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Grad student Sarah Chow writes about science education

By Sam Boykin

Growing up, Sarah Chow was a jock and fitness buff: She competed in track and volleyball in high school, lifted weights in the gym, and stuck to a healthy diet. Interested in how she could improve her athletic performance, she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in kinesiology at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada. She decided to delve deeper into how the body works. This led to her pursuing a doctorate degree in cardiac physiology, as well as her blog, Find her on Twitter at @sswchow.

Q. When and why did you start your blog?

A. I started my blog in 2011. I was in the middle of my Ph.D. program at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, and I wanted to improve my writing and speaking skills. In grad studies you do a lot of writing and public speaking. So I started my blog and joined Twitter.

Since then, I have attended science communication workshops, including one where I learned how to write science articles for the general public, do science podcasts, and how to educate the public about science issues using television.

Q. What are the main topics you blog about?

A. I initially started blogging about topics that interested me, like how the body copes with sleep deprivation, because as a grad student we go through a lot of that. I also blog about my doctorate research, which focuses on proteins that contribute to maintaining the heart’s rhythm. I also write about the ongoing research on how to design a molecule that can regulate irregular heart rates and eliminate the need for artificial pacemakers.

In the last two years, I’ve also started using different media to communicate about science on my blog, including YouTube, which makes it more accessible.

Q. Why do you think it’s important to make science accessible to the general public?

A. Science can sometimes be scary, especially when we hear words like genetics. But I believe making science accessible to the general public helps people better understand the science issues they hear on the news, and enables them to make their own decisions.

I also feel that when the general public is more equipped with knowledge, they’re more inquisitive, and don’t just take things at face value.

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