You never know who will ask the question that inspires the next great discovery. Research can help solve big problems, and there’s no way to do it but together. In the fourth episode of our podcast, This Study Shows, we’re talking all things diversity, collaboration, and criticism.
Featuring Rhiannon Morris, a biochemist and science communicator from Unique Scientists, Stephanie Dolrenry, Director of Science from Lion Guardians, and Stephan Lewandowsky, a psychologist from the University of Bristol.
This Episode Got Us Thinking:
We need to expand our definitions: of scientists who contribute to research ideas, and of who critiques the research community.
Rhiannon Morris kicked off our episode by talking about Unique Scientists, a place where researchers from around the world are sharing their photos and their stories to defy stereotypes and stretch the picture of who a researcher is. We need diversity for a lot of reasons, according to Rhiannon, but one is that it gives us a community of people outside our bubbles that share some of our experiences. In all time zones, all around the world, there are Ph.D students awake at all hours of the day and night, and it can be really wonderful to connect with them through social media or through Unique Scientists.
Connecting outside her community takes a different form for Stephanie Dolrenry. She works with the Lion Guardians, a community organization that uses the cultural practices of the Massai peoples to protect lions. Their research is driven by what the Massai observe and what they need, and without their knowledge, skill, and experience, Lion Guardians would not exist. Without the Massai, Stephanie would not have been able to observe lions in their natural habitats. Respecting and listening to the Massai gives their research meaning, and they’ve become collaborators instead of an obstacle.
After talking about the power of global communities and the importance of community engagement, we shifted to practicalities with Stephan Lewandowsky to talk about the balance between skepticism, scientific debate, and harassment. At the heart of the research community is the conviction that healthy debate, discussion, and skepticism lead to better science. But sometimes that debate gets skewed or biased and critics become harassers. He and his research partner Dorothy Bishop want to help arm the research community against attack while protecting and supporting the transparent and open exchange of information.
So are we any closer to a definition of the research community? No. Some things are too powerful to define. But, there are certainly several ingredients that the research community needs to include in the mix: diversity, different viewpoints from local communities, and a resilient response to attacks on research without shutting down our openness.
About the AuthorMore Content by Samantha Green