There are times in our lives where constant themes, patterns or images seem to dominate. For me, recently, it has been the idea that if we do not like the way things are perceived, presented, manufactured or sold, then instead of just complaining about what we do not like, the onus is on us as individuals to be part of the change we would like to see. Whether you do that through contact a brand presenting something in a way that you do not like, refuse to purchase goods from a retailer, or start your own narrative, collating examples that you would like to see, I could go on.
The latter is what I would like to elaborate upon. For a good while now, I have struggled slightly with the idea of communication in science. As some of you may know, I am an undergraduate student studying marine biology and coastal ecology. I personally feel that there is a gap missing between scientific literature, and the average person. This has been on my mind for a while, but something really struck when I saw the Justin Hofman’s photograph of the seahorse holding the cotton bud. I’m not 100% sure what the reach of that photo was, but it’s fair to say, fairly colossal. You saw it right? Of course you did. I also know many people who decided to stop using plastic cotton buds as a direct result of seeing that photo. I don’t know all that many people, even at university, who have read a paper on marine plastic pollution who have changed their behaviour as a direct result.
Before I continue, I just want to iterate the fact that I think science is hugely important! In this era of fake news and bullshit, well researched, peer reviewed science has probably never been more important! But as I’ve said, I personally feel like there is somewhat of a gap between the information, the studies being published and the everyday person. I also feel very privileged to have been born in to the era that I have been, the age of social media. Social media gets a bad rap again and again, however, I would like to highlight the fact that it gives each and every one of us a platform to express our opinion, if we should chose to do so.You may be wondering where this is going, and I shall try to wrap it up concisely. I would like to use this platform on a weekly basis to provide some insight into my studies and interests in the marine field. Whether this will be a summary of a paper that I have found particularly interesting, or of a book I have read recently, some information on a marine issue that I find particularly interesting, or some information on an organism that I have recently encountered and want to share more about. Any factual information will always be appropriately referenced, and I will always endeavour to make it clear what is speculation on my own part. I will try and make things as visual as possible (unlike this post!), and maybe even feature some of the information via video/audio if that is something you would like.
Just to clarify, I am by no means saying that I think current communication in science is wrong, or that research and education is unnecessary (I probably wouldn’t be spending £9000 a year on tuition fees if that was the case…). I merely want to use the platform I have to support this personal project. It will help me, as it will ensure that I am staying up to data with reading and indulging my own interest, as well as my writing and communication skills, and perhaps it will help you as well, to learn a little about the marine world. I will try and make this as regular as possible, aiming to post once a week on a Sunday (starting 19/11/17), as long as my schedule allows. I would love to hear feedback, both on content generated and on things that you wish to see. I hope this works and that it can be something that we can all enjoy.
Finally, I would like to give thanks to Nicola Davies, forever an inspiration, for supporting this idea and providing the encouragement to go ahead. You are more fantastic than you could possibly know.
Hofman, Justin, 2017, Seahorse swimming with cotton swab, JPEG, National Geographic, accessed 09/11/17, <https://www.nationalgeographic.com/photography/proof/2017/09/seahorse-ocean-pollution/>.