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Communicating botany to a wider audience using social media

Dr M is particularly fond of social media (at least those he understands how to use!) for communicating his passions for field botany and plant ID to a wider audience, and increasingly to young people.

He was therefore delighted to find, via the Annals of Botany (AoB) blog listed on Louise Marsh’s BSBI publicity and outreach blog, a link to a great lecture by Anne Osterrieder from Oxford Brookes given at the UK PlantSci 2013 meeting in Dundee, entitled “Space to Grow: Plant Science and Social Media”.

Anne is a plant scientist working on matrix proteins and the biogenesis of the plant Golgi apparatus – plant science doesn’t get much more serious than the golgi apparatus!

How great then then that, alongside her research, Anne has recently been appointed Research and Science Communications Fellow in the Faculty and as well as running her own research programme on plant Golgi she is also in charge of all the Outreach Programmes within her Faculty.

Anne says:

“Social media web sites such as Twitter, YouTube and Facebook allow users to host and share content and connect with like-minded people. Many scientists are reluctant to engage with social networks for a variety of reasons. These include the perception of social media as unprofessional, a lack of time, or not feeling confident about the technological aspect of their public nature.”

“This, however, means missing out on opportunities for making current research available in an accessible way to the ‘next generation’, which is growing with smartphones and tablet computers.”

“According to Alexa (www.alexa.com), Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are amongst the ten most visited web sites in the world. Students, teachers and letures increasingly use YouTube as a search engine for scientific content.”

“Web blogs enable researchers to write about their work in an informal way and include a built in discussion platform. Social networks such as Twitter or Facebook facilitate dialogue between plant scientist and non-experts, and engage students with topics beyond their textbooks.”

“In my lecture (see below) I showcase examples of ‘online engagement’ and highlight different ways in which social media can be used effectively to make plant science more accessible.”

“Examples include plant cell music videos, blogs, and the story of how ‘Organellar wars’ suddenly emerged on Twitter, and how for a short time took over the lives of US high school students and cell biologists!”

Dr M says: Yes! Social media are now a really important, even vital, vehicle for communicating plants to a wide audience! The wider the better!  Wider still and wider!

annes golgi soloThe featured image shows Anne Osterrieder during her Dundee lecture holding a cute model (left) of the golgi apparatus made by a student who engaged with Anne’s golgi research work via her golgi twitter site, it’s an example of the tangible outcomes that can come from otherwise purely virtual communication!



Watch Anne’s lecture here:

Dr M is particularly fond of botanical song, so check out Anne’s crazy cell vacuole song below (and there’s more where that came from!).