My name is Russ Hodge, and I currently work as a science writer at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in Berlin, Germany. Previously I ran the Office of Information and Public Affairs at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg. At EMBL I became heavily involved in science education, writing the grants that established the science teaching magazine Science in School, the European Learning Laboratory for the Life Sciences at EMBL, and the international Science on Stage project (all funded by the European Union).
My work involves writing stories about science for the general public and more specialized audiences, creating new teaching materials for workshops with teachers and pupils, helping scientists develop their communication skills, and helping other institutes improve their communications, outreach and education activities.
I also write novels (if you’re an agent, CONTACT ME) and popular science books. My last project was a six-book set on themes related to genetics and evolution, with the U.S. publisher Facts on File. My most recent book concerned a human genetics project involving a Turkish family with very short fingers and enormously high blood pressure, and their involvement over the last 50 years with a scientific project to find the causes of high blood pressure.
The last thing you need to know about me is that I have spent many years as a professional musician, giving public and radio concerts and recording CDs with my instrument of choice, the viola da gamba, and a variety of other Medieval and Renaissance stringed instruments. The process of learning an instrument has a lot of similarities to learning science or anything else…
Every day I encounter brilliant and some fairly horrible examples of science communication. The goal of this blog is to publish interesting stories about science – written by myself, students, or others – and to serve as a science communication workshop. We’ll consider good and bad examples, watch pieces as they evolve, and develop strategies and guidelines for those who want to improve their skills. We’ll also explore ways to get up-to-date news on science and related issues into classrooms. Finally, the blog will take on themes at the intersection between science and society, such as the potential applications that arise from research, and topics of debate such as the use of genetically modified organisms, stem cell research, and evolution.
This effort is important because of the rising need to communicate science to nonspecialist audiences. It’s even an issue within research groups or institutes. As a colleague at the Leibniz Institute for Molecular Pharmacology (FMP) recently told me: “Research at the FMP involves structural biology, chemistry, biochemistry, molecular biology and cell biology including animal experiments. As a result, chemists, physicists, pharmacologists and biologists who have totally different backgrounds are working closely together. Their research interests are similar but require a different language and set of tools. This means that in weekly lectures given by one of the 20 group leaders to students at the FMP, students and lecturers often have difficulties understanding each other very well.”
I regularly publish highlight articles on the website of my home institute, http://www.mdc-berlin.de, which will be reposted here. My popular books on science can be seen at http://www.amazon.com/Russ-Hodge/e/B0024J8XO0/.
Please note that the views expressed on this site are purely personal and should not be interpreted as a reflection of the views or policies of the MDC, or any other institute I have worked for / am currently working for.