Why Enthusiasm and Storytelling are Crucial in Postdoc Research, with Dr. Sarah Chobot Hokanson – Ep #18

What would you say are the most important aspects of postdoc research? Would the learning environment or the availability of mentors rank high on your list? What about the role of passion and enthusiasm for your field of study? Dr. Sarah Chobot Hokanson joins Mark in this episode of When Science Speaks to highlight the role of enthusiasm and storytelling in postdoc research.

Sarah is the Assistant Provost of Professional Development and Postdoctoral Affairs at Boston University. She is responsible for providing services and programming for all postdoc scholars at Boston University, as well as supporting the development of University policies related to postdoc scholarships.

Before joining Boston University, Sarah was the US Deputy Director of Science and Innovation at the British Consulate-General, Boston. Dr. Hokanson holds a BA in Chemistry from Boston University and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. She completed a National Institute of Health (NIH) Ruth L. Kirschstein Postdoctoral Fellowship at Cornell University in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology.

What You’ll Hear On This Episode of When Science Speaks

  • [1:08] Mark introduces his guest, Dr. Sarah Chobot Hokanson.
  • [3:50] What sparked Sarah’s interest in science?
  • [7:30] Sarah talks about taking a position working for the British Consulate.
  • [12:00] What is the Postdoc Academy?
  • [15:00] How Sarah and her team create programs that appeal to postdoc researchers.
  • [18:00] Sarah’s advice for postdoc researchers.
  • [20:30] Why enthusiasm for your field is crucial.
  • [22:20] How to connect with the Postdoc Academy.

Connect with Sarah Chobot Hokanson

Resources & People Mentioned

Don’t fake it, pursue what energizes you

Have you ever found yourself stuck listening to someone who is dispassionate about their work? The experience tends to be incredibly dull and ultimately a waste of time. While It’s not fair to expect every researcher to come out with the most stunning and captivating presentation, a lack of passion and enthusiasm speaks volumes. What is the solution? Should you fake excitement for something that you don’t care about?

Most people are ill-equipped to take a topic they care nothing about and make it sound interesting. Don’t try to fake enthusiasm; your audience will see it coming from a mile away. If you find yourself in a field of study that you don’t care about, make a change as soon as possible. Not only will you benefit from switching to a subject that you care about, but those on the receiving end of your research will also benefit. If you are stuck, consider reaching out to your mentor or peers and utilize the network you’ve built to make a change.

Why storytelling is crucial to communicating your research

Storytelling is an often neglected aspect of postdoc research. Even the phrase, “Storytelling” seems foreign in a world of facts, figures, and data. What does storytelling have to do with postdoc studies? It all comes down to effectively conveying your findings. If you can’t tell a compelling story with the data you’ve collected, you need to look at it from a different perspective.

Your research will only have the desired effect if you present it in a way that connects with your target audience. Are you presenting your findings to your peers? If so, you can get away with a lot of lingo and jargon, but you still need to make a compelling case. Are you presenting to an audience outside your field of study? If that’s the case, you’ve got to find a way to connect your research to something they can understand. You don’t have to abandon your data and figures, you must make them relevant to your audience. This aspect of your research will come more naturally if you are engaged and invested in your subject matter.

To hear Dr. Hokanson expand on this topic and much more, make sure to catch her full conversation with Mark on this episode of When Science Speaks.

Connect With Mark and When Science Speaks

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