Starting a great conversation – Farewell and Thanks, Shaira Panela

This week we were delighted to go truly international on Real Scientists, hosting science journalist Shaira Panela, who hails from the beautiful islands of the Philippines. Right off the mark, Shai was bombarded with questions about her country and her work as a science journalist.  Coming from a science degree, Shai actually started out wanting to be a pilot but ended up being a reporter. Being a journo is something she is clearly REALLY GOOD at since she won a LaSallian Scholar Award for her reporting on Circus Science!


Brilliant work, Shai!  The work awarded was a 2-part series on science and technology education: Part 1 and Part 2

While talking about the challenges of increasing awareness of science and science journalism in the Philippines, Shai also started a great conversation about science communication and engagement.  I think it’s been one of the most wide-ranging discussions we’ve had on Real Scientists so far and refreshing to have a direct discussion between a journalist and scientists and the public on the challenges of reporting. As Shai pointed out, journalists are taught to be skeptical of everything. This is one thing journalists have in common with science.

Shai gave us a great feel for the rhythm of the newsroom and of what life in Manila is like, from taking the train reading a Stephen Hawking biography to covering an ASEAN workshop on climate change.

So many thanks to Shaira for her excellent week at Real Scientists. We always say that our most recent curator is our favourite so far, and it still stands true.  All the best with the continuing work and please be sure to follow Shai on her adventures on her twitter account, @ShaiPanela. You can also catch up with the weeks tweets through our Storifys: Part 1 and Part 2

Next up, we welcome Sam Arman, palaeontologist!

From the Philippines, Shaira Panela, science journalist joins Real Scientists

From Sydney, Australia to the Philippines, this week Real Scientists heads to South East Asia to spend the week with science  journalist, researcher and producer Shaira Panela/@ShaiPanela.


Shai started out studying for a science degree, when she was bitten by the journalism bug as a Sophomore in college.  After completing her degree, Shai found herself employed as a staff writer/reporter for a non-government organization called Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR).  In Shai’s own words:

At a very young age, I was given responsibilities greater than what I expected: I head projects and manage our websites and social media accounts. But of my one-year stay in the organization, the most fulfilling project I handled with my workmates is the Journalism Asia Forum 2010 where journalists from Southeast Asian nations went to the Philippines to talk about the culture of impunity and freedom of information and their repercussion in the media practice.

After working for CMFR, I also worked at one of the biggest networks in the Philippines, GMA Network Inc. I entered the network as a researcher for some of the major news programs like 24 Oras (24 Hours) and State of the Nation with Jessica Soho.

A year ago, Shai lstarted her Master’s in Journalism Fellowship at the Asian Center for Journalism of the Ateneo de Manila University.  While at GMA:

I covered science news events of the Department of Science and Technology, other government agencies and other companies. I also tried to put into news results of the new studies and innovations by Filipino scientists all over the globe, as well as international science news like the Higgs Boson discovery, Curiosity’s landing on Mars and the likes. One of my memorable stories includes the coverage of the monsoon rains in August 2012. I realized that science stories, especially disasters and weather events need context in reporting in the Philippines because reporters who are not really into science sometimes just echo what the official sources say, without necessarily giving proper context.

At the onset of 2013, a public affairs program in the same network hired me to replace their head researcher who is currently studying in Australia. Investigative Documentaries, a program airing once a week on television, exposes corruption and explains issues not really covered by the daily grind. My work as a head researcher lies on delegating tasks to researchers, editing and supervising their research briefs and editing and fact-checking scripts.

Recently, Shai was accepted into the World Federation of Science Journalists’ mentorship program, and is mentored by  Nicky Philips, a veteran Australia-based  science journalist.

The program, Science Journalism Cooperation – Asia, aims to help aspiring science journos to improve their skills and widen their horizon. By September 24, I’ll be heading to Vietnam for our first face-to-face meeting together with the rest of the participants.

My ultimate goal is to be a science reporter and to promote science journalism in the country as I believe that Filipinos need help from the media to increase their interest in science, technology and innovation.

Please welcome, Shai to Real Scientists!