Today’s guest blog was written in collaboration with Melissa Martin, a former global marketing intern with Promega. She is a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she is double majoring in zoology and life sciences communication, with a certificate in environmental studies.
Have you ever found yourself wondering what the newest advancements were on genetically engineering plants or using artificial intelligence in biotechnology but didn’t know where to start looking? You most likely know the basic science behind the headlines, but a general web search may lead to dramatized articles that focus more on getting attention than being accurate. Or you might find a scholarly article that will offer in-depth, peer-reviewed information but may require more time to read than you are willing to give.
Luckily, many media outlets and podcasts can be accessible sources for recent, innovative and transformative news from the scientific community. Similar to how you find yourself having a better time in class when you have an enthusiastic professor who lectures on interesting topics or adds beneficial anecdotes, these sources can help you enjoy learning about the latest scientific breakthroughs more as well. Whether by reading the news or listening to reporters you like, these sources can be a great place to hear science and inspire you in your own academic endeavors.
Mainstream media outlets are often full of attention-grabbing articles about whatever may be popular or relevant in the moment. However, science journalists at these outlets write about a wide variety of topics, ranging from new and exciting breakthroughs to in-depth topics like environmental protection, landscape changes, archeological discoveries, and advances in technology and medicine. Here are some of my “go-to” science pages from several mainstream media sources:
Mainstream media sources are popular among various groups of people around the world for their engaging content, but they may be subject to bending the truth or exaggerating information to fit their agendas. You can practice caution by paying attention to any details that may be a giveaway that a source is not reliable (find some tips here). Or you can check out websites that are dedicated solely to reporting on science news. Science websites tailor to individuals of all interests and levels of knowledge by reporting on the latest discoveries in a wide range of disciplines from nanotechnology to biology, summarizing published papers, reflecting on the reliability and quality of different scientific products and more.
Here are a few of my favorite dedicated science websites:
If reading isn’t your thing, there are also many podcasts where you can hear from scientists or the journalists who have dedicated themselves to understanding and clearly explaining what other researchers are working on. Podcasts are great because you can multitask while commuting to work, being in the lab or even cleaning the house. This makes them a great option if you still want to learn about the science in the news but have a busy schedule and other responsibilities to tend to.
A popular podcast that reports on a wide variety of topics is Overheard by National Geographic where journalists are recounting conversations between scientists that they have eavesdropped on at their headquarters. A recent episode was about how conservationist David O’Connor transported giraffes off a flooding island by using a sturdy raft. Another episode discusses how tech labs are finding that artificial intelligence shows biases just like humans do.
Some of the sources listed above also have podcasts you can listen to such as NPR’s Short Wave where host Maddie Sofia talks of the “new discoveries, everyday mysteries, and the science behind the headlines.” The Guardian has a podcast called Science Weekly where Ian Sample, Hannah Devlin and Nicola Davis explore a wide variety of topics every Tuesday and Thursday so you always have something new to look forward to.
Here are some other engaging science-focused podcasts you can find online or on major apps such as Spotify:
Tips on finding labs, jobs and continuing your education after your undergraduate degree. A nice bonus is a new beer recommended at the beginning of each episode.
- Science Vs
Focuses on debatable or opinionated science and explores what is true or what scientists have yet to figure out.
- Dope Labs
Talks about all scientific disciplines because they believe that science is for everybody and “the only dumb questions are the ones not asked.”
- BBC Science in Action
New podcasts every Thursday to explain science from the week.
Compelling journalism and storytelling while exploring science.
I hope you are inspired to expand what sources you use for scientific news and enjoy checking out the suggestions above. I also encourage you to start looking for more since you’ll probably end up finding lots of other sources that are useful. If you do, or have a favorite that we haven’t mentioned, let us know in the comments.
Looking for more resources to make life in the lab easier? Check out the HelloPhD page in our Student Resource Center, where you’ll find more interesting podcasts and information on how to navigate the challenges of graduate school.