[WEBINAR] The Future of Science Communication Emerging Trends and Technologies
Hi, I'm Fabricio pompona. Good morning, afternoon or evening whatever you are in the world. So really, really happy to take the the audience here to discuss the future of science communication. We just had a quick warm up here with Jill Costa and Elena Decker discussing about the threats and perhaps opportunities that new technologies brings to US science communicators and the discussion today will be.
Not only about that, but about the career and the turning points that made these three people here three previous neuroscientists that decided to become science communicators in different ways. So I decided to fund the company mind the graph, which is now part of Cactus Communications Group. It's we created in mind the graph, a platform that allows scientists.
To express visually, to create graphical abstracts, create posters, create presentations, things like that, by employing a vast library of science, scientifically accurate illustrations in a very friendly interface which is now present to over half a million people all over the world. I imagine some of you in the audience may be our users, and I'm here among colleagues and friends to. And again with I'd like to just say a few words about you, who is previous neurosciences. As I said, we met him first in Brazil
and then then in Portugal and he became, he decided to became a scientific designer and illustrator, now living in Brussels after a few years of working in this field in Portugal. As some of the examples of the coverage of his work, of course has made a lot of presentations, animations, things like that. But even covers published in Neuro and Nature Neuroscience, his PhD and Neuroscience come from the perspective of biology, and I bring these two examples here, and three if I include myself to say to tell you that no. Productive scientists, happy scientists can also find joy in other careers. So it's not like giving up when you decide to
become something else and use your background as a scientist to generate value in other field. I also have here Elena Decker, a previous neuroscientist from Brazil that migrated to us. She has. For seven years or she had this opportunity, this experience of working as a scientific communications head at the Max Planck Institute in in US. And she was responsible for making the bridge or bridging, you know, the gap between the labs and the community. You
know, scientists must step out of the ivory tower and start talking with people. So this could be done via words, this could be done via figures, this could be done via animations. The media and the ways are very different. But that's something
we. If you're not yet forced to do that, we are strongly encouraged. Why? Because first, it raise public awareness, which is always good. I mean, what is the point of producing good quality science if nobody reads or nobody knows? So that's my point. Second point is that it's good for your career because you will be none, you know? And the Third Point is good for funding.
Did they say it's good for funding? Yes, it's good for funding. So you make money if people understand and knows what you're doing. So that those are now briefly saying the three main reasons why I believe that you guys should pay attention to science communication, start to enroll in activities related to science communication and also you know get some education on that because it's not all pink sea is not all flowers. Now there are some challenges and caveats and new technologies are bringing yet more fearful challenges as we are just saying. And just to finish, Elena is also founder of Backyard courses, leading online learning hub, and she surpassed me. She almost impacted 1,000,000 students. So I'm halfway to her
journey and I'm very proud of having you both here, so. If you can, if you can, just start. Or I said just a few words about each of you. But I want to start with, you know, explaining a little bit about your motivation, you know, how science communication enter your life, how you made this decision to change the career. Latest words. So please, Elena. Hi hi everyone and first of all I want to say that I'm thank, I'm very thankful to be invited to participate of this panel.
It's always exciting to to to share my experience and also to to talk about science communication. So who who am I? I am just a woman passionate about discoveries, creativity and innovation. And how communication enter my life, well, it's I'm just going to start saying that I am very fortunate that I had the chance to work in many different labs in different cities of Brazil and also in Canada and US. And throughout my career I had the
chance to to interact with and to learn from different scientists, some of them very experienced. And also to learn with them the importance of storytelling. And that was important because when I was doing my experiments, I I learned how to be mindful of thinking of what are the questions that I'm trying to to to ask and how to to actually tell the story as soon as and as the discovery was done.
