YouTube videos of 'research in action' foster diverse public interest in science

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Michael A. Gil


Globally, scientific enterprises seek to diversify interest and participation in STEM fields, to both provide equitable opportunities and to push research forward. However, diversity in STEM remains low in many institutions. Internet-based video has emerged as a dominant communication medium that scientists can use to communicate the motivations, process, and products of their work to a diverse, mass audience. Here I describe my use of internet-based video about my research and career as a marine biologist as a tool to inspire broad public interest in science. With my YouTube videos, I have reached a diverse and growing global viewership, amassing >10,000 hours of watch time at the time of this writing. Viewer surveys revealed that my videos have improved individual perceptions about science and science careers, particularly among women and minority groups. I conclude that the emergence of internet-based video as a dominant, ever-expanding communication medium provides an unprecedented but largely untapped opportunity for scientists to broadly communicate their research and to inspire diverse interest in STEM careers.

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