The Importance of Science Communication

By: Brandon Brown

It’s important to understand that when it comes to science, communication is key. As most of us know or experience, one of the main obstacles that we as scientists face is finding the best way to present biomedical research to the general public. Of course, the goal is to become as clear and concise as possible because most people don’t grasp the general understanding of hard science. Most importantly, the goal is to explain the importance of the research as well. The time is now more than ever to accomplish this skill in order to make a major change within the communities around us. Given our current and past events dealing with COVID-19, Ebola, Swine Flu, Zika Virus, and even Sickle Cell Anemia, it’s vital that people today understand the basic information needed to know in order to help solve the problems these diseases and conditions cause. As someone who wishes to become a physician scientist, I feel that we all play a part in educating others on the numerous dangers that stand in our way for everyone to live a productive lifestyle. It’s been my goal and aspirations to not only conduct cardiovascular research, but to also help treat these patients that need our help and our knowledge. One of the key tools we need in order to help achieve this goal is communication because it will become my responsibility to help that patient by communicating to them exactly what’s going on in a way they understand.

Using science communication effectively and efficiently, it can definitely lead to saving
the lives of people all over the world. As we all know, due to COVID-19, hundreds of thousands of people have died across the world. With proper use of science communication and taking the proper actions needed in the beginning, these numbers would be much lower. This clearly shows that in a time such as this, it’s important that we utilize science communication and use it effectively as well. Due to recent events, this creates a new culture in the world of science. Everyday we’re starting to see more and more science communication being used through the world of social media and news channels to help reach the attention of the general public. Though, we must also consider that the lack of science communication has been a major issue when it comes to past outbreaks that occur. A major issue that is often not talked about is the competition in getting a paper and earning the credit as a scientist. This is an issue due to the fact that coming out with a scientific paper could take years, therefore making science communication much slower to be presented. Luckily, there was a resource created called preprint servers where scientists can post recent findings and still get the credit as quickly as possible. With the help of preprints, it helped speed up data dissemination during the Zika epidemic of 2015–16 and the West African Ebola outbreak of 2014–16. Most of the preprints appeared more than 100 days before a journal published the work.

I find it important that science communication is being brought up, some ways/solution to help do so is through using social media, blogging, practicing present research to the general public, and providing resources that can help people understand as well. These are some of the more popular ways that help get people’s attention and inform them. When presenting hard science research, I like to explain it as if I’m telling a story, make sure it’s funny, and displaying images. When I had the opportunity to conduct biomedical research at Dartmouth, I had an extremely troubling time learning the best way to present my research so that others can understand. My PI (Principle Investigator) at the time did an amazing job in telling how to present research. He told me the importance of making sure the audience can understand the science that’s taken place, even to those who don’t specialize in science. As I went about practicing presenting my research even further, I was able to manage to not only sound clear on what my objective was, I was also able to add images so that people can clearly see and understand the results that took place, and I also made some fun science jokes as well. I knew these skills were absolutely great to use. I had the great opportunity to present my research at ABRCMS- Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students. This is a science fair competition that was held every year in the fall and it gives students the opportunity to present their research, win cash prizes, and network to get to their next step in their science careers. When it came my time to present, I had three judges, two of which understood my topic on a science level and one judge didn’t have a strong scientific background. In doing so, I did everything I was trained to do by presenting my research as if it’s a story, explained my images correctly, and even had funny points. In doing so, this led to me winning an award which definitely explains that these are some of the key factors needed to be great at science communication.

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