But the main click in my mind happened when I was doing my second postdoc already working at the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience. That is the the first Max Planck Institute located outside Europe and it's located in in Florida in US. And I was just a few weeks. Working in this institute and I already fell in love about the the research and the impact that this institute was causing to the Community and I would say the Community in America, South America and US and in addition to my scientific project. Which was going very well. I started to get involved in activities that would explain some of the questions that my colleagues and I were working on, and I noticed that I was having more fun preparing posters, giving talks, presentations, and translating the the science to visitors and students. So I was having more fun doing things outside the
bench. But then an opportunity just knock on my door and they they created a position for a scientist, for a neuroscientist in the Communications office at the same institute that I was working as a postdoc. And I decided to apply for this job. Just I I had no experience as a communicator. So I just thought, OK, it's a good experience to to to do that. But then I got an
offer. And I had to to do a very difficult decision to to accept that that job, especially because I was working for at least 13 years to thinking that one day I would be a professor managing 1 lab, but then accepting a position in an admin position was something that I was not thinking as a possibility. And and there's another thing that at Max Planck Florida, I had the chance to work with resources that I I never had a chance to. I came from Brazil. So there we we we do is we, we
have creative ways of using the resources in order to make it happen and create a good science. But I at Max Planck I had a chance to to have my two fault in the rig available day and night for me. And I had a chance to work with genetically modified animals, as many as I wanted, different types and and my my project was going well. But then I decided to trust my gut and accept the job outside the well outside the bench. And since then I. I I was since then during the that time for seven years I work in the Communications department. Two years later as I
was managing the the department and creating new ways and channels to promote science to science to students to what their audience and and it it was a very a very fantastic idea for me and for my career. I don't know. I hope that I answer your question for this. It's a very interesting story and I'll pass the mic to Jill. But then right after I can understand your perspective on how important it is to be a scientist to become a science communicator, because here people with different backgrounds also step into this activity for Jill. You can introduce yourself and already answer this question if you want.
Sure. And thanks, Elena. I think actually my my background and my course of how, how did I become what I do now. So what I do now is I'm a designer and scientific illustrator. It's very similar to Elena. So I'm come from Portugal. At that time I was
doing a PhD in neurosciences in Lisbon, in the Champalimo Institute, a nice institute with a nice view and really amazing people. It was an institute that was just starting. And because it was starting to had a lot of dynamics also in science communication at that time we were doing as the PhD students, we were doing some events to promote science to the audience. We were taking advantage of professors that are were coming to the Institute to give talks and would pick a couple of them to make a big events for the audience. At that time, Ted talks were starting to become a thing, so it was some sort of Ted talk kind of thing. And my role for that project was to be an illustrator, a designer, creating posters for for the events. I've been doing works on
illustration and design since my university times. I was part of a theater group where I was also designing the posters and the PhD, I continued. And when I, I was finishing my PhD, my boss at that time, Zach Main, and he asked me what I wanted to do. Do you want to become a post doc? How can I help you? Do you want some recommendation letters? And I told Zach, actually I want to learn a little bit more about graphic design and a little bit more about the illustration. It was surprised, of course, but I was very fortunate to to be at that. Place and and surrounded by supportive people. And also that
it was a new place that was starting a science communication office. They needed someone with my skills and I joined. I joined the Science Communication Office for three years. I developed My Portfolio. Then I after three years I joined the big exhibition on the brain in the Lisbon, at the Gold Bank in the museum. And now I'm in. I'm a freelancer in the in the Belgium and
working part time with the Mets at COM. So I think I am doing what I I'm doing and with the success that I'm doing. Also because throughout my career, until I decided to move, I nurtured my parallel interests. I was not just a scientist, I was doing other things for fun, but these skills were very useful when I. Suddenly I decided, you know, maybe science is not my my career, although I had a lot of fun doing it. And I think at
least for my for the things that I do, I think it's important to have a scientific background. Coming to your question, fabrici, because I think that what I brings, you know the special thing about my my services if we can call it like that. Is that that there is no need for translation between the scientist and the illustrator or the design. And that is
something that that the scientists tell me that you know, they feel relieved that they don't need to explain what a cell is because I know what a cell is or a neuron or you know can escalate to more complexity. So I don't think depends on the rules in science, science, communication there are also different roles but I feel that there is, there is, it's. It's very important that the person, the science communicator, understands science, and it's also important that the science world understands that the science communication is a field of itself with characteristics and also with specific types of knowledges that just a normal scientist doesn't have just coming from the bench. So it's a talk, it's a dialogue.
