My name is Philina Richardson and I am a science outreach fellow at the Alaska SeaLife Center this summer. My primary objective this summer is to develop an outreach website for the Pacific Sleeper Shark Project. To help support this objective (and to shed some light on the nature of outreach and why it’s so important), I am also writing a series of blog posts on a number of literacy and outreach topics. My goal is to demonstrate the importance of outreach in science and hopefully help others feel more comfortable with promoting their science.
How did I become involved in outreach and literacy?
After graduating with my B.S. in Marine Biology, I got a job working in an academic library. Over the next seven years, I pretty much ran the gamut of library-related jobs: circulation, collection development, instruction, marketing – you name it, and I probably did it (at least for a few months). I eventually decided to pursue a Master’s in Library and Information Science and started to shift my work focus to information literacy instruction and library marketing. I started spending much of my time developing class materials, teaching, spearheading outreach/literacy projects, and promoting my library. This shift in responsibilities and tasks led me to a growing interest in media literacy. How do people access news? How do they evaluate what they find?
Given my background in biology, this interest in media literacy naturally gave way to an interest in science literacy. How do people outside of academia find scientific information? How do they evaluate it? I began to think about how I could apply what I knew about information and media literacy to science. I also started to think about how I wanted to spend the rest of my career – did I want to remain a librarian, or did I want to return to biology? Science literacy, communication, and outreach felt like a natural stepping stone toward a more research-oriented career.
Over the last year, I’ve participated in a citizen science project examining butterfly abundances in the North Cascades, a jellyfish breeding program, and acted as a docent at my local aquarium. It’s been a very exciting and informative year, and I’m looking forward to further expanding my knowledge and skills during my time at the Alaska SeaLife Center!
Stay tuned in for more from this series throughout the summer!
Written by: Philina Richardson, Science and Outreach Fellow 2018