“You have to stop using your tribal language,” emphasises Professor Jørn Hurum, who is widely recognised for his ability to communicate science to the public at large. “Being able to talk about your research with everyday words also makes you understand your own research better.” Professor Hurum recommends starting out by explaining one’s research to a child in only a few sentences, then gradually practicing with more details and larger audiences. “Outreach is a skill that takes time to learn, just like research,” he says.
Researchers as role models
Professor Hurum does extensive outreach – whether talking on radio shows or writing children’s books, broadcasting live by webcam from an archaeological dig in Svalbard, making a video with a rock band or introducing the missing-link fossil “Ida” worldwide. Professor Hurum presses on, refusing to be deterred by critics of his popular outreach style.
Professor Hurum. (Photo: Mette Mila)
“I love the emails I get from kids around the world, telling stories based on one of my research findings. There are too few role models for kids outside entertainment and sports. Why not scientists? It used to be different – the polar heroes inspired us.”
Professor Hurum is also a dedicated proponent of open access publishing. He credits part of his outreach success to his deliberate use of open access publication.
“We truly hope this helps to inspire the next generation of climate researchers to do outreach and become great role models,” says Brita Slettemark, programme coordinator for the Large-scale Programme on Climate Research (KLIMAFORSK) and host of the climate research meeting for doctoral fellows.
Read more about Professor Hurum’s work.
How to get an ERC Starting Grant
“We want you to stay in research as long as possible and be as successful as possible,” Ms Slettemark told the doctoral fellows.
Taking advantage of the possibilities in the EU system is one way to remain in research. One researcher who has done precisely that is Ann-Cecilie Larsen, a researcher at the University of Oslo’s Department of Physics. Last year she won an ERC Starting Grant. “A unique research project is a must,” she advises. “Of course it must be built on exciting research, but the idea and the project need to be novel.”
Dr Larsen also explains that support from one’s research group, a good CV, research stays abroad, professional help during the entire application process, financial support, passion and luck are important elements.
Read more about ERC starting grants.
Read more about Scholarships, mobility and recruitment and in norwegian "Finansieringsmuligheter og karriere".
Getting to know other doctoral fellows
“We believe it is of great importance to get to know other doctoral fellows and learn about their work,” says Ms Slettemark. “A Ph.D. may feel like a ‘solo performance’, but if you want to stay in research you need a wide network – and we are creating a place for doctoral fellows to meet.”
Doctoral fellows from all over Norway and from a wide range of the Research Council programmes, including the KLIMAFORSK programme, Programme for Space Research (ROMFORSKNING), the Large-scale Programme for Energy Research (ENERGIX), and the Research Programme on Marine Resources and the Environment (MARINFORSK) participated.
(Photo: Mette Mila)
“Climate change is affecting us all and the solutions are everyone’s responsibility,” concludes Ms Slettemark. “Climate research is therefore an important task at the Research Council. We strive to view climate research in an integrated way. This Ph.D. meeting is just one of many initiatives to achieve this.”
Poster session and lunch. (Photo: Mette Mila)
Read the previous news brief here.