If you have read my blog posts or seen my videos, I typically talk about science, animals, arts, and even critiques of tv shows or movies I like. However, I want to take this opportunity to share a different story, how a personal life experience inspired me to take on social media -and led to become, as I have been named, a “science media influencer”-;also, how this experience ignited my interest to want to pursue a career in the field of science communication.
I first joined Twitter in 2009 when social media was starting to be a hit around the world, this was an excellent platform to connect with a lot of people from different backgrounds but similar interests. During that year, I also started to study my undergrad in Biology so I liked to share a lot of animal photos and just random thoughts of a 19-year-old at the time -that thankfully progressed as I got older-. So, by the time I was finishing my undergrad in 2013, I had already gained a few thousand followers.
It was also that year when I first connected with Liz Bonnin -she is an Irish television presenter for the BBC, she is famously known for her shows in wildlife and science; and she is also a biochemist and holds a master’s degree in Wild Animal Biology-. She started following me first, and although I didn’t know who she was at that moment, it got my attention the number of followers she had -over 30k- and that her bio read ‘BBC presenter’ as her job description. I of course googled to research all about her! Ok, ok, I basically stalked her on Google, it’s just that the term research sounds better than stalking. I was so shocked! and overly excited that a celebrity like her was following me but most important I really liked her tv shows. Then is when for the first time I realized about the concept of science communication.
So, after hesitating for a few days, I finally overcame my nerves and wrote her. I let her know that I had just graduated with a degree in Biology and that I was inspired by her work; that for my future career I wanted -like her- combine science and television or filmmaking. I also asked if I could have a conversation with her to learn more about her work and the paths she took to achieve success. To my surprise, she replied right away, and I almost fainted!. I still remember her message: “Happy to help anyway I can”. I was so flattered she recognized me!. So, we agreed I would send some questions by email. I asked her about her career as a tv presenter and as a scientist, but mainly I asked how was she able to make that connection between science and television. She kindly replied to all my questions; and regarding her career choice, she let me know that the opportunity for her was very much by chance and that there was no steadfast rule for getting into the business of tv. However, she pointed out some grad schools that could offer that path and gave me several suggestions of how could I get myself started in the career of science communication. I was so excited!! I remember saying to myself: “THIS IS IT! this is what I want to do, I want to be like her, I want to be a Science Communicator!”.
I would had never imagined that what I started in Twitter at 19 years old, would had set the basis of my career. In a way, I was unconsciously already doing science communication without even knowing about it. And more strongly than ever I believed in the power of social media to promote my work and reach out to younger generations.
Nowadays, with my blog The Biologist Apprentice and youtube video’s own success, I get messages and emails from people all over the world asking me about my experience as a biologist. Many high school students write to me for guidance to choose Biology as a career, which makes me feel very humbled and honored that kids now look up to me as a role model. If my work can impact positively at least one person, I feel happy and accomplished.
And although I am still in the process to become an expert in science communication, I take every opportunity as a stepping stone. At the moment, I am about to start my master’s degree in Science Communication. And In the meantime, I work constantly to improve the quality of the content of The Biologist Apprentice, as well as my presence in social media.
I will always be grateful to Liz for her response. How her simple gesture made a great impact in my life. It helped me have a clear vision for my future career and determined how I defined my first years of professional development.
I really hope I get the opportunity to meet her in person one day so I can get to tell her: “I’m on my way to be a science communicator, just like you”.
All the pictures on this blog and social networks belong to their respective authors and proper credits are given. Photos are used for illustrative and educational purposes only.
Todas las fotografías de este blog y redes sociales son propiedad de sus respectivos autores, se mencionan los respectivos créditos. Estas fotos son únicamente utilizadas con fines ilustrativos y educativos.
Sofia Martinez Vilalpando