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The Kardashian Effect

This morning Queen Elizabeth made her first foray into the world of social media when she sent the first royal tweet under her own name to declare the opening of a new Science Museum gallery.

by Pamela Ahlberg
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The Queen’s message read: “It is a pleasure to open the Information Age exhibition today at the @ScienceMuseum and I hope people will enjoy visiting. Elizabeth R,” and will likely be re-tweeted thousands of times by many of the @BritishMonarchy twitter account’s 722,000 followers. Surely a late adopter, the Queen has nevertheless recognized the pervasiveness and usefulness of this new form of communication. New to her, at least.

Which brings us to this month’s cover story, “The Good, the Bad, and the Selfie,” in which author Key Kidder looks at the role social media currently plays within the scientific community. It is no longer a question of whether to participate, but rather how to participate. Some believe making use of social media is crucial to securing ever more limited scientific funding. “As more scientists are compelled to compete for their share of shrinking research resources and funding opportunities, the right touch of social media can provide the soft sell that sustains them in today’s harsh economic climate,” says Kidder. However, others worry that self-promotion through social media outlets will detract from their work. Dennis Meredith, a science communication consultant and author, urges researchers to observe his three B’s when it comes to engaging with social media: be strategic, be useful, and be careful.

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Despite the differing personalities and generational affiliations that may influence their use of social media, most scientific professionals share one thing in common, which is their logical, factdriven approach to problems. A general assumption is that scientists are not very “touchy feely.” However, according to Donald Truss in this month’s Leadership & Staffing article, “Negotiating Agreement,” being unaware of other people’s feelings can be detrimental when it comes to being effective in the workplace. “In every meeting where persuasion is the goal, there is a subliminal dance of feelings that takes place,” says Truss. Turn to page 20 to learn the four fundamental turning points in that dance.

Far less “touchy feely,” but absolutely critical when it comes to the safety of your lab, is a straight forward, time-tested illness and injury prevention program. Turn to page 34 to find out the essential elements needed to build such a program and how that program can provide a framework to serve as a basis for performing a gap analysis on your existing approach.

As a reader of Lab Manager, you know that our primary editorial mission is to help lab managers hone their business and management skills. And of all those skills, the most challenging is managing people. In this month’s Perspective On article (page 46), Dr. Chris Fasano, a principal investigator (PI) at the Neural Stem Cell Institute (NSCI) in Rensselaer, New York, speaks to that challenge. “You can teach anyone how to do an experiment, but you can’t teach someone how to be motivated,” he says. In addition to motivating and training his staff, Fasano recognizes the importance of keeping a positive attitude, especially in these under-funded times. “A lot of people say that science is just not viable as a long-term career anymore. I disagree with that. I think it just takes the right person. You have to keep going and keep trucking through, and eventually your ideas will pan out.”

Whether you share Dr. Fasano’s upbeat attitude or do or do not embrace social media, we welcome your thoughts on these topics and any others. Please visit us on Twitter and Facebook to share.

Happy tweeting.

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Pamela Ahlberg