Science Communication

By: Madelyn Terhune

Science communication is just as the name says, communicating science. Scientists are constantly communicating science whether writing scientific papers or giving presentations. It is important for them to communicate effectively because a lot of their information can be used to explain things in the world. When the information is communicated effectively it can properly be used to inform and educate people. Communication is used in day to day life, so it is important to make sure that it is done properly particularly with science information. If communicated improperly it can be taken in a whole different way. It is the communicators job to take information and make it so the general public can understand it.  This is especially important in science communication considering some of the concepts scientists deal with are not often understood by the general public. The platforms we used are changing and growing. This is where digital media comes in handy. Social media has taken over the world, especially the younger generations. Most people check some sort of social media platform every day. These platforms can be used to communicate science to more people and more effectively. This is so important because now you can reach all different audiences in a much easier way. Information that may have been less accessible in the past is now out there for everyone to see. For scientists in the lab, social media can be used to communicate what they are doing. Scientific articles are not always accessible or understandable by the general public. Through social media, scientists can communicate that information through things like graphics and blog posts on a public forum that is more accessible to the general public.

When making public decisions it is often important to have some scientific knowledge. Whether it be bigger choices like health decisions or smaller ones like can you eat the chicken that has been left out for a while most things have science behind it. Even things like energy and global warming have science behind them so having at least a little bit of knowledge in those topics helps make better decisions and have informed conversations. When it comes to policymaking science communication is very important. Science communication, when one effectively, informs people of the benefits or risks of their choices allowing them to make informed decisions. Military technology and stem cell research are big topics that have sparked a lot of conversation so having an understanding of the science involved is crucial. In today’s pandemic, we would not have a lot of the knowledge we do about COVID-19 if it were not for scientists. They are often called upon for consultation and assessment for these types of things. Being informed about the facts allows those policymakers to help us stay safe. It is important we understand the science we hear on the news because we can have an educated voice behind the decisions being made on these topics. Science communication helps bridge the gap between public concepts and science.

Another importance of science communication is money. Some of the money from taxpayers goes into the science world. Science communication helps to bring awareness of how scientists are spending that money. This can be helpful because it shows how expensive some experiments can be and how they are needed because they help most people, for example, the use of antibodies in experiments. Personally, I have not been exposed to this form of communication, but I think it’s important for people interested in taxpayer money.

Overall science communication is important for both the general public and scientists themselves. It is important for scientists to learn how to communicate effectively because a lot of important decisions can be made from science. Decisions made for public policy and public health can be made with background knowledge. It will be beneficial for people to have some understanding of scientific topics so they can be involved in these big decisions.

Science Communication

By: Alexander Martinez Lopez

Most people think about the word “science”, they almost instantly have their minds filled with images of goggled scientists with lab coats and crazy hair examining a bubbling flask. Although it’s a definite way to picture this concept, science is so much more. Science is literally everywhere from gardening to eating and even boiling some water, as for me science is everything. It’s been a way for me to approach life, deal with its delights as well as its hardships, and like many others has shaped my life’s purpose. Science is important because it has helped form the world we live in today and it is equally important to communicate it.

Science communication has evolved into a crucial and key part of a scientist’s everyday life, because communicating their work effectively is what makes a successful scientist. Effective communication usually translates to great benefits in any setting, in the scientific field it is no different. Having an effective communication amongst your peers, education programs or scientific organizations about your work and findings can do wonders for the research community, as well as the scientist emitting his message. Sharing relevant and impactful ideas among the research community can foster collaboration that could ultimately lead to innovative and significant breakthroughs. Some of which could possess the ability to be life-changing for the non-scientific community. This makes it imperative for scientists to also be able to communicate effectively beyond their peers to broader, non-scientist audiences, for them to understand its relevancy and influence to society. Public understanding and public impact towards new scientific knowledge will ultimately build support for science, making even more innovations possible, and it can encourage more informed decision-making at all levels, from government to communities to individuals. Like mentioned before, a scientist that performs effective communication at all levels can get career benefits such as enhancing the scientists’ ability to secure funding or find a job. It also allows them to be an inspiration as well as be better mentors for next-generation scientists.

