Three questions with… Alice!

Our lab is growing! In our Three Questions series, we’re profiling each of our members and the amazing work they’re doing.

In this week’s post, PhD student and writer Alice Fleerackers shares her thoughts on managing the ScholCommLab blog, learning through collaboration, and letting commitments go. 

Q#1 What are you working on at the lab? 

The TLDR version? I communicate research and I research communication. 

The longer version is that I wear a lot of hats at the lab—and one of them is managing this blog! This part of my job can be a little awkward at times—“interviewing” yourself for a blog post is definitely not something I’d recommend—but it can also be super rewarding. I’ve loved getting to know all of our members a little better through the blog, especially via this series. I feel like I learn something new with every post. 

In addition to my communications hat, I’m a PhD student at the lab. My research interests are pretty broad, and they’ve led me to a bunch of interesting projects at the intersections of health communication, digital journalism, scholarly communication, and science communication. One of the best things about the lab is how different everyone’s interests are. As someone who is constantly curious, collaborating on other people’s projects has been an amazing way to explore. 

Q#2 Tell us about a recent paper, presentation, or project you’re proud of. 

I’m really proud of our recent paper in Health Communication, which came out in early January. For that project, I worked with Michelle Riedlinger, Laura Moorhead, Rukhsana Ahmed, and Juan Pablo Alperin to analyze how COVID-19-related preprints—unreviewed research papers—were portrayed in online media stories published during the early months of the pandemic.

I was surprised to find that about half of the media stories we analyzed didn’t communicate the unverified nature of the preprints they cited. But I was even more surprised to see how widely our findings resonated. This paper has sparked conversations about preprints among journalists, scientists, news readers, and many others. I’m excited to see where those conversations might lead in the future. 

Q#3 What’s the best (or worst) piece of advice you’ve ever received? 

When I was in my early(er) 20s, I was a web editor for a local magazine called SAD Mag. It was a really rewarding gig—I got to work with great people, support emerging writers, and review theatre, dance, and art shows (all for free!). I even had a chance to interview my teenage hero, Dan Savage

But it was also a volunteer gig, and one that I eventually no longer had time for. For months, I delayed leaving, terrified to tell my creative director that I had to move on. I shouldn’t have. In our parting conversation, she gave me a piece of advice that I will always remember: “If something is no longer serving you, let it go.” 

That conversation taught me that there are only so many hours in a day. It’s up to us to use them wisely. 

Read more by Alice at her online writing portfolio or find her on Twitter at @FleerackersA