Today we focus on five scientists finding new ways to express themselves in the digital world. If you haven’t heard of these trailblazers yet, you will soon…
Dillon Jones - Dillon the Biologist
Dillon is a biologist with a difference. A self-confessed nerd with an irrepressible passion for frogs, reptiles and other squishy creatures (but especially frogs) he brings excitement and energy to his very lively, very green, Instagram channel. From snail-eating snakes to frog sexual chromosomes, his channel has it all, covering an incredible diversity of herpetological phenomena. But don’t let his natural humour fool you - underneath it all is a serious scientist ploughing through a ton of field data to properly categorise the lizards, reptiles and amphibians of Central America.
Currently working on his graduate thesis from San Diego State University, Dillon isn’t afraid to be honest about the challenges that come with focused postgraduate research, and you can often find him sharing candid advice with aspiring biologists as well as his loyal ‘frog fam’. And thanks to Dillon’s ability to break down even the most complicated facet of his research into understandable pieces, you’ll feel right at home if you want to join that family. You can even follow this roving frog-finder on a field trip to the jungles of Belize if you like.
You can find Dillon’s Instagram channel at @dillonthebiologist, spot him on his website learnadventurously.com or check out our upcoming interview with the man himself at The Research Beat.
Yasmin Meeda - Marine Biology with Yaz
If you thought all marine biologists studied whales, think again. In fact, think smaller. Much smaller. Yasmin styles herself as a marine microbiologist, looking deep into the mysterious world of diatoms – a kind of algae, neither plant nor animal, with an astonishing sensitivity to its ocean home. These little beauties shine like jewels in the sea, illuminating their intricate outer shells with dazzling displays of light. What’s more, they can photosynthesise, absorbing carbon dioxide and converting it back into oxygen. Still think whales would be more interesting?
Yasmin’s Instagram channel is full of myth-busting moments like this one, as she sets out to prove the reality, as well as diversity, of modern marine biology. Working hard on her PhD on diatoms at the University of Exeter, she’s proud of being a woman in the sciences, and her quality and consistency as a researcher shine through in every post she makes. Don’t forget about her Book Club, #ReadWithYaz, either, for thoughts on the latest scientific and environmental reads.
Dive in to Yasmin’s beautiful blue Instagram channel at @marinebiologywithyaz or swim over to marinebiowithyaz.com.
Sophie Milbourne – Soph Talks Science
Number three on our list is a little different – the multi-talented Sophie may have stepped out of the lab for now, but she’s poured her hard-won research skills into a new role as science communicator. Believing that ‘science is not finished until it is communicated’, Sophie gives academics all the tools they need to shine in a world of ever-multiplying media platforms. Want to share your latest findings with the public? Want to prep for a tricky TV interview? Sophie’s got your back.
Smoothing the way between complex technical research and eloquent explanation comes naturally to her – after all, she’s given a TEDx talk on stem cell self-renewal, the subject of her PhD at the University of Southampton. You can check it out here – and you’ll be doubly glad if you’re a superhero fan. On top of all this, Sophie’s Instagram channel and website are simply bursting with scientific stories, insightful opinions and book recommendations, as well as plenty of practical PhD advice. What more could a researcher ask for?
Head over to Sophie’s warm and witty channel at @soph.talks.science, or join in at sophtalksscience.com. And keep your ears open for her on our podcast, coming soon!
Maria O’Hanlon – A Bio Blog
Maria is the self-styled Mother of Flies – no, not a character from a fantasy novel but a tireless researcher determined to work out what role mitochondria plays in the development of Parkinson’s disease. So why Mother of Flies? Well, Maria uses fruit flies (drosophila melanogaster) as a model in the lab to study what happens when they’re afflicted by Parkinson’s. Do they move and behave differently? And what’s going on inside their bodies on a microscopic level? The answers to these questions could help future research into Parkinson’s in humans, thanks to an astonishingly high similarity between disease genes in us and those ubiquitous little flies.
As you might expect, Maria’s Instagram channel is full of praise for the insects at the centre of her work, as well as plenty of witty observations on hundreds of hours spent in the lab. Completing her PhD at Teesside University’s National Horizons Centre, she charts the highs – and lows – of her academic journey, speaking honestly about the work-life balance that so many researchers juggle on a daily basis. Round this off with book reviews and Fly in the Lab, her lovingly titled podcast, and there you have Maria.
Buzz on over to @abioblog to check out Maria’s Instagram channel, or meet her and learn more about her work (as well as the perils of escaping flies) in our Research Beat interview.
Alex Israel – alexxisrael
Love looking at pictures of animals in their natural habitat? Want to see them doing what they do naturally? Then look no further than Alex’s wild and beautiful Instagram channel. Alex has a photographic eye, and her channel bustles with shots of multicoloured birds, wide-eyed owls and reptiles of all shapes and sizes. Oh, and there are dazzling patterned moths that you’ll have to see to believe – some even raised by Alex herself. Who says butterflies should get all the attention?
With a Master’s degree in biology from York University, Toronto, Alex’s passion for fieldwork and the critters she finds along the way is obvious. Yes, you’ll find charming clips of fluttering baby birds set to chilled, hypnotic music, but you’ll also learn about their habits, diet, personality and – most importantly - conservation too. Every post is accompanied by thoughtful insights into the animal on display, as well as little gems of detailed knowledge that truly bring the world of the field biologist to life. And one final touch – Alex makes exceedingly cute crochet animals inspired by all the gorgeous moths, frogs and bats she’s met.
Relax with Alex on Instagram at @alexxisrael, and immerse yourself in a world of feathers, birdsong and majestic moths.