To complete the requirements for my science communication certificate, I’m creating and launching a podcast series!
The podcast, which I’m calling The Voices of Science, explores how grad students, faculty, and science reporters define and use science communication. Over three episodes, I cover
- one student’s dream of “science liaisons,”
- forest management through bark beetles,
- what you don’t want to do when preparing for an interview with a science reporter, and
- how to increase your relevancy as a scientist.
The podcast will be shared here and with the Northern Arizona University community on May 11(ish), 2020. Here’s a (rough) preview:
So, what is science communication? Is that like science writing?
As you’ll hear in the podcast, different scientists define science communication (or sci comm, as it’s often abbreviated) differently. To me, at its most basic level, sci comm is the translation of scientific research into a style or format that others can more readily understand. This communication can be in the form of a news article, a YouTube video, a PowerPoint presentation, a dance, taking elementary school kids outside to explore in nature, or a podcast!
So, yes: Sci comm can and is often pursued through the written word, but there is much opportunity for creativity in this growing field.
Inspiration for The Voices of Science
I’ve loved writing since before I started losing baby teeth. When I was in second grade, I submitted a poem called “Computers” to the 1998 Edition of the Anthology of Poetry by Young Americans. I’ll share the first stanza with you to give you an idea of my artistic intentions:
Slow like a river,—Sara Wilbur, Age 9
Fast like a hurricane,
Bright like the sunshine,
Dim like the night.
Fast forward 23 years, and I’m still passionate about writing, although my similes have since evolved. Along the way, I snatched up bachelor’s and a master’s in biology, and am now focusing my scientific efforts on the communicating side.
My mentor for this podcast project, Dr. Jiun-Yi Tsai, and I were brainstorming ideas back in January. I suggested several ideas to fulfill the certificate requirements, but we both jumped on the idea of a three-part podcast where I’d interview people involved with science in some way. The goal was to understand the nuances, challenges, importance, and successes of sci comm. I hope you enjoy what I’ve come up with!
How do you learn about science?
I’m curious to know what your favorite ways to learn about scientific discoveries, facts, history, and controversies are. Leave a comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Here are some of my favorite platforms:
- Science News
- Science Magazine (AAAS)
- Knowable Magazine, which also has a fun new YouTube page
- Instagram accounts, like NASA and National Geographic
- Podcasts, like Ologies and RadioLab
- Good old-fashioned books, like Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez
- (Back in the day) Bill Nye the Science Guy and The Magic School Bus (also, The Magic School Bus computer games)