Image: GUESS/Wikimedia Commons.
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The sociable botanist

Image: GUESS/Wikimedia Commons.
Image: GUESS/Wikimedia Commons.

An advert seen in my local virtual newspaper, Green Times Perennial, ‘Botanist, GSOH, out-going personality, WLTM other like-minded individuals for walks and talks on plant-related matters, maybe more…’, intrigued me: just how do botanists/plant biologists/plant scientists find others of a similar phytological persuasion? It isn’t that easy, especially as we seem to be thinly spread over the globe.

Well, as old and traditionally rooted as botany is, we need to grasp the nettle and explore these new-fangled ‘social media’ things. To that end, why not start with Anne Osterrieder’s site, which extols the virtues of Twitter, Google+, and Facebook? Anne – whose Twitter profile reads thus, ‘Research & Science Communication Fellow at Oxford Brookes University, UK. Plant cell biologist. Loves the Golgi apparatus, lasers and cats’ – is a confirmed, energetic and enthusiastic plant science communicator and well worth ‘following’, Google+ing, Facebooking, etc. And there’s more! Why not browse Anne’s public list of plant science members on Twitter, which currently lists >174 members, to find people to ‘follow’?

However, often there is no substitute for a good old-fashioned bit of social intercourse – what I like to call ‘talking to people’ – but that can be daunting, especially if you’re a fresh-faced postgraduate, a nervous post-doc, or shy new lecturer. To help with those potentially awkward social interactions, give Inger Mewburn’s ‘newspaper style blog dedicated to helping research students everywhere’, The Thesis Whisperer, a go. I recommend the articles on a ‘crash course on socializing at a scientific conference dinner’, and the ‘top five ways to better academic networking’. Still, if you go down the electrosocial route – and “I think we all have to eventually, however reluctantly”, @NChaffey is reported as admitting – then Gavan Watson has some useful advice on creating and managing your online presence. So, you plant leaders of tomorrow… er… follow/lead?

Nigel Chaffey

I am a Botanist and former Senior Lecturer in Botany at Bath Spa University (Bath, near Bristol, UK). As News Editor for the Annals of Botany I contributed the monthly Plant Cuttings column to that international plant science journal for almost 10 years. As a freelance plant science communicator I continue to share my Cuttingsesque items - and appraisals of books with a plant focus - with a plant-curious audience at Plant Cuttings [] (and formerly at Botany One []). In that guise my main goal is to inform (hopefully, in an educational, and entertaining way) others about plants and plant-people interactions, and thereby improve humankind's botanical literacy. I'm happy to be contacted to discuss potential writing - or talking - projects and opportunities.
[ORCID: 0000-0002-4231-9082]

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