Crafting your scientist brand

by Peter J. Hotez

That a scientist might shape and cultivate a personal brand is a relatively new concept but one that is finding increasing acceptance in this new age of rapid communications and social media. A key driver is the abrupt rise in well-funded and organized antiscience movements, especially in North America and Europe, such that society now benefits from scientists with strong personal brands and public personas who are willing to engage general audiences. In this sense, branding itself can advance science, the sharing of information, and the promotion of science as a public good. Still another dimension to branding is that it affords an opportunity to mentor younger scientists and helps you to become an important role model for the next generation. There is also a practical side, as today, fewer scientists spend their entire career at a single institution, so owning a strong brand can sometimes create easier paths for transitions and mobility. However, brand cultivation ideally begins in collaboration with your institutional office of communications and is done in a way that is seen as a win for both you and your university or research institution. Described here are some steps to consider when embarking on brand cultivation and how to avoid some of the potential pitfalls.

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