Episode Summary

We pull back the curtain as former show hosts Merry Buckley and Carl Zimmer talk Meet the Scientist origins, favorite interviews and microbial topics.

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Julie’s Biggest Takeaways

Though the show started before podcasts were as popular as they are now, this didn’t pose a problem for Merry or Carl when soliciting guests - scientists were happy to have their work featured and to discuss their research.

Inviting guests may involve bringing in a mix of experienced and early-career researchers, but both Merry and Carl agreed that the science is the major deciding factor when selecting guests.

The ability to steer away from technical jargon and to use accessible, everyday analogies is one of the features shared by favorite guests. Carl uses the example of Bonnie Bassler, who explains bacterial quorum sensing as a communication mechanism.

Delving into the personal motivations and experiences of guests can be tough, even when these experiences relate to science. Merry uses Abigail Salyers’ claim of the English teacher who supported her through her high-school pregnancy and Julie uses Ilaria Capua’s experience when falsely accused of trafficking viruses for money.

Scientists can make themselves more visible to scientists and nonscientists by promoting their research on social media, particularly on Twitter.

Featured Quotes

Merry: “I did get turned down on the basis of you know a lack of time I'm sorry I just it's just a crazy semester but nobody actually turned me down because they didn't want the opportunity most people most people accepted the invitation with some nervousness some trepidation but you know we'd get chatting on air and before long everything was clicking along smoothly.”

Carl: “I feel like each person that ends up as a subject of an interview just has a cool story to tell and I want to get them to tell that story with the help of my questions.”

Carl: “Podcasts these days remind me a lot above blogging maybe 8-10 years ago, where suddenly you have this new sensation in the world of science communication...you can press publish and now it's out there on the internet, but that does not mean that people are going to actually listen to it it...there's a whole extra set of skills to making something so deliciously compelling that people can't stop listening.”

Merry: “I think social media gets a bad rap on a number of fronts as a time waster and a creator of antisocial tendencies, but in the way that it opens up minds to new ideas and new places, new people, I think it's really powerful.”

Links for This Episode

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