"Science needs the trust of society"
Since August 2019, Franziska Sattler has been hosting the event series "Talking Science over Coffee" at the Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin's natural history museum. Every first Sunday of the month, researchers and visitors meet as a group deliberately kept small for an intimate chat about scientific topics. In this interview, the Brain City ambassador tells more about this unusual format and the importance of science communication in general.
Ms Sattler, what is your event series "Talking Science over Coffee" all about?
People can discuss a topic in relaxed groups and ask questions without feeling intimidated. On the one hand, the concept combines something that many Germans have known all their lives: spending Sunday afternoon with the family, drinking coffee, eating cake, and discussing life, the week, and current events. On the other hand, the topics revolve around science, largely unknown territory for many. For example, some of our guests have questions such as: "What do scientists actually do all day?"
In your experience, does the public feel anxious about coming into contact with scientists (or vice versa)?
I've even experienced these anxieties in my own family; I'm the first one of us to become a scientist. My parents have always supported me though and I am extremely grateful for that. However, I also know that they often didn't understand what I was doing. Sometimes they told me that they just can't understand science and that one has to be extra intelligent in order to work as a researcher. This attitude seems to be widespread. But it's not true, of course. That's why it is so important to me to bring the general public and scientists together on an equal footing. With good science communication, scientists can explain their areas of research even to primary school children in an understandable way.
What role does the informal setting of "Talking Science over Coffee" play?
It is incredibly important to me that my guests are authentic and able to chat about everyday life. Of course, the focus is always on their research. But I also want to highlight the human side of science. Drinking coffee creates the charm of "Talking Science over Coffee" and helps ensure that our visitors come back again and again. The fact that the format initially went digital due to the coronavirus pandemic has not detracted from the comfort. I meet with my guests before the event, either in a café or now currently online, so that we can get to know each other better. It's important to me to give the public the feeling that the people they're watching have known each other for a long time.
What criteria do you have to select guests?
I actively seek out scientists who interest me and whose research inspires me. I am sure that you can see that in the way I moderate the discussions. In the past, I have often invited women scientists to increase their public visibility, for example, immunologist Anna Taranko. In the future, I would like to put more effort in my guest list becoming more diverse. Berlin has so many great researchers from all over the world. I would like to reflect this diversity in the event series.
What feedback have you had so far?
Overwhelming and extremely positive. A wide variety of people are taking part, from young families to retired people. And everyone asks interesting questions. Most are surprised that so many exciting topics are being researched at the Museum für Naturkunde and our partner institutes. The feedback also shows that the event offers visitors a wonderful opportunity to relax and learn about a wide range of topics, including climate change, why insects are dying off, autoimmune diseases, and amber research.
In your view, what role should the dialogue with the public play in the work of scientists?
"Having the knowledge also means sharing it," Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek has said. I agree 100% with that. In addition, the public is absolutely interested in science. According to the “Science Barometer” of the “Science in Dialogue” initiative, more than 70% of Germans are interested in scientific topics and about 2/3 of the respondents also expressed their trust in science and research during this pandemic. Scientists are increasingly being asked to communicate with the public. After all, the wide variety of research that's being conducted is made possible by our taxes, so the research should be made more transparent and accessible to the public. Exchange between researchers and the public should become much more common in all areas of science. Science needs the trust of society If "Talking Science over Coffee" can help ensure that our visitors leave with new knowledge and a revised image of scientists, I have achieved my goal.
During these times, scientists are often exposed to high pressure when they have to engage in dialogue with the public in addition to their research work. How can they prepare for that?
I would like scientists to learn early on in their studies how to communicate in a way that is understandable for the public. It should not be forgotten that researchers mostly only do science communication "on the side." Learning and testing science communication should be a requirement for all scientists. This also means that science communication should be valued as an activity in itself and not just seen as a side job. Workshops, training courses, and university courses would definitely be an advantage.