And of course, it's better if you understand the language of science to make this dialogue continue. I agree. Just revealing a little bit about myself. I was about to enter the course of journalism just before I decided to become a pharmacist, so I was a little bit into communication before, and then when I joined my first lab as an intern, like the very beginning of the scientific career as an undergrad. The first abstract I wrote, the PhD student that was kind of together with me project, he said, look man, this is no poetry. The way you explain, the way you communicate, this is not science. You should write something else. I mean, just go
straight to the point. You don't have space, you don't have time. No, go straight to the point. Now, when it comes to science communication, perhaps part of these skills are necessary again. Because you need to involve the public, right? So how do you see Lena? Is it important to be a scientist, or should we let go of the scientist a little bit to become a good science communicator? I feel like, at least for my experience, having a strong neuroscience background was crucial, especially because there's still some resistance from professors to. Explore the different channels of communication that you could use to communicate their discoveries. And if one of the main things that we need to be careful is to keep it accurate, and if we translate too much and it's not accurate anymore, the resistance is just overwhelming. So it's kind of we need as a
science communicator, the main goal. Should be, in my opinion, to keep it accurate translate, but keep it accurate and and for me my mission during this time working as a science communicator at Max Planck, my my mission was to to tell this shouldn't tell our story because few people in America. Knew at the time what Institute was just sitting there in their neighborhood like part of the maximum society. Europe is very
easy to to understand the importance of the the whole group of 8486 institutes. Part of this big mission of advancing science. But here in America it's it's not the case. So my mission was to to show them, show the community, show the the students how, how important it is to do high quality science. And this institute that I worked was studying for the mental aspects, so basic research. And it's even more challenging to explain that because there's no fast cure or no.
Break, but we we actually had a few breakthroughs but they were more in a fundamental level. So for me that this mission was important, crucial and, and there's another thing we we as scientists let, let's talk about the scientists. They there's a lot of funding coming from all the different countries, governments and agencies. So all these funding goes to science.
And the people should understand what is coming from that and how, how, how it is the advance in understanding things and especially the brain that I am so passionate about how how it is to understand this, how we how we perform things during the day, motivation and things like that. So I think it's our mission to we as scientists or former neuroscientists to explain that to the Community, to family, to everyone. Nice, they explained to me, moving a little by all of these initial topics. I want to understand your perspective on what changed since you began, you began at one point science communication is changing. I mean it's an evolving field is perhaps even a
new field you could say in terms of impacting a broader audience like raising public awareness of science, all this dark times of fake news, all this brings a lot of channels but also provides more value to science communication as. As a point of truth, of truth, I would say as a source of truth. How did you see the field evolving in this last ten years or since you began and where is it going? Let's do a little bit of here. Who's gonna start? I can start by saying. So as I mentioned when I started, I think one of the things that was common or starting to become something was at least Ted talks and Ted talks and this type of sharing knowledge is very top down. You know, there's there's a specialist that goes to an audience and it just you know dumps a little bit of knowledge which can be a little bit fun or not and then you expect to feel like a cup of knowledge to to the people. I think this, this changed a bit. So I see a lot more of this initiatives of the citizen science where the science communicators and the scientists try to come together with the communities stuff like what Elena has been talking about and try to you know communicate in in a more peer-to-peer way so that that is a change, another changes that things became a little bit more global. I think
when I started it was mostly you know, Europe. And America and Europe, even like the UK, was the big spot for science communication. I think more and more I've been seeing a big spread of practitioners all over the world and with different practices, which is actually super interesting to me as well.
And then of course, in terms of technology, a lot of things changed. Back in the day we were preparing posters to be printed on the wall. Nowadays that doesn't make any sense. What you do is everything for social media or for digital. The
pandemics also kind of forced that during the pandemics all the poster presentations were online, so we needed to. And that content, VR is playing a role of method. Reality is also playing a role. And this all serves to democratize even more a little bit science communication. So I think what I
would pinpoint is that I think I see this trend of turning things more accessible and inclusive and democratic. But yeah, that's I think what what I would say, yeah. You wanna add something, Elena? Yeah. So talking about professors. So during my training, as I shouldn't, sometimes I would see a very famous scientist, sometimes even my scientific hero, presenting a talk that was not clear or was not to the point.
