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Celebrating 100 weeks of PLOS #SciWed AMAs with #SciComm & Climate Change Chat

Ask PLOS ONE authors Kaitlin Raimi, Paul Stern, and Alex Maki about science communication strategies to convey climate change impacts – the topic of our 100th AMA in the PLOS Science Wednesday series:

Open communication between scientists and the public is more important than ever as U.S. government policies and proposals continue to undercut access to research. Since 2015, the PLOS Science Wednesday “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) series on redditscience has connected PLOS authors with the public, where the guests discuss their featured PLOS research as well as important topics in science today.



On March 22 2017, the PLOS #SciWed “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) series marks 100 weeks of connecting scientists with the public on the redditscience forum, featuring researchers working at all stages of their careers, many of them early career researchers (ECRs). PLOS recognizes the immense value of science communication in shaping public opinion and policy, so we’re making this the topic of our 100th AMA. The hundredth AMA features PLOS ONE authors Kaitlin Raimi, Paul Stern, and Alex Maki in a chat on climate change and scientific literacy, as discussed in their popular article, “The Promise and Limitations of Using Analogies to Improve Decision-Relevant Understanding of Climate Change”. The Raimi et al. article was highlighted in a recent post on the PLOS SciComm Blog about the use of analogy as a tool to broker discussion around issues benefitting from scientific consensus but limited public understanding, such as climate change.

Raimi and colleagues will begin answering readers’ questions in a one-hour live chat on March 22 2017 beginning at 1pm EST. If you miss the live portion of the AMA, don’t worry, the chat is archived by redditscience so it remains in the scientific literature. Ask your questions between 1-2pm EST March 22:

Looking Back: Celebrating 100 weeks of PLOS #SciWed AMAs

Every #SciWed guest bring new insights to featured authors’ work as they answer user questions and expand on the implications of their findings. One way redditscience measures reader reactions to each AMA is through the number of upvotes (the reddit version of a “like” or “dislike”) it receives. Since the series launched in April 2015 though, there have been a few AMAs that were redditscience users’ favorites.

In fact, just last week, PLOS Biology authors Niels and Ujwal broke the record for most upvoted AMA of the series. Nearly 7000 redditscience users visited the chat, where the authors discussed how they successfully communicated with “locked-in” patients, many of whom have ALS, as described in their PLOS Biology article.

I’ve highlighted some of our other blockbuster PLOS #SciWed AMAs below:

GEOGRAPHY: PLOS ONE authors Alasdair and Garrett designed new map of the United States, using commuter data to draw new borders. PLOS analytics showed that the January 2017 AMA lead to more than 13,000 clicks on PLOS properties, slowing down our network during the live chat.

Fig 1. Tract-to-Tract Commutes of 160km or less:
Fig 1. Tract-to-Tract Commutes of 160km or less: PLOS ONE article.

TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY: PLOS Medicine author Seena Fazel was the #SciWed AMA guest on November 2016, where he discussed his new article that discovered childhood traumatic brain injury (TBI) predicted the risk adverse psychiatric outcomes during adulthood.
CLIMATE CHANGE: In August 2015, renowned climatologist Jim Hansen draws upon evidence from his PLOS ONE articles and argues for swift action to reduce carbon emissions. “The bottom line message we as scientists should deliver to the public and to policymakers is that we have a global crisis, an emergency that calls for global cooperation to reduce emissions as rapidly as practical,” Hansen says in the Climate Change AMA.

PLOS journals: Greatest Hits

We’ve asked some of the PLOS journal representatives who help select the articles featured in our AMA series to share some of their favorites.

“It’s been exciting for PLOS Medicine to see the engagement between readers and our authors. There was tremendous interest in all of our AMAs, but in particular I recall the AMA with Katherine Hoadley and Marni Siegel, researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. Drs. Hoadley and Siegel discussed their article ‘Tumor Evolution in Two Patients with Basal-like Breast Cancer: A Retrospective Genomics Study of Multiple Metastases’, from our Cancer Genomics Special Issue. They did a great job answering questions about their study and how it fits into the fight against cancer in general, and gave some helpful advice to young women seeking careers in STEM.” Thomas McBride, Associate Editor of PLOS Medicine


“My favorite PLOS Science Wednesday AMA was about schistosomiasis, and featured the article ‘Global Assessment of Schistosomiasis Control Over the Past Century Shows Targeting the Snail Intermediate Host Works Best’. The AMA was a lively interaction between ecology and disease communities, highlighting the different intellectual frameworks of the different disciplines. It was great to see AMA participants question inquire about potential adverse ecological consequences of eliminating the host snail and author Susanne Sokolow highlighting some new creative solutions that engage environmental strategies to improve public health.” Marian Weidner, Publications Assistant of PLOS NTDS

Obtaining snail samples near the Kwite dam during a Schistosomiasis outbreak investigation, Empandeni ward, Mangwe district, Matebeleland South province, Zimbabwe. Photo by Pugie Chimberengwa via CDC Global Flickr.
Obtaining snail samples near the Kwite dam during a Schistosomiasis outbreak investigation, Zimbabwe. Photo by Pugie Chimberengwa via CDC Global Flickr. CCBY 2.0

“My favorite PLOS Science Wednesday AMA was about Reproducibility in Research Science and featured the PLOS ONE article ‘Likelihood of Null Effects of Large NHLBI Clinical Trials Has Increased Over Time’ and PLOS Medicine article ‘How to Make More Published Research True’. This is an important concern facing all areas of science and it was great to see so many early career researchers getting involved in the AMA.” Nicola Stead, Associate Editor of PLOS ONE


“[The Genetics team’s] favorite PLOS Science Wednesday AMA was about current threats to global banana crop production, and featured the PLOS Genetics article ‘Combating a Global Threat to a Clonal Crop: Banana Black Sigatoka Pathogen Pseudocercospora fijiensis (Synonym Mycosphaerella fijiensis) Genomes Reveal Clues for Disease Control’. The authors Igor Grigoriev, Steve Goodwin and Gert HJ Kema generated an interesting discussion around questions regarding fungal genetics and global banana crop production, putting the research into context with other, related work, and the general question of improving disease resistance. The authors highlighted the need for more genetic diversity among banana crops, and different solutions to fungicide resistance and sensitivity.” Libby Taylor, Publications Manager of PLOS Genetics

Aerial spraying of fungicides on a banana plantation. Image Credit: GHJ Kema.
Aerial spraying of fungicides on a banana plantation. Image Credit: GHJ Kema.

“The PLOS Pathogens AMA that stands out to me was about HIV/TB coinfection. The authors did a fantastic job discussing the impact of HIV on TB infections, demonstrating how important coinfection research is for critical human health issues. The article is also featured in our new Collection, Bridging Communities: Co- and Polymicrobial Infections.” Jose Mendez, Publications Assistant of PLOS Pathogens

Featured Image: Joe Brusky via Flickr license: CC BY – NC 2.0

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