Since this past August, I’ve been working with scientist-turned-filmmaker Randy Olson. Randy has an inspiring story. After getting his PhD in biology from Harvard and becoming a tenured professor of marine biology at the University of New Hampshire, he decided to switch gears completely and go to film school. He created several short films and documentaries, most notably Flock of Dodos: The Evolution-Intelligent Design Circus and Sizzle: A Global Warming Comedy. His latest project, Connection: Hollywood Storytelling Meets Critical Thinking, is a book–app–workshop combo that aims to apply Hollywood’s storytelling strategies to technical communication.
In early January, I accompanied Randy to Austin, Texas to attend the 2014 Annual Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology. His mission? To convince scientists of the need for narrative training in science communication. He delivered a plenary talk entitled “Storytelling Skills: Now mandatory for a career in science” and ran a storytelling workshop for scientists. In addition to helping out with the workshop, I chronicled the weekend on Twitter. The experience is now Storified on Randy’s blog, The Benshi. I’m posting it here as well, with commentary and extra links—check it out!