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SYFY WIRE Bad Astronomy

SciFund Challenge: Why Do Science Outreach?

By Phil Plait

A little while back, I got an email from my friend Kelly Weinersmith, a biologist who has a bizarre attachment (ha! Haha!) to parasites. She is part of a group called the SciFund Challenge, and they are trying to increase and strengthen the connection between science and society, as well as raise money for scientific research.

Kelly contacted me because she was asking scientists who do outreach to make a short video answering some questions about how and why they do what they do. Iâve been outreaching (reaching out? Reach outing?) for a long time, and oddly enough I have some opinions about it. So I was happy to help her. I recorded it assuming I was talking to people considering doing outreach, but I suspect there are things in my short video readers of this blog will appreciate.

SciFund Challenge has a lot more videos from other scientists, too. Iâve watched several, and itâs fascinating to see the different takes people have on the work they do. I apparently have cornered the market on smartassery.

I suspect this is all part of some long-term plan on Kellyâs part dealing with parasites that modify their hostsâ behavior. Maybe thatâs why I was happy to help her⦠but in fact, the processes of science and science outreach really are more of a symbiosis. Each has their role, and each supports the other. Science needs to be done, and people need to know about that. Iâm pretty pleased to be ensconced somewhere in that loop.

â¦and if the name Kelly Weinersmith is familiar, you may know her best for looking over the shoulder of her comic-drawing artist husband and glowering at him disapprovingly (hold your mouse over the red button; NSFW language). Sheâs good people, and itâs an honor to be a part of something on which sheâs working.

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