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.
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.
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.