Obligatory Brief Biography in third person
Joanne Manaster, a faculty lecturer in biology at the University of Illinois’s School of Integrative Biology, also known as @sciencegoddess on twitter, stands out as an example of an individual who has leveraged new media alone to enthusiastically share science in the online environment and garner one of the largest followings on social media without the benefit of already having a traditional media or publishing background audience to join her online. She experiments with multiple new media formats to help further her platform, which is to share science stories to pique the interest the general public without sensationalism, to encourage the reading of great popular science books and to support and encourage youth, particularly girls, to consider STEM careers. In all of these endeavors, Joanne displays a sincere and overt support for those who are on the front lines of increasing scientific knowledge and thinking: the science teachers in America’s schools.
See Joanne’s scientific interests and courses taught HERE.
"He's Doing My Dream Job!"
Several years ago, as I was standing in front of a section of my “Cell Culture and Concepts of Tissue Engineering” lab class at the University of Illinois, I introduced a video segment from Scientific American Frontiers with Alan Alda. In this program, Mr. Alda traveled to numerous laboratories across the world to inquire about their research, bringing the audience along with him. He figured if the scientists could make their research understandable to him, then the general public would understand it, too!
To my surprise, the sentence “He’s doing my dream job!” tumbled out of my mouth.
WAIT A MINUTE!
Blog, books and videos
At some point, I realized that if I ever hoped to catch the attention of anyone who would allow me the privilege to pursue this ‘dream job’, I needed a presence somewhere. So I created a website with a blog. I had plenty of ideas of science I could easily share. It wasn’t easy to start out, though.
Naming my website WAS easy…
This gallery contains several images taken or captured over the years from various new media and outreach activities I’ve participated in. These include several appearances on TV and internet programming, on stage speaking to young ladies about careers in science, various activities with NASA, contributing to social media panels, and even an appearance on stage with Thomas Dolby.
Go to the Social Media/Outreach Page to see an extensive list of my work in social media and outreach at home and around the world!
What good is a science video if no one watches it?
When Google Plus came on the scene, I was one of the earliest adopters. I am tremendously curious about the potential of any new media to help share science more widely. I have been enjoying my latest venture, a Google Hangout on Air called Read Science! with my co-host, Jeff Shaumeyer, where we have conversations about science and communicating science with popular science book authors. A Google Hangout on Air is like “Skype on steroids” because it livestreams and then is archived on YouTube directly afterwards. Notable guests include author Mary Roach, well-respected naturalist E.O. Wilson, astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Chris Hadfield, CBS correspondent Lynn Sherr, autism and animal science expert Temple Grandin, Pulitzer Prize winner Dan Fagin and many more! I’ve heard from many teachers who have shared these hangouts with their classrooms! I also stepped forward to the NSTA and offered to moderate Hangouts for them. In a short-lived experiment, I was honored to conduct interviews with NSTA keynote speakers, Ainissa Ramirez and Brendan Mullan.
Learn more about the Read Science! project on this page.
What Alan Alda Was Doing, Only Better (for Me)
The face of worldwide communication is changing. Traditional media is adapting to find its place on the Internet. My “dream job”, the one Alan Alda had, hasn’t materialized in exactly the same format, but through my own perseverance, creativity, willingness to try new things, and passion for science, I have managed to jump into the online world and use it successfully to share the message that science is fun, informative, and worth the time to investigate. I’m a science educator at heart but have become an accidental new media specialist. I’m so thrilled at the opportunities to share science up until now and relish the potential to do more in a broader way as new types of media develop.
Undeniably, the narrative of a former model studying science, researching in cell biology labs and teaching science to future doctors and engineers seems to have captured a lot of people’s imaginations, so I keep this segment of my biography for the curious onlooker.
When I was 15 years old modeling chose me quite unexpectedly. I never thought I was pretty or coordinated, but I am grateful to those people who saw a little something in a scrawny, shy girl and worked with it. Modeling brought me out of my shyness and taught me some valuable lessons and rendered me with a little more poise and grace than I would’ve had without this experience. I never became very interested in my looks as an obsession, but learned the rules of style and began to apply them.
From Astronomer to Model to Physician to Researcher to Educator
I am a cell biologist by training, and a university faculty educator, but like most, the path was not straightforward.
I have enjoyed nature and reading about science all of my life. I started, as a very young girl, by wanting to be an astronomer and abruptly decided that I wanted to be a doctor in 5th grade.