#FEMSmicroBlog: Tell your story with science!

27-08-2021

This blog piece is a reflection on the #FEMSmicroBlog since its inception one and a half years (or so) ago, and a call to our audience to contribute. Anyone who has made a discovery in microbiology or has a fascinating fact on microbes to share should think about writing a blog entry. Because, as Corrado Nai presents in this #FEMSmicroBlog post, science is the perfect subject for (blog) stories! #MicrobiologyIsFun

Ok, the title of this blog should be: ‘Put science in your story.’ There is no better subject than science, and especially microbiology, in any story.

 

Microbiology is the best subject for stories

It is a rhetorical exaggeration, but please don’t suspend your disbelief just yet, dear reader. Think about it: Microbes fighting fiercely over resources or killing with toxins they only have the antidote for. Bugs sensing each other’s presence, and reacting by cooperating and forming megacities. Holding through unfavourable conditions. Choosing between settling down or swimming to better shores.

Fungi creating a network of communication below-ground which can extend for miles. Archaea flourishing in unsuspected locations. Tiny viruses, not even living beings per se, defeating giants which are 100 million times their size. Bacteria living happily (and ever after) in symbioses with other species, some of which cannot live without their partner anymore.

There are plenty of similitudes to talk about the world of microbes. And at the end, it is just a story. You cannot tell everything. You will have to leave many important parts out of the picture, like a floating iceberg. You might be scared that your peers will think you are oversimplifying. Well, the best stories are the simplest ones.

Cover illustration of the section #Quarantine Diary created for the #FEMSmicroBlog by Eliza Wolfson a.k.a. eliza_coli on Twitter (FEMS and Eliza Wolfson, CC-BY-SA-NC 4.0)

 

Use elements of storytelling

Know your audience. Make it personal. Be clear about the take-home message you want to convey. Talk universally while being specific. Speak to the heart, gut and, if you must, groin of your audience.

Give a sense of urgency. Put things into context. Explain why this is important right here, right now.

And if you think your audience will not have any emotional connection with the microbes you are actually quite fond of, then tell your story. Tell of your struggles in getting the results, the solution you applied, and what you learned out of it. Tell how you are changing the world with one experiment at the time. Show how you are making science a better place by mentoring your students one meeting at the time. Make it a story within a story.

If you can explain a concept and fascinate your audience, you are already telling it right.

 

But why the #FEMSmicroBlog?

Since April 2020, the #FEMSmicroBlog published over 60 entries presenting key results of papers and giving an overview of important subjects. We also have sections devoted to the microbiology community, events, the history of microbiology, the fun side of microbes (and microbiologists), or running interviews with authors of papers. When we started in 2020, we asked people in our network to tell about the challenges of home confinement for scientists, and many answered the call in the section #QuarantineDiary.

We have had many enthusiastic contributors, form authors of papers, members of our network, FEMS volunteers, science communicators, and many more. High-end blog posts are read by over 1000 people and on average entries have over 200 readers (and growing). Readers are microbiologists or microbiology-inclined persons, mostly between 18-45 and based in Europe, Asia or the Americas. All entries on the #FEMSmicroBlog can be browsed here.

A blog entry can never replace a peer reviewed publication. But it’s the perfect complement to it, being able to give a concise overview to colleagues in different fields, or, if the story is told right, able to talk virtually to everyone.

So if you have something exciting to tell about microbiology, which I am sure you do, hesitate no further and pitch your story to the #FEMSmicroBlog (contact below)!

  • Browse all #FEMSmicroBlog entries and discover the sections on this link

 

About the author of this blog

Corrado Nai is part of the FEMS Team and what he enjoys the most is working with people involved with FEMS. He discovered a passion for communicating science when he noticed that occasionally people disregard science because ‘too complicated’ while in fact sometimes it is all about sharing it in a relatable, simplified or funny way. He is excited when authors want to communicate their science through the #FEMSmicroBlog!

About this blog section

The section #MicrobiologyIsFun for the #FEMSmicroBlog highlights the lighter side of microbiology, the fun in doing research, or fun facts about microbiology. It also includes interview with scientists or examples on how playful approaches in communicating science are able to reach a broader audience.

Do you want to be a guest contributor?
The #FEMSmicroBlog welcomes external bloggers, writers and SciComm enthusiasts. Get in touch if you want to share your idea for a blog entry with us!

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