier that I would share a list of publications that frequently offer science op-eds. This would be a great, you should screenshot this as well and maybe check out some of the pages, it will give you information on what their guidelines are. The word count, the kinds of op-eds that they're looking for.
Again, we'll share this too however, when we post this event. Okay, so now I'm gonna, we're gonna bring in Anna Paltseva. As I mentioned earlier, she is a Graduate Center alum and she is now an assistant professor at the University of Louisiana Lafayette.
And she and I are gonna have a bit of a conversation and then we will open it up to the rest of the audience. So, Anna, welcome and thank you for joining us. - Thank you so much, so happy to be back at home with my Elma mother.
- That's great. You were really an amazing student and very proactive and it was really great working with you. So I'm hoping we can just spend a little time having you share with everyone else what your experience was.
So I guess maybe we can start off by asking you to share with us how you decided that a particular aspect of your work was potentially write for an opinion piece. - Yeah, that's a great question. I often, so I'm a soil scientist and I work a lot with communities, community gardens, home gardens. At Brooklyn College we have a soil lab where people can send us soils for testing. And I had to work a lot with communities and general audience, not necessarily for my research but rather for outreach of what I was doing. And that was like volunteer job, because we were working in part of the lab and we did lots of workshops outdoors.
And very frequently people would ask me what to do if they found soils were contaminated or how we even find out the source that contaminated. And this is where the question came really from, like the most frequent one that people would ask me what to do if soil is contaminated, how I test my soil, what do I look for? And this is what I wrote in this opinion op-ed piece, just the easiest steps on how to really, how to remediate soil and test soil, where to go for it for New York City if it gives some resources to share other information or other organizations that can be useful to them and really just to eliminate frustrations for people. Because lots of time I heard they were saying, oh, my God, like scientists, you know, it's hard for scientists to figure out how to remediate soil.
It's just so frustrating to go through it by myself and like figuring out all the steps, how to do it. It's challenging. Which is true, it's challenging for scientists or how regular gardener can do that but there are simple steps they can and they just need to be communicated.
And this is where, you know, I saw this an opportunity to share those simple steps and help people to overcome this frustrations and see this is not something over the top, it's anyone can do. So this is what the piece was about, to tell people how to test soil and how to remediate with local resources in New York City. - And what's really interesting about that is it was a perfect opportunity to show how your science intersects with people's real lives.
And quite often, you know, you think, well, you know, what I'm doing is several steps removed from the general public. But at the end of the day, the work that you're doing is really to serve the public no matter what form of science you're in, right, so. - We need to share, I think it's, I like to think if you just keep it to yourself and in academia it's kind of selfish, you know.
It's just like, why do we do it? Like just for yourself? You're not doing it for yourself, right? The reason why we went to for PhD, wherever program people are, it's to share, to make an impact. And this is the great opportunity to do it because how many people are going to read our dissertations or even journal articles, right. They don't even have access to those journal articles unless it's open access.
And if it is, then it's hard to understand. So unless those people, you know, like nerds, science nerds, they would not get it or even invest in it. So op-ed is the way to bring attention and help people to come over. Like, you know, being less afraid of science and says, well, I get it, oh, I can do this.
And then it's part of an interest and then it will trigger them to dig deeper and then, you know, maybe go for science articles and stuff like that. But this is the first time, like to catch their attention. - Yeah, and you make a really good point about the fact that the general public doesn't have access to the journal articles quite frequently that are being published. And that even if they do, the language is so esoteric that they have a hard time deciphering what it is. And so to some extent, it's, there's a responsibility that the scientist has to try and make their work more accessible to the general public and an op-ed is a great way to do that, so. - Absolutely, yeah.
- So can you talk a little bit about what the key differences were in writing about your work through the lens of an opinion that you're sharing with the general public as opposed to how you might write about it for your scientific community? - Oh, that's exactly what you mentioned earlier, a few slides back. It's exactly what it was. that you have to be a creative writer which is very different, language is very different from scientific writing.
When we have to be, you know, kind of have like a dry language for science article while for the public it's needs to be jargon-free, terms that are understood by everyone. So you need to find a way how to change the wording so anyone can get it. And to do that, it's helpful to give you a piece to read to non-science friends, someone who's just, you know, mother, father or friends, just someone who is not in sciences.
And I is like, what does that? I don't understand it. You know, so it's helpful to get the feedback from lay person, let's say. So, yeah.
We definitely need to walk away from writing scientifically, like for the articles and just write what you want to say, like conversational, You know, sometimes when I feel like, when I need to do some work for the audience, I'm like, what do I really want to say? And then how will they say it? And in my mind, I have a conversation with the person and that's what I write. Just like it is, in simple words. And then if you, you know, work with your advisor, with the editor, communications department, and they'll help you to, you know, make it a little bit more creative.
