#SketchYourScience takes off after ESA 2014 workshop

What ecologists think of drawing (09.2014)

It’s happening! Multimedia SciComm is catching on, and our workshop participants are chief vectors for distributing the bug.

Our last post was about Johanna Varner and the research she does on pikas. Inspired by Johanna’s own sketches, produced during our workshop, the Pikas on Ice post featured some delightful pika sketches by Jennifer Landin.

Now, Johanna and her colleagues Nancy Huntly and Erin Gleeson have taken the idea of #SketchYourScience well beyond themselves and their own study species.

As Johanna wrote recently, prior to the sketching section of our EcoComm workshop,

“…we had largely considered such artistic expressions to be squarely outside the realm of science. Of course, what we (like everyone else) had forgotten is that, prior to the last few centuries, illustrations and paintings were the very foundations of scientific observation…”


Throughout the ESA 2014 meeting, the trio cruised the conference loaded with markers and blank paper. They solicited sketches from fellow mountain ecologists, encouraging their peers to distill their research into a single drawing. These images were then disseminated to the world via the Twitter handle @mtnresearch.


Rather like Tweeting, but arguably more compelling (and perhaps more daunting), compressing your work into a single sketch is a true exercise in honing your multimedia multi-disciplinary SciComm skills.


Judging by the Storify the team compiled recently, ecologists are up to the task.

With images ranging from quick diagrams and colorful landscapes to more detailed and time-consuming drawings, mountain researchers demonstrated they have the ability to go analog and still make their point.