Researchers dodge bears, fend off venomous insects, endure dangerous weather and even more dangerous people — all in the name of science. This week, they took to Twitter to talk about their close calls in remote locations, and the hashtag #FieldWorkScares was born.
"Someone mentioned that the stress of fieldwork made every little thing scary which I agreed with so I created the #FieldworkScares as a way of showcasing this," ecologist Scott Davidson, told The Verge via direct message. But while some shared photos and stories about false alarms, others gave scary insights into the real risks of fieldwork. Risks, like itchy corn rashes and stumbling across cars filled with dead pigs. Also bears.
Got lost in corn field & a blade of corn hit my eye. Pain, can't see, itchy corn rash, panicked & barreling thru the corn #FieldWorkScares— Audrey Maran (@AudreyMaran) September 29, 2016
#FieldWorkScares Searching at night for darted kangaroo, stumble on dead, clothed pigs seated in wrecked car - part of forensics study.— Andrea Fuller (@AndreaFuller06) September 30, 2016
But a darker theme emerged, too. No matter how remote the location, unsafe the weather, or infected the bug bite — other people are the scariest things around. The data backs that up: in a 2014 study, more than 20 percent of people who responded to an online survey reported being sexually assaulted while doing fieldwork.
My worst #FieldWorkScares involved men harassing me. Once had to threaten bearspray to get 'em to back down, fired all when back at camp— Mika McKinnon (@mikamckinnon) September 28, 2016
drunk ppl driving up next to your remote campsite and parking beside your tent #FieldWorkScares— Amanda Liczner (@aliczner) September 29, 2016
Even as they one-upped each other, scientists pointed out that swapping stories shouldn’t encourage a culture of toughness. "#FieldWorkScares remind us there are #researchers putting their bodies on the line for #science.We take precautions but there r always risks," tweeted Australian veterinarian and conservation scientist Stephanie Hing. So the conversation slowly shifted to #FieldSafety — which is equally horrifying, in its own, special way.
#FieldSafety I carry a CAT tourniquet & quikclot for UXO, chainsaw injuries, gorings. Maintain situational awareness and have a backup plan.— Daniel Godwin (@danielg7) September 28, 2016