We recently had the pleasure to sit down with Dr. Chinmaya Sadangi (@theaddictivebrain) and talk with him about the importance of scientific communication and how he got so involved as a scientific communicator. Check it out!
Contributed by Kameron Simpson
Thank you for taking some time to talk with us about the work do as a scientific communicator. Can you briefly explain what scientific communication is and it’s overall purpose?
In simple words, science communication is spreading awareness about science, and the day-to-day activities of the science world to everyone. It also includes collaborating, networking, and sharing scientific experiences within the science community.
The major purpose of science communication is to spread awareness about new findings, discoveries, techniques, and day-to-day life of scientists, and to bridge the gap between scientists and non-scientists.
What motivated you to become a scientific communicator?
A common man thinks that if you are neuroscientist you know everything about the brain, or if you are a cancer scientist, then you know a cure to cancer. This is what people perceive scientists to be. To spread awareness better and to discard any misconceptions is what led me to become a science communicator. As a science communicator, I would also like to break these myths and misconceptions, and spread awareness among the public about the reality/facts, and let them know how the tax payer’s money and government funding are used by scientists to create a better world.
You mainly have guest bloggers from various research backgrounds rather than blogging about your research, why did you decide to use this method of scientific communication?
Talking about my own research is fairly easy and I do sometimes talk about my research and methods that I use. For example, you can see a post about brain clearing method. But there are many other scientists who do amazing work using various different techniques, and it’s important to know what others are doing as well. Many scientists are introverts and they don’t speak about their research much. The Addictive Brain platform gives them an opportunity to talk about their research. Also, science in itself is such a vast world, it would be unfair to talk about only one selected field and ignore the rest.
How did you start building your online following?
Consistently sharing relevant content, hosting Q&A sessions, staying active on all social media platforms, and collaborating with scientists from around the world helped me build and gain online following. There is still a long way to go.
Have you had any negative backlash? (i.e. the revenge of the comment section, trolls). And if so, how did you deal with it?
When I started The Addictive Brain, I was told that it won’t be a success because people today are not interested in learning about science and consider media reports to be true and accurate. For example, the myth that vaccination causes autism was spread by some random article.
However, I went ahead with my idea, and with the efforts of our volunteers, collaborators, and contributors, I now see change in this perspective. People have approached us and asked us to explain more about such diseases and help them understand the actual cause of these diseases. This is just one example of many more topics we share with our readers.
This has helped me boost my morale and our entire team is more than ready to help people learn, and give them the right knowledge regarding disorders/diseases, and make them understand the basic molecular mechanisms behind such diseases in layman’s language.
When do you find the time to do all the posting on social media?
It’s hard to find time while being a full-time scientist simultaneously. I start by posting in the morning while having my morning coffee. I use my lunch break to boost posts and post more. In the evening, I devote about an hour to the Addictive Brain by looking at potential contributors, contacting them and scheduling posts for the coming day(s). The weekends are the most productive as I can spend more time working on new posts and schedule calls with our creative designer to talk about improving and incorporating visuals to the Addictive Brain. The Addictive Brain also hosts live question and answer sessions weekly, where a scientist discusses a topic of his/her choice and the audience interacts with them live or send them questions beforehand. You can find all our previous question and answer sessions on our YouTube Channel.
Can you name any benefits that you, personally, have gotten from your social media activity?
It helped me network with other science communicators, build collaborations with companies like PhosphoSolutions, HelloBio, Addgene, Cell Signaling Technology.
Dr. Chinmaya Sadangi is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto. He completed his PhD from Philipps University, Marburg, Germany. His PhD research focused on investigating the role of Toll-like receptors in epilepsy. Dr. Sadangi is also a part of the eLIFE ambassador program and is a Society for Neuroscience (SfN) community leader.
If you’re interested in learning more about The Addictive Brain and their work in the field of scientific communication make sure you visit The Addictive Brain.