And it was a little bit frustrating and at the same time it but that time it started bringing this concept that to be a scientist you also need to present your information well to students and to the community. These days it's so competitive to be a professor right. So the new generation of scientists and post docs. They need to know how to communicate their science also well, not just us as professional science communicators. They also need to somehow receive some training on
how to do a better job and or how to accept and engage with the communications offices from their universities and initiatives. I had some resistance from professors from junior professors when I started, but then at the Max Planck, Florida there's a rotation of these junior labs and the new group that started in 2020-2021. The, the new groups, the professors, they were way more open to the ideas of of working together with with my group, my communications group. So I saw the difference just in a few
years, maybe five years, how open they were. They were, they were coming from a postdocs, long postdocs, but they were still kind of a new generation I would say. And I I also noticed that it shouldn't, gradually shouldn't and postdocs in in just a few years it changed a little bit the way that they would also see that in the importance and and we were always, I was always trying to have time before the publication, the scientific publication is indeed published to create visuals. Visual abstracts, that's that's the one of the best ways of actually creating, passing the message, videos, illustrations.
So I was always using everything that I had in time for creating that. And for my first years there, I was actually working as a spy to know when a publication would actually be coming out. And then later on the I was working with the professors and they were always telling me, hey, we are almost getting accepted. So then we had time to create videos and different things to promote in many different channels, right? And so I saw, I saw that happening just in a few years and I believe that if.
If the new generation of graduate students, if they are more open and maybe they maybe something classes that would show the importance of communication and presentations. And we we gave courses for our graduate students at Max Planck to to teach them how to present, how to create posters, how to create a A, a visual image, how to be make a clear message. We were giving that, but I'm not sure if other universities and institutes would have that in their programs. So that's something to to add. Nice to have several takeaways from the speech of both of you. So first thing I realized that there is a
trend towards some interest in science communication, so new generations are perhaps you know more. More eager or more used to, you know, communicate openly. Second competition is is higher. So we need to try to stand out, you
know, with as many resources as as we want. Then the third thing Jill said something very interesting. Science communication is more democratic. You know, anyone can
literally be recognized as an author. Now you have social media tools you don't need to have the stamp of. Publish it to be an altar. You become an altar instantly, your
source of information and a scientist or even students. We have access to privileged information and we can share. So that's really nice. And I think that science communication may come even before in the career, even before you publish something. What Elena is saying is that the Pis. They of course, when they publish an important matter, they know, use more resources, they dedicate time to communicate. But even prepublication we have access to a lot of privileged information. I think this is really, I know
something insightful that we just had from this conversation. One thing that I wanted to add or two things is 1 is my, you know, my moment when I realized the science communication was was important. I think I was always good in communication somehow. But then
one day I I watched. I wasn't in person, in in presence, in a conference by Miguel Nicolas, one of the Brazilian stars in terms of science. And I cried, you know, he struck me and said, look, I was in a scientific conference, I'm getting shivers right now as I'm speak, like I was in a scientific conference and this guy made me cry. I mean this is such a power. You know, it involves you in a way that was I was used to to to have these feelings in like movies, you know, in a theater or in a concert. But scientists, science can also be beautiful, can also be, you know, inspiring and make you cry literally. And
by the way, I'm not one of these guys crying in every movie, you know, just as a as a background explanation. So this was one important thing. Second thing is when I realized that, you know. What will be the direction for minded graph? As a project we started the understanding this trend of visual communication like the visual abstracts, as Elena said, graphical abstracts and we started to provide this as a service. I together with an
illustrator, we're both trying to generate the service that was valued enough for the science to be paid. This is the first validation. If you know something right. If you had an audience it's right. No, but when someone decide to pay you for that, then you have let's say a business opportunity. And that's what I
wanted to generate while still assigned. So I was still assigned at that time. And then one day you had a click because we created the draft of a conceptual figure, like a mechanism explanation, something like that could be a visual abstract, but it wasn't like it was for a review. And then being a concept, it was incomplete. You know, by by design it is meant to be incomplete. But the guy receiving that, at first he prints that, no, he didn't work on a digital kind of board. He prints, wrote a lot of things,
complained a lot, and then digitalize again, scan it again and send it back. And he even suggested some colors, you know, he painted like part of it and he was like long long test. Explain what was wrong, what what he wanted to do, you know, send that, that, that figure. And then I had a click. I said, man, these guys, they already know what they want. We just
know we should get a service or a product or something that has all the resources they need with the less friction possible because they already know, you know, they're fed of of people trying to reproduce and they need to explain what is a sale, what is like a very basic concept. They don't have time, you know, they're frustrated. All the relationships with illustrators which are non scientists, it's frustrating. We need to get rid of all this friction and just try to educate them as much as possible and give the resources and that was the click for mind and graph.
