In the last week, I’ve been fortunate enough to run three workshops for researchers, all focused on how they can use story structures and narrative techniques to plan, shape and tell their stories. Two of those workshops were for the Society of Experimental Biology, and aside from having a great deal of fun, I left full of inspiration.

Sometimes I think that we underestimate just how much innovative and important work scientists and researchers are doing all over the world. Many are helping to shape the future and change the world with research that is either completely mind-blowing to non-experts like me, or hard to understand but essential in helping other researchers reveal ground-breaking ideas that make the world better.

The thing is that we don’t often think about the work that is done by scientists and researchers, toiling away in labs or conducting experiments in the field or capturing information from interviews. We see charismatic people and organisations who turn up in the media and launch new products or talk about exciting ideas that capture our imaginations and we think that these are the real change makers. The thing is that they are all standing on the shoulders of giants, and those giants are those who did all the preparatory work or served as inspiration for what eventually appears to change the world. And that very nicely brings us right back to the scientists and researchers out there, some of whom show up in our science communication workshops.

Here are three of the unforgettable researchers and scientists doing important work that inspired me in our time together this week:

🌱 Wendy Ann Peer is an Associate Professor at the University of Maryland and she and her research group have developed a type of rice that is iron-rich. For people in the global north, we might think a bit of iron deficiency isn’t a big deal – take a few tablets and that’s it sorted. In reality, iron deficiency remains the most common single-nutrient deficiency globally, affecting 2 billion people annually (40% of children and 30% of reproductive-age women) and it can have serious, even deadly consequences. She and her group are now working on how to make this iron-rich rice more accessible. Learn more about here and here.

🐝 ⛰ Gauri Gharpure is a researcher based in Bangalore who is studying the impact of elevation and climate change on plant-pollinator interactions. If I understood correctly, her work is a stepping stone to helping us understand what we can do if insects can’t cope with climate change and no longer pollinate plants.

⭐ 🐟 And Raman Chaudhary is working in the field of biomimetics in Germany. He and his group are looking at starfish (see my attempt to hint at this with the star & fish icons!!) and what we learn about how they move to help us build better solutions for the tools we use in the real world.

I am inspired by them all. And I had great fun working with them!

Thanks so much to the rather wonderful Ana Caroline Colombo and Rebecca Ellerington at the Society for Experimental Biology for inviting me to run these workshops.

#storytelling #science #scicomm #sciencecommunication #narrative #stories #outreach #researchers #scientists #changemakers #futureshapers

Suzanne Whitby

Suzanne Whitby

Suzanne Whitby is a communication specialist, futurist and sustainability catalyst who believes that science and research matters if we want to co-create hopeful, resilient and sustainable futures. Since 2014, she has been designing and leading communication training and workshops at SciComm Success, and also provides online facilitation and moderation to support organisers of online academic meetings and events.