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Western’s communication department launches new research focused Twitter account

Western Research grants and opportunities are being posted to the Twitter

A screenshot of the new Western research Twitter account homepage that went live Feb.17, 2021. Students and faculty can follow to see research opportunities and grants.
A screenshot of the new Western research Twitter account homepage that went live Feb.17, 2021. Students and faculty can follow to see research opportunities and grants. // Screenshot by Adriannah Roman

By Adriannah Roman

Interested in learning about new research opportunities? Western Washington University’s communications department has launched a brand new research-focused Twitter account. The Twitter page allows the Western community to learn about new research opportunities and promote student and faculty work. 

John Thompson, Western’s assistant director of communications, said the account launched Feb. 17 and is currently up and running with several posts on recent research done by students and faculty.

“If we can give current Western students information about research that’s going on that maybe helps them make their decision about a major, that’s great,” Thomspon said. “Or find out something cool about a lab they might want to work on or participate in with a faculty member, that’s great too.”

Thompson said the Twitter account’s primary goal is to connect students to research opportunities they might not have known about. 

Thompson also noted that Zoe Fraley, Western’s communications social media creator and communications consultant, researched how Western might use a Twitter research account and how other institutions might use it. 

“It seemed like a great way to share our research that we have happening on campus,” Fraley said. “There are all kinds of grants, research and projects that students and instructors are working on all the time.” 

Fraley said the communications department wanted a better method of sharing and receiving information about research.

“Twitter seemed like a great match for that because there’s lots of academia that shares and participates on Twitter in that research capacity,” Fraley said.

As the Twitter page feed grows, research done by faculty is identified. 

Alia Khan, an assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences, is featured in the second research post on the new Twitter account. 

Khan published her research on Gaia, which evaluated the relationship between snow algae and advanced melting snow in Antarctica. Gaia is an online journal of research, discovery and scholarship at Western that was produced by the Office of University Communications. Khan’s research was then shared to the Twitter account. 

“I am very appreciative that my research results are being shared with the public through WWU’s science communication channels,” Khan said. “My experience with my research posting is very positive.”

Khan said she believes the research account helps students know that faculty have ongoing research projects outside of teaching.

Alexander C. McCormick, senior associate director for the Center for Postsecondary Research at Indiana University Bloomington, said there are many ways that higher education institutions are involved in research, which benefits the students. 

“Research can be beneficial to students because being involved in research allows you to have first-hand experience with how knowledge is created,” McCormick said. “Students get to learn the components involved in conducting a survey and analyzing the results and so on.”

Colleges and universities like to find ways to involve themselves with students, and social media is one way they signal what is important and meaningful to them, McCormick said.   

“Social media can be used for so many different purposes,” McCormick said. “The key things are signaling and potentially promotion, attention and recognition of hard work.” 

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