And more than that we should make it very very simple because these people are not used to draw in digital world, they are used to write with pen. So that was the click. When this was 2015 when I decided to create a product, my company was already a concept. I knew there was a business opportunity, but in what form it should be just was born at that time. So I think it was really kind of 1 of this insightful moment and eight years later here we are. So I
wanted to share with you also because. I see that you guys pass through no similar experiences. And as Jill said, as you don't need this translation, your service, it's no it's placed in a different shelf, let's put this way, because explaining the very basic things, it's a pain in the neck for the scientists. Let me just add something quickly related to to that I think and I also agree with Elaine, I think in in my job visual literacy is improving much more. So scientists indeed
they do know what what a good figure should look like, what a good graphical abstract should look like. Now one thing that's that I think we provide is the that comes from design. Is that you still need to understand your user, you still need to understand who is going to read or look at the the figures that you're preparing. And that is something that's it's our job as science communicators to help the scientists to go over this cursive knowledge that thinks that everyone knows the same thing as I do, and focus on the user. Whoever is experiencing the figure that we just prepared, what do they need to know? And that is the the leverage that that then we we can add to the, to the, to the soup to the potion. Yeah nice. One thing
that didn't came didn't come out when when you spoke and I was back in. That is about the kind of celebrity scientists now after Neil Neil de Grace Tyson. I mean now we have you know, people with 10,000 followers who are also kind of celebrities or 30,000 or 50,000 you know? Until there was really a insurgent, you know, a lot of a lot of scientists all of a sudden being prepared or not became celebrities because became like no people on the TV shows, influencing literally millions with their opinions. And also this is something for me that was really remarkable in the last 3-4 years, probably because of pandemics, but it's here to stay. So this is, you know, I'm very glad to have
these guys. Some scientists I know they have a lot of they produce a lot of antibodies against celebrities against no scientists going to the mass media but I think this is is part of no it's nice to be part of the society that's the the place we always wanted. We always wanted to have a world and be you know recognized. So I
think these guys played a role. Now we are seeing also the just the beginning of scientists being politicians as well that's. I'd say is a trend, you know, in addition to science being celebrities. If politics, you know, survive the digital era, perhaps not that. That's another very good discussion. So Internet, for sure, empowered scientists, we just said that. So how about the technology? They're coming right now. You
know, some people say that. Interface less conversations with a machine like ChatGPT it's it's the new Internet. I mean how is what is the place of no scientist and science communication in that era that we're going to speak with algorithms and robots who's gonna dare to start I can start. So I feel very excited to be
living right now and to be part of this. Advance in the way that we do things, but it's just at the same time, it's very scary to to have a software that can write better than you can. So it's usually if you write a few sentences and you use ChatGPT for example, sometimes, well, most of the time when it comes out, it's it's very nice and it's cute and it's and. The important thing is that it's it can be used in a positive way in many, many professions. And for journalists, media press and
and science communicators, it was a little bit scary, a scary moment when it came out. Because if it if it, these software would replace their jobs, right? And I I see like the chatty PT can be useful for many things, and I don't see it replacing jobs at the moment. And for scientists especially, it can help not talking about communicators right now, with science scientists as professors and them as communicators, it has a lot of benefits for them because they can use.
To generate more clear and concise explanations, for example of their research. It can help them to to provide alternative perspectives maybe about their their research. So in for them it it can help to make an idea a little more clear and maybe maybe even more approachable to to students and in the community. But but I I do feel like it's still very important for scientists and and maybe know the aspects to be to to evaluate what is coming out of that software and what it's what what type of information is getting generated. I I use it a few times that I was a little unsure what why it's.
Changing the way that I'm saying now, it's not accurate so but but I surprisingly many times I got happy with the result of the way that was rephrasing a few a few paragraphs or even giving ideas for some explanations. So I I feel optimistic that it can be used in many ways in a positive way. And it's the the just mentioning the backyard courses, our learning hub platform that my partner and I we have, we we have already a few courses, a few master class trainees and the people are really searching for good information about these softwares. And they, they are and their updates are getting weekly and people are just running after this information and using it in business in marketing in all the different areas that they can they can use. So it's it's again it's very exciting to to to be in the midst of everything that is happening.
