Wikipedia as science communication

Yug Chandra Saraswat is currently enrolled in a doctoral program in Chemical Engineering at North Carolina State University. He recently took an Wiki Scientist course sponsored by the American Physical Society.

My inspiration to become a Wiki Scientist and support unheard voices through biographies came after reading Brenda Maddox’s excellent biography of Rosalind Franklin “Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA” and sadly realizing the long time it took for the scientific community to give Dr Franklin the due credit for her ground-breaking work in the discovery of double helix structure of the DNA.

I believe that by providing scientists from minority and marginalized communities with their due recognition, we can reiterate the idea that a scientific contribution can be made irrespective of sex, race, and religious identity. I was also motivated to participate in this course because of my personal belief in promoting open access to credible and vetted scientific information to public. In the current environment, much of the technological development is hidden behind expensive archives and riddled with jargons that are incomprehensible to people without any field expertise. I strongly believed that education in this course would teach me how to communicate new scientific information in a responsible and comprehensive manner to the public.

In my opinion, the time I committed to this course was well spent as it provided me with an excellent opportunity to highlight the scientific contributions made by female scientists in the field of physics and engineering. I was very happy to see the commitment of Wikipedia users toward disseminating credible information and maintaining communication (via the ‘Talk’ pages) with other users in a respectful and professional manner thereby encouraging informative and thought-provoking discussions.

The course is well-organized and provides all the necessary information in a succinct format to become a responsible member of the Wikipedia community. I would like to mention our instructor Will Kent, who patiently showed us the complex albeit open and welcoming world of Wikipedia. His feedback on my multiple drafts helped me publish an article that I am proud of.

I devoted my time toward writing about an Indian physicist, Dr Shobhana Narasimhan, who is currently working at the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research and specializes in computational nanoscience. It was especially inspiring to research about her because in addition to being a professor and a successful researcher, she is also an advocate for increasing women participation in STEM research and a member of the Standing committee on Women in Science and National Task force on Women in Science in India. I was fascinated to read about her contribution toward developing innovative pedagogical techniques and her recommendations to the Indian government on promoting female participation in STEM.

After finishing my PhD, I plan to pursue a career in academia as a professor, and I strongly believe that this course taught me how to become an effective and responsible communicator and has inspired me to contribute toward promotion of diversity and inclusion in the STEM field. I hope that my testimonial can inspire other students and members of the STEM community to do the same.

To take a course like the one Yug took, visit

Image credit: SMR 94, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


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