Documenting the Status of the Biological World in the Wake of COVID-19

Andrew Kanes

Abstract

COVID-19 has dramatically shifted the daily proceedings of almost every industry and field imaginable throughout the first half of 2020, and the biological field is no exception. It is difficult to understand the breadth of biological careers and concentrations affected by the pandemic without painstaking research, but modern techniques make it possible to provide primary insight on the issues that a variety of professionals face. Podcasts have become a staple form of entertainment and learning for countless people in recent years; thus, a hypothesis was formed that such a medium could be used to create a “hub” for information related to the current state of the biological field. This project consisted of thorough research regarding the numerous fields and careers related to biology, and this research was deployed in the search for professionals in their respective fields. Ideal candidates for the project were willing and excited to discuss their expertise in a given subject over a conversational recorded zoom session, precisely in the format of a podcast. Each episode would go on to be published on a Youtube channel in order to create the previously- mentioned “hub” of information. The podcast format proved to be a successful method for recording and publicizing first-hand accounts of the adversity that various industries related to biology face, and the conversational nature of this podcast created a conjunction of educational and entertainment value. The biological field is widespread and complex, but the status of its industries in the wake of COVID-19 can still be presented to the public in a thorough and entertaining manner. Podcasting has gone viral in recent years due to its combination of user-friendly educational and entertainment value, and the ability of such a medium to contribute to the biological field should not be underestimated.

Introduction

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused professionals within every field and industry to rethink the importance of modern technology within their daily proceedings. The capabilities of video conferencing and other online resources have given humanity the advantage of communication without physical contact in a time when face-to-face interaction can be considered potentially deadly. Academic institutions now pursue online instruction in order to ensure the safety of their students and staff, but many have concerns that online learning will not be an effective medium through which to convey information. The creation of a series of educational podcasts centered around topics in biology sought to challenge that idea through documenting a wide array of topics in biology and the effects of COVID-19 on them.

Materials and Methods

Zoom video conferencing software served as an ideal medium through which to record podcasts due to its ease of access and its inclusive recording feature. The host used a lapel microphone and earbuds for higher quality audio, but guests were typically able to produce adequate audio via the on-board microphones in their computers. Potential guests were contacted by email with a message describing the goals of the project and their potential contributions should they agree to appear in an episode.

Results

A series of eight podcasts were filmed featuring members of Clemson’s Bewick Research Lab and additional guests within the community of biology, ecology, and animal science. Each episode ran for approximately one hour with an average deviation of about ten minutes in either direction.

Conclusions

This summer’s series of podcasts suggested the notable power of online resources to convey information within the realm of biological sciences. Despite the inability of individuals to communicate in person due to the dangers of COVID-19, podcasting can serve as a valuable tool to discuss subjects in biology via an online format. The conversational nature of these recordings challenges the one-dimensional nature of lecturing and allows guests and listeners alike to make unique perceptions of the subject matter at hand. The podcast was also successful in demonstrating the breadth of COVID-19’s effects on the world of ecology through the experiences of the diversity of guests featured. Additional episodes will only further the database of knowledge available in regard to COVID-19 and the biological world, and streaming future episodes live may allow for a more interactive experience on the part of listeners through the integration of a live comment section. Individuals wishing to record their own podcasts should keep in mind the battery life of mobile devices and the time limitations of basic video conferencing packages, as failure to take these variables into account may result in unexpected pauses while recording.

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