#ScioSoCal Panelist Karyn Traphagen: Science and Serendipity

Just when we started getting serious about a ScienceOnlineSoCal event, Karyn Traphagen, their Executive Director, contacted me out of the blue on the day I was going to reach out to her. The rest is, as they say, history, and Karyn flew out today to be a part of our panel Monday. I spent some time with her this afternoon and found that the serendipity that resulted in her joining us tomorrow is likely a theme in Karyn’s life, as she describes herself as a “boundary bridger.” Karyn’s journey through many scientific disciplines has prepared her for her role in shaping the non-profit ScienceOnline which seeks to empower scientists through connections, conversations, collaborations, and community (the 4 C’s).

A nice interview with Karyn can be found on the Double X Science blog and I urge you to read it to understand Karyn’s highly interdisciplinary background. Karyn described the three areas ScienceOnline is focused on:

  1. Events. ScienceOnline has its main event in North Carolina in January, and is branching out to have satellite events in the Bay Area, Seattle, Denver, Washington DC, Chicago, and of course Southern California. These regional groups will help people to connect in real life and to discuss the issues specific to the region.
  2. Community. Both in these geographical groups, and online globally, ScienceOnline seeks to build a community which can tackle the tough questions about science communication.
  3. Tools. ScienceOnline seeks to help facilitate the ‘4 C’s’ through tools such as ScienceSeeker which collects and curates science blog posts and news. Karyn said that some exciting new changes will be launched soon, stay tuned!

Karyn got very passionate when talking about the bigger picture for ScienceOnline. She sees a culture in which scientists often replicate their mentors and keep with outdated systems for communication and eschewing outreach. She sees a major disconnect between research and the public, and this has resulted in a funding crisis and distorted views of science. If we’re doing science to save lives, isn’t it important that our work is understood?

There are myriad tools for scientists available to leverage the 4 C’s, and there are many topics which can be discussed which don’t divulge intellectual property (e.g., news, publications, events). Karyn and I discussed the fact that understanding the amazing benefits of participating in the ScienceOnline community is highly experiential and we hope that we can better understand the needs of the region on Monday. Karyn’s interdisciplinary experience will surely help us to create a ScienceOnlineSoCal group which will benefit us all. Please join us!

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