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Monday, February 08, 2016
Communicating your passion

The weekend science communication workshop, Comm5660, kicked off with a personal and informative panel discussion by four experienced women who are involved in science education and outreach to the public, science writing for a predominantly alumni audience, freelance writing for the public, and who shared their passion for the field. Michelle Kortenaar, Director of Education, Sciencenter @SciencenterLinda Rayor, Entomology, founder of Insectapalooza @NaturlistOutrch, BEST mentor Merry Buckley, Communications Manager, Baker Institute for Animal Health @merrybuckley, and Sonja Skelly, Director of Education, Cornell Plantations @CUintheGarden were the speakers.

This intensive weekend workshop trains graduate students and post-docs in the sciences (including natural sciences, engineering, experimental social sciences, etc.) to communicate effectively – especially about controversial topics, such as climate change -- with nonscientists such as policy makers, political stakeholders, the media, and the general public. Activities include role-playing, mini-lectures, hands-on practice writing press releases and other outreach materials, real-time practice being interviewed for the media, and discussion with invited speakers.

The weekend ended with an animated panel of BEST trainees who recently travelled to Washington, D.C. to be trained in research communication to science policymakers, and met with the Cornell Federal Relations staff who arranged meetings with their representatives in Congress. They freely shared their first impressions, their perceived pros and cons of creating and delivering a message to lawmakers, and enthusiasm to continue this work via the Advancing Science And Policy club (ASAP) on campus.