On communicating science

Science communication is an essential part of being a scientist. And to me public outreach doesn’t just mean giving talks and interviews, it also means sharing knowledge, or more precisely, exchanging knowledge according to one’s expertise. I can tell you something about ants and you can tell me something about the statics of a bridge, violin building, or whatever else you are passionate and knowledgeable about. I enjoy talking about ants and communicating the science I do and the adventures that lead up to it to the people around me, be they peers, professionals, friends, relatives, or strangers (it is amazing how often an innocent conversation at a bus stop ends with an ant story).LaurenNichols_20140920-IMG_4358_full

In my observation, society as a whole is becoming increasingly disconnected from nature and I would like to contribute to changing that, using my research and my passion for ants. I love telling the stories of my field experiences and I love to share the incredible beauty I see in the nature around me. Every field experience is an adventure, like climbing mountains in wild Borneo where nature is still mostly unexplored and people practice ancient traditions, hunting trap-jaw ants on Florida’s sand ridges in the quiet of night when every sound could be anything from a harmless armadillo (boy, are they loud) to an angry bear ready to attack, or searching for novel ant behaviors in Ethiopia’s sacred church forests where children are so hungry with curiosity that they follow everywhere peeking at everything that seems interesting. I take photos and videos whenever I can to document my experiences as closely as possible.

I have given talks in schools, museums, and living rooms. These talks ranged from very general insect talks to cool ant stories and stories about my own travel adventures. I enjoy giving these presentations and am always open to such opportunities.