Week 1: The Importance of Connection

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Sunday, June 6, 2021


Hannah Wistrand

In my short 4 days here with APS, I have already dared to develop a theme for my summer - connection. In this modern time of teleworking and my work with APS in social networking and collaborative social campaigns, that theme finds a natural home. But in my first week, I have also experienced the value of connection on a much more personal level.


Going into this week, I was excited to meet everyone and work with my new team. I didn’t realize just how much time each day would be spent alone. In reading through past blogs, I became more defeated as it sank in how not “in the same city” all the interns would be this summer. But I am determined to give that traditional glimpse into the life of an SPS intern - just maybe with a modern spin from the chair in my bedroom while my neighbor mows his lawn outside my window. The first couple of days were tricky as I tried to navigate how to connect with the other interns and I did feel pretty isolated. But I’m really looking forward to activities like Bad Physics Movie Night on Friday to build those connections, and don’t worry, I’m sure we’ll still be exploring our own cities to find the best burger places and museums as well - I’ll be sure to include those recommendations as past interns have for DC. And while working from home may have its shortcomings, I think most of my fellow interns can agree on one perk - so many pets! 


All considered, this week I really have learned how much I value connection, especially interdisciplinary connection - a sentiment that has been the glue between myself and the amazing people I have met this week. Many important connections and revelations are made when people of diverse backgrounds work together. From my wonderful mentor, Claudia Fracchiolla to the media director of social media for the public engagement team, to Dr. David Helfand who spoke to the SPS interns at lunch on Thursday about his work at Columbia University to introduce science to non-scientists in the “Misinformation Age”, to the other interns, I have seen each individual really working hard to build those connections and share in that value of interdisciplinary cooperation. 


My work this summer focuses on utilizing those connections to have meaningful, productive conversations to combat the spread of misinformation. Being able to see the enthusiasm all these people have for improving their communication skills and developing their network has really reinforced my excitement to be working on this project. I have spent this first week researching misinformation, productive discussion tactics, and current events to determine the reasons people have for believing anything they hear. 


I am looking forward to jumping right in, sink or swim - but either way learning to breathe - and working with the American Physical Society to develop new ways of communicating with the science and general communities through important, and sometimes difficult, conversations.

Hannah Wistrand