Season 3

Episode 11 – Bonus Episode – Midseason Catchup & Poll Results

Episodes 9 and 10 Episodes list Episodes 12 and 13

Today’s episode is a scheduled break from our regular programming. Srinath and Bea introduce two new hosts of the podcast, Xiaoran and Juli, and together they discuss their topics of interest and plans for the upcoming podcast episodes.
They also talk about the results of last weeks’ Twitter and Instagram polls and get to know the audience a bit better. We hope you enjoy the episode, and thanks a lot to all for participating in the polls!

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Srinath: Hello and welcome to Offspring Magazine the Podcast! I’m your host, Srinath Ramkumar. You’ve missed my voice, haven’t you? This week we’re here with all the other hosts and we’re gonna do something different – it’s gonna be a slightly different episode where we’re gonna talk about some statistics, and about what’s up, what’s coming in the future for the podcast. So let’s jump straight into it! With me today is Bea…

Bea: Hi!

S: Who you’ve heard of a lot from the past few weeks, I guess, right? You’ve been doing some new episodes?

B: Yeah, I guess, past few months.

S: Past few months? Yeah, exactly, true, ever since season three started, I would say.

B: Yeah, I’d say, what is it, like, ten or eleven episodes right now, season three? Obviously, Srinath, you did a few… yeah.

S: But it’s going pretty well, then?

B: Well, I hope so. The listeners should definitely comment on whether they think it’s going well or not. I think it’s been interesting. 

S: Definitely.

B: But I hope that other people have enjoyed it.

S: Yeah, sure. And with us we also have Xiaoran.

Xiaoran: Hello! I’m Xiaoran. So far you didn’t hear my voice from the podcast. But I’m sure in the near future you will hear me. And I’m not sure, shall I tell them my, like, interest topic?

S: We’ll get to that, we’ll get to that. 

X: Okay, then, that’s it. 

S: Yeah, no worries. And, of course, Juli.

Juli: Yes, hi! I’m Juli. You haven’t heard my voice either yet. But, hopefully, soon you’ll be hearing a lot more from me.

S: That’s very nice to hear. And so I guess like the team is now really focused, so to speak, on bringing new content. And I guess it’s always good to have people with motivation and good ideas for where to take the podcast forward. Speaking of which, Bea what was your most interesting episode over the past few months?

B: That’s very very hard because they were just all very different. I definitely went more out of my comfort zone this season. Especially with the climate change episodes. Only two are out, the other two with Jochem Marotzke, also from the MPI of Meteorology, are coming out next week. That was definitely very interesting and different for me to talk about. I did my first episode on, more of a careers type episode, which I never really did because I always stuck to science. So that was also really interesting and out of my comfort zone. So yeah, it’s really hard to say, I really enjoyed them all.

S: Yeah, definitely. I mean, I think it’s pretty interesting that there are so many people who are actually, you know, open to talk science, right. And also really sort of engage in the conversation. Because I really enjoyed the episode with Satchin Panda. Also because, you know, this, the book that he’s written, the books, I should say, that he’s written, are they pretty fascinating and they have, they sort of have a cult following of their own within certain circles, for sure. And it’s pretty interesting how, you know, like, scientists are actually willing to speak out more about their science, they just need a platform to do so, and yeah…

B: Exactly, I thought it was also really interesting, the two episodes on climate change with Bjorn Stevens, and the ones also that are coming out with Jochem, what I just really appreciated from those episodes is the fact that they were also willing to speak their opinions. And we really dove deep into what their thought was, not just, you know, the research that they do, but really their own opinions on this subject matter. Which is very refreshing.

S: I mean, that’s the thing, right, like, when someone does science, you don’t expect them to be a scientist and forget the human being who’s doing the science, and human being who does science has opinions. I mean I agree, it’s good to, sort of, get certain aspects of how one feels about certain topics out and make it clear to the public when you’re talking about these topics. Anyway, let’s get off a bit about opinions and opinion podcasting because I think that’s a rabbit hole we don’t want to go too deep into. And let’s go to Xiaoran, so what’s coming up next? What are your plans? What topics are you interested in covering?