When talking about current and future trends on science communication, we can’t disregard the impacts the internet and social media have on this. In the past scientists relied on television documentaries and public exhibitions to communicate their findings. However, in the modern era social media platforms have now brought new opportunities for scientists and communicators to interact with their audiences in more interactive ways and sharing research data. There is actually a trend towards “tweetable” research, where researchers in order to attract the attention of their target audience on the social networks the use a tweetable abstract which is an approximately one-two line summary of their research. Scientist recognize that to effectively communicate advancements in the scientific field they must communicate through the channels which the general public is currently engaged, social media platforms hold that power.

References

Science Communication: it’s difficult to be simple

By: Hector Haddock

As biomedical scientists, we should always stride towards the same goal: to impact our communities through our work. Whether we are future physicians or basic researchers, our work will ultimately provide us with a platform from which we can significantly improve the lives of those around us. However, in order for us to reach and impact our communities, we must be able to effectively communicate our science with them. Imagine, for example, that a scientist discovers that eating apple pie is dangerous for the brain (an extremely radical example, to say the least). Clearly, he/she would feel an overwhelming need to warn everybody about the dangers of apple pie and recommend that they not eat it. However, if the scientist fails to present people with a convincing and clear argument on why they should not eat this “dangerous pie”, they will keep on doing it.

Even in this extreme example, we see that the impact of our science (at a community level) is completely dependent on our ability to communicate our data in an approachable, engaging, and interesting way. Not only this, but the vocabulary we use must be accessible and understandable to the recipients. That being said, the process of communicating our science following these guidelines is not as straightforward as it seems.

Even amongst scientist, clear and concise communication is often quite difficult to achieve. In fact, recent evidence suggests that the readability of scientific papers is lower now than what it was back in the 19th century. Although there are other confounding factors that play a role in this decrease in readability (for example, more complex techniques), this still demonstrates that efficient communication is often relegated to a secondary role within the sciences. If we as scientist are not able to communicate our work efficiently within ourselves, how in the world are we supposed to communicate it with our communities?

Personally, I have given a lot of thought to this question. Indeed, if the value of science communication is found in its ability to impact our communities, then we must make it our mission to learn how to effectively communicate our science. For me, this has been a tedious and continuous process. Although I have taken scientific writing and communication courses, I admit that I still have a long way to go if I wish to make my science accessible to all. Throughout my journey I have found that the most difficult part of this process has been unlearning what I originally thought was “proper” scientific communication. When I first started communicating my science, I was under the false ideal that I had to use big fancy words and complex sentences. Afterall, I was taught as a kid that scientists were “smart people”, and that to be a scientist you had to “talk like a scientist”.

However, I have now learned from my mentors that this could not be farther away from the truth. A good scientist is one that knows how to communicate effectively amongst different audiences; technical and detailed amongst peers, clear and conscience amongst non-scientists. Above all, a good scientist recognizes the importance of transmitting a message in the clearest way possible, so that people can actually understand what you are trying to say. The true value of a statement or sentence is not in its complexity, but in its comprehensibility. Whether you are communicating your work to your fellow lab members in a meeting, or to your family at the dinner table, you have to do it in such a way that your message is completely understandable to those that are receiving it. This is the only way that we can guarantee that the essence and value of our science is understood by everyone in a clear and unambiguous way.

I truly believe that this process of learning how to effectively communicate my science is almost never ending, particularly in these modern times were we constantly have new media outlets and social platforms from which we reach out to communicate our work. That being said, one of my main goals as a scientist is to come as close as possible to being at the frontline of this process, so that I can make sure that I can share my work to all sectors. In doing so, I hope to have a more profound impact at a community level, since people will understand the messages I will convey to them through my data. Without doubt, this will prove to be the ultimate validation as a scientist.

Communicating Science (Sheril Kirshenbaum, TEDx Talk)

Science Communication

Brandon Brown

As an aspiring physician scientist, science communication is important to me in every way. 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.

