#MySciComm: William Chen on games, conferences, and transitioning to a scicomm career

This week, William Chen responds to the #MySciComm questions!

will chen bio photo
William in Seattle, Washington (Photo courtesy of Tal Noznisky)

William is a science communicator interested in writing, storytelling, and interactives. After obtaining a Master’s degree in Quantitative Ecology and Resource Management at the University of Washington, he is transitioning into a career of science communication. This starts with an internship at The Nature Conservancy, where he engages diverse audiences with stories about protecting and restoring nature both for its own sake and for people. Connect with him @ChenWillMath and

The #MySciComm series features a host of SciComm professionals. We’re looking for more contributors, so please get in touch if you’d like to write a post!


Okay, William…

1) How did you get into the kind of SciComm that you do?

Playing off of my board game hobby.

Continue reading #MySciComm: William Chen on games, conferences, and transitioning to a scicomm career


You’re Invited! Co-organizers needed for #ESA2018 comm & engagement sessions, contribute to this blog, and more!

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As we mentioned in our #ESA2017 recap post a couple of weeks ago, a wealth of opportunities sprung up and/or were identified at this year’s annual meeting.

Here’s a complete list of all our current volunteer opportunities. We’ll keep that updated, so do check that page when you have time to commit.

Meanwhile, we want to highlight some particularly exciting and time-sensitive opportunities relating to a) our website and blog, and b) planning for #ESA2018. Specifically, please see the final point for a Google Form where we can all share communication and engagement-related planning for next year’s annual meeting.

Please see below, and do get in touch if you want to contribute!

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Website & Blog Contributors Wanted!

1. If you’re an ESA member (and better yet a SciComm Section member) who has done some kind of communication and engagement work, we want to hear from you.

Please pitch us a piece for our increasingly popular #MySciComm Series. We’d love to highlight your work! Complete contributor guidelines are available here.

2. Got opinions? We’re looking for them for a Lit Review series we will launch in 2018!

The idea is to review/feature books and other types of resources that can be useful for professional development, teaching of scicomm, and planning and assessing engagement activities. Section Secretary Jennifer Purrenhage will be the series editor. Please connect with her if you have suggestions for what we should review. Most especially, please connect with her if you want to pitch/write a review of a resource you recommend! Jennifer can be reached at jennifer.purrenhage[at]

3. Are you a member of the Education Section who is also engaged with scicomm/engagement and/or teaching scicomm skills?

If so, please connect with us! We’re already in touch with the ESA Ed staff through our role on the Committee on Diversity and Education, but we’d like to connect directly with the Ed Section, too. And, we’d love your help making the connection and pursuing collaboration. We’d like to collaborate with the Ed Section & ESA Ed staff to identify areas where we can create and/or curate complementary resources and content.

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Planning for #ESA2018: Session organizers/co-organizers wanted!

1. Attn: Students! Want to co-organize a ComSciCon* workshop for #ESA2018?

We’re coordinating with the Student Section and Rose Hendricks, ComSciCon’s national director, to host a ComSciCon workshop at next year’s meeting. These workshops are a big lift, but also a fantastic way to gain skills in scicomm and event planning. Please contact Student Section officers Kelsey Fischer (kefisher[at] and Rob Crystal-Ornelas (rjp266[at] if you’d like to be involved as a co-organizer. *Note that ComSciCon is by and for students.

2. Are you organizing an #ESA2018 session related to communication and/or engagement?

We’re spearheading a coordination effort to help ensure great attendance and wide-ranging coverage of comm & engagement topics at #ESA2018. So we’d love to know – are you planning a session that in some way relates to themes of policy/public affairs, skill-building, science of scicomm, education, outreach, translational ecology (and the list goes on!), etc.?

If so, please contribute your session information here.

The link leads to a Google Form with publicly visible results. The idea is to help everyone in the comm & enagagement community within ESA to identify opportunities for collaboration, reduce potential redundancies, and identify gaps in topical/thematic coverage.

