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Friday, May 30, 2014

#FF: Using Twitter for Good (Chemistry)

Anyone who knows me personally will by now have been exposed to my (relatively) new Twitter obsession. For that, I apologize.

Only a little bit, though.

The fact remains that Twitter is a powerful engine for rapidly sharing news about any topic in headline format, allowing the reader to make a decision on whether to delve deeper in a matter of seconds. Why humanity has chosen to inundate these spaces with Bieber and pictures of cats is beyond me, but that doesn't mean that your Twitter feed has to experience the same fate.

In the spirit of #FF (Follow Friday), here are 7-ish Twitter accounts you can add to your feed to bring yourself some great chemistry content every day.

Socializing Scientists
I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that you didn't join Twitter to get work done. Scientists, being humans, enjoy having fun with social media. Of course, scientists, being nerds, think that the best way to have fun with social media is to share pictures of their science with as many people as possible. In chemistry, these pictures are all curated and retweeted by @RealTimeChem (#RealTimeChem). From jury-rigged glassware setups to celebrations of that one triumphant spectrum, you're bound to find something interesting here. For example:

However, scientists on social media aren't only concerned with having fun. There has been a great deal of effort devoted to meeting the needs of underrepresented groups in the sciences in order to promote further participation. Obviously these problems are not yet solved, and conversations continue in a number of venues, Twitter included. The handle that I see most often is @BLACKandSTEM (#BLACKandSTEM), which provides amplification for the voices of black scientists across all disciplines. The handle also hosts frequent chats on universally important topics such as self-promotion and strategies for finding employment.

The American Chemical Society
Most scientific publications and organizations are on social media in some capacity, but the American Chemical Society does a particularly good job of it among chemistry-related organizations. Following @AmerChemSociety will get you access to tweets about high-profile publications from the flagship ACS journals. The best part about following the ACS, though, is that all of the different sub-handles all retweet each other, so by following @AmerChemSociety you'll get information about opportunities for employment, news targeted at graduate students, outreach activities, and more.

Another interesting facet of the ACS social media presence is @ACSReactions, which publishes short pop-science videos giving a chemical explanation for everyday curiosities. It hasn't been active for long, but has already made a big splash with a video about the chemistry of bacon smell.

Chemical & Engineering News
Tweets from Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN) probably make up the bulk of my feed, and they definitely get the bulk of my clicks. As with the main ACS account, the main C&EN account, @cenmag, retweets a large volume of content from its associates. If you're into materials chemistry and emerging technologies, you can't miss.

Additionally, C&EN reporter Carmen Drahl (@carmendrahl) hosts the short podcast Speaking of Chemistry (#speakingofchem), which gives bite-sized recaps of news items in a very accessible video format.

Strictly Business
Do you love to read papers all the time? I'll admit that I've had lunch breaks cut short by a tweet about an interesting paper that inspired me to go out and be productive again. Go ahead and search for your favorite journals - odds are, if they're from the ACS, RSC, or Nature Publishing Group, they're on Twitter. You can use Twitter's Lists function to sort all of the journal tweets out of your feed, which is surprisingly helpful for staying on top of things if you're already on social media fairly often.

While it might be a long way from convincing your advisor that sitting on Twitter is helping you with your degree, following these accounts will give your feed a healthy variety of science news and happenings that you might have missed otherwise. Happy #FF!

Did I miss a good one? If you're following someone great that I haven't mentioned here, feel free to leave a comment!


  1. Here are my #followFriday recommendations:
    @realscientists - an account run by a different scientist each week. Lots of variety, explanations of current research, discussions of life in science (science culture, job-hunting, grant-writing, work-life balance, diversity) and lots of chances to get to know other scientists online.
    @chemjobber - who blogs about employment in chemistry, both industrial and academic (and sometimes "alternative")

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