Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com

Science in London: The 2018/19 scientific society talks in London blog post

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Tele-science communication - giving researchers cameras and letting them video their research

War report: fighting armyworms
Video diary reveals the battle against country-wide insect plague

I met up with some science communicator pals this week and during the discussions there was a rather nice 'show and tell' where we saw a short video about the fight against the African armyworm (Spodoptera exempta) made by a researcher visiting Zambia and edited by Arran Frood, who works at BBSRC, in the UK. Arran's already quite into film-making in general and he suggested to Dr Ken Wilson, whose work is funded by the BBSRC, that the next time he gets the call to go and investigate the armyworm infestation (there's a season between October and April) he could pack a camera with him and get some footage.

Clearly the researcher did a rather good job of this as he took several short films, interviewed people, did pieces to camera and got some nice close ups of the worms in question (they're really caterpillars) - I think he quite enjoyed it. The worms devastate crops and seem to appear in volumes I'd normally associate with biblical locusts - they look cute enough but you'd want to keep them well away from anything with foliage.

Armyworm caterpillars devastate important food crops across entire countries. Image: Masaiti Emmanuel
Armyworm caterpillars devastate important food crops across entire countries.
Image: Masaiti Emmanuel - image from BBSRC


Arran mentioned that the researcher had returned the footage, via Dropbox, once he'd returned to the UK (I had wondered if he'd done a couple of test films and emailed them for feedback, but that probably wouldn't have been practicable) and Arran edited some of the videos together to make this short film.

I thought it was a really nice use of a camera - I'm sure there are loads of other examples of people being given a camera to make videos of their work, though I'm not particularly aware of in medical or life sciences research for example (please tell me if you know of other examples).

This is the video transcript of the short film (I remember hearing Kat Arney talk about podcasting and she recommended publishing a transcript where possible, for several reasons: obviously helpful to those with hearing difficulties but even those without will find it useful to check spellings of any medical terms, also once transcripted and published the text is indexable by Google).

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