Currently, a lot of fake news circulating, especially on social media. Do you have any tips for distinguishing what's true and what's not?
Since I am a scientist myself and have actively done research, I understand the importance of peer reviews. A peer review is an extremely important procedure for ensuring the quality of scientific work by a team of independent experts in the same field. It is used to provide a critical review of scientific articles by experts before publication. When I see a polarizing headline or a statement in the press that amazes me or triggers an emotional reaction, my first thought is to take a critical look at the source. Where was the news posted? Is the source official, current, and recognised? In general, I find it important to doubt anything that sounds sensational or extreme, at least initially. But facts that appear credible at first glance should also be checked by comparing them on the internet and see whether other sources confirm them.
Berlin has a high density of scientific institutions, scientists, and also internationally known event formats such as the Berlin Science Week. Is the Brain City especially predestined for science communication?
What's on offer in Berlin is so extensive and diverse that there is always something inspiring going on: science slams, the Long Night of the Sciences, Berlin Science Week, and even offers on citizen science where you can do your own research. My personal impression is that the extremely diverse activities in the Brain City encourage many citizens to take part in science. They can choose what they like and what suits them. I am very grateful to live and work here and to see how my work attracts and inspires more and more people. Sometimes I can hardly imagine that there would be anywhere else better for this than Berlin.
- Insights Credit: André BakkerInsightsA guest contribution by Brain City Ambassador Prof. Dr Anabel Ternès von Hattburg, Professor for International Business Administration at the SRH…→
Getting on Board with Digitality
- Insights Swen Hutter (Foto: David Ausserhofer), Gesine Höltmann (Foto: Martina Sander)InsightsA guest contribution by Gesine Höltmann, research assistant and Swen Hutter, Deputy Director at the Centre for Civil Society Research.→
Polarisation and Cohesion in the Corona Crisis: a Look at Civil Society
- Insights Foto: "Lucid Dream", Elena Kunau and Mariya YordanovaInsightsARTIFICIAL REALITY – VIRTUAL INTELLIGENCE is the name of an exhibition that can be seen from 8 to 12 September as part of Ars Electronica Garden…→
Interaction via Emotion
- Insights Credit: Peter Himsel/Campus Berlin-Buch GmbHInsightsThe Campus Berlin-Buch in the north of Brain City Berlin has grown to become one of Europe’s largest business and research centres for life sciences.→
A Vibrant Healthcare Network
- Insights Credit: Markus KrutzikInsightsDr. Markus Krutzik, Head of the Joint Lab Integrated Quantum Sensors (IQS), on the "Wissenschaft trifft Wirtschaft" (Science Meets Business") event…→
"I am Fascinated by the Possibilities of Quantum Sensors"
- Insights Foto: ESCP Business School BerlinInsightsWhat to do when distance is suddenly the order of the day? A guest contribution by Dr. René Mauer, Professor of Entrepreneurship und Innovation at…→
Using Whiteboards to Combat Digital Fatigue
- Insights Credit: Alexander Rentsch/HTW BerlinInsightsBrain City Ambassador Prof. Dr. Florian Koch of HTW Berlin brings together science, business and civil society in his research.→
“Increasing Urbanisation also Creates Opportunities”
- Insights Credit: Rudolf GrillborzerInsightsGuest contribution by Brain City Ambassador Dr.-Ing. Onur Günlü, Technische Universität Berlin.→
Exploring the "ultimate limits"
- Insights Credt: Startup Incubator BerlinInsightsThe Startup Incubator Berlin at the Berlin School of Economics and Law is particularly successful in supporting founder teams – as proved by the fact…→
“We Bring Ideas to Market”
- Insights Credit: Mimi Thian on UnsolashInsightsGuest Contribution by Brain City Ambassador Dr. Petyo Budakov, University of Europe for Applied Sciences.→
“Proudly presenting Brain City Berlin in 2020”
- Insights Susanne Plaumann (private)InsightsInterview with Brain City Ambassador Susanne Plaumann M.A., Central women's representative at the Beuth University of Applied Sciences Berlin.→
“Careers are now easier to plan for women scientists”
- Insights Adi Goldstein auf UnsplashInsightsStadtManufaktur Berlin conceptually unites research projects of the TU Berlin under a single roof. The long-term goal of this “open laboratory…→
Science in Dialogue with the City
- Insights Falk WeißInsightsThe knowledge portal “humboldts17” presents current research on the subject of sustainability and welcomes open dialogue with the general public. The…→
