Skip to main content
Cornell University


Wednesday, March 30, 2016
Improv Workshop is for scientists too!

BESTie Sri Raj, postdoc in Molecular Biology and Genetics, attended the six hour Improv Workshop on March 12. This workshop was the presented by Erica Marx, Cornell Alumni , NYS certified conflict mediator and adjunct faculty at Ithaca College.

"I absolutely recommend the class. There were only a few people there from all different backgrounds, and no one from Cornell BEST, but I really think we can benefit from these types of classes. As scientists we are taught to be critical, which I think ends up being a point of habit and this class teaches one to change our communication perspective, learn to trust, be active participants in a conversation, and concentrate on the moment. In improv, you cannot really know where a conversation is headed, so it forces you to be active and engaged at all times.

I consider myself someone who is good at communicating, but a friend had posted on facebook that her speaking improved tremendously after taking an improv class. That is the primary reason I registered. Until now, I had no idea how my communication skills could have improved or how easy it is to be critical, and negative and promote conflict. I really do think everyone should take something like this, especially scientists, where debate is encouraged. Sometimes it takes forcing oneself to adopt a different perspective in a hypothetical situation like improv to truly grow and even become more creative in the scientific (and other) pursuits.

That type of improv class really helped broaden my view of communication, made me more optimistic and inclusive, and confident that if I keep practicing these techniques, my ability to connect and understand will improve.

Furthermore, the teacher herself was a former Cornell graduate and scientist