X: My most interesting topic actually is about diversity. And I think I will do two episodes about this, like, about ethnical diversity and the gender equality. I said backwards, so I’m really focused on the gender equality but yeah, and I’m also interested in diversity, actually. I think I also do one episode about career plans, so on, for the, I don’t know, PhD students, because I think it’s quite important for us so far.

S: Yeah, for sure, for sure. But when you mention diversity, are you already in contact with some people to talk about this? Or do you plan to… 

X: Yeah, yeah.

S: Okay, that’s nice.

X: I got the reply from professor Stephen. He’s from Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, so… but the email duration is a kind of long, in his payday, but I think I will get an appointment sooner or later.

S: Oh, definitely. Yeah, I mean, I think it’s pretty cool that like we’re taking a scientific approach to it, in this way, like you’re talking to scientists about diversity, I mean I think that’s pretty interesting. I think that’s going to be a banger of an episode. Juli?

B: I definitely, sorry if I could just quickly contribute? We will also, obviously, at the end of this episode, we’ll be talking about all these Instagram and Twitter questions that we put out over the last week, but I did put one of the questions which was, you know, trying to give everyone the chance to tell us what kind of topics they were interested in, and someone specifically wrote that they would be interested in having a podcast about the gender gap in science. So maybe, Xiaoran, that is also something for you to keep in mind.

X: Yeah, yeah. I think last time I went to the Belgium for participating in one conference and I got intact with the… I don’t like “female scientists”, this word, but I have to say this word now because it’s specifically, then, they told me a lot of stories about discrimination they got during their careers. And they’re quite famous professors now but they still get discriminated now. So I would like to have one episode to talk about this kind of stories nowadays. It’s not happened in five years ago or 10 years ago, nowadays. I was really, I don’t know I couldn’t imagine it’s still happening now.

S: Yeah, I mean, definitely, I think it’s this is a very pressing issue, right. And it’s it’s so unfortunate that it continues to happen in today’s climate but it still does. And I think that’s… yeah. But it’s good, it’s good that at least we’re trying to shed some light on what’s going on, right, that’s pretty good.

X: Yeah, sometimes I think from the female perspective, you know, from the male perspective, they cannot feel this… maybe they’re doing it but they are really not aware of their behaviors. So if we tell these stories, then maybe they will be aware of behaviors they are doing. Maybe they didn’t do it like on purpose.

S: Definitely. I mean, I think the whole thing comes back to what is, you know, what has been normalized and what should be normalized. Like, you know, what is acceptable behavior and what has been considered acceptable so far. So I think these are topics that definitely we need to, sort of, dive a bit more deeper and understand to, sort of, you know, bring it forward anyway. Juli? Now, so you’re an astrophysicist, right, so?

Juli: That’s correct. 

S: And do you wanna go ahead and talk about your interests and what kind of episodes you wanna do?

J: Yeah, I have a couple of ideas, none of them are super concrete yet. And I, like, I have some names in my head of people that I want to ask to do a podcast but I haven’t contacted them yet. But I have a bunch of ideas because I noticed that physics is lacking from the contents of this podcast. And I’m excited definitely introduce it and introduce these topics to the podcast.

S and B: Definitely. 

J: And yeah, so I do astroparticle physics. So that’s probably where I’m going to start. Because I just feel the most comfortable in that area. And I think it’s of great interest to the general public, as well. So yeah, I have a bunch of ideas to maybe do a little serious about black holes and just talk about all the different kind of ways we observe them, and we learn from them, and what we know, and what we don’t know. And I mean, it’s a huge topic, there’s… I think you could talk about that for hours and hours on end. 

S: I mean I think we need to make a series out of that.

J: Yeah, I think so too. Because there’s just so much. 

S: It’s like, you know, like “star wars. The force awakens”, like “the nerd awakens”, you know. Like, as soon as you say “black holes”, I’m alert, I’m thinking already, “okay, what’s happening?”