17 Goals for the Future
- Insights Foto: Olga Makarova privatInsightsBrain City Ambassador Olga Makarova reflects on being a microbiologist during the pandemic, and the urgent need for microbiology literacy in society.→
Guest Contribution: COVID-19 and microbiology literacy
- Insights HIIGInsightsBrain City-Interview with Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schulz, Research Director at the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society (HIIG).→
“A sustainable goal of our work is to make clear what the technology can actually do”
- Insights HTW BerlinInsightsAn interview with Brain City Ambassador Prof. Dr. Kai Reinhardt. On October 28, he will be speaking at the second SpreeTalk at HTW University of…→
“The pandemic has been a catalyst for digitalization”
- Insights dentalXr.aiInsightsdentalXrai is the first dental start-up to be spun off the Charité. It was launched via the accelerator of the Berlin Institute of Health (BIH). We…→
Artificial intelligence in the fight against tooth decay
- Insights Anna Raysyan (private)InsightsBrain City Ambassador Anna Raysyan has been living in Berlin for 3,5 years now. She is a PhD student at the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und…→
Guest Contribution: “Berlin likes the bold!”
- Insights ©Berlin Partner für Wirtschaft und TechnologieInsightsMany top-class researchers and scientists are being attracted to Brain City Berlin every year. The Dual Career Network Berlin helps partners of…→
Dual Career Network Berlin: getting a good start in Berlin
- Insights ©Matthias PicketInsightsDr. Anne Schreiter, Managing Director of the German Scholars Organization (GSO), reveals in the Brain City interview what alternative career…→
"Science is not just about research"
- Insights © Pocky Lee on UnsplashInsightsMatches in front of empty stadiums, virtual marathons, and many postponed events. Brain City Ambassador Professor Gabriele Mielke is tracking the…→
"Now is the time for innovators"
- Insights © AW Creative on UnsplashInsightsJuggling a degree course or teaching with the extra burden of the care of children or other family members is not an easy task. Both students and…→
From “Zoo School” to “Maternity Protection”: family-friendly universities
- Insights © HTW Berlin / Nikolas FahlbuschInsightsTeaching is currently only taking place online. Guest author Dr Dorothee Haffner, professor for Museology at HTW Berlin - University of Applied…→
Guest contribution: "Online teaching is more engaging than I thought"
- Insights Fotocredit: Ortner & Ortner / SiemensInsightsSiemensstadt 2.0 is a place of the future. The Berlin Senate has approved 9.9 million euros for the first research project "Electrical Drive…→
Siemensstadt 2.0: Research and industry closely linked
- Insights ©Credit Silke Oßwald/FMPInsightsBrain City interview: Professor Dr. Volker Haucke, Director at the Leibniz-Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pharmakologie (FMP) and Professor of…→
In the balancing act between detail and overall concept
- Insights © hj barraza/UnsplashInsightsOur guest author Dr Barbara Schäuble is Professor for Diversity-Conscious Approaches in the Theory and Practice of Social Work at ASH Berlin and a…→
Guest contribution: A sudden change of course - classes moved online
- Insights ©DexLeChemInsightsLaunching a start-up while at university? Sonja Jost's success shows the way. Together with three fellow students, she founded DexLeChem after…→
"Bringing new knowledge to the market is very important to us"
- Insights ©Ivar Veermäe / Centre for EntrepreneurshipInsightsBrain City Berlin is the German capital of start-ups. Many young companies have successfully been founded through Berlin and Brandenburg based…→
"Society in particular benefits from high-tech start-ups" - university survey enters its third round
- Insights ©BIH|Thomas RafalzykInsightsAt the Berlin Institute of Health (BIH) the main focus is on "translational research" - the transfer of findings from the research lab into clinical…→
“There are now many great female scientists, achieving great things”
- Insights ©fotografixx - istockphoto.comInsightsIn the digital age learning behaviour changes profoundly. It is student-centered and technology rich. As a member of the Erasmus+ funded project…→
Exploring the future of learning
- Insights © Brain City BerlinInsightsResearch results quickly and easily accessible online: The Open Access movement is campaigning for a paradigm shift in the field of publications and…→
Open Access: free knowledge for everyone
- Insights ©ESCP EUROPEInsights29.10.2019 | Professor Andreas Kaplan is a Brain City Berlin ambassador and Rector of ESCP Europe Business School Berlin. The economist's research is…→
"We have to be able to take everyone on the journey."
