My interest in public engagement with science comes from finding the lack of it in my own past experiences. Growing up, I found the available resources to understand science scarce at school and saw this lack of resources have negative consequences on my peers’ and my own education. This experience highlighted the importance of making science more accessible. Additionally, the detrimental effects of misinformation on society during the COVID-19 pandemic motivated me to want to help bridge the gaps between the public and science.
When I joined UC as a first year PhD student in the Neuroscience Graduate Program, I knew that the program would provide me with the necessary skills to conduct successful neuroscience research. However, I was unsure as to how I will fulfill my goal of learning skills to efficiently communicate science to an audience with a range of scientific backgrounds. I was pleasantly surprised when I stumbled upon an opportunity to do an internship with PEWS; an opportunity that I saw as a doorway to help me begin to fulfill that goal. I instantly applied for this internship and became a Web & Social Media Coordinator for PEWS. Previously, I undermined the importance of social media as a platform to communicate science with the masses. But my experience as a Web & Social Media Coordinator has taught me otherwise. The internship highlighted the significance of social media in science outreach.
In my role as PEWS Web & Social Media Coordinator, I mainly edited and published PEWS News posts and managed PEWS’s social media accounts. During my time with PEWS this year I started a monthly PEWS NEW post called Cincinnati Science Roundup and wrote posts about PEWS faculty affiliates. The Cincinnati Science Roundup post shares events and news from our collaborators and community partners in Greater Cincinnati. The process introduced me to the tools and mediums (email, google forms, social media, etc.) as well as the skills to successfully reach out to our collaborators and public. Writing posts about PEWS faculty affiliates introduced me to various methods of engaging public in research spreading across many different fields in science and how I might use these methods to involve public in my future neuroscience research career. Most importantly, I was happy that through these tasks, I was able to share science at UC and around Cincinnati with people from many different backgrounds.
Going in to my second year as a PhD student, I will be doing research on epilepsy in mouse models. My longterm goal is to contribute to the field of neuroscience through my research by discovering new information about neurological disorders. I also want to make sure that my research is communicated well to the public who I intend to benefit from my future research.
One other task that I want to take on as a scientist, after my neuroscience Ph.D., is to spread scientific knowledge to audiences from a variety of backgrounds, especially the ones that have limited access to it. I hope to start by making science more accessible to people in low-income neighborhoods in Pakistan like my own. I want to do so by providing necessary resources and information required to understand science and its implications for society.