And we are not creative writers, unless, you know, we have training, I'm not. So write what you want to write and then let others edit it or help you to edit it to the proper language. I think sometimes that we get frustrated like, oh my God, I don't know how to write this, you know. But no, put the content in and then there are people who will help you to make it. - I love that tip about having, you know, a family member or a friend read it and if they can understand it then you know you know that you're on the right path.
Something else that it that it also made me think about is do you ever find yourself in writing for a lay audience kind of struggling between what the scientific expectation is for being, for precision around what you're saying as compared to what the needs of a general public is to be able to understand what you're saying and then how do you kind of make it. - Yeah, that's an interesting, very interesting point. Absolutely, yeah. Sometimes you need to kind of like lower it down but then I think it's important not to lose the content, the meaning of what you want to say. No, not to, I think this is why you're a scientist, this is why you have the credentials and you have, you know, the power to say it.
And I think you just having a couple extra sentences to describe, or even if you need to use a jargon, it's important for the point of view, then describe what it is. So I think just like having a little bit extra information to explain will help to do the trick, at least. - That's great, great advice. So, you know, I know students are oftentimes balancing, you know, their desire to kind of build their own voice and face as a science thought leader with the fact that they're working with advisers who they have to have permission quite often to talk about the work, you know, in a certain, you know, beyond a certain audience and, you know, basically get, you know, the stamp of approval to kind of go out and wave the flag about what you're working. So can you talk to us a bit about how you, you know, you approached your advisor about seeking publication of the op-ed and what your experience was with that? - Yeah, so this, for me, I think I'm lucky because my advisor is someone who brought me into outreach because again, like soil sciences, I like to call it people science, it's about, you know, soil that's around us. We're all connected to it.
Food is growing from it so it's something we need to talk about and he was always participating in different workshops around New York City and outside. He always involved me and so when I was like I said, like, you know, I want to write this for general public, yeah, sure, why not send me draft and I'll correct it and see where it goes. So for me, it was very easy and I had the two advisors, basically. One, my primary advisor for Brooklyn College and also Peter Grubman, who was on the photo of those screenshots of CNN Opinion pieces. So he was the one who actually told me how to do it. And he showed me those pieces with him, so like, see how I did this.
So let's talk to Shawn Rhea she said you were wonderful and like, you know, he enjoyed working with the US, like we can totally do it through CUNY and they will help you to do, you know, editorial work and like push the piece to where it needs to go because they are the professionals. And so this is how I did it. I had an idea of what to share, which was tricky. You know, you need to write down like three points maximum. And it was like, oh my God, I want to share so much but you have so much limits, exactly what she said. And I just, you know, over time, reading and working with few people in the team, we narrowed it down and then did some drafts, edits and approached you and then you said, okay, you did a couple edits as well, you did target it to climate change week because it was, I think September when we published it, as like, oh, we need to click it to some events or something that's happening.
So we made the twist to like a climate change week and yeah, we submitted it and it was accepted. So I don't think editors made any changes. So it might be very slight changes that were like that super noticeable, but it was like a very smooth process.
However, in the original, I didn't know how. Like I want to publish, but I don't know how to do it. And this was amazing that my second advisor told me about this opportunity to the communication department.
And now I know if I need to go in my current university, they will probably help me too because this is what people do, you know, like we have different expertise. And yes, so just talk to your advisors, say why you want to do it, what are the benefits of it, and I think they will be okay with that because at the end of the day it promotes your lab or, you know, your center you work at, the school and it just benefits people. And yeah, just talk to them, say why it's important.
I think it's super exciting to do it. - Yeah, and you bring up a few points that I think is really important for people to know, you know, especially students who maybe have not had an interaction with the communications department. And that is that we're here, we are actually, that is our job.
We're here to help you all promote awareness of your work, of your scholarship, because your awareness of your scholarship promotes the university as a whole. So we're very excited about all the amazing ideas that are coming out of the labs and in particular, what our students are working on. So we are here to support you. So, one thing that you mentioned when you were talking a little bit about the process and and the pitching process, and we didn't really get too much into it, but I'll kind of bring that up here is that I think we pitched, we may have pitched your piece to three different publications. And then we finally got it published in the Gotham Gazette that was really very excited about, and I say this, I bring this up because it's rare that you will get, you'll get it on the first try in terms of, you know, so one of the things that we can help scientists do is to come up with a list of publications and to prioritize how we pitch them and position them.
