Research is (should be) cool

The day before yesterday, I enjoyed thoroughly my cycling-swimming-cycling regimen, that I try to get to every so often. So the regimen involves cycling around Stellenbosch, swimming 15 or so laps at the University indoor pool, then cycling back home. The two hour exercise is so invigorating and it gives me ideas of how, with just a little bit more effort, I could become a professional triathlete, not so much to win a race as to look amazing in biking and swimming gear.

So now, sufficiently refreshed, I was ready for the New voices in Science workshop that I told you about a few posts ago. (Refer to it here, then come back for some juicy Kenyan jokes).

OK. You did come back. The juicy Kenyan jokes are actually not that funny, except when I meet S, who starts laughing in anticipation when she sees me, claiming that my jokes are absolutely hilarious. It is people like S, who cheer me on so that I can clown my way into silliness. Just like the other S, who also got me dancing salsa and doing kungfu kicks during the breaks at the Systems dynamics course.

Both these Ss bring out the worst in me because they provide an eager audience for my misbehavior. This occurrence, echos the discussions at the New voices in Science workshop, where we talked about how researchers ought to enthuse their audience. Just like the two Ss are enthralled with my stupidity, a researcher's audience should be engaged so that the research message is relayed across in a memorable way.

The  research message also has to resonate with the expectations of the audience, very much like my silly Nairobi jokes resonate with S's appetite for Kenyan humour. So, back at the New voices workshop, I was so stoked by the idea that research can be packaged in a fun, accessible way for the general public. No where is this more crucial than in my own research, where I am investigating a problem that concerns everyone: sanitation for informal settlements. However, this 'everyone', is not going to read my insanely long academic thesis or my 'jargonised' journal articles. Especially if I use titles like: Transdisciplinary (TD) research and Incrementalism in sanitation for informal settlements; case studies in blah blah blah...

But maybe, everyone, or at least lots of people, might be interested in a title like: 'Twerk your way into TD with Amolo Artist'. Cheesy! I know, but I twerk so good! OK, I will come up with another title. For the time being, I am thinking of how I should enter the New voices in Science competition, where I can speak about my research that is so dear to my heart.

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