You must have heard the news by now: EUSci is relaunching our podcast. Rebranded and with new leadership, this one will be different. Today I had the opportunity to have a socially distant chat with the new host, Tom Edwick, and the new editor, Helena Cornu, of the shiny new Not Another Science Podcast, brought to you by EUSci.
I can’t take the credit for this venture. It was Edwick who reached out to me, keen to give it a try. Edwick explained his vision for a fun, accessible podcast that will highlight all the wonderful research conducted right here in Edinburgh. After a brief video call, I was excited to see where the podcast would go.
We soon recruited Cornu, who has been contributing to EUSci for as long as I can remember. She wanted to improve her science communication skills by trying out a new medium. Unlike writing an articles, this would require a more technical knowledge of editing software. Editing a podcast is not unlike editing an article. Both require intimate understanding of the strings of words and the impression they leave. A podcast, however, is more organic and personal. As a podcast editor, you can’t change the tone of someone’s voice or the word order. You have to understand your speakers and manipulate the recording so that the listener can understand them just as well. She was ready for the challenge.
First, I wanted to know why they had decided to restart the EUSci podcast. They had their personal reasons, such as a desire to play with a different format – one which will be more flexible in terms of content and style – as well as their own love of science podcasts. Edwick and Cornu both recommend Ologies by Alie Ward; her informal style and fascinating guests gave them the inspiration for the direction they want to take.
But they went beyond that. They agree that podcasts are an excellent way to communicate sometimes complex scientific ideas in a way that is accessible and entertaining. With Edinburgh being home to such fascinating research, who better to explain the work than the researchers themselves, in conversation with a non-expert?
“I think we’re both game to tackle anything. We’re interested in a variety of topics, so the difficult part might actually be trying to choose,” both agreed. “We started brainstorming when lockdown had just started. I think the pandemic was on our minds, which is how we came to create a coronavirus mini-series. Other topics we want to talk about include sourdough and bread baking. We know everyone has been baking a lot more since lockdown started… Anything and everything science-related is on the agenda with a focus on recent research to keep it relevant is the idea.”
“The great thing about science is that everything has relevance today, you just have to look deep enough, find the right perspective, and speak to the right people. Science communication is so important, now more than ever. If we can create content that is accessible, engaging, entertaining, and educational, then we have succeeded in our goal.”
Edwick and Cornu understand that it will be a continuous learning process. “The early days of the podcast will be invaluable for discovering what works and what doesn’t. We need to come up with a workflow that is simple and makes sense.” They also hope to have a continued stream of contributing producers from the members of EUSci. “Anyone should be able to pitch an idea and record episodes. With everything up and running, we would love to have as much content being created as possible, on a fortnightly or even weekly basis.”
A pillar of EUSci that I wanted to see translated to the podcast is accessibility and inclusivity. As a society we are actively working on becoming as inclusive and accessible as we can. “We want to make sure that we feature a diversity of people on our podcasts. One of the things we decided on soon after starting the podcast was that we’d make sure that we had gender parity in our interviewees.”
Another aspect of inclusivity is ensuring that the members of our community have a say in what we talk about and how to best represent them. “Give us feedback! What did you like about the episode(s), what didn’t you like and why? We are keen to hear about ways we could be more inclusive.”
Not Another Science Podcast is launching on July 1st with the coronavirus mini-series, featuring Edinburgh based researchers and their work on COVID-19. After a short break, the podcast will publish once a month. You can find it on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Soundcloud.
Written by Karolina Zieba and edited by Ailie McWhinnie.