This week, I gave a talk within the British Science Association Masterclass on Science Communication, which took place in Manchester. I decided to present something that was autobiographical, as I wanted to talk about the diverse ways into #scicomm.
In essence, I started #scicomm work as a PhD student, first designing websites to get ideas out, but also quickly starting to write about my ideas for the media. Most of those ideas were very closely connected to my PhD research, but not always. From here, I moved into a School of Media, which led me from science into an arts context, in which I could spend time bringing the two together. I did this by teaching at a range of art schools, while also trying to work with artists who were interested in exploring scientific ideas.
During that time, art works became a part of the means of science communication for me, but not necessarily within its service and I have always advocated a form of disruptive science communication, which does not focus simply on the scientific accuracy or information.
Over this period, I became closer to producers, curators, and art directors, which then brought me into their world and, since around 2009, I have been involved with some such activity. As a producer of creative work - film, media art, bioart, and more, - science communication has become more of a place to stimulate the involvement of others and I now sit on various steering committees where I can do that most effectively.
The key message for me is that, wherever you start in science communication may be very different from where you will be in 10 years, so don't get too hung up on being a particular kind of communicator. Also, find ways to bring together the original research and the communication activity, as much as possible. This means starting to think about collaboration very early and pushing out ideas when they are not fully formed. This feels risky, but it's crucial to make things happen and to keep innovating.
I also talked about how science communication can happen in all kinds of spaces, from industry conferences to going into schools and doing workshops. The opportunities are incredibly diverse, but we don't all have to do everything.