Having researchers engage directly with the public is one of the best ways to get non-specialists invested in science. To this end, I try to maintain an active (and educational) presence on social media and participate in outreach events.
Dino Trails Season 2
I was a featured palaeontologist on the latest season of Dino Trails, a docuseries highlighting the palaeontological work being done in Canada. Watch me and my team of fellow graduate students as we try to relocate the locality where Canada’s only Smilodon fatalis came from and see if we can find more fossils! Season two of Dino Trails premiered on November 5th, 2019 and is available on Amazon Prime Video and Telus Originals.
In May and September 2017, I was honoured to have been selected as one of the speakers for the first two Soapbox Science events in Canada. For this series of events, I went to very public spaces in the city of Toronto – first Yonge & Dundas Square and then the Lake Ontario Harbourfront – and spoke about my own research using fun props. It was an incredible opportunity to reach individuals that may not normally think about science and begin to change the perception of scientists as exclusively privileged white men.
Science in a Bottle
In September 2017, I participated in Idea Mosaic’s “Science in a Bottle” event that took place at Beakerhead and Science Literacy Week in Calgary, AB. For this, I sent a short message about my research, which was fixed to a bottle at the event. Visitors were encouraged to submit a question for me and put it inside the bottle. The questions were collated by the event organizers and sent to me so I could answer the questions remotely!
As a Ph.D. candidate at the Royal Ontario Museum, I have the opportunity to participate in outreach programs that involve speaking with the public about my own research as well as broader biological topics.
Some of the museum outreach programs I have assisted with include:
- #HardFacts at Friday Night Live, an adults-only nighttime program. One of the most popular outreach programs I have worked on, I co-developed this program that introduces museum visitors to the weird and wonderful world of animal reproduction. Includes multimedia resources and touchable real specimens, including a walrus baculum!
- Other Friday Night Live programming, including emceeing a spelling bee and pub trivia and a touch table comparing Smilodon fatalis and Tyrannosaurus rex teeth.
- ROM U Fossil Prep Workshop, a full-day workshop educating the public on how dinosaur fossils are prepared. I supervised visitors while they had hands-on experience preparing actual ceratopsian fossils.
- Family Funday, a themed day of activities and interactive touch tables geared toward children. Topics for touch tables that I have facilitated for this program include the Cretaceous-Paleogene transition in mammals and sabre-toothed adaptations throughout time.
- March Break and ROM for the Holidays, family-oriented programming occurring during school breaks. For this, I have facilitated touch tables on CITES protected animals, ancient marine ecosystems in Canada, and ‘alien-looking’ creatures that are actually from Earth.
In 2015, I completed an internship with Discovery Canada’s television programme Daily Planet, which explores the latest science and technological advances. As an intern, I worked closely with co-host Ziya Tong to develop her segment “Ziyology,” researched new content for the show, and assisted with the filming of segments. Working on Daily Planet gave me first-hand experience with communicating science and has helped fuel my passion for teaching scientists how to be effective communicators.