The Efforts of Science Communication Today

By: Alexis Edmonds

Whether we recognize it or not, each of us are part of a world that is consistently evolving. We tend to hear of a new disease or cure every so often, or an unidentified species of fish or bacteria that has been newly discovered. Previously accepted methods of treatment or diagnosis become deemed as outdated. Every aspect of our life can be explained and even enhanced with new scientific phenomena, so it’s only expected that this information should be delivered to the public in a way that merges the world of scientific research with our everyday lives. I believe that many tend to think of the concept of “science” is an entity separate from us, when in reality we are simply a part of science. When communicating these scientific discoveries, the ultimate goal is to do so in a manner that makes the public excited about the message, apply it to their own lives and spread it to others.

I personally believe that this is the ultimate goal of authors of scientific papers, but there lie many challenges in their intention. According to freelance science writer Lakshmi Supriya, many are under the impression that scientific papers are written for scientists specifically, and as a result shy away from exploring these articles out of their own interest. This can easily be attributed to not only the confusing scientific jargon used, but even less technical words that we are somewhat familiar with but do not use in everyday conversation such as “underlying”, “novel”, and “robust”. This essentially has made papers much harder to read than ever before, even to other scientists, according to recent studies. Additionally, these papers have become even harder for non-scientists to access. A scientific discovery cannot be useful to its fullest potential if it cannot be understood, or even accessed, by the people it affects, which is the general public.

The efforts of science communication today, however, are trying to battle this barrier. Within the past decade the science community has been making an effort to identify the trends in jargon usage and make information much more accessible to the public. Julian Olden, co-director of the Centre of Creative Conservation at the University of Washington, says scientists have become increasingly interested in translating their message into a manner in which the general public can understand and making this information accessible through social media. According to a study of social media users, 26% say they follow a science-related page and 44% say they often see news on social media that they believe they wouldn’t have seen elsewhere. This isn’t surprising because it isn’t uncommon for an average person to check their social media feed before they refer to the television or newspaper for current events. Not to mention, only 44% of American households were subscribed to cable service in 2019 while 87.5% of the U.S. population uses the internet.

I truly believe that there is more effort being put into making the findings of today easier to access and understand by the general public. As we emerge into an era that encourages more engagement in the science that surrounds us, it is vital that we are given the tools necessary to decipher this information, analyze it, and disseminate it in a manner that can get those around us enthused. As someone who often became frustrated when attempting to read scientific papers, I sought different avenues to access information. I frequently referred to infographics and scientific magazines to get a general understanding of a topic. This was a form of science communication. These resources allowed me to grasp the ultimate idea of whatever topic I was interested in and later took it upon myself to dive deeper into the topic on the internet. I feel that today’s efforts of science communication are essential in order to ensure that the general public can go about doing their own research in a way they feel most comfortable and enthused. I am excited to have the opportunity to be on the other side of this relationship, as I am eager to communicate my findings throughout the summer through a similar avenue.

https://thewire.in/science/scientific-study-says-science-papers-become-harder-read-last-century https://www.pewresearch.org/science/2018/03/21/the-science-people-see-on-social-media/ https://www.statista.com/statistics/209117/us-internet-penetration/ https://techjury.net/blog/cable-tv-subscribers-statistics/#gref

Science Communication

By: Dimitri Johnson

Historically, science and politics have not mixed well because scientists couldn’t communicate science well enough. For the past hundred years or so science has been very important in our everyday lives, but many people do not see this. There was a time when much of the general public was interested in science. During the space race in the 1960s people were curious about the Apollo missions and the Sputnik space journeys.

Part of the reason the public was so curious was because of how much science was in the media that people consumed. Now people can watch TV all day and be lucky to see even a couple minutes of science content. And this content usually involves diet and fitness. Since the 1900s the science section of the newspaper has overall shrank by two thirds. Also, Hollywood does not help the public perception of scientists. Most scientists in movies are depicted as freaks, geeks, or the bad guys. Recently though, some shows like Breaking Bad and The Big Bang Theory present us with more relatable scientists.

