Kristin Harper, who led the development of the IAPHS blog and brought it to life in February, talked with Executive Director Christine Bachrach recently about her experience volunteering with IAPHS.
Chris: Kristin, thanks for taking the time to share your experiences with me. Tell me first about your own career trajectory. You started your professional life as a biologist. What drew you into science communications?
Kristin: I actually started out picturing myself as writer when I was in high school, but I fell in love with biology as a freshman in college. Biology was a whole new world for me. But even as I went through graduate school in biology, I kept writing. And along the way, I also got interested in anthropology, thanks to an adviser who chaired the anthropology department. That led me to the RWJF Health & Society Scholars program, which enabled me to combine both. Ultimately, science writing let me pursue my interests in both writing and science.
Chris: What challenges did you face designing the IAPHS blog, and how did your committee contribute to this task?
Kristin: The biggest challenge was starting with a blank slate! We could do anything, and we needed to find out what would be most interesting and useful for IAPHS members. The committee helped with that because it had a very diverse membership and people had lots of different ideas about what they did and didn’t want to read on a blog. We started out all over the place. Some people suggested “micro-blogging,” where all the contributions are twitter-length, and others wanted to see in-depth reporting. We ended up somewhere in the middle.
Chris: You have an incredibly full plate but you still took this on. Was it worth it? What did you get out of this incredibly valuable service to IAPHS?
Kristin: It was definitely worth it! I’m so glad I got the opportunity. I was very excited about IAPHS and wanted to help, and this was the best way for me to contribute. In addition, I learned a lot and forged new relationships. I got to know the people who were posting and the work they were doing. It was a very satisfying feeling to take the blog from an idea to a fully functioning form.
Chris: Now that you’ve invested so much in IAPHS, what are your hopes for the organization?
Kristin: I’d like to see it grow! I want more people to discover IAPHS and to appreciate what it’s trying to achieve.