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US APECS hosts Reddit AMA for International Polar Week

As part of International Polar Week 2015, members of US APECS organized and held an AMA (Ask Me Anything!) live question and answer session in the sub-Reddit r/iama. The live session was held on 28 March, from 20:30 until approximately 22:00 Eastern Time. This was US APECS’s first attempt at holding a live Q&A forum online. Participants for this AMA included Chelsea Thompson, who specializes in Arctic atmospheric chemistry and air-snow interactions; Jeff Bowman, who specializes in polar microbiology; and Alex Thornton, who specializes in Antarctic ecology and marine birds and mammals. Overall the AMA was a success and a very positive experience. We received a variety of questions, many of which were about our experiences working in the Polar Regions, what it is like to be a polar researcher, and how we got into this field of research. Penguins were also a very popular topic of discussion. We only received one silly question, but no rude questions or comments and overall everyone was respectful and genuinely interested in our research and experiences. Several of the people that we had exchanges with said they had students or younger family members who would be very excited to learn about polar research and one teacher expressed an interest in trying to incorporate this area of science into her class. From this first experience, this forum appears to be a good method for outreach to a potentially very large and diverse audience who otherwise would likely not be exposed to our fields of research. This activity was arranged on relatively short-notice so that we would coincide with Polar Week, but in a future AMA, we would like to involve even more researchers and schedule enough time in advance to better promote the session to get more public involvement.

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