Scientists are trained to communicate in a way that does not translate to mainstream content. The terminology along with the charts and graphs used are often hard for the general public to figure out. Even if the general public could easily read scientific papers, most of these research papers are hidden behind private journals that people would have to pay to access. This leads people in having to sift through the internet where there is also a lot of pseudoscience present. A good way to solve these issues is for scientists to communicate through social media platforms. If scientists used

Twitter they could use that to provide specific content to a wide audience.  Scientists who have published research behind a paywall are usually happy to send out individual pdfs to those interested in their work for free. Online social media is where most Americans get their news. If a research article becomes present on Twitter then it is more likely to get cited in scientific literature at a later point. Scientists can use Wikipedia and a website called Plumx to track the amount of engagement with scientific articles after being posted on social media. Plumx can also tell the user if their article has been mentioned by other sources.

A big reason that scientists should communicate to the general public better is so we can grow the number of people who are interested in science who possibly want to pursue the field one day. If we have more people wanting to pursue science it could fix other problems in science such as the lack of funding from the government. In our ever progressing society we need scientists and the politics to come together more than ever. Pressing issues such as climate change should be a political issue as well as an environmental issue since it directly affects people. Yet in the 2012 election, Joe Biden’s smile got three times as much media coverage compared to climate change. Americans also do not know much about the energy we use and where it comes from. They are also afraid of other sources of sustainable energy such as nuclear energy because of how the media has presented it to them.

Many other fields have information that is translated into lay terms in order to help a more general audience understand their field. This helps certain industries gain supporters politically and financially. For example, businesses that help people invest their money write many articles for lay people on how to get started and explain in

general what is going on. Eventually, once people start to care enough it will become a part political and gain more attention in the media. Science articles that are written in lay terms typically are not present among the social media and websites that the general population frequents. Scientists should present works like these on more popular social media platforms. People love to know where their money is going. If scientists talked about how taxpayer money is used to fund research this may capture the general public’s interest.

Science communication is important because it can open up communication between lay people and scientists, leading to new ideas. By opening up new ways for science communication we can help solve economic and environmental issues.

References:

Why science communication is important

Week Four: What is going on?

Digital Science Communication

June 1st – June 12th – Week 3 (EXTRA WEEK TO WORK ON VIDEOS)
Course description: In this course students learn the skills required for modern, digital scientific communications including video production, public speaking in a virtual environment, creating posters, and writing abstracts. Students will review scientific information presented in professional and popular media and will produce drafts of videos, presentations, abstracts, and posters. In addition to learning effective communication, students will learn to evaluate the quality of science presentations available across various media from popular media (news, magazines, blogs) to professional sources (scientific journals).

Blog 2: CV Health disparities and structural competencies 

Earlier this summer we read through this article discussing the need to integrate structural competencies into graduate and medical education. Overall, structural competencies explore a new clinical politics for understanding the relationships among race, class, and symptom expression. In clinical settings, such relationships often fall under the rubric of “cultural competency,” an approach that emphasizes recognition of the divergent socio-cultural backgrounds of patients and doctors, and the cultural aspects of patients’ illnesses. It is clear that structural level determinates, biases, inequities, and blind spots shape definitions of health and our current understanding of biology. This literature suggests that conditions that appear from a biomedical framework to result from actions or attitudes of culturally distinct groups need also be understood as resulting from the pathologies of social systems.  

  • What is structural competency? 
  • How does it apply to cardiovascular health and disease research? 
  • How will you be addressing this in your summer media projects? 
  • What metrics should we include in a rubric to evaluate how the media projects address structural competency and science communication? 

