Twenty Thousand…and Counting!

By Melissa Anley-Mills

@EPAresearch 20,000 followers graphicI remember the day we started our twitter account, @EPAresearch. An amazing opportunity to tag along with an EPA researcher conducting ecosystems and human health fieldwork in the beautiful forests of Connecticut had just come up for myself and a fellow member of the science communications team.

As communications folks, we were salivating. We would take photos and write about the research with excitement and passion, but we also wanted to be able to bring EVERYBODY into the woods with us to have a peek into this fascinating EPA research project.

“Microblogging” and the “tweetosphere” were just gaining traction and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to give it a try. But I was a bit worried. Would I have cellphone coverage so I could tweet from the forest? Would it be possible? I decided to strap on my rubber boots and give it a try. It would be our field experiment.  (It turned out pretty good, I think:

Since then we’ve live tweeted three years of EPA research news. Highlights have included People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) college student competitions on the National Mall, speeches of our VIPs, the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (where we’ve given our Patrick H. Hurd Sustainability Award), and the fun and science learning from our booths at two USA Science and Engineering Festivals.

We’ve answered countless twitter questions, hosted behind-the-scenes lab tours for ScienceOnline participants, and just launched the My Air, My Health Challenge with HHS. We’ve shared our own research and learned about complementary efforts supporting EPA’s mission to protect public health and the environment from our many EPA partners.

Today marks a milestone. We have reached 20,000 science followers!

To say thank you, we’re inviting you to send us (more) science and engineering questions via twitter. Tag them with this hashtag: #20Ksf. We will pick 20 questions to do something a little different from our usual tweeted responses. (Hint: it might involve audio of our scientists and perhaps a little creative artwork.)

Intrigued?  We’ll use our creativity to share our researchers’ answers.  Ask away using #20Ksf.

So stop the summer brain drain, think about what you might want to learn from an EPA scientist or engineer and ask us a question about science or engineering using #20Ksf!

Join us on twitter ( and be part of the online science conversation.  Don’t use twitter but want to be part of the discussion? We’ll also select some questions tagged #20Ksf from the comment section below.

Looking forward to your questions and to the discussions that we’ll have as we head for 40,000 enthusiastic science followers—and beyond!

About the Author: Melissa Anley-Mills manages the @EPAresearch twitter account and serves up information about EPA’s scientists and researchers 140 characters (or less) at a time!

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