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You've Been Scienced: Communicating Military Science and Technology with Social Media

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The Department of Defense launched the weekly podcast, Armed with Science, to provide meaningful information to the public about the importance of science and technology to military operations. The program features live interviews with scientists, administrators, and other subject matter experts who discuss cutting-edge scientific research and development, as well as related topics such as science policy, science education, and history. Armed with Science leverages creative talent from an array of Defense Department print, video, and social media assets, and spans over 50 scientific organizations across the federal government.

Social media is used to engage the show’s audience in a reciprocal dialogue, collect feedback, and take questions live during shows. Often, an interview explores sensitive topics with national security implications or topics that are considered too technical for a general audience. Thus, the success of Armed with Science relies on coordination between public affairs colleagues throughout the federal government to identify topics and choose interviewees who can make science understandable to a diverse audience.

In the spirit of scientific pursuits, Armed with Science embraces the model of experimentation, pushing the limits of what technologies and approaches can be used to engage the public. In 2010, the podcast will expand to a broader science hub that includes video and blog contributions from Defense Department scientists, as well user-generated content from the public.

John Ohab

US Department of Defense, Public Web

Dr. John Ohab is a new technology strategist at the US Department of Defense, where he helps guide the planning and delivery of technology initiatives for the Public Web Program. John also hosts the Defense Department’s weekly science and technology podcast, “Armed with Science: Research and Applications for the Modern Military,” which received the 2009 APEX Award for Publication Excellence and the PR News Non-Profit Award.

John received his B.S. in Biopsychology from UC Santa Barbara in 2002 and his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from UCLA in 2007. His doctoral work in Dr. S. Thomas Carmichael’s lab focused on the role of adult neural stem cells in brain repair after stroke. John joined the Defense Department as a Science and Technology Policy Fellow with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 2008. He was previously an AAAS Fellow at the National Institute of Mental Health.

John was born and raised in Tempe, Arizona, experienced a moderately successful run in high school varsity tennis, and would do anything for one Arizona Cardinals Super Bowl victory. Now in the Washington D.C. area, John is active in a variety of community endeavors, including work as a citizen forester with Casey Trees, and is a regular contributor to The Science Cheerleader blog.

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