Guest Post: “Google Glass and Twitter for Chemistry Education” by Arash Soheili
Aug06

Guest Post: “Google Glass and Twitter for Chemistry Education” by Arash Soheili

Today’s guest post is from Arash Soheili, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Texas, Southwestern Medical Center. As curator of the Twitter account @Total_Synthesis, which is turning 2 this month, no new total synthesis in the journals escapes his watchful eye. He’s passionate about teaching chemistry. And we’re jealous of him because he got to visit Google’s NYC offices to pick up his very own Google Glass. Check out his tech musings at Android Cowboy. I love organic chemistry and have been practicing it in academia and industry for over a decade. I’m also a huge fan of technology and strongly believe that there is a place for it in chemistry education. In fact, I would even say that in the next decade it will become a necessity to incorporate technology as part of the formal teaching toolkit. That process is already happening informally with so many educational videos on YouTube from enthusiasts and educators. But so many technology tools are constantly changing and it will take a strong effort on educators to find the methods that work best. Just like running an experiment in the lab, it will take planning, as well as some trial and error, to get the best results. My personal experience with chemistry and education started about two years ago. I wanted to find a way to reach more people and introduce new and interesting topics in chemistry using existing social networks. My passion for natural product synthesis led me to start a total synthesis Twitter feed. I check all the major organic chemistry journals daily and tweet any completed total synthesis of a natural product that I find. If you are interested in natural product synthesis then you can easily follow the Twitter feed and be up to date. You can also join the conversation by using the hashtag #totalsynthesis. The idea was very simple, but it had yet to be executed. Now in two years there are close to 1000 followers and it serves as an archive of over 400 natural product syntheses in all the major journals. This information would be hard to collect and very laborious using the typical search methods like Google, ACS, SciFinder, etc. It is an idea that can be duplicated for any other topic of interest in science and can be even tried in a formal class setting. Similar ideas include the online Twitter #chemclub by Andrew Bissette. Social media tools are far from the only game in town. Hardware tools have huge potential for application in chemistry education. One example is Google Glass which is basically a head mounted computer with the ability to...

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Chemistry Hashtags And Chemistry Communication-UPDATED
Mar13

Chemistry Hashtags And Chemistry Communication-UPDATED

Last week, I sent out a request via Twitter--I asked chemists to send me popular hashtags that they use in their tweets. I don't know that I need to introduce hashtags to the Newscripts audience, but just in case, hashtags are those words you see on Twitter preceded by the # sign, such as #ACSSanDiego. Folks use them to wade through the morass of tweets because they help classify tweets by topic, conference, location, etc. I thought I'd share with you why I sent out said request. Part of the reason is to have a handy list of hashtags for chemists in one place. But it also has to do with my upcoming talk at the San Diego ACS national meeting. I'm part of ACS President Bassam Shakhashiri's symposium, "Communicating Science to the Public", which takes place Monday afternoon in the convention center. Click on the image to get the full lineup from the meeting program. I'll be talking about how C&EN reporters have our collective ears to ground of the chemistry world, and from time to time end up being sources of information for media outlets with a broader reach. For example, C&EN reporter and Fine Line blogger extraordinaire Rick Mullin was a guest on NPR's Science Friday earlier this month, talking about unusual pharma partnerships. And in January I went on SiriusXM's Doctor Radio channel to chat about how drugs get their generic names. We reporters keep tabs on what chemists are talking about in many ways, but I'd like to emphasize Twitter in my talk (even though it is limited to a small group of chemists who are self-selecting to communicate with social media). That's where you and your hashtags come in. I could think of a few hashtags that have become symbolic of issues chemists care about. #chemjobs - chemistry employment #altchemicalfree - chemophobia in advertising and the mass media #SheriSangji - everything related to the lab fire that killed UCLA lab assistant Sheri Sangji and the ongoing case, but I've also seen it referred to in general discussions of safety in chemistry labs And so I decided to put out the call to see if any more such hashtags would pop out at me from the big list. Of course, many hashtags come and go, and some are more active than others. And still others are just for fun, like #chemvalentine, which was a collection of chemistry related love missives timed to Valentine's Day. But I strongly believe that chemists are using social media to talk about issues that matter to them, and the number of issues is only going to go up the longer those...

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Twitter Takes Hold At #ACSDenver
Sep02

Twitter Takes Hold At #ACSDenver

The Twitterati were out in full force at this year’s ACS fall national meeting it seems. So much so that yesterday, ACS Web specialist Chris McCarthy (@CMcC_ACS) tweeted: I did a little analysis. #ACSDenver was tweeted >3x as much as the hashtags for Anaheim and Boston were and the meeting isn't even over. According to McCarthy, the hashtag #ACSDenver was added to tweets from the meeting 1,770 times, whereas #ACSAnaheim and #ACS_Boston were only tweeted about 530 and 490 times, respectively. When asked what he thinks caused this major uptick, McCarthy says he thinks that a few factors contributed. A lot more tweets about the meeting were posted beforehand, he says. And there was a lot more retweeting. In addition, the ACS Pressroom, exhibitors, and local businesses used the hashtag more this time, he adds. The top tweeps of #ACSDenver were @ACSpressroom, @jokrausdu, @ACSNatlMtg, @rguha, and @pidgirl. Speaking of @pidgirl, or Jennifer Maclachlan, as she’s known outside the Twitterverse, she organized a “Tweetup” for attendees at the Denver meeting. Among the topics discussed, we're told, was nuclear chemistry and chemistry outreach activities. C&EN’s own Assistant Managing Editor Amanda Yarnell joined in the fun and had this to say: “Members of #ACSDenver’s Twitterverse got to know each other in the flesh on Monday night. A dozen or so gathered at a rooftop sports bar overlooking Coors field, home of the Colorado Rockies. Although it might not have felt that way on the long walk from the convention center, it was worth the trip. Organized by @pidgirl, who works for a small Cape Cod, Mass.-based analytical instrumentation firm called PID Analyzers, the event emphasized how diverse the world of chemistry tweeters really is. The day jobs of those at the table included entrepreneur, science librarian, bench chemist, journal editor, graduate student, association executive, and science writer.” Did you tweet from the meeting? And if so, why do YOU think this year’s participation on Twitter...

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