By Hansook Oh and Melissa Simon
On May 4, the Diversity Program Consortium’s Enhance Science project engaged the NIH biomedical research training community for its second #FaceOfScience social media campaign.
Hundreds of individuals posted #FaceOfScience selfies and shared what they love about science on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn. The posts were largely driven by students, faculty, staff and others who help support the future of the NIH research workforce.
“I love working with a wonderful team to promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility within the scientific workforce,” wrote Pamela Tamez, a program officer in the NIH Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity (COSWD) office.
In talking about why they love science, others said they like asking questions to solve problems, having endless opportunities to discover new things and expanding their knowledge about the world.
“What I love most about science is the joy in discovering some cool piece of information about how life works that no one else has found yet, big or small. I also love being able to advocate for disability rights in science and academia. Science belongs to EVERYONE,” wrote Stephen Klusza, a Deaf assistant professor of biology at Clayton State University in Morrow, Georgia.
“I love learning more about the world I live in and helping others do the same," said Sol Corral, a psychology undergraduate who participates in the NIH BUILDing SCHOLARS program at the University of Texas, El Paso.
The Face of Science campaign resulted in a total of 774 posts from 211 unique authors using #FaceOfScience. Content using #FaceOfScience received 3,799 total engagements including 463 shares, resulting in a potential of over 5.5 million impressions.
This simple question is what kickstarted Enhance Science, which is a visual media project that showcases the real-life impacts of initiatives that promote diversity, equity and inclusivity in STEM. Enhance Science expands the idea of what a scientist looks like by engaging the scientific community through original content and social media campaigns.
In March 2021, the NIH DPC launched the Enhance Science project with an original video series called “Face of Science.” Filmed before the COVID-19 pandemic, the series featured 10 undergraduate students participating in a DPC research training initiative called Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity (BUILD).
“Face of Science” was produced by the DPC’s Coordination and Evaluation Center (CEC) at UCLA, which helps amplify the voices of the consortium and share its impact with the broader scientific community.
“It’s incredible to see the kind of impact that Face Of Science has had on the community,” said Hansook Oh, the Co-Director of the CEC’s Communication and Dissemination Core. “We are providing better representations of scientists in the media through our series and our social media campaigns, and people are responding enthusiastically to seeing themselves become the image of what a scientist looks like.”
Oh is one of the creators of the video series, along with award-winning creative professionals Jameelah Nuriddin as the producer and editor, Alethea Root as the director, and EmmoLei Sankofa as the composer.
The Face Of Science series is still ongoing, with new videos following up with the original cast from the November 2019 video shoot.
“This is a campaign that is aligned with who I am,” Wayne State University alumna Sydni Alexis Elebra said upon rewatching her original video. “Seeing a dark skin, short haired girl doing science and loving what she's doing is so important to me.”
Oh said that future plans for Enhance Science include more original videos of different scientists and researchers who are at different points in their careers after finishing their undergraduate degrees, as well as developing the Enhance Science website to include resources for those looking to get into research careers.
“We see how this project fills a space when it comes to representation in science,” Oh said. “We want Enhance Science to become a space that provides practical advice and resources on how to get into research, as told through the stories of scientists who can inspire the next generation.”
SPAD & DPC DaTA
The Diversity Program Consortium Coordination and Evaluation Center at UCLA is supported by Office of the Director of the National Institutes of Health / National Institutes of General Medical Sciences under award number U54GM119024.