J: Yeah, yeah, it’s, like, people are so fascinated by them. And actually, like, alone within the Max Planck society, there’s so many different institutes that do astronomy and astrophysics, and study black holes in different ways. And I think yeah, that alone is a great resource of amazing scientists in our society to just talk to them about it and learn a lot. And yeah, so that’s definitely something I want to do. I have to try and figure out some sort of, you know, structure and outline for the series and how I want to do it but yeah, I’m excited to make that happen.

S: Sounds great.

B: I mean, this definitely fits, also it definitely fits with the Twitter poll, since when we asked on Twitter, “what kind of science-based topics people were most interested in?”. On Twitter, people’s 39% of the people said that they would be most interested in hearing a podcast about physics and astronomy. So there you go.

J: Plus, it’s the coolest of all sciences.

S: I would hold off on that.

X: I would also like to hold off on that. 

S: I mean aren’t black holes, like, super hot?

J: Oh, well, they’re surrounding, for sure.

S: All right. Okay, so, wait, just a small clarification, because I remember last season I was discussing with lea about her science… are you two from the same lab? Or at least same institute?

J: We are. Her office is next to mine.

S: Okay.

J: So yeah, we basically… what we study is very closely related. Although she focuses more on yeah, a different type of astrophysical source, class, I would say.

S: I see. Yeah, do you also go to the islands to visit…

J: La Palma? Yeah, yeah.

S: Oh my god.

J: Yes, I do, yeah.

S: Ain’t that the life. Anyway. Okay, so let’s move into the poll that Bea has been sort of teasing already a little bit. So, maybe you want to go ahead and, you know, talk about the first question that we asked? Because I remember, this is a poll that we wanted to do for a while. And we did it on Instagram and Twitter, right? And I guess we got some answers on Twitter? And Instagram, I mean also the people who voted on Instagram are, like, there was no option to not have a correct answer so it was, you know… so we’re sorry for that. Maybe we figured out another way to do it next time, but you know…

B: Yeah, our *Instagram has not updated yet so we still have the old *Instagram, can’t do anything about it. But hopefully, for the next poll, it’ll change. But yeah, so a little bit of a background, like Srinath said: we wanted to do this poll. And, like, I think the main reason why we wanted to do it was to try to engage with our listeners: try to see, you know, who are you? What are the topics that you’re most interested in? What kind of content do you want us to be releasing in the future? And these polls were really helpful, so thank you to everyone that participated. Instagram was definitely the most successful, since we had way more engagement on Instagram than we did on Twitter. But that’s fine. It is definitely clear that the overwhelming majority so, specifically, 91% of everyone that participated in our polls works in science. So we are dealing here with lots of scientists. 

S: I mean, that’s not surprising.

B: Yeah, so everyone is definitely science-based. What’s a bit more interesting is that, it’s not like everyone’s interested in only listening about scientific research. So only 38% actually told us they were interested in podcasts on scientific research. There was quite a few people that were also interested in hearing about the PhD life, careers, and diversity and equal opportunity. So that was interesting to learn about. But back to the people, 73% are PhD or postdocs. So if you talk to us about our target group, it’s definitely PhDs and postdocs. 

S: I mean, again, I wouldn’t say this is a really surprising finding but it’s definitely, sort of, it puts into perspective why we create content the way we do. Because we are PhDs ourselves and our target audience has also been to the PhDs and postdocs. Although the podcast is available throughout the world, throughout, you know, different media, you know, and also for people of all walks of life. But it’s quite obvious that we… I mean if you found the episodes a bit, sort of, hybrid with certain types of rhetoric, it’s probably because that’s the way we think and that’s the way people around us think as well. But anyway, yeah, I’ll let you continue, I don’t want to interrupt your flow there.

