What is your favorite part about being a scientist and how did you get interested in
science in general? My most favorite part of working in science is how collaborative it is! I get to work with a fantastics election of people, all with different scientific backgrounds, that enrich my research and give me the opportunity to learn from more experienced scientists.
I’ve always wanted to become a paleontologist, ever since I was a young girl and my parents
frequently took me to the natural history museum in my city. I still visit museums whenever I
travel to a new place and love to see how they set up their exhibitions. Science communication
has become a growing passion of mine and I now even get to do it professionally, which brings
me a lot of joy.
In laymen’s terms, what do you do?My research mainly focuses on the tooth growth and replacement of dinosaurs. Both carnivorous and herbivorous dinosaurs replaced their teeth in a certain time frame and pattern and I find it incredibly interesting to find out more about the differences in the species. Working in a research museum also helps me to communicate my work directly with the public.
How does your research/goals/outreach contribute to the understanding of climate change, evolution, paleontology, or to the betterment of society in general? I believe that one of the main quality criteria of good science is the engagement of everybody,
including the public, and the investigation of methods with which we can integrate the biggest
possible diversity of views and perspectives. I love science communication for exactly that
reason. Educating the public on scientific subjects and results leads to a better informed society and raises awareness and interest for research. This way we also encourage the next
generation to consider science as a career path.
What methods do you use to engage your community/audiences? What have you
found to be the best way to communicate science? I have been very fortunate to work in an environment where scicomm is highly encouraged and valued. The Museum fuer Naturkunde Berlin (Natural History Museum Berlin) has offered me my very own education format. With “Kaffeeklatsch mit Wissenschaft” (Lit. Coffee time with Science) people join in relaxed large groups and can examine a certain topic and ask researchers questions without feeling intimidated. On one hand, the concept combines something many people have known their entire lives: sitting together with your family on Sundays, drinking coffee & tea, eating cake and discussing life, their week and discussions about current events. On the other hand, there is science: which is still an often deterrent term, that even today still seems unclear to visitors (“What do scientists actually do all day?”). By combining these two terms, I want to take away the fear of visitors who might otherwise “just come to look around”, and are too shy to actively ask questions or chat along.
Besides that, I organize Pint of Science Germany and Soapbox Science in Berlin together with an awesome team. I have found that many people already join these projects with a lot of knowledge of their own and I always finish each session having learned something myself.
What advice would you give to aspiring scientists? Go to as many conferences as you can and if you lack the funds, look up grants for students, travel grants or see if you can volunteer for free attendance. Many meaningful relationships are made at places like this and it is a lot of fun! I was able to enrich my academic and private life in so many ways, just by joining annual meetings, joining cool projects and making friends at those conferences.