So Gotham Gazette was actually a perfect fit for you because it has such a local slant. So, yeah. So, so some of this, I actually, I think we've already covered is gonna ask you to talk a little bit about the process that you went through, but you really covered that. I guess, you know, I think we kinda skip to this last point because you also I think covered why it's important for scientists to be reaching out to the general public, but you know, what effect do you think writing about your work for the general public has had and it's having on your career? - Yeah, that's a good one. And I will tell you, so I'm doing a lot of different things, something that's not most scientists do.
I have my Instagram soil expert where I reach out to general audience about science. I did this open piece and I do like webinars or podcasts to share my research findings and give advice to people how to deal with soil on the different platforms. And this, I think will help me to get the job an assistant professor and you guys will be looking for jobs very soon if you're not already doing it. And you will know it's very hard to find the assistant professorship right after college or university. So when I was interviewed, I was told that they were really impressed by, like communication, I guess, and like I'm everywhere. They said like, woman, God, you're looking like you're everywhere.
And I was kind of everywhere. Like I'm on the science communities in conferences, I have the social media presence, I created my own website which I also recommend you to do. And, you know, I have, like, I bought some a LinkedIn or Instagram. You choose your own platform that you like.
And having this opinion piece that, you know, you put on your resume, you show that you can communicate your findings in non-scientific way, which shows you that you're a great communicator and it's extremely important to be able to speak about your work for many different reasons because you're not just talking to scientists, you're talking to policy makers or government officials or nonprofits, or like lay person. So it shows you ability on the piece of paper what you're capable of. It's also help you for your own personal branding. Like early in the slides you were talking how you establish yourself as a scientist, right. So this will bring your name out to general public.
And lots of times journalists need to write something about expertise that, you know, you work or field you're in. And they will know, oh, I saw this name before, let me reach out to that person. So you establish yourself in the field outside of scientific communities. I think this is extremely important for career in the long run, to be known and to establish the credentials in general public. I also use this piece a lot in my workshops or my webinars or when I meet people and they want to know about my work.
I don't want to send them my articles, it's like the jargons, I send them this piece, or when I give a guest lectures and the professors would ask me, oh, can you share some of your work for students to read? I know undergrads will have hard time understanding what my staff is about, right, like soil chemistry. So I share this, or when I need to like general public workshops, I would print out colorful piece that Shawn had previously and give it to people because this is exactly what the need to do. And so it has mainly benefits like for your own branding, for showing proof to different people that you're a great communicator, you can speak about your findings in different ways and also use it as a hard material for any work you're doing.
So it's like your mini resume in some different ways but it helps really to show of what you're doing and use it as a material. So that's how it helped me and I do want to write more. So I may come back to you more (indistinct) - I'm right here, I'm absolutely here. That was really great Anna. I think we can open it up for questions that people may have. You can either raise your hand or drop a question in the chat.
- [Virginia] I have a comment to make. among the possible outlets are nature and science because they publish for the general scientific population. And so you can write maybe a little more technically than you can for a mainstream publication but it's also read by science journalist. And so it does communicate your work to a broader audience.
- Th that's a great point. That's Virginia, was that Virginia speaking? - [Virginia] Yeah, I'm sorry I forgot to introduce myself. - No, no, thank you. But that's a fantastic point, yeah.
And I should update that list because there are a number of journals that also offer opportunities for opinion pieces. So, yeah, thank you for pointing that out. - Also although you didn't comment on it so far, I found the editors at nature to be unbelievably helpful and good. They did very heavy editing on the two pieces that I published there. And sometimes I had to push back a little because they wanted me to go further than I felt the evidence allowed me to go but they were great writers, great organizers.
They were really a pleasure to deal with. - That's great. And Virginia, you advise students as well, correct? - Yes.
- So I would love to hear from you how you would encourage a student to approach you if they were interested in doing some op-ed writing. - So two students in the social personalities, sorry, in the basic and applied social psychology training area in psychology at the Graduate Center, Maya Gabole and Noel Malfara and I published a piece in slate. And so it too was an op-ed piece and it was, so the three of us decided together to do that. So I think another thing, depending on what the work is, that the student is interested in writing about sometimes your advisor is an appropriate person to co-write the piece with you.
But I think knowing before you approach your advisor, what it is the basic point that you want to make, that's a plus and making sure that whatever you publish does not prevent you from publishing in your scholarly outlet. - Yeah. Yeah, that's a great point. I know in speaking with some students that they have advisors or faculty members that they're working with who are really concerned that they may be jumping the gun and publishing information that has not yet been peer reviewed.
And so that is really an excellent, excellent point. Something to keep in mind, you do not want to be giving away the kitchen store and harming your chances of publishing work, yeah, so. And about the co-publishing, that is actually an approach that Anna used. She had several, several co-authors on the op-ed piece that she published, so, yeah. Other questions, let's see, we have something in the chat here. Okay, I think this was someone thanking you, Virginia.