- Insights Gudrun Piechotta-HenzeInsightsIn time for the 2020/21 winter semester, ASH, the Alice Salomon University of Applied Sciences Berlin, is launching the first bachelor's degree to…→
"We have to completely rethink nursing!" | 27.09.2019
- Insights ©Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin/Matthias HeydeInsightsThe courses offered by the HUWISU Summer University are varied and exciting, the target group is international: students from abroad who come to…→
When Berlin becomes one large seminar room ... | 15.08.2019
- Insights [Translate to English:]InsightsThe literary scholar Dr. Betiel Wasihun was traveling for science. After stops in Heidelberg, Yale, and Oxford, it brought her to Berlin two years…→
“Berlin is a perfect location. Especially if you don’t want to pursue just a single avenue of scientific work.” | 12.08.2019
- Insights [Translate to English:] Berlin University Alliance/Matthias HeydeInsightsTogether we are stronger. And also more successful. As the "Berlin University Alliance," the Technische Universität Berlin, the Freie Universität…→
Congratulations: The “Berlin University Alliance“ receives funding of the Excellence Strategy |19.07.2019
- Insights [Translate to English:] David Ausserhofer/IGBInsightsBerlin is one of the most water-rich cities in Germany. But climate change does not stop at the Havel, Spree or Wannsee either. Dr. Michael Hupfer is…→
"We're trying to take a look into the future." | 04.07.2019
- Insights [Translate to English:] Helena Lopes / UnsplashInsightsSend a digital lollipop or delicate fragrance notes via email or let the wind virtually blow against your face - research makes it possible. Learn…→
Experiencing the digital world with all senses | 18.06.2019
- Insights [Translate to English:] HZB/M. SetzpfandtInsightsIn these times of fake news and pseudo-scientific publications, many people find it difficult to distinguish legitimate from dubious content. Only 54%…→
"Science needs to make us curious" | 11.06.2019
- Insights [Translate to English:] Tim LandgrafInsightsBrain City Berlin is considered one of the leading locations in Germany working on artificial intelligence. About 30% of all German AI companies are…→
Fish, bees, and self-driving cars | 07.06.2019
- Insights [Translate to English:]InsightsScience and cultural heritage, freely accessible to everyone at any time on the Internet: The Open Access movement is promoting a paradigm shift in…→
Knowledge for All - Open Access in Berlin | 28.03.2019
- Insights [Translate to English:] Thomas Rosenthal - Museum für Naturkunde BerlinInsights660 million euros in 10 years: The Natural History Museum Berlin - Museum für Naturkunde Berlin receives financial support for the further development…→
Future of the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin | 14.01.2019
- Insights [Translate to English:]InsightsSpace exploration is experiencing a revolution thanks to commercialization by such companies as Elon Musk's SpaceX. But did you know that more facets…→
From Berlin to the moon: the space industry is booming in Berlin | 03.09.2018