One of the most consistent pieces of advice I have for people in academia at all levels is to check out all the great content and conversations happening on #ScienceTwitter. Over the years Rachel and I have used Twitter to meet other scientists, find job postings and other opportunities, share our STS blog posts, and enjoy many, many videos of kitties, babies, and puppies.
Starting out is pretty straight forward: create an account, choose a handle, set up your bio. What comes next can be a bit more intimidating. We’ve assembled some of our favorite tips and tricks for getting started and included some examples in the form of actual tweets! Keep an eye out for some useful twitter vocabulary sprinkled throughout this post.
TIP: Introduce yourself. Whether you have yet to tweet or you’ve been around for years and have some recent follows, it’s important to let people know who you are and what you’re about.
It’s been a bit now, but last month from October 11 – 13, I traveled to Asheville, NC with the Hanks Lab and several other PSU statistics students to attend the 2018 ENVR Statistics for the Environment: Research, Practice and Policy Workshop. This densely packed workshop (really it was both workshop and conference…workonference? confshop?) offered a day of workshops, two days of 30 minute invited talks, and a poster session. I like that the American Statistical Association (ASA) Section on Environmental Statistics (ENVR) is a relatively small group of researchers, which allows for students to quickly meet people (future colleagues!) in this field and learn about what sort of research is happening right now.
What is ENVR?
Unless you are a statistician who does environmental/ecological related research you probably haven’t heard of this workshop. I’ve been doing this sort of work for 4 years now and it’s the first time I had really heard about it too! (Two years ago I was still taking classes and working on research so I probably didn’t have time to attend.) The Statistics for the Environment: Research, Practice and Policy is a biennial workshop of the section on Statistics and the Environment (ENVR) of the American Statistical Association. The overarching goal of the workshop is to bring together environmental statisticians working in academia, government research labs, and industry to present and discuss research ideas and methods to address important environmental and ecological problems. Funding for students, postdocs, and junior researchers within 2 years of terminal degree (travel costs + stipend) was available and easy to apply for thanks to ENVR, NSF, the North Carolina chapter of ASA, and Dr. Andrew Finley.
Typically social media is a great way to extend the conversations of conferences and workshops online. Often organizations publicize a preferred hashtags (e.g. #ESA2018, #JSM2018, #ISEC2018) to encourage posting. This workshop may be a little too small to have gotten on board with with a social media push, but I still posted a few times with #ENVR2018 just in case anyone else did too.
For nearly my entire life, I have lived within the home range of the Southern Flying Squirrel. However, if you asked most folks I grew up with or people around central Pennsylvanian, you’ll find is it rare to find anyone who has seen or even heard one. It’s likely they had no idea it was even a possibility! Growing up, I certainly never hear of any Southern Flying Squirrels in the woods surrounding our home. And perhaps it’s all this newfangled statistics knowledge making room in my brain by dumping stuff from undergraduate courses, but I also don’t really remember talking much about them in the Mammalogy course Rachel and I took where we were supposed to be able to ID EVERY Kentucky mammal. That course was a doozy – do you know how many little brown bats there are?! (Editor’s note: So many.But they are in danger!)
Earlier this year instead of spending my day as I typically do (on campus working on research) I was able to join a fellow #StatStud graduate student, tagging along with her father out in the local wilderness. Steve Eisenhower is Regional Director for Natural Lands’ New Jersey preserves but since his daughter has joined the statistics department he has also expanded his work in New Jersey monitoring flying squirrel and kestrels into central Pennsylvania. These additional boxes have been added through his own personal volunteering efforts, in partnership with Shaver’s Creek, a resource for the community, and as a field laboratory for Penn State students to get hands-on experience teaching about the natural world. The extra opportunities to observe these species add to the general knowledge for conservationists, an they are a great opportunity for science outreach in these areas.