By Edna Fernandez-Figueroa
Have you ever felt overwhelmed when approaching a potential research advisor, employer, or collaborator? Many of us struggle to communicate how our research interests and skills complement our potential collaborator's expertise in a short and enthusiastic written introduction. ASLO is excited to share some tips and tricks on how to create the perfect written (and video!) introduction for your future research collaboration, as part of our new Limnology and Oceanography Research Exchange Program (LOREX). Below you will find a video featuring ASLO's Communications and Science Director, Adrienne Sponberg, and Brian Palermo, a communication expert, author, and improv actor who has helped many scientists incorporate acting skills into their science communication.
As part of this professional development resource, we would like to call for submissions of short (30-60 second) video abstracts from LOREX applicants or other ASLO members. We will evaluate your video, provide feedback, and create professional development tools for our members based on what we learn together. Once you have created your video cover letter, share it with us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When creating your video cover letter or introductory e-mail, remember:
- Key points - Include why you are interested in working with your potential collaborator, what drew you to their research, and how your skills and research interests line up with theirs.
- Tell a story - Practice following a narrative structure when presenting yourself and your research interestest. Brian Palermo is an advocate of the ABT (and, but, therefore) narrative structure. Learn more about this technique in Randy Olson’s TED talk about the “And, But, Therefore” storytelling template (10 minutes).
- Enthusiasm! - This is a unique opportunity to allow your personality to shine. Show why you are excited to work with your potential collaborator!
- Avoid - Regurgitating your Curriculum Vitae; you can attach this to your introductory e-mail. When you mention past experiences, focus on what you have learned and how it relates to the task at hand, rather than just listing every experience you have had.
- Keep it brief.
If you are interested in additional Science Communication Resources, check out the links below to learn more about ASLO’s ongoing efforts to support members working to foster new collaborations and bring their science to a larger audience.
- Improv exercises from Expert Village: “First Letter, Last Letter” and “Yes, And?” (90 seconds each)
- Randy Olson’s TED talk about the “And, But, Therefore” storytelling template (10 minutes)
- Randy Olson’s webinar about the Story Circles Narrative Training program (1 hour)
- “Why aren’t they listening?” panel discussion at OSM 2014 (1 hour)
- “Overcoming the cultural gap between scientists and the public” panel discussion at OSM 2012 (2 hours)
- ASLO Bulletin: “Translating Science into Stories”
- ASLO Bulletin: “More than workshops: Science communication training at ASLO”
- ASLO Bulletin: “Improv training for scientists” by Brian Palermo
- Scientia: “Communicating Science: Bridging the Great Divide” by Jonathan Sharp
- Don’t Be Such a Scientist: Talking Substance in an Age of Style (2009) by Olson (Oceanography review)
- Escape from the Ivory Tower: A Guide to Making Your Science Matter (2011) by Baron (Oceanography review)
- Connection: Hollywood Storytelling Meets Critical Thinking (2013) by Olson, Barton, and Palermo (ASLO Bulletin review)
- Houston, We Have a Narrative: Why Science Needs Story (2015) by Olson (ASLO Bulletin review)