What are we made of?

You never know who will ask the question that inspires the next great discovery. Research can help solve big problems, and there’s no way to do it but together. Featuring Rhiannon Morris from Unique Scientists, Stephanie Dolrenry from Lion Guardians, and Stephan Lewandowsky from the University of Bristol.

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Rhiannon Morris, a biochemist at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, and a science communicator at Unique Scientists.

Every scientist is a unique scientist. That’s the idea behind a new online community called Unique Scientists, launched by Efra Rivera-Serrano after someone responded to a Twitter selfie with a picture of a bent fork and the comment ‘just because you’re unique doesn’t mean you’re useful.’ As Rhiannon shares, there’s no one way to be a scientist, and no one type of person more suited to a career in the sciences. Too often we live in our bubbles, our small communities and networks, and these types of communities are a great way to build support networks around the world (for those nights when you’re up at two in the morning and you need someone to vent to about life as a PhD student). Social media can help us break out of our communication bubbles and show the world that we are all unique scientists.

Rhiannon Morris
Dani Beck, as mentioned during Rhiannon’s interview

Stephanie Dolrenry, Director of Science from Lion Guardians

Stephanie Dolrenry says the most important thing we can do as research communicators is to listen. The Massai are her research collaborators: they are central to the work Lion Guardians does, and their knowledge is as valid as Western knowledge. Starting with this foundation, Stephanie and team don’t just communicate what they know about conservation, they empower the community based on their local cultural frameworks and traditions. The story of science doesn’t always include the local communities it studies, but Lion Guardians proves that the Massai have knowledge worth understanding.

Lion Guardians

Stephan Lewandosky, a cognitive scientist from the University of Bristol

We can’t have an episode about what we’re made of without talking about the strength and resilience we need to face the criticism and debate of science. Stephan Lewandosky and Dorothy Bishop have identified “Ten Red Flags” to help the research community identify whether critiques are valid or whether they veer into the realm of harassment. It’s about balance: balancing transparency and vulnerability with healthy skepticism and balancing normal scientific debate with motivated attacks on science. Most importantly, Lewandosky explained that we must hold critics to the same standards as the scientist.

Ten Red Flags
Professor Stephan Lewandosky