Thanks in advance for your contributions to the coordinating doc!


You’re planning an #ESA2018 session related to communication and/or engagement? Let’s coordinate!

Help make sure the comm & engagement session schedule for #ESA2018 doesn’t look like this! :) (Image credit: patrickblackjr, CC0 via pixabay)

We’re spearheading a multi-section/committee coordination effort. The aim is to help ensure great attendance at, and wide-ranging coverage of topics relating to, comm & engagement sessions at #ESA2018.

So we’d love to know: Are you planning a session that in some way relates to themes of communication and/or engagement?

Such themes include (but aren’t limited to): policy/public affairs, skill-building, science of scicomm, education, outreach, interacting with the media, and inclusive, translational and/or applied ecology.

If so, please share your session information here.

The link above leads to a Google Form with publicly visible results. By contributing your session ideas/proposal information, you’re contributing to three key objectives for comm & engagement programming at #ESA2018:

  1. Identify opportunities for collaboration,
  2. Reduce potential redundancies, and
  3. Identify gaps in topical/thematic coverage.

Thanks in advance for your contributions to the coordinating doc!

Questions or ideas? Click here for more details re our plans for #ESA2018. And, as always, we’d love to hear from you.

#MySciComm: Sarah Chevalier Prather on curating science-exhibit research and development for interactive science museums

This week, Sarah Chevalier Prather responds to the #MySciComm questions!

Sarah Prather bio photo
Photo courtesy of Sarah Chevalier Prather, PhD

Sarah Chevalier Prather is a Museum Consultant who earned her PhD in Neuroscience from Emory University and a BSE in Biomedical Engineering from Duke University.  After graduate school, Sarah forged a path into the world of exhibit research, development, and evaluation in interactive science and children’s museums.  She lives in Wyoming with mountains out her window and an active skype account used to stay connected to colleagues and museums across the country. Start a conversation with Sarah about museums, science, or collaborations over email or at her website.

The #MySciComm series features a host of SciComm professionals. We’re looking for more contributors, so please get in touch if you’d like to write a post!


Okay, Sarah…

1) How did you get into the kind of SciComm that you do?

It started in graduate school, when I realized I wanted to change the direction of my career.

Continue reading #MySciComm: Sarah Chevalier Prather on curating science-exhibit research and development for interactive science museums

#MySciComm: On the @ESA_org blog, Series Editors discuss what #MySciComm is and why it matters

By way of resuming the #MySciComm series after a brief pause for #ESA2017, we’re delighted to share with you a recent commentary from #MySciComm series editors. ESA published a version of this commentary on its EcoTone blog during #ESA2017. In case you missed it, we’re republishing it here.

As of today, stay tuned, every other week, for a great fall series of MySciComm!

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Recent #MySciComm contributors rocking the #scientistselfie; see end of post for image credit.

ESA SciComm Section puts the human element front-and-center in #MySciComm blog series and #ESA2017 workshops and special events 

Science Communication is an emerging career path with diverse entry points and skillsets. Have you ever read about a science writer, filmmaker, or blogger and wondered, how in the world did they get THAT job? Or more importantly, how in the world can I get that job?

The ESA Science Communication (“SciComm”) Section was founded to address these questions and more. The section helps ecologists apply best practices in science communication and empowers ecologists to better communicate the stories of science (including stories about the people doing the science) in creative, compelling, and innovative ways. In addition to resources and workshops, the SciComm Section publishes a blog series – #MySciComm – that addresses two core section efforts.

We are committed to professionalizing science communication efforts within and beyond ESA and providing mentorship to ecologists interested in trying out, or transitioning to careers in, science communication.

The #MySciComm series works toward these goals by providing a platform where science communicators can be candid about their work and what it takes to do it. #MySciComm contributors range from journalists to filmmakers, from those at private institutions to public universities, from trained formally to self-taught. Each post ends with advice and resources for people looking to build a career in science communication.

