By: Agnetha de Sa, Peak Associate

SFU scientist examines her Twitter followers

As a conservation and marine ecology professor at SFU, as well as an active user and science communicator on Twitter, Isabelle Côté was particularly interested in knowing “if my followers are mainly scientists or non-scientists – in other words was I preaching to the choir or singing from the rooftops?”

    Côté worked with Emily Darling, a PhD student, and analyzed the Twitter accounts of more than 100 ecology and evolutionary biology faculty members from various academic institutions in 11 countries. By determining if the followers of these faculty members were other scientists, classified as “inreach,” or members from a non-scientific field, classified as “outreach,” Côté and Darling found that around 55% of followers were other scientists.

    However, Côté and Darling also found that when the number of followers went beyond the threshold of around 1000 followers, the fields that the followers were in became more diverse. As Côté and Darling discuss in their article, this in turn would enable the messages of these faculty members to reach a wider audience noting that there is “a lot of room for scientists to build a social media presence and increase their scientific outreach.”


Researchers look into design consideration of video-calling for 911

SFU’s Dr. Carman Neustaedter, an associate professor in the School of Interactive Arts and Technology, took on the challenge of implementing video calling in the emergency response system. Since the 1960s, 911 services have been accessed by North Americans via a telephone call.

    In collaboration with the University of Calgary and Microsoft Research, the team led by Neustaedter explained that “[we] see a huge need but also a really challenging design space.

    “We need to think about emergency video calling along a continuum of visual modalities, ranging from audio calls accompanied by images or video clips, to one-way video streams to two-way video streams, where camera control and camera work need to be carefully designed,” Neustaedter stated.

    By collecting data from three 911 call centres, the researchers were able to observe work practices, listen to 911 calls, and conduct interviews with 911 operators. While concerns about the ability for the 911 operator to control the call and potential work stress and post-traumatic stress disorder arising from viewing difficult scenes were expressed, the researchers also heard that video calling could make it easier for the 911 operator to understand the situation.

    For those responsible for creating the design space for future emergency calls, this research will be very informative.