Scicomm on Stage: Faculty and Students Compete for Top Communicator Crown

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Science communication was in the spotlight during the 2017 Research Dialogues event, which took place at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga April 11-12.

The two-day event celebrating research, scholarship and the arts included three competitions where student and faculty researchers had only minutes to offer a compelling plain English description of their work. They included an undergraduate lightning round competition, a 3 Minute Thesis competition for graduate students, and an Elevator Pitch competition for faculty.

As a science communication geek, I love that this university puts on an event like this and focuses attention not only on the research – but also how the research is communicated.

Check out the winners!

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Can March for Science Participants Advocate Without Losing the Public’s Trust?

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What happens to their credibility when scientists take to the streets? February 2017 Stand Up for Science rally in Boston. Adam Salsman, CC BY-NC-ND

by Emily Vraga, George Mason University

As the March for Science nears, questions about whether scientists can and should advocate for public policy become more important. On one hand, scientists have relevant expertise to contribute to conversations about public policy. And in the abstract, the American public supports the idea that scientists should be involved in political debate. On the other hand, scientists who advocate may risk losing the trust of the public. Maintaining that trust is imperative for scientists, both to be able to communicate public risks appropriately and to preserve public funding for research. The Conversation

Little existing research had tested how audiences react when confronted with concrete examples of scientific advocacy. Led by my colleague John Kotcher, my colleagues and I at the George Mason Center for Climate Change Communication devised an experiment to test these questions in the summer of 2014. Our results suggest there is at least some tolerance for advocacy by scientists among the American public.

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Should Scientists Engage in Activism?

By Ivan Oransky, New York University and Adam Marcus, Johns Hopkins University

Have you heard that scientists are planning a march on Washington? The move is not being billed as a protest, but rather as a “celebration of our passion for science and a call to support and safeguard the scientific community,” although it comes as a direct response to recent policy changes and statements by the Trump administration.

Not everyone thinks the nonprotest protest is a good thing. It’s “a terrible idea,” wrote Robert Young, a geologist at Western Carolina University, in The New York Times. The march, Young said, will just reinforce a belief among some conservatives that “scientists are an interest group,” and polarize the issue, making researchers’ jobs more difficult. Others find that argument less than convincing, pointing out that science and politics have always been intertwined.

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This Professor Thinks STEM Education is a Laughing Matter

Pete LudovicePete Ludovice has always been pretty explosive.

He admits he even ‘blew up’ his lab as a grad student teaching polymer science at MIT.

Today, he’s a professor at Georgia Tech who works on computer simulations of polymers, which is a lot safer. But it’s what he does outside the classroom – and how he uses his unique talents to promote STEM education – that makes him incendiary.

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Practical Advice for Making Powerful Presentations

What if your career depended on how well you made a presentation? …would you survive?

If you find yourself having to deliver difficult news, convince an audience to support your ideas or make a complicated topic easy to understand – I think you’ll find this post helpful.

The following is a Q&A with my friend Dr. Shane Gunderson, author of the textbook Dimensions of Public Speaking: Connecting with the Audience.

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