16 January 2018

Time Scavengers is a web community exploring Earth’s climate and life through deep time

Posted by Shane Hanlon

By Adriane Lam & Jen Bauer

Adriane Lam (left) and Jen Bauer (right) examining an outcrop in West Virginia on the way home from the Southeastern Geological Society of America section meeting in 2014.

It was a cold, dreary day in December, not even two weeks after the 2016 election. We were two graduate students, Adriane and Jen, and were both down in the dumps, feeling deflated and wondering what direction our country would go in next. More than anything, we were both frustrated with the media, public, and country in general. Furthermore, we were completely discouraged and appalled at the general lack of care and understanding regarding climate change. It was on this December night that Adriane finally decided to present an idea for outreach and education to Jen. From this one text, the education outreach and science communication website Time Scavengers was born.

It took six months to develop content and set up the website, but in July 2017, we finally released Time Scavengers to the public! The original purpose of the site was to remediate some of the geoscience-related issues that are prevalent in our society today; specifically, lack of climate change and evolution understanding and the public’s inability to name a single living scientist.

Now, the site has grown to include over 30 static pages with information about climate change and evolution that include newly created or modified figures to better explain concepts. We curate six blog components and nine site collaborators that help build and add content. A few of our blogs include ‘Meet the Scientist’, where we post profiles of different scientists biweekly; ‘Field Excursions’, a place to showcase the fun fieldwork we are involved in, and ‘Science Bytes’, where we explain different aspects of our research and how we obtain our data.

An example figure from the ‘Geologic Time’ page on understanding astrochronology to date specific rocks. Adriane created this figure to aid as a visual representation of the descriptive text in the section. By creating comprehensive figures, such as this, we hope that more users are given a better understanding of the content.

Time Scavengers is a resource for the public, educators, and other scientists to explore for information on geology, climate change, evolution, and paleontology. In a time where the internet is filled with misinformation, it is very important that scientists take part in helping the digital public learn through properly curated scientific content. Developing content for Time Scavengers has helped us hone our science communication skills and social media marketing. We are more mindful of the language we use for specific content and how we reach a broader audience. For those interested in getting started in science communication, of any kind, we suggest reaching out to blogs like Time Scavengers, the Female Scientist, and others that allow guest blogs. This is a fantastic way to practice your sci-comm skills in a comfortable and productive space.

Join the Time Scavengers community on Twitter or Facebook!

-Adriane R. Lam is a Ph.D. candidate studying paleoceanography at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Jennifer E. Bauer is a Ph.D. candidate studying paleontology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville