Hollywood tips for initiating collaboration, Part 2

Hollywood tips for initiating collaboration, Part 2

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 [email protected].

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.




  • 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)
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