What is your #oceanoriginstory?

A few weeks ago I (Chelsey Baker) started a hashtag on twitter for oceanographers to share their #oceanoriginstoryand thanks to the signal boost from the Challenger Society (see @challengersoc on twitter), it took off!



Inspiration for the hashtag came in the form of the podcast hosted by @DanJonesOcean in which he interviews climate scientists about their career in oceanography (I would highly recommend it, especially interesting listening for ECRs planning to pursue an academic career).

I was listening to the episode with Michael Meredith (@meredith_mmm) from the British Antarctic Survey and he told the story of how he ended up down the oceanographic path. It occurred to me that I knew very little about how my supervisors, colleagues and peers ended up studying oceanography. Do you know how your colleagues got into oceanography? If we as a community don’t know how we got here, how can we effectively inspire the next generation of oceanographers?

Everyone’s story is different but some common themes emerged as such as a love of the ocean, living near the ocean (but not always essential) and practical experience of sailing or field work. We were surprised to see so few mentions of the internet particularly from current PhD students. For me the internet helped me discover the Ocean Sciences department at Bangor University, but ultimately itwas the article on ocean acidification that made me pause on the ocean science degrees and changed the course of my education.

Below are some particular highlights from the hashtag:








A word cloud of the common themes in the #oceanoriginstory tweets (taken from keyhole.com)

Over the past few weeks it has been amazing to read the many stories from across the globe and I am astonished at the reach of the hashtag – 83 users tweeted using the hashtag, with 201 posts in total, reaching over 65,000 individual people and over 190,000 views. It seems unlikely that there are 65,000 oceanographers on twitter and so this really highlights the potential and growing importance of social media in reaching new audiences.

As of 12pm on the 6thof April:


Recently there was a strongly worded opinion piece in Science magazine on how time spent on social media is time away from research and the article received a strong pushback from researchers who use social media for #SciComm (science communication). It is important to acknowledge that not everyone has easy access to the internet but it definitely allows for a wider reach than was previously possible. How far in the future until new oceanography student’s origin stories shift towards ‘I saw a video of ___ on YouTube’ or ‘I saw a picture of ___ on Instagram/ Twitter’.

The #oceanoriginstory highlighted what a strong and supportive community of oceanographers there is on Twitter and it was wonderful to read about so many positive stories. Have you shared your #oceanoriginstory yet? If not, get involved on Twitter!


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