I wanted to write a little about one very cool aspect of my job: science advisor to bio bulletins. It sounds exciting, and it is! I am a the scientific advisor, or conservation expert, for the videos that play in the Hall of Biodiversity at the American Museum of Natural History. Now, many of the halls in the museum have their own videos playing and not all the videos in each hall are produced by the museum’s science bulletins team, but many are- and I get to work with them! The science bulletins team is an exciting group of artists, editors, and animators that have an amazing amount of scientific knowledge to boot.
There are three types of ‘bio’ bulletins that I am part of: short 2-minute overview videos of a cool study or conservation science news that come out every month, short bio data visualizations on visible changes on the planet that come out a few times/year, and bio documentaries ~8 minute longer pieces on conservation expeditions and more in-depth analysis of a study that are produced twice a year. See them all here: http://www.amnh.org/explore/science-bulletins
So far, I’ve been able to advise on all three types. The process is relatively the same for each, however, with the time needed to research material allocated respectively with the time of each piece (i.e. longer for documentaries), so I will elaborate on a recent bio news that we completed on invasive crazy ants! The month starts out with the bulletins team sending me a few recent studies or conservation news pieces they are interested in making into a bio news story- they also sometimes ask if I have an idea for a story. Last month, one of the producers sent me a story that I thought would be a great visual news story: crazy ants taking over the south!
Now, of course, the story has to be of potential wide interest and have great visuals to accompany the script. My job is to not only read the scientific articles for background and help decipher the science, but I also make sure the conservation message is clear and direct. I specifically take this last part very seriously and make sure each video has a conservation angle people can understand- much like this blog :).
Once a story is chosen, I read the relevant articles and wait for a draft script and accompanying slides. In one case, I also reached out to my fellow scientists and network for some photos to use (see the beetles in: http://youtu.be/Grij9596Ayw) and I suspect I might need to do more of that in the future. I then get to go through a series of edits with both the script and the visuals, mostly editing the script for scientific accuracy and a prominent conservation message. The videos are great and it’s very cool to see our work in the Hall of Biodiversity- and the public taking in the conservation message.
I will post them here as we complete them every month. Here are the two latest visualizations and bio news, respectively: