The science behind COVID-19 and the virus that causes it, SARS-CoV-2, is evolving at such a rapid pace that it’s challenging to find updated, accurate information to keep up. That’s why we reached out to world renowned virologist, Dr. Angela Rasmussen, to create a didactic infographic on the most important features of the newest SARS-CoV-2 variants that anyone can use and share!
We jumped on the opportunity to talk to Dr. Rasmussen about her impressively effective science communication strategy that’s helped her keep colleagues and audience informed about COVID-19 (including her 200,000+ followers on Twitter!). Check out the full interview below to find out her expert tips on communicating to any audience!
Fully editable SARS-CoV-2 templates!
In collaboration with Dr. Rasmussen, we adapted our infographic into 4 fully-customizable, easy-to-use SARS-CoV-2 templates to help you explain the science behind SARS-CoV-2 to any audience! Whether it’s for your next publication or #scicomm post, start with a fully-editable SARS-CoV-2 template to save you time and captivate your audience with stunning visuals.
Interview with Dr. Rasmussen: on science communication, COVID-19 and more!
We sat down with Dr. Rasmussen to chat with her about her strikingly effective and relatable COVID-19 #scicomm strategy that helped her reach millions of people on Twitter (where @angie_rasmussen tweets to over 200,000+ followers)! Here’s what she had to say:
What is the biggest challenge facing scientists trying to communicate effectively with the public about COVID-19?
Dr. Rasmussen: Communicating uncertainty and trying to distill complex topics into plain language that loses the jargon without sacrificing the nuance. This is a work in progress for me and most other scientists I know. It’s really hard to balance providing clear, useful information with uncertainty about what we’re still studying.
What is the most common mistake people make when creating visuals for SARS-CoV-2?
Dr. Rasmussen: Either oversimplification or excessive complexity. Also, viruses are not bacteria!
Do you have any advice for scientists who are trying to reach wider audiences (like the public)?
Dr. Rasmussen: Respect your audience and their capacity for understanding. The public can definitely understand complex topics, regardless of background or education level. Don’t ever assume that just because the audience doesn’t have the same background as you and isn’t fluent in the jargon of your specialty that they won’t “get it.” To avoid coming across as patronizing or condescending, I try to imagine I’m explaining to a respected and beloved family member.
What are your recommended resources for SARS-CoV-2 visualization?
Dr. Rasmussen: BioRender! Also some major newspapers (particularly the NY Times and Washington Post) have some great informational graphics. Science, Nature, and Cell Press also all have really great graphics, including ones in their news section that are digestible for a general audience. Finally, I’m an advisor for a group called Wearing is Caring, run by a group of outstanding early career scientists at Columbia, that has some really wonderful, simple graphics that are great for all ages and backgrounds.
Create your next figure in BioRender!
There’s no doubt that this pandemic has reinforced the undeniable importance of science communication and the role of effective visuals (like captivating infographics and clear schematics). BioRender is the easy-to-use science illustration tool that’s quickly becoming a staple for science communication around the world! Feeling inspired? Sign up for free and get started on your next infographic or figure today!
Dr. Angela Rasmussen(Content Expert)
Special thank you to the BioRender Creative team including Jerry Gu, Emily Taylor, Samara Mishelle Oña Chuquimarca, Victoria Tokarz and Cindy Liu.