Sure. Just adding some people complain that ChatGPT is still incomplete because it it read reference just for until 2021 but just imagine when it's going to start to be update and really you can literally finally read everything that is coming out in science the same day. You know it's going to be so exciting because we basically can't crush that amount of information and ChatGPT can you know and they I can.
That's what I'm expecting, yeah. And just one more comment. When I was a kid, well, computers were just getting accessible, right? And Google didn't exist. So these days or until chatty PT, Google is the main search engine, right? At least where I live here. And it's just I don't know how to.
How to do even do something in my house. I'll go Google it and and you can search and you can learn how to do that. But now we are stepping up into a smarter software that can do Oh my God even more things. So I see like in a few years will be replaced by Google for sure and shatty PT will replace Google for sure.
And I can't even think about all the things that we will use Shatty PT for so it's. It's exciting for me. And yeah, no, I see it's a nice parallel that you are seeing with Google, which is a reference for our generation. Let's put this way, we are more or less same age all
here, but I would say that knowing how to interact with algorithms with AIS is like, no, it was like learning to use a typewriter. You know is a very basic skill, very basic. I mean I have two or four years old kids they're going to learn that you know we are like playing with me journey last Saturday. This was by intense. They need to be get used you know and find normal to interact with robots because that would be a very basic skill in my opinion, not knowing how to write a good prompt just to begin with. It's not being no it's illiteracy for their generation that's that's how I see.
For for me, I I'm still formulating my my opinion about it. For instance, I tried me journey and Ali and other algorithms and indeed the prompts in order for me to write a good prompt was the the limiting step in so that most of the times I I didn't continue, you know, I was just frustrated with the results and I decided OK, I might as well just try to come with the, with the, with the. With the things myself, I used it to to generate some ideas, basically not to substitute any type of image that I would do and just coming back a little bit before I think it's indeed it's a tool that we will have to learn with it and it will be a good tool. I have a good friend of mine that I know since we're six and unfortunately he wasn't able to to to finish his high school, not high school university.
He wanted to be a computer scientist for the past month on WhatsApp. It's just telling me Asia like I'm using ChatGPT learning Python check out this is doing like a version of Winamp. So he's learning. He's very motivated learning how to code on Python creating his own programs with the teacher. Let's say that's always available to.
To basically feed this curiosity so that that for me is very powerful coming back to the illustration world, I think what happened to with the algorithms that produce images is that they they just came up abruptly without taking into consideration the the material that people have been creating so far. So the way that these algorithms use it that they feed into these databases of images in order to then create a new image themselves. So they were created in a way that they didn't ask for permission to get the images in many cases. And there's a lot of people that really got even depressed in a way that they started seeing their own style being replicated by a machine without them actually authorizing this. And this comes this I think is an issue. I think it's an issue that will be
solved. Or it has to be sort of, you know, there's already some actually judicial things going on in in that regard. And this brings me back to the necessity of actually why we, we see this, this, this new technology emerging from computer sciences. We also need to have a lot of development in social sciences in the new research, I guess I think it's on social scientists too.
Kind of try to understand how we as society and as people will deal with these technologies that will come. So it has to have, we have to have a parallel where we we see all this progress in computer sciences, in other types of sciences and in the humanities. So that this new society that will emerge from dealing with such powerful algorithms, this kind of.
This new society will be the best for for for us as well but yeah I think I'm I'm I'm still looking forward to but with some reservations. I don't think it will substitute anything that I that I do and but at the same time I'm not this type of illustrator that work is there a lot for like 10 years to develop a really accurate really fine-tuned. Skill, and I think that's what they feel, is that I developed.
I worked so hard to get this skill, and now I have a machine that does it like this. We have to be able to accommodate their needs and their feelings while we progress to this new age. Yeah, there's a very good comment. I heard about this. There's a controversial topic, to say the least.