June 15th

9:45 AM – Log-on early for pre-meeting chats

10:00 AM – 11:00 AM: Program virtual “huddle” with Kendra

OPTIONAL: 11:00 AM-12:00 PM SU – Pulmonary arterial hypertension

Dr. Vinicio de Jesus Perez – https://profiles.stanford.edu/vinicio-de-jesus-perez Register in advance for this webinar:

Recording: http://med.stanford.edu/cvi/education/aha-cvi-undergraduate-summer-research-program/resources/webinar-recordings.html Password: CVI@Lokey

OPTIONAL: 12:00 PM-1:00 PM Virtual VSSA – Faculty Seminar

RECORDINGS:  https://medschool.vanderbilt.edu/vssa/virtual-vssa-2020/

1:00 PM – 3:00 PM Video Group Update: Production Workshop

https://vanderbilt.zoom.us/j/9637959466

June 16th

OPTIONAL: 10:00 AM Gental Yoga Session

Description: Kaitlin Briana Oliver, Yoga Instructor in Bristol UK
Meeting ID: 2864883911 Password: ZenDen

OPTIONAL: 11:00 AM – 12:00 AM SU – Faculty Career Path Talks

2:00 – 3:00 PM Cardio-oncology Javid Moslehi, MD

Description: Javid Moslehi, MD
Cardio-oncology

Recording: https://vanderbilt.zoom.us/rec/share/7I9FcfLi8U1Jbo3D41PvfaULA6m5T6a803NM_PUMmE–gF3HLh_ggd-BoANHl1Mc

Meeting ID: 934 1698 5340 Password: 243573

OPTIONAL 3:00 PM- 4:00 PM – SU- Frontiers in Cardiovascular Science Seminar

Marlene Rabinovitch, MD
Dwight and Vera Dunlevie Professor in Pediatric Cardiology
Stanford School of Medicine

https://stanford.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_xNR9b9zoRZqcdbp7Hmdjvw

June 17th

OPTIONAL 11:00-12:00PM : SU – How Cells Sense Oxygen

Description: Dr. Vivek Bhalla – https://profiles.stanford.edu/vivek-bhalla Register in advance for this webinar: https://stanford.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_bVlDHFWjR8KF6_GwQTvTBA

OPTIONAL: 12:00 PM-1:00 PM : Virtual VSSA – Faculty Seminar

RECORDINGS:  https://medschool.vanderbilt.edu/vssa/virtual-vssa-2020/

1:00 PM – 2:00 PM – Community, State and Federal Advocacy

Ashley Hebert, AHA Government Relations Director, Louisiana

June 18th

10:00 AM – 11:00 AM – Career Pathway Talk

Kiersten Brown Espaillat, DPN

Join Zoom Meeting

https://vanderbilt.zoom.us/j/98496397710?pwd=Z0wyYW9SUWpKa1YxcitBa05PaGEyQT09

 Meeting ID: 984 9639 7710

Password: 325215

12:00-1:00PM – JoVE – Adria Gottesman-Davis

Adria Gottesman-Davis, Ph.D. 

Experienced producer, content director, and video/audio editor for multimedia scientific content. Able to translate complex research into an easily understandable and visually appealing video format. Proficient in Final Cut software and related programs, Adobe Premiere and Creative Cloud software, writing and editing for scholarly publications in the biomedical and physical sciences, and managing relationships with contractors and team members to create compelling productions. PhD Research background in Neuroscience, primarily electrophysiology and neuroanatomy.

Recording: https://vanderbilt.zoom.us/rec/share/4uItCrChyFxJXaPn0QaFRKoOQ6PlT6a80SEX-vMIn06nek9o5uzGZLqxOZxNtJuE

Google Doc: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1eG-sGZgIWeDUdDrD4Vv2X8cPiHR_lgL4fe_X3-rdrmw/edit?usp=sharing

BU AHA SURE Summer 2020 – Professional Development Series

Recordings at bottom of page: http://www.bumc.bu.edu/facdev-medicine/diversity-programming/aha-sure-at-busm/

June 19th

11:00 AM – 12:00 PM – Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Vanderbilt

Guided meditation

Recording: https://vanderbilt.zoom.us/rec/share/59EvDpzVpk9LHdLQ1EXVYqxmP4bFT6a81SNM-vEJmuwqLfujicoUSobvBaQRVFY

