Science Communicator – AstropartiGirl
What is your PhD about?
I’m doing my PhD in cosmology at UC Irvine. This basically means I like to study the big questions about the Universe, like how it began, and how it came to be what it is today, or how it may end. I am currently working on dark matter, stuff that makes up 25% of the Universe’s entire contents, with the other 70% being dark energy, and a mere 5% being normal matter, stuff that you and I, the stars, your cat, are made of. We know it exists due to its gravitational interactions! But we really don’t know what it is yet, and that’s exciting to me.
What is your side hustle?
When I’m not doing research, I love to talk about awe-inspiring phenomena in physics with the world! I enjoy breaking down difficult concepts and getting the big picture across, and the parts of that big picture that amaze me. Nothing makes me happier than seeing others get inspired by these phenomena as well.
How does your PhD help you in your side hustle?
Often it is when one of my professors mentions something in class that sparks awe in me, that leads me to look into it more so that I can talk about it on social media and express the same excitement I felt with people. It also happens when I need to solve a problem in research and need to go into some physical concept a bit deeper that something jumps out at me, and I take that piece of information that ignited my excitement and share it with the world.
Why did you start your side hustle?
I began science communication to show the world how cool physics is. I wanted people to see it from a different perspective, one in which the jargon, the technical stuff, is stripped, and focuses on the fascinating concept itself. It is really easy to get lost in the details to the point where that amazing thing just vanishes, and you can’t see it. I like to clear those away, so that people can see the beautiful stuff, and there is so much of it in physics.
What would you recommend to someone interested in science communication?
The first thing: get on social media!! Follow people who do science communication, and get to know them. Read their blog posts, look at their Twitter threads, and Instagram posts. There are lots of gems to learn simply by looking at, and interacting with, people who do science communication, and one of the best ways to do that is via social media. And finally, talk about the things that make your jaw drop, and emphasize the parts that make you feel awe-inspired. Your passion will come through, and you will inspire others, too.