B: Yeah, I mean, you’re… no, no worries, you’re definitely right that this, even though the statistic is not unsurprising, it definitely helps us knowing what content to release. I think particularly about careers. Because I think we really mainly need to be talking about careers for PhD and postdocs, which is obviously a lot different than if you’re just talking about careers to undergraduates or, you know, whatever. So that was good. When we did the poll on where people listen to our episodes, over 75% of our listeners listen on Spotify. There was actually not so much viewing on YouTube. So I’m hoping that maybe we can increase that, since videos are sometimes a really nice way to look at podcasts, it helps you understand them. But yeah, so Spotify is definitely the clear winner there. And I mean, then we get into the more specific questions, which was specifically “what kind of science-based topics people would be interested to hear about?”. And as I mentioned, on Twitter, interestingly, most people were interested in physics and astronomy. On Instagram, we got slightly different results. There, most people were interested in mental and physical health, and biology, evolution, and medicinal research. So those were kind of like main topics.

S: I think this disparity could probably be attributed to the fact that biologists are more on Instagram and physicists are more on Twitter? I don’t know. I would say I’m an exception because I’m more on Twitter than Instagram but, you know, anyway. 

B: But I think…

S: This is what… No, go ahead, sorry.

B: This is why we do in-person episodes. It’s a big difference.

S: Okay, so what I just wanted to add was: it’s different audience from different platforms. Does not mean the topics… so like, again, we only had four choices. Definitely, there’s gonna be a lot more topics out there, which are more interesting for people as well. So this was just, again, it was not something that we’re going to completely focus on, just because we got these results. It’s going to be something that is going to help us enhance the product that we produce, which is these podcasts. Anyway, Bea, just go ahead, this is what I wanted to add.

B: Yeah, exactly. I think what we can see is that, in the end, people are interested in a wide range of topics. And so there’s not one clear winner, where we’re like, “okay, tomorrow we need to be recording an episode on this”. In the end, the interest is so wide that I think the way we’re doing it now, you know, publishing on all different areas of science is probably the best way to reach the majority of our audience. On the other hand, when we asked about non-science-based topics, there was a clear winner for interest in careers in industry. There was also quite a lot of interest in careers in science and funding, but it was mainly the industrial careers that people were interested in hearing about. So this is where I think we will be focusing on, in the upcoming season and a couple of weeks, actually, and we’ll try to produce more episodes on that.

S: Yeah, I mean, another thing that I want to add on here is, because, I mean, I recently attended another conference, where most PhDs I spoke to are interested in actually not continuing in academia. And most of them are more interested in what’s out there in the industry for them as PhDs, as highly skilled people with, like… I mean again our PhD life, as day to days, is a different type of let’s say learning, a different type of upbringing. And I think it’s quite interesting that there’s this huge exodus of PhDs from academia. And I guess, this also brings into light some of the episodes that we did really early on into the podcast, like in the season one, where we were doing interviews with people like Paula Stephan and people like Peter Sueber. So these were really early episodes. So in case you missed them, I would highly recommend that you revisit these. Because these are topics that we decided to focus on quite early on because we noticed that many people who were actually, you know, we were younger PhDs then and many people who were actually planning to leave academia, back in those days, were already showing this trend of leaving academia because of the state of academia. So if that’s something that you’re interested in, I would say, revisit these old episodes. And definitely that could probably give you an idea of why we think taking the podcast in this particular… why we ask this particular question as well about non-scientific topics. Anyway…

B: If we ever have a break, where we don’t currently have an episode to release, I think a good idea would be to maybe re-release those season one episodes on careers.

S: I mean we would definitely re-publicize them but not re-release them, yeah. So they are already released, they are out there. But we would re-publicize them and re-post those episodes. For sure, yeah. Anyway, and what was the last question?

B: So I mean, that was basically it. There were a few other questions where we asked people like, “how do you find out about our episodes?” most people said Instagram and LinkedIn. But the poll was also done on Instagram. So I’m not sure how much we can interpret from that. And when we ask people how often they listen, there was no one really that said they listen to our episodes all the time. I do not blame anyone since I don’t…

S: You know, like, I wanna say, so, like, word of mouth publicity, generally, has been very good for our podcast. Because I know a lot of people in my lab, because of the way I’ve kind of pushed the podcast on to them, like, ever since I started it, like, many years ago. A lot of people in the lab are actually asking, “hey, okay, when’s the next episode? Why is it on Fridays now, what happened? Why is it not on Mondays or Wednesdays?” so, I mean, there are some people who actually look forward to the new episode which comes out every week. But that being said, that is a very few number of people. And definitely, I don’t listen to every episode of a podcast that I’m following. I mean other than the offspring podcast either. So I would listen to it the same.