Continue reading #MySciComm: On the @ESA_org blog, Series Editors discuss what #MySciComm is and why it matters

#ESA2017 Recap: ESA wants your feedback, loads of #SciComm activities, #SciArt, meetings & more

Standing room only at the Section booth during #sketchyourscience! (Image: Bethann Garramon Merkle)

A lot of great opportunities came up during #ESA2017.

These include the Section identifying several volunteer positions and opportunities, looking ahead to #ESA2018 (help us plan and collaborate for next year!), developments in our governance and long-range planning (see our About page for updates), and new officers (meet them here)! You can stay up to date on these topics and many others by subscribing to our newsletter.

ESA is soliciting feedback regarding this year’s conference.

If you have opinions, please complete the survey. Be specific about what you liked to help ensure it happens again. Ditto for things you don’t want to happen again.

We’re curious – which #ESA2017 or scicomm-related hashtags did you use and follow, and why?

The #EngageESA hashtag took off this year, and there was also steady activity for #ESASciComm and #sketchyourscience. Emily Rollinson (@ejrollinson) has run stats of ESA conference tweets for the past few years. Check out the stats for #ESA2017#ESASciComm and #EngageESA. Knowing these trends along with other ways you engaged with conference and Section activities is helpful for us as we plan how the Section can connect with you throughout the coming year. Please let us know via email, at our Facebook Group, or on Twitter (using #ESASciComm and/or #EngageESA to ensure we see your response).

We hosted seven events, and there were more than 50 SciComm/Engagement sessions on the program!

These included a productive Section business meeting, three workshops, a live science storytelling show, and several rounds of networking. And we can’t forget yet another year of lively and informative #sketchyourscience. It’s exciting to be part of the building momentum to celebrate, professionalize, and make more accessible the myriad ways that science communication and engagement efforts are a core part of the work so many ESA members do. We were in great company, with those of you who made it to Portland, and with a lot of other folks who organized communication-related sessions. When we looked through the program, we found 7 social events, 21 workshops, 7 ignite sessions, 6 special sessions, 5 symposia, and at least 7 talks and posters (though we likely underestimated those)!

SciArt or Art-and-Ecology Section

Two back-to-back Ignite sessions focused on art and science stimulated talk of a SciArt or Art-and-Ecology Section. Some folks floated the idea of starting a new section, others the idea of making space for #sciart within the SciComm Section. While current officers were supportive of either approach, members at our business meeting were largely in favor of joining forces and making SciArt part of the SciComm Section. So, we’ll be reaching out to folks this year to explore what that might look like.

Among the many meetings your section officers attended…

We went to the annual ESA business meeting and the business meeting for the ESA Committee on Diversity and Education (CDE). We’re a new member of the CDE, and we look forward to having a voice in the important work of the committee. If you have topics you’d like us to address, Bethann will be on some conference calls and at some meetings with the CDE through the coming year. Please contact her so we can represent you and our section mission in those meetings.

Do get in touch if you have ideas, questions,
and/or want to get involved with the Section!

#MySciComm: taking a break for #ESA2017


We’re taking a break from the MySciComm series while we focus on the ESA annual meeting. If you’re in Portland, check out our awesome list of Section-sponsored and other SciComm happenings.

Whether you’re in Portland or following the conference from afar, we’ll be posting meeting-related updates and session live-tweets in several places:

MySciComm blog posting will resume in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, check out our #MySciComm archives, for posts from journalists, museum workers, illustrators, and all sorts of SciComm folks.

Reminder: SciComm Section biz meeting & meet-up


Please do join us for this meeting!

We’ll be discussing how to spend the section’s money (your membership dues), nominees for next year’s officers, how to engage members (you!) in section projects throughout the year, and more!

The business meeting is planned for Tuesday, August 8, 6:30-8:00 pm, in OCC room E142.

More details: Join us for a brief engaging (we promise!) business meeting where we’ll discuss how to allocate our budget, finalize plans for the next officer election (including accepting nominations for next year’s officers!), and start planning for #ESA2018. Afterward, let’s adjourn to a local watering hole to talk #scicomm, network, and catch up. Looking forward to hanging out with you and getting your input for the direction of the section!

