Nature Marsilius Visiting ProfessorshipScience journalist Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim teaching at Universität Heidelberg

Press Release No. 114/2022
14 November 2022

The doctor of chemistry, moderator and author takes over the Nature Marsilius Visiting Professorship for Science Communication

Dr Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim, a multiple award-winning science journalist, television presenter and author of popular science books, is taking over the Nature Marsilius Visiting Professorship for Science Communication at Heidelberg University. The holder of a doctorate in chemistry, who reaches an audience of millions with her science channel maiLab on YouTube, is running a programme of seminars and workshops this winter semester addressed, in particular, to young researchers at Ruperto Carola. They are to be trained in making their work comprehensible to a general audience and contributing to a societal dialogue on the importance of science, research and transfer. In a public lecture on 8 December 2022, Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim will speak on “Superstar scientists – how hype and hate are changing science communication”.

Portrait der Wissenschaftsjournalistin Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim im Hochformat

As a researcher, how do I communicate with journalists in order to avoid a simplification or distortion of my statements? What options do scientists and scholars have to stay in control of the way their own work is represented? The seminar “Inside the mind of a journalist – understanding and navigating media” is meant to assist participants to put themselves in the shoes of journalists, understanding the incentives and goals they have in a vastly changing media landscape, and why the relationship between the media and science has never been more complicated than it is now. A second interactive seminar will deal with “Shit storms, death threats, love letters” in social media, and “A guide for researchers in public”. The workshop “Elevator pitch – the art of condensing” deals with the art of reducing a complex scientific topic to its essential statement.

The Nature Marsilius Visiting Professorship for Science Communication is a joint initiative of Holtzbrinck Berlin, the Klaus Tschira Foundation and Heidelberg University. It involves inviting well-known experts to the university to hold their own courses on what makes for high quality reporting about scholarly research and scientific findings. At the same time, the visiting professors are expected to spark a broad-based discussion about new forms of exchange between academia and the public. Previous incumbents of the visiting professorship include Sir Philip Campbell, long-standing editor-in-chief of the journal “Nature”, as well as science journalists Dagmar Röhrlich, Eva Wolfangel and Ionica Smeets.

Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim studied chemistry at the University of Mainz and spent time at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States. She did doctoral research at RWTH Aachen University, Harvard University in Cambridge / Massachusetts and the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research in Potsdam. Her studies of intelligent materials for biomedical applications earned her a doctorate from the University of Potsdam in 2017. Since then, Dr Nguyen-Kim has been active in many different ways as a science journalist and moderator. One of her shows was the WDR science programme “Quarks” and she is on the presenter team of the ZDF series “Terra X”. With her ZDFneo show “MaiThink X” she aims to take a clear-eyed look at emotionally fraught topics from the world of science. Furthermore, she produces YouTube channel “maiLab” for “funk”, the online programme of ARD and ZDF. The author of the books “Komisch, alles chemisch” (2019) and “Die kleinste gemeinsame Wirklichkeit: Wahr, falsch, plausibel?” (2021) was voted science journalist of the year in 2018 and awarded many prizes, including the Grimme Online Award and the Georg von Holtzbrinck Prize for Science Journalism. In 2020 she received the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.

The public lecture with Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim will take place on 8 December in Great Hall of the New University, starting at 7.30pm.

Information on the Foundation and Holtzbrinck Berlin

Klaus Tschira Stiftung

The German foundation Klaus Tschira Stiftung supports natural sciences, mathematics and computer science and the appreciation of these subjects. It was founded in 1995 by physicist and SAP co-founder Klaus Tschira (1940–2015) by private means. Its three priorities are: education, research and science communication. This commitment begins in kindergarten and continues in schools, universities and research institutions throughout Germany. The foundation advocates the dialogue between science and society.

Holtzbrinck Berlin

Holtzbrinck Berlin – Inspire Together is part of ZEIT Publishing Group and Holtzbrinck Publishing Group. Since 1994 Holtzbrinck Berlin, together with selected partners, encourages a responsible and sophisticated discourse surrounding pressing topics of the present and future. A focus lies on facilitating communication between experts in science, the humanities, and the public, as well as creating digital campaigns and conceiving and implementing a variety of events in the field of literature, science, culture, and society.