B: Exactly, yeah.  

X: For me, I just, I always listen to the every episode in the morning, after I brushed my teeth. Then, okay, now it’s time. And I cannot finish one episode. But I just often also feel, “okay, every week, it’s not that much”. Because at the end of week, “oh, I didn’t have anything to listen to”, but yeah…

S: Yeah, I mean, like, so I would also want to add that. Like, when people say, “oh, people’s attention span is so low”, I would say, “no, it’s not the attention span that is low, it’s that the way to keep people interested, that is low”. I mean people willingly listen to three hours of Joe Rogan speak stuff, you know. That doesn’t stop him from getting listens. It’s just that we… it’s just that we need to identify topics that bring forth retention of listening. Anyway.

J: Do you have any statistics on like which past episodes did really well in terms of numbers of listeners?

B: Yeah, so maybe Srinath you can get up the numbers where we can check it?

S: Yes, I am doing it now.

B: And in the meantime, I did ask on Instagram, what episode, what was people’s favorite episode of season three. Unfortunately, no one replied to me so I don’t have any statistics. I mean, also, generally, season three is quite new right. So generally, I mean this is a trend we’ve noticed because most episodes start to get traction a few months after release. I mean there’s an initial peak and then, a few months later, someone’s suddenly interested in the topic and then you get a lot of lessons on specific topics. So I would say, right now, like, some of the most listened to episodes are, like, the very first episode, like, season one, episode one. And then, like, the interview we did with Philip Detmer from Kurzgesagt, season two episode 25. And then, also, like, if you go to YouTube, like, of course, like, having big celebrities really helps. Like, for example, Bea’s interview with Ben List, so the Nobel Prize winner, Ben List, is doing really well on YouTube. Also the interview with Neil Tyson is doing quite well. And on the other hand, like, with season three, like, certain episodes are already doing, like, really well, like, for example, the very first episode, the diabetes one, and also the Satchin Panda one, are actually, they’re doing really well. And also a lot of people are interested in starting a company after their PhD. So that was a really, like, a well-received episode. And that it’s not surprising, right. Because it’s, again, it’s highly topic-dependent. And more often than not, our listens have a weird curve: nobody listens to it immediately but then eventually they come around. So I mean, that’s also quite interesting. I mean, I would say, like, you know, generally in my day-to-day life, if I’m working on the bench where my hands are occupied and it’s a bit more mechanical work for me, I would listen to a podcast. But if I’m sitting at my computer and writing or something, I cannot listen to something with spoken word because it really distracts you from writing or reading stuff. So I think it’s probably the same for… because, and since a vast majority of our listenership is from the scientific, like, PhD, postdoc, sort of, academic fields, I’m not surprised that people don’t immediately get on to listening to a certain episode because they’re probably busy. Anyway.

J: Yeah, I totally get that. We might get more now that the holiday season is coming up. Because I always listen to podcasts when I have like a long drive in my car or somewhere. Or, like, I’m traveling somewhere. Yeah, so we’ll see.

S: Anyway, I think that’s pretty much it for this episode. It was just a brief catch-up with everyone, I guess. And I think the survey was a short one but I think we’ll have a bit more detailed questions along with, I guess, the PhDnet survey which comes out later this year, right?

B: Exactly, definitely. Keep your eyes out on, like, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn for more of these polls, and ways in which we’re trying to engage with you. I think we will also maybe do a few live Instagram episodes, we’ve been thinking about that. So just stay tuned for those, keep your engagement high, we really appreciate it!

S: Anyway, thanks a lot for listening watching, whatever you’re doing, and stay tuned, we’ll be right back next week with the next episode! Until then stay safe, stay healthy, bye-bye!

All: Bye!
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