Tag Archives: #RMWorkshop

Heroes for scientific knowledge

By Benjamin Caballero MS, PhD Candidate, Department of Developmental and Molecular Biology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine

caballeroAlthough science is perceived to have a fundamental role in addressing major problems of modern society — from climate change to global healthcare — the persistent dwindling of its funding by government agencies is a global trend.  It seems that the betterment of humankind is in jeopardy if this trend continues. But who is responsible for this? And more importantly, how can it be changed?

During the “Research Matters Communications Workshop for Early Career Scientists” at the George Washington University (GW) on October 9 organized by Research!America, Elsevier, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory,  Society for Neuroscience and GW, this was among many questions sought to be answered. Nearly 100 scientists in different career stages felt that it was us, scientists, responsible for why science is poorly understood by general audiences, hence it is not a priority when decisions to fund it are made by elected officials.  Scientists need to understand that the work performed cannot stay in laboratories. We need to cogently communicate our research, its importance and the implications that could have in the future to a broad public. We need to engage ourselves with society, advocacy and public outreach to explain why basic research is essential for the health and economic prosperity of every man, woman and child.  This will be the first crucial step for science to become more engaged in the public agenda and away from the ivory tower. Continue reading →

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Research Matters Communications Workshop for Early-Career Scientists: October 9, 2013

Research!America’s science communications event, “Research Matters Communications Workshop: Promoting Basic Research in a New Age of Communications: Challenges and Opportunities,” was held October 9 at the Marvin Center on the campus of the George Washington University in Washington, DC.

Leo Chalupa, PhDGWU’s vice president for research, Leo Chalupa, PhD (pictured at right), opened the day with remarks that implored the nearly 100 young scientists in attendance to think about their families when they communicate.

“Act like your Aunt Harriet is in the audience,” Chalupa said; his welcoming remarks indeed laid the groundwork for the workshop, as Aunt Harriet would be referenced frequently throughout the morning.

Research!America President and CEO Mary Woolley followed with an introduction of the plenary speaker; Woolley also hit on a theme that is especially relevant this week. She recalled the story of 2000 Nobel Prize winner Paul Greengard, PhD and his sister, Chris Chase. In an op-ed in The New York Times a few days after Greengard’s win, Chase lamented that she never fully understood the research her brother had undertaken. Upon winning, however, she read news accounts that explained his work as determining how brain cells communicate; this work could one day impact Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

“I’m thrilled he won,” Chase wrote, and Woolley recounted. “Now I know what he does.”

That segued into the plenary session from Christie Nicholson, a lecturer at the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University. Nicholson (pictured below) began the session by reminding the audience that effective communication isn’t just necessary when dealing with the public; because science has become so specialized, researchers sometimes can’t understand what their own colleagues are saying.

Christie Nicholson

Nicholson explained that it’s important to tell a story. But before you can begin to craft a story, she said it’s critical to not only understand the goal you’re trying to achieve, but also to understand your audience. And to do that, one must know what the audience knows, what the audience cares about and what motivates them. Continue reading →