Other questions or comments that people may have. - I have a question. Do you have any tips on the title itself? Because one of the bigger challenge in op-eds it's, you know, you get 10 words on a title and that's how you, you know, gauge somebody's attention.
- Yeah, yeah, no, that's an excellent question. So what I would actually say to you all is don't get too hung up on the title. And what I mean by that is number one, oftentimes you can rack your brain coming up with a beautiful title and then the publication is gonna totally make it what they want. But to your point, whatever you come up with, it shouldn't be, it should reflect the viewpoint that you're reflecting there and not necessarily a specific scientific finding, right. And so that's really, it should reflect the idea that is gonna grab the attention of the public.
And we can absolutely help you with that. So if you come to the communications department you say you got this great idea, you know, I'm writing this op-ed, I would love to get your tips on how not only to organize it, but coming up with a title, we can brainstorm with you on that. But I think the key thing is, to your point, keep it short and keep the focus on the idea not necessarily on the scientific responding, so. - Right. - Let's see, we have something else here.
This is from Don. Yes, Don. She says I'm an environmental science assistant professor.
Can I contact you about op-ed opportunities? Absolutely, please. If you have an idea and you know you wanna write but you're not sure what you wanna write about, we're here to brainstorm with you about it and to help you figure out how you cannot only on a particular article, but broadly how you can be focusing your work and talking about your work so that you can build your presence as a thought leader in a particular area of science, so yes. Additional questions, thoughts about op-ed writing or anything else with regards to science communications. - [Yoko] Miss Rhea, I have a question. I couldn't find the raise hand key. So this is Yoko.
Yes, hi. I have a question for Anna. So I am a researcher in the nanotechnology department and I do mainly competitional work. And I noticed that you already started, you know, like science communication before you graduate. And did you actually only do your research side of science communication or do you actually, you know, step in some popular topics that's related to, you know, current news and something like that? And if that's the case, do you find yourself, you know, like, oh, I don't exactly have that area of expertise? How do you find yourself confident to do that and to be able to speak on that issue? That's my question. - That's a good point. That's a good point.
I started to do it because my students encouraged me. I'm like, who wants to look at soil on Instagram? Like, come on, it's not like I'm making like an old pasta or something. And then all like, oh yeah, we will, you know, take a look at like soils like that. And then I start, I started to sharing like my research findings or some people ask me questions and I would address it in the post. Sometimes it is related to current topics and or I will just find something that's interesting. I know my audience will be interested in like, I don't know one of the interesting things where like fights or mediation plants that can take metals in Australia.
They were like, there was a New York Times article and I talked about it, you know, like giving a summary of that findings and people were like, oh my God, trees can do that? And they had the whole bunch of comments about this topic and then people will start sharing, oh, they also can uptake gold and this, this and that. So I speak or comment on things I'm comfortable with. And I don't go into something I don't know much. If I need to do that, sometimes I get requests and I get a lot of requests from Instagram, actually, for people to ask me to speak or do like, I don't know, consulting in some ways by companies and then sometimes they ask me, can they write the blog? Then I do my research about it. If they asking something that's not exactly related to research, to my findings, but it is on the topic of soil or like environmental health or public health with contamination, I'll do my research and then I have to, and then I, you know, talk about it.
So it doesn't need to be only related to your stuff, but you are the expert, you are a researcher who can read scientific literature and the science communicator, you can break it down by understanding, learning yourself first, understanding it, and then adjust it for the general public. And this is what I'm doing on other ways. So like I can understand this material so I can translate it to people and share with them. - [Yoko] That's incredible.
Thank you, thank you. - Yeah, and that's a great point. I mean, various areas of science intersect. So you should absolutely find an area that is your primary area of thought leadership. But we know that science intersects and we know as a scientist you may have a greater ability to, as Anna points out, to translate some very complex ideas, even that maybe outside of your field to the larger public. So jumping, (notification sound) (laughs) yeah.
Yeah and I think since people have, if there are any other questions you can just kind of, again, jump in don't worry about raising your hand or, you know. So if anybody else has a question or comments, please feel free. Okay.
Well, Anna, thank you so very much. This has been a pleasure to have you here. And I think people really appreciate hearing from someone who was a student not so long ago, we have something here. Oh, no, okay.
Hearing from someone who was not a student so long ago who has had success. Oh, Salia, did raise a hand or were you just applauding? I'm sorry. Okay. Yeah, so it's been a pleasure having you here. I dropped my email in the chat, everyone.
So if anyone wants to reach out to me to have a separate conversation, please feel free to do so. And I am here and excited to talk to everyone and figure out how we can work together to advance your scholarship and advance the reputation of the Graduate Center broadly around the sciences, so okay. - Thank you so much for having me, it was a great pleasure. If you need me-