OPTIONAL: 12:00 – 1:00 PM Virtual VSSA

RECORDINGS:  https://medschool.vanderbilt.edu/vssa/virtual-vssa-2020/

1:00 -3:00 PM : Nashville AHA Board Member

Herman Williams, M.D., MBA, Healthcare Advisory Managing Director

                Bio: http://clearlivingthelife.com/

Increasing Scientific Accessibility and Interest to Shape Our Future

By: Grace Garrett

Scientific discoveries change the way we live our lives every day. Unfortunately, although science permeates every aspect of our lives, it is not becoming any easier to access. Between 1989 and 2001, the number of newspapers including a science section shrank by two thirds, and in five hours of televised news, there may be one minute or less of science and technology coverage. Now, scientific findings are often published in expensive journals many people are unable to access without granted access from an institution of work or study. Even if someone has access through their institution to reading these articles, comprehension has become more difficult due to increased scientific jargon and poor structural assembly of sentences. All of these factors combined decrease the approachability of the scientific community and its information, leading to fewer interactions with scientific findings by the public. 

Scientific discoveries and exploration are important to society’s advancement. This has been most recently supported by the search for knowledge about SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 to gain control over the virus causing the current pandemic. However, recent critical work has also been performed studying CRISPR as a mechanism to alter eukaryotic genomesdifferentiations of mental health risk levels for different groups within the LGBTQ+ community, and recognition of pregnancy complications as increasing risk for cardiovascular disease. It’s important people outside the niche scientific communities hear about these discoveries so they can reflect on its implications for their own life, health, and future. To increase accessibility to science, I propose increased use of media platforms to disseminate information such as televised news, Twitter, and Facebook. Successful instances of this include Dr. Julia Marcus using Twitter to share her poster virtually in lieu of an in-person conference poster session due to COVID-19 related cancellation and Dr. Kali Cyrus succinctly explaining how racism increases adverse outcomes from COVID-19 in Black and Latinx communities. Along with the benefits of wide reach, solutions would also need to be created to address the negative potential of misinformation spread through these spaces, which have a much higher potential for misinformation than with a peer-revision process at a journal. 

Provided these media platforms are an effective way of sharing information to larger groups of people, we now need to address how to make them care. Capturing their interest is key to change in society, evidenced by the conversion funnel theory from general communications. This theory is the process by which a message sender aims to convert an audience unaware of their “product” to actionably completing goals set by the message sender. The sender exposes the audience to information surrounding the topic, generates interest, and facilitates continual desire for more information, which leads to the audience taking the desired action to fulfill the sender’s goals. To apply this theory specifically to science communication, the product could be new scientific findings, which the sender hopes the receiver to absorb. This re-integrating science into people’s thoughts through effective communication puts people’s health and lives back into their own hands. They can be presented with evidence and independently decide for themselves to adapt (or not) in response. As a future clinician, I am especially interested in the implications for medicine, and I believe this would encourage sharing responsibility of wellness between the patient and doctor. Doctors are facilitators of healing just as scientists are facilitators of learning, but neither can effect change alone. 

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.

The Necessity of Diversity in Scientific Communication

By: Guyton Harvey

I still vividly remember the day I chose to not pursue a career in science.  It may, however, be more accurate to say that decision was made for me.  

