Continuing with the tradition from last two years, I will occasionally post interviews with some of the participants of the ScienceOnline2010 conference that was held in the Research Triangle Park, NC back in January. See all the interviews in this series here. You can check out previous years' interviews as well: 2008 and 2009.
Today, I asked Leah D. Gordon from MEASURE Evaluation to answer a few questions.
Welcome to A Blog Around The Clock. Would you, please, tell my readers a little bit more about yourself? Where are you coming from (both geographically and philosophically)? What is your (scientific) background?
I am from Portland, Oregon and have been living in the Triangle for 4 years now. I'm a true Oregonian at heart and don't mind being called a tree-hugging granola.
I can't say I have formal scientific training, but I married a microbiologist. I am gleaning monitoring and evaluation knowledge from the global health project I work on.
My background is in public relations and communications. I worked for Portland's mass transportation agency, TriMet for a couple years, and now I am the Knowledge Management Specialist for MEASURE Evaluation.
Tell us a little more about your career trajectory so far: interesting projects past and present?
What I think is most interesting about the work I do is the ability to connect communities of practitioners with experts both online and in person. People are strengthening their practice, experts are getting great feedback on their research/guidance and are becoming more "reachable."
In Portland, TriMet did a wonderful job of being accessible to the community by going to stakeholders and community members for input. The agency actually listened. I think organizations are doing a better job of being present but lacking in their ability to LISTEN. At MEASURE Evaluation, I've taken what I learned in Portland, and am applying it to a global audience of people working in monitoring evaluation. I think I am in the best time of my career and am excited to see what is to come.
What is taking up the most of your time and passion these days? What are your goals?
The Certification of Technology and Communication coursework at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's School of Journalism is taking up a lot of my time these days. I am also consulting and implementing public relations and communication strategies for a couple of businesses in the area in addition to working for MEASURE Evaluation full time.
What aspect of science communication and/or particular use of the Web in science interests you the most?
I am fascinated with the Internet as an agora for interconnectivity, opinionated thought, and discourse. At what other time in our history, have people expressed themselves so freely and openly? Especially in science! It is also interesting to watch academia adapt to the "power of the web."
How does (if it does) blogging figure in your work? How about social networks, e.g., Twitter, FriendFeed and Facebook? Do you find all this online activity to be a net positive (or even a necessity) in what you do?
I'm honestly not a regular blogger, although I would like to and need to as I grow my consultancy. I'm constantly writing for my organization or clients, and seldom my own thoughts. Twitter, however, has changed my life! It's perfect for this socialista! I have never been able to glean from so many people with similar interests as my own. It's totally edifying.
When and how did you first discover science blogs? What are some of your favourites? Have you discovered any cool science blogs by the participants at the Conference?
I first discovered science blogs while working for the super awesome Anton Zuiker when he was at UNC Chapel Hill. I had no idea at the time blogging about science was a growing concept on the web.
I discovered Obesity Panacea, and met one of its bloggers, Peter Janiszewski. His blog is relevant and digestible. Keep up the good work!
What was the best aspect of ScienceOnline2010 for you? Any suggestions for next year? Is there anything that happened at this Conference - a session, something someone said or did or wrote - that will change the way you think about science communication, or something that you will take with you to your job, blog-reading and blog-writing?
There are so many people from diverse and similar backgrounds to my own. I get a better understanding of researcher's needs for communication and what they understand and don't understand about its importance.
In addition, Beth Beck gave me a pearl of wisdom for working with researchers and communicating their knowledge. It was terribly insightful and I will use her approach in my many years to come.
It was so nice to see you again and thank you for the interview. I hope you can join us again next January.