The team here at Sci-Ed is pleased to announce the re-launch of The Student Blog on the PLOS blogs network. The Student Blog provides a forum for the next generation of scientists and science writers, showcasing the experiences and perspectives of those who will shape the future of scientific discovery and science communication. While we at Sci-Ed focus on news, research, and commentary on the state of science education from the point of view of science educators, The Student Blog will provide the student point of view. The following post is guest written by Katie Fleeman, the PLOS Marketing Intern and a recent graduate who will be coordinating The Student Blog this fall.
The above image first graced Facebook on February 7, 2012. Entitled the “Science Student,” the graphic spawned a frenzy of “How Society Sees Me” and “What People Think I Do” memes that clogged Facebook newsfeeds before heading quickly to the graveyard of overused internet tropes. But as I began working on the re-launch of The Student Blog, I realized that the meme hints at something deeper: the conflicting perceptions of the Student Scientist. A science student could be a wise individual in a lab coat, a mysterious madman with a Bunsen burner or a tired kid slumped over a stack of books. Or none of the above.
This reflects the purpose of the PLOS Student Blog. Re-launching on July 26th with a brand new team, the PLOS Student Blog addresses the idea of divergent perspectives by featuring blog posts written by students from diverse scientific disciplines and different institutions. They are at varying stages of their education, ranging from high school to doctorate programs in the sciences. About a dozen of these student bloggers will contribute regularly throughout the Fall 2013 semester, supplemented by guest posts from their peers. The Student Blog will offer a glimpse into the state of science education today while providing science students with a platform for communicating about their research and the process of scientific discovery with which they are newly engaged.
The meme is also similar to The Student Blog in that it allowed for individual creativity and personality to shine through. The variety of images associated with the Student Scientist – both polished in their lab and weary over a stack of books – transforms him or her into a multifaceted individual. Atif Kukaswadia recently posted here on Sci-Ed describing the need for scientists to put forth celebrity spokespersons. He said,
One problem facing scientists is the lack of communication between science and the public: we’re perceived as living in the ivory tower of academia and are totally out of touch, or worse, we’re in the pocket of Big Pharma/Food/The Umbrella Corporation/Evil Faceless Corporate Interest.
This we hope to address with the revived PLOS Student Blog. By showcasing the experiences of student scientists, The Student Blog contextualizes how an expert becomes an expert, and therefore presents a human face to the broader scientific community. Scientists may conduct experiments in petri dishes, but they certainly are not created in them.
Just as a research article presents the formation of a researcher’s experiment, The Student Blog documents the formation of a researcher. This, we hope, will provide a way to better understand the next generation of scientific discovery.