Sometime in April of 2015, my sophomore year in high school, I sat down with my Algebra II teacher to discuss my performance in his class and my future course trajectory in the math department at my high school. Throughout the year, I had put a lot of, albeit at times unconcentrated, time and effort into getting through his course, but I had struggled the whole time to wrap my head around concepts like trigonometric identities and matrices.  Despite my clear aptitude, evidenced by my high scores on the PSAT and the SAT, my grades in the course were just ok. It is at this point in the story that I should probably reveal to you that I am a Black man and at the time, I was a student at an elite majority-white prep school in Washington, DC.  Throughout my matriculation through the school, I had a reputation of being a soft-spoken kid who only meant well and seemingly ‘didn’t know any better.’  I was involved in a number of musical performance groups, was a heavily recruited two sport athlete, and a leader in the school’s newspaper.  While I was ambitious, I sometimes struggled to focus on or commit to one thing at a time and I certainly was never known as a self-advocate.  So, when he asked me what class I thought I should take my junior year, it was not necessarily out of malicious intent nor was it unexpected when my teacher, a white man, blindly and emphatically agreed with my opinion that I should take the “alternative” math course at our school instead of the notorious precalculus course.  However, seeing as he was an educator in one of the, traditionally, most predominantly Black cities in the country, I would have expected him to provide a little more pushback.  In our conversation, he cited some of my poor performances not only in his class but in my other STEM courses and paired that with a mention of my extra-curricular activities and effectively said that, at that point, math was clearly not a priority of mine and that it would likely not be a part of my career going forward.  In his mind, with college applications at the center of all of this, I needed to make the decision then and there on whether or not I would challenge myself with math or just give up on STEM being a part of my application narrative. To his defence, he was only reiterating the oft unspoken results-oriented culture of the school and almost certainly thought he was speaking in my best interests.  But given my ignorance and respect for the opinions of authority figures, I found myself agreeing with him.  Thus, I was convinced that I could not succeed in a STEM career and tailored the next two years of my life accordingly.  As a naive highschooler, I perceived what my teacher told me as “you are bad at math and should not pursue a career in which you would use it,” and I had few people at my side to challenge that notion.

What I was not mature enough to have considered on my own, which makes this a true travesty, was why I hadn’t succeeded in my STEM courses up until that point.  

At no point in my seven years of science and math courses at my school had I been taught by a Black person.  Likewise, the school only employed one STEM teacher of color who taught honors chemistry and upper-level physics courses, which I was discouraged from taking.  So year after year I was met with the same type of person struggling, and at times not even attempting, to relate with me both inside and outside of the classroom.  And in those classes we’d watch and learn about the same voices all the time.  Even the pop scientists that we watched were white– we spent hours watching Bill Nye and David Attenborough and not once did we watch Neil DeGrasse Tyson or Danielle N. Lee.  By not relating to me, they failed to communicate two very important things to me: science is crucial to the growth and preservation of our society and Black people can be and are frequently significant contributors to the field.  For a long time, I agreed that science was not for me and that I had no business reading publications from scientific journals and keeping up-to-date with science news. Despite my mother being a doctor, my daily experiences with science told me that being Black and being in science were mutually exclusive.

I eventually was inspired to consider how science impacts our lives two years later, when my grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, a disease which has puzzled scientists for over a hundred years and disproportionately affects the Black community.  When I got to Morehouse, a historically Black college (HBCU), my Black professors successfully cultivated this interest in science by effectively communicating that science is important and that I can do it.  And not just do it; I could do it well.  They did not stop there either; they told me I should pursue science.  A pivotal moment in my scientific journey was when I participated in Morehouse’s Minority Science and Engineering Improvement Program (MSEIP), where I was taught mainly by Black professors specifically how science and bias in research affect the Black community.  In that program we engaged in two week long research projects which were tailored to our interests but had a larger societal focus to them (my project was to design and engineer modern electric versions of traditional African instruments in order to introduce them to a more American audience).  They related to me in a way that no one prior had ever done and they reinforced my self-image along the way.  

At Morehouse, I have seen a lot of success in science, participating in important transformative research projects, achieving high grades in my STEM courses, and, yes, doing well in math. Taking that alternative course instead of precalculus, however, undoubtedly set me back and gave me a fair amount of catching up to do in college.

This issue of relating to one’s audience is a theme which is prevalent throughout the scientific community and genuinely precludes us from making substantive social and scientific progress.  We often get so caught up in our passion for science that we forget that not everyone is having their individual scientific identities reinforced by society, whether that be in popular culture or in the greater scientific community– I can name countless science-fiction movies with a white protagonist and only a handful with a person of color at the lead and the same can be said for who runs the research labs with the most funding.  By failing to acknowledge this, we do a disservice to the general public and only perpetuate the disparities that have long impacted minority communities to this day. We must reach out to those communities which are not always represented or involved in conversations in science by communicating to them that their participation in science does not only have a positive impact on society and the institution of science itself, but is crucial to their existences altogether. 

Otherwise, we’ll end up with millions of capable young Black boys thinking they simply can’t do math.