Science for Progress

because science is fundamental in the 21st century

SFProcur Curator May 22-27: Dr. Helena Ledmyr – @Helena_LB

Dr. Helena Ledmyr is a science communicator from Sweden, with a doctorate in genetics. As Head of Development and Communication at INCF (a non-profit organization advancing neuroinformatics and global collaborative brain research), Helena coordinates all communications activities at INCF, and manages strategic development initiatives. INCF has a great international community, and she particularly enjoys to interact with people from all over the world with many different countries, specialties and interests.

Beyond her work Helena is passionate about communicating science to the public. She wants people to have an understanding of science so they can make well-informed decisions about issues concerning health, the environment, and the way they treat other people – and she has a pet peeve with pseudoscience. She is the vice chair of the Swedish Network for Science Communication (@forskom), and one of the moderators for @RealScientists.


Helena became interested in science through her grandpa. She spent her childhood summers learning everyday physics, botany, entomology, etc. from him, by watching lightning storms, helping taking care of his big garden, and observing all kinds of bugs.

After high school Helena chose the molecular biology program at Stockholm University because it mentioned DNA and Jurassic Park (true story). She then ended up in a genetics lab for my PhD, which was a lot of fun. After running out of funding during a postdoc researching gene therapy methods, Helena decided to get out of academia and do something else. She found job as a science administrator and communicator at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, where she stayed for 3 years. She has been working for INCF since 2010.

#5: Mental Health during your PhD – with Lauriane Nallet

Working on your PhD is a stressful phase, and the academic culture isn’t making it better. In this episode I talk to Lauriane Nallet, who is a PhD student in Switzerland. She has a personal history with depression and even PTSD. Lauriane shares what she learned at a workshop on mental health issues in grad school, and also her own experience with mental health issues: symptoms to look out for, how she found help, and what therapy could do for her. We also talk about some aspects of academia that contribute to the stress, including high expectations for work load and ‘passion’, and the ‘publish or perish’ culture.

Visit Lauriane’s blog!

clarifying comment

We mention an article claiming a 6x increased prevalence of depression in graduate students. The article is being criticized for methodological confines. However, another study which was conducted using methods with fewer confines, still finds a 2.8x higher prevalence for depression in PhD students when compared to highly educated workers.

SFProcur Curator May 15-20: Gwen Franck – @g_fra

Gwen Franck is a ‘Jack of all Trades’ for Open Science. From Ghent, Belgium, she works with EIFL (Electronic Information for Libraries), partnering in OpenAIRE and FOSTER. She curates the related twitter accounts @openaire_eu and @fosterscience. She holds a masters degree in Medieval History and Political Sciences.

Gwen is specifically interested in creating tailor-made materials and events in order to reach all researchers, not only those already very familiar with Open Science tools and workflows.

During her curation, Gwen is seeking to connect with people and learn something new. She is also on the look-out for new short- to medium term assignments!


Gwen started out at Ghent University – a partner in OpenAIRE – where she became interested in Open Access publishing. As the OpenAIRE NOAD (National Open Access Desk) for Belgium, they established the information platform Open Access Belgium. Then Gwen decided to become an independent consultant. In this role she coordinated European volunteer teams working for Creative Commons, and also worked on projects for EIFL, FOSTER, PASTEUR4OA, and LIBER (Ligue des Bibliothèques Européennes de Recherche).

SFProcur Curator May 08-13: Beth Windle – @WindleBeth

You can do anything if you work hard enough and you can convince the public to protect a species that isn’t considered to be charismatic.

Beth Windle is a freelance artist and natural science illustrator from England, with a love for hyenas. From a young age she was keen to explore and understand the many flora and fauna that share her world. Most of what she illustrates reflects this, showing the intricate details and understanding of anatomy and behaviors of her chosen subjects.

Beth is passionate about science communication, and improving the public image of hyenas. So she likes to have hard conversations about conservation.

Beth describes her career as ‘complicated but interesting’. After graduating from Plymouth University in 2015, she has spent her time freelancing and working within science communication. On twitter she created the “#thylastream” hashtag, where she shared information about the extinct Australian Thylacine. It’s been used as a teaching reference on the impacts of modern extinction. More recently she started #woopcackle where she shares information about hyenas!

This description is in parts taken from Beth Windle’s homepage

A brief introduction to the Portuguese skeptics community COMCEPT

I interviewed Diana Barbosa about COMCEPT, a Portuguese skeptics community.

