It is important that as those in the scientific community or those interested in science, we continue to use our voices to provide accurate and easy to understand information about COVID-19(Coronavirus).
As someone in the sciences, I have always been mind-boggled by people who “don’t trust science”. To me, scientific research has always been a careful process of designing and performing experiments, analyzing the data and submitting your work for peer review not only to your highly trained boss, but also to a group of unbiased experts in the field. With statistical analysis and an often critical panel of peer reviewers, I have found it difficult to distrust science. I do admit that all scientific literature must be read with a critical eye and not all experiments are “perfect” models of a system. However, with all of the technology and resources we have today, it seems irrational to lack trust in all scientific findings! During the COVID-19 pandemic, the “don’t trust science” attitude has been amplified with anti-COVID-19 protests and news reports of civilians refusing to follow guidelines dictated by the government and CDC. I do not mean for this post to be a reflection of my political views (because who knew a pandemic could be political). But, I think it is valuable to stress the significance of sharing your scientific voice during these pandemic times.
In my own experience, many people think of science as dissecting frogs and mixing together powders and liquids. While these are things that scientists do, we know that our projects involve complex mechanisms that are challenging to explain to the general public. I myself struggle with explaining complex scientific topics to the “high school level” audience that we are encouraged to prepare our research elevator pitches for. I have been using the widespread distribution of scientific information related to the pandemic to practice my scientific communication skills and educate those who may lack understanding of the science. I have been particularly interested in the vaccine development process for COVID-19, so I have been sharing “vlog” style videos with my close friends to explain topics such as the viral mechanism, vaccine mechanisms and the process of developing a vaccine. These videos have caused my friends to reach out to me with questions and articles about topics related to COVID-19, starting many scientific discussions. As I am not a virologist by training, I have done my own research to understand and summarize these complex mechanisms into short 3 minute videos. I feel that these videos have not only strengthened my own scientific communication skills, but have also made my audience more engaged in the scientific news and mindful of their impact in the pandemic.
I encourage you all as scientists, or those interested in science, to share your voice! This does not need to be your YouTube debut, but small acts like sharing an article or video on your Social Media platforms or having a conversation with family/friends (over FaceTime of course) to share your scientific findings go a long way in educating our community and making science more approachable! This virus has given our world more uncertainty than ever; however, I am certain it has given us scientists an opportunity to share our knowledge and educate our communities!
Paige Halas is a 25 year old PhD student studying cancer biology at the University of California, Irvine. She has a Bachelors of Art in Biochemistry and a Masters Degree in Biotechnology. She is looking to pursue a Research and Development career in the Biotechnology industry after finishing her PhD.
You can find Paige on instagram @beautyandthebiotechbeast, twitter @FuturePHPhD, and at her blog: https://tinyurl.com/y8fmr2ly.