Because when people reproduce Bangkok, they say, wow, it's beautiful, it's creating Bangkok. When? When when the first song, I think was a Nirvana song, wasn't it first write written by by AI, like they reproduce Kurt Cobain. They're both dead, so they don't care. But when people started to reproduce artists, we were still alive. They did care a lot. Neil
Young had a really nice comment on that. It was just the really pistol, let's say. But yeah, we have to take care of that, yeah. Well, I'm just, I just saw that Abigail McLennan. McLennan has made a question for us. Sorry, Abigail, it was like 18 minutes
ago, I didn't see. I'm going to answer in the comment and I'm going to stimulate the audience to, you know, throw us some questions. We have to have some, some minutes, like 15 minutes until the end of the session. We'll be happy, you know, to answer life. So Q&A, ask what everyone you can ask to
meet to both of us to view or Lena. You'll be happy to start conversation, but answering the question it's how do you think COVID impacted science communication? Hopefully for the better. There's always a good a good side of anything, right? So it could be for the better. And this uncorrectable optimist, this is uncorrect. This is one
of my issues. I'd say sometimes it bring naiveness to to people who are overly optimistic. For instance believing that AI are here for the good. I'm here bias on this way. But one thing that I think that's impact positive impact of pandemic on science communication first is raising awareness of you know about scientists. Like all of a
sudden people realize that no in in Twitter or Instagram or Facebook or or code for the older older ones here. People can say anything, literally anything. Like I Google it, I become a specialist, but all of a sudden they realize that pandemic is a very serious thing. So you cannot Google and get a get an answer. I mean how do I solve a pandemic of COVID? Not even Google knows check TPT I bet doesn't know either. So when faced with things like that,
they tried to search around and then they realized there were indeed people study that for decades. So these people got to know something about that. So when it comes to health, people do care, some, you know, relatives closer people are starting to suffer and some even die. So this was taken seriously and was an opportunity for scientists to stand up because they were, if not source of truth, the most accurate explanation or the closest we had for a good response as a Community speech for the fact.
And this was the this opportunity. Second one was that all of a sudden really realized that there were indeed people creating content that were not that for a good reason, like the fake news. They just wanted to become popular and click dates and all that. I still, I'm still trying to understand what's the motivation of these people on top of just creating chaos some people. Say that creating chaos is what fools them, so that's the reason on itself. But you know, just discussing fake news I think is
it's a very good or being awareness to that is a very good effect of of the pandemics in COVID. Because this this things could eventually be there and will be really hard to convince you know the this community that it could be a threat. And when you see that some people don't take the vaccine, for instance, and they do get COVID, this is a very objective kind of proof that that this course was wrong, even though with this evidence some people have arguments against that. Now, vaccine is very controversial. It's just one example. But what I'm saying is that scientists, they may be wrong as well because they.
The hypothesis are sometimes not validated, but they are the closest we were the best approach we can get to get good response, good objective response to things like that. That's that's at least my belief and the fact that we now may discuss the role of scientists in the society. I think it's a very good, very positive outcome of what we all pass through. Abigail, feel free to comment if you want Jio and Lena. If you
want to add, add. Just just my opinion, I can add specifically in the datavis world, for instance, we add for almost two years, we add every day people looking at data, at plots, at the curves, at the graphs, the counts, the numbers. And this was a big increase again in database literacy in in all world. And also I think people started understanding what is actually a good way to plot data or more informative way and so on and so forth. Actually one of the best analogies that we got during the pandemic was the flatten the curve, right? So this is an analogy that came directly from a representation of of a plot. The other thing that I might had is that because of the lockdowns that we mostly had to to to stay at home during a long time, a lot of events also in the science communication events, a lot of conferences were actually forced to be online. So I got to
see a lot of nice people, nice conferences, nice talks, nice workshops just through my computer and I think this is something that it's here to stay and yeah, that's, that's, that's one. The things that came out of the pandemic, yeah. And I and I can add a little bit that during this lockdown, all the few ways of communicating science during in person conferences and events, they were all cancelled. So we, we as science communicators had to find new ways to to get their word spread out. And for community members and students, they also had to learn where the information was trustful. Like Fabricio said, it was a boom of fake news because everybody could just say something, right? Or explain their ideas. So first, the
importance of communicating science. Real good foundation, quality science and also for the other side to learn where are the channels that they can trust and how how to do that and definitely online approaches they are here to stay. So one more reason why visuals, videos they are here to stay to tell the message in a visual way it's.
Definitely more effective than just words and explanations like that. So it changes. But in a science communication perspective, in the right way. Nice. Very good points. Yeah. The fact that people all of a sudden care about shards, they're really struck me as well here. So they're discussing shards. I mean, nobody cared about shards before. That was nice.
