Cyan Planet hosted a workshop at the International Conference for Young Marine Researchers (ICYMARE) in Bremen. Focusing on one of our main goals, science communication, we discussed VR, the "Ultimate Empathy Machine", to connect science and fun.
Science can be a strange institution. Its nature is to usher in innovation and progress through an exploration of the world around us. As an institution, it accumulates the contributions of generations of inquisitive minds and demands that we expand their knowledge into something new. At the same time, science is in constant revolution, dethroning what we “know” in light of new evidence and reshaping the landscape beneath our feet. Science is a beautiful and hard-earned upheaval which, hopefully, brings us closer to a more complete understanding of our world.
Yet, paradoxically, science is a dogmatic practice. Rules must be strictly followed if revolutions in knowledge are to be accepted. Even though it is a radical practice, science is often dominated by established voices. While this makes sense, since innovating upon the old requires both the time to understand it and practice, it also means younger voices in the field can often go unheard and their work unseen. This limits access and space to the more experienced scientists in the field.
The ICYMARE helps to break this paradox. The conference is formed, run, and defined by young marine scientists. Participants ranged from undergraduates presenting thesis work to doctoral candidates explaining their ongoing projects. Connecting with these young researchers not only provides an opportunity to network and receive feedback, but is also an opportunity to see and shape the research that will define the fields many of these researchers will be moving into. The names and faces of ICYMARE will likely be the giants of tomorrow.
Held on September 24-27 in Bremen, Germany, Cyan Planet was lucky to be invited to participate. Many of the members of Cyan Planet are marine researchers in their own right and contributed by leading sessions and presenting projects of their own. The opening plenary discussion on the social and ethical dimensions of activism in science was largely led by Cyan Planet members. However, Cyan Planet also made a splash of its own by leading a workshop on the use of VR as a communication tool for scientists. After demonstrating how VR can be used on different scales and participating in a discussion on the state of science communication, the workshop participants were encouraged to get inventive by designing projects of their own. Thankfully, VR is only limited by creativity, and their projects ranged from creating an experiential story of how fish end up in our markets to a game showing how a microorganism interacts with the chemical processes occurring in seafloor sediments.
Cyan Planet is thankful to have had the opportunity to be a part of the ICYMARE 2019 conference. The spirit of the conference is exactly what Cyan Planet stands for; it encourages outreach, education and reflection about the ways we impact not only our fields, but also the communities our sciences reach. The passionate network of scientists formed in Bremen are poised to change how marine science is approached and conducted. The response to VR was incredible, and hopefully some of these amazing young researchers will find ways to enhance how they communicate their ideas to the world and stimulate some revolutions of their own.