Image: BGMerkle

The power of stories: two #ESA2017 events on Wednesday (8/9/2017)

Science is a part of everyone’s life and everyone has a story. The best available science tells us that for most audiences, stories are more interesting, understandable, convincing, and memorable than evidence‐focused communications. Yet scientists are unfamiliar with this literature and rarely share their work using a narrative style. Two events at #ESA2017 offer exposure to and practice with telling your own stories! The first is a discussion and social and the second is a live show. Read on for more details!

Storytelling Social for Science Communication
Wednesday, 8/9, 11:30 am-1:15 pm
OCC D140

ESA meeting 2013 - Minneapolis, MN

 Erin Barker and Shane Hanlon of the Story Collider will lead a discussion about telling your science story. This discussion will explore how to develop and tell personal stories about science with intellectual honesty and ethical consideration. Erin and Shane will present research on storytelling and narrative persuasion, and highlight the value of personal stories in science. Participants will learn how to find, develop, and perform their own deeply human stories of science.  Click to view in program.

Springer Nature Storytellers at ESA: Sips, Snacks, and Stories about Ecology
Wednesday, 8/9 – doors open at 6:30 pm and the show runs from 7:00-9:00 pm
OCC room B116


RSVP here (required); each RSVP includes one free drink!

Join Springer Nature, our partners at The Story Collider and the ESA Science Communication Section for a fun evening of sips, snacks and true, personal ecology stories told by researchers themselves. Inspirational, captivating, enlightening and certainly entertaining, you will have the opportunity to hear about and connect with the experiences of those on the front lines of ecological discovery.

Featuring: Karin BodewitsKirsten Grorud-ColvertLaura MeyersonRicardo Rozzi, and Elisa Schaum

Images: Impact Media Lab (Sips, Snacks & Stories); BGMerkle (Storytelling Social)

Prepping for #ESA 2017? Handy tips & links re social media #scicomm (tips, ESA policies, plus ok/not ok icons)

Twitter OK

We thought we’d share a couple of handy notes re social media #scicomm at #ESA2017 next week, starting with the ESA social media policy for this year’s conference. The official hashtag is #ESA2017). Use #ESASciComm if you’re joining/tracking along with the SciComm Section.

#ESA2017 Social Media Policy Highlights:

  • NO photo, video, or audio recordings during scientific sessions (talks and posters) unless you are a registered journalist. Sketching is an approved alternative.
  • Photography is allowed at social events, in public areas, and at plenary sessions.
  • Social media is opt-out. Scroll to the bottom of this post for handy icons you can use to indicate whether you’re okay with folks discussing your slides or poster on social media.

Keep reading for details and tips on these policies.

Want to have visuals for your tweets, but feeling stymied by the no-photos policy? Try sketching.

ESA confirmed a couple of years ago that sketchnotes are a preferred alternative.

Social media is awash with visual notes from other science conferences. Many of these sketches were inspired by an American Fisheries Society Fisheries magazine article penned by  Natalie Sopinka (@phishdoc). Natalie’s article succinctly distills several science illustrators’ advice for making meaningful and satisfying sketchnotes.

Want more details? See this post we published jointly with ESA’s EcoTone blog during the 2015 conference. For sketching tips, open the post and search for “Try it yourself.”

Social/new media (Twitter, Facebook and others) is op-out.

That means “the default assumption is to allow open discussion of ESA presentations on social/new media.” If you do not want people discussing/live-tweeting, etc., your talk or poster, ESA recommends you include opt-out icons on every slide or on the poster somewhere visible. 

Here are a few opt-in and opt-out icons we’ve found or created. You’re welcome to use them. Click on individual images to download and use them for your presentation and/or individual slides. Note that the most likely platform people will be using is Twitter, so if you’re space constrained, you may opt to use just the Twitter icons.