So we still have 8 minutes to go. So I didn't receive any more questions. So people feel free to throw your questions, but I want to know give a few more minutes for our our people here Elena and and you our guys to talk about their own work. So Elena can you tell us in 2-3 minutes what's the role of backyard courses and how does it impact science communication or know what is it here for? Yeah, so backyard courses was created by me and my partner a few years ago I was still working at Max Planck so I I was just doing some part of the developing and managing of of of this this hub but but it was we created to serve as a.
I said that's a little platform for sending giving information to students. So at the moment we have over 700,000 students. We are expanding since I joined full time and the idea is to give access to information and that's part of my mission as a communicator to to do that. That's the reason why I decided to join my partner and and expand that in a way. It's a it's it's a challenge to work to be. It's a challenge to be 100% my my boss and determine the ways that I'm going to turn my own business. Because before it was there was always someone trying to guide a little bit.
But at the moment I'm very excited that I will be incorporating a series of courses that are science based. So I will add to the portfolio of courses that we have that are basically digital, digital with strategies from business to marketing. But now I'm going to add a few courses that. We'll talk about how to have peak performance through different science based using science based tools like for example even if sleeping better can make you have more focus in the morning and so a few things like that. So I will, I'm very
excited that I will be adding some of the science knowledge that I acquire throughout the years in addition to the managing aspects. And and just as a quick comment, it's very important to to be A to work as a scientist, as a student and learn how to manage your own project. So I don't know if many of the people listening right now they are students and it's it's very important to learn how to manage your own project and goals because in one way or another you end up using that and that. That's definitely something that helps me every day to. To keep up with my own objectives and codes. And true
also self motivation, right? Because we scientists, we face so many frustrations and then know the fact that we're still pushing after all that. It's a very good skill. Small world of motivation for you as a colleague, as an entrepreneur. Somebody said this sentence to me once and I want to pass away. They said that when you start something you start a business like an entrepreneur. You you you feel a fear right? Because
all of a sudden you lose your floor. But never remember you lose your ceiling as well. So there's no floor but there's no ceiling. The the impact is no from for for the bottom and and
top can be big. So just make sure you don't fall below no down the down the floor. Make sure someone hugs you. Due to fall. But the chance, the chance of success is really, is really what excites in this, in this field. So good luck Elena, you want to say a few words, yes I can. I can say also related to that, for instance, in my personal experience before I jumped into full freelancing, I was give you know small steps like not totally independent, not totally dependent and then so it's good to.
But I'm a risk not so I'm a risk averse. I think my different type of personality there. So what I do basically is that I I'm, I work as a, let's say as a boutique illustrator. So people come to me to ask for specialized and tailored to their needs, diagrams and and and figures. For instance when
they are applying for grants or when they are writing a paper or a review. But I also work with the institution scientific institutions for workshops for branding, so their their image. So I do a lot of design and illustration, but always focused on the on science and on scientific needs. Another thing that I that I tend to do actually is to to do workshops on data design, so the design principles. That I think it's even if you want to start using yourself the tools, which I think it's totally good if you have the time to spend in the in the and if you love this world, there are some tips and some ways to do it that will make your design optimal. So I collaborate with universities to build the workshops to teach their students how to better and do their pots and data.
If you can add a little bit of flavor and already answered Daniela, who asked if you have any hints, any ideas on how to start the cycom startup out of her ability of creating graphical abstracts and scientific storytelling for friends and colleagues? So one minute. What's the best advice? One minute. Build up your portfolio, reach to your inner circle. Start from the scientists that you already know and yeah, and keep going until you are very passionate about it. Develop your skills and get to be known and learn to use me journey using the effective skills anymore. Get those prompts. Acting. Nice people and thank you very, very much for this inspiring conversation. At least for me it was very aspiring. I I hope it was inspiring for you and the audience as well. I've learned a
lot. Also had a lot of fun. It was a good excuse. You know, this this event was a good excuse to gather 2 friends. I and Lena we personally met in Brazil recently.
ING I think it was many years since the last in person for the last time. So as you mentioned, online events are here to stay and are a really good way for us to entertain and engage into topics that we are interested and perhaps unite people who are spread all over the world as is our audience. I don't know if you saw the pool you mentioned that.
So before starting, we have a lot of people from Asia than people from Europe, Africa and a little less than from North America. So quite nice to speak here from Brazil or from us and from Belgium to literally all over the world. So with these words, I end our event and I thank you all for being here. It was a pleasure likewise. Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you.