Diana told me about events they will be at over the next two weeks. However, the full episode is scheduled for June 1st.

So I cut together a brief intro into COMCEPT and promo for two events!

For Saturday afternoon, May 5th, COMCEPT is invited to talk about their book ‘Não Se Deixe Enganar’ (Don’t fool yourself), a guide to skepticism, as well as other books and science communication at the livraria barata.

On May 12th, COMCEPT will have their monthly meeting. These meetings alternate between Lisbon and Porto. Diana was excited to announce that their guest this month, in Porto, will be João Júlio Cerqueira, the creator of the SciMed blog about scientifically supported medicine.

SFProcur Curator May 01-06: Dr. Lisa Buckley – @LisaVipes

excitement makes our sciences accessible!

Lisa is a paleontologist from Canada, and was awarded a PhD in Biological Sciences by the University of Alberta. She currently runs a museum and research center for a non-profit organization. In this role she manages fossil collections (caring and advocating for British Columbia’s fossil heritage). But she also conducts her own research within the research center, in particular on fossilized tracks and traces (‘ichnology’) from birds of the ‘Early Cretaceous’ era (145-99 million year old).

Lisa is passionate about communicating science, and how people do science. She shares why Cretaceous bird tracks are exciting, and why fossil heritage is such an important part of our common history! Lisa uses social media to engage the public in her twin passions of ichnology and birds. First, she runs a Twitter guessing game called #NameThatTrack, where she posts a picture of a footprint or trace. She is impressed by the level of detail that people put into their ichno-diagnoses! Second, Lisa shares her excitement about birds with #BirdGlamour, where she showcases the amazing diversity of birds, our living dinosaurs. She does that using impressive skills in cosmetics! And finally, she runs the life-in-the-sciences blog

During her curation she will share with us her excitement for ichnology and birds! And she will share her own brand of science engagement using tales of her experiences, #NameThatTrack, and #BirdGlamour!



#4: Founding Science for Progress, and the representation of science in public.

Guest: Dr. Dennis Eckmeier
Guest Host: Hugo Bettencourt

“We face a dilemma in conveying the scientific process to the public, and even within academia: Real science doesn’t fit the elements of effective storytelling.”

Dennis had been vocal on topics surrounding academia, science and pseudoscience on social media for several years. Thus, he readily volunteered to co-organize the March for Science in Lisbon, in 2017. He wants to disseminate the understanding of science, humanities and academia by the public, but also systemic changes within academia.

In the first part of this episode he explains how he decided to found Science for Progress, and what our current goals are. The second part is about the image of scientists in the public. In Dennis’ opinion, story telling in scientific reporting, science journalism, but also in pop culture, creates a distorted image of scientists. The dilemma is that good story telling that consumers enjoy, does not fit the reality of scientific research.



SFProcur Curator April 25-30: Dr. Jens Foell

“I believe that science literacy is one of the most important determinants of sound public and political decisions. I also believe that public awareness of certain scientific fact can improve our relationship with and behavior towards nature, health, and the justice system.”

Jens is a PhD from Germany, who works at Florida State University as a research associate. He studies the neuroscience behind psychopathy and aggression. As a supporter of science communication, he co-founded the German language edition of ‘@realscientist‘, called ‘@realsci_DE‘, a rotating curation project, showcasing scientists on twitter.

Jens believes that scientific literacy and awareness of the most important facts about nature and health are crucial for everybody living in a democratic society. During his curation he plans to talk about his work, but also to give a shout out to the many science communicators an science communication venues you might not be aware of, yet.



March for Science!

We wish everybody best of luck and success and a wonderful time at their local March for Science, today!

We are not having a march in Portugal, but I want to share with you a video we took of the rally following the march, last year.

It’s in Portuguese, of course 😉


SFProcur Curator April 17-22: João Cão

João Cão is a cultural activist and PhD student in Philosophy of Science. He studies social participation in scientific research, using the mediation of a citizen science project as his field work. This cooperative research of the coast line of the Tagus’ Estuary brings together geologists and the inhabitants of a self-built neighborhood. During his curation he wants to take a critical approach to social progress in science.

Before he got into citizen science, João left a neurochemistry lab to do European volunteer service with socio- cultural animation in Prague. He also worked in science communication for a while. He is keen on meeting people from other cultures, and is an active member of hospitality exchange. He is also a comic book nerd.