By Ashley Yeager

Astrophysicist Katie Mack and other researchers are starting to join Twitter to do better science. Image courtesy of:

Before launching into dark matter’s effects on particle physics in the early universe, astrophysicist Katie Mack of the University of Melbourne in Australia took a little detour Wednesday to talk about Twitter.

The social media tool is helping her “do better science and learn about new science,” she said during her Jan. 30 seminar at Duke.

The talk materialized from a tweet she had posted a few days ago about attending ScienceOnline, an annual, Raleigh-based conference for scientists and communicators talking and writing about science on the Internet.

Duke physicist Mark Kruse, who joined Twitter in October after the 2012 Council for the Advancement of Science Writers meeting, saw Mack’s tweet about coming to the Triangle and then contacted her to see if she would like to speak about her research.

She said yes, obviously, and explained during her talk that the invitation, as well as the other networking she has done on Twitter, got her to thinking about why all physicists (and scientists) should use the site.

@AstroKatie shares her top reasons scientists should be on Twitter. Credit: Katie Mack, U. of Melbourne.

Here is a paraphrased list of her top five reasons:

1. You can see what scientific breakthroughs people are getting excited about.
2. You can keep track of science discoveries outside of your field.
3. You can share your work with a broader audience.
4. You can connect with other scientists in and outside your field, building your professional network.
5. You can connect and share your work with the public.

Clearly Mack’s invitation to speak at Duke illustrates her third point about Twitter. Now, she said, she looks forward to attending her first ScienceOnline meeting to build on those points and learn new ways of using the tool to connect with other scientists and science enthusiasts.

You can follow Mack at @astrokatie, Kruse at @markckruse and ScienceOnline at @ScienceOnline (or #scio13) if you’re already on Twitter.

And, if you’re a Duke researcher not yet on Twitter but want to be, check it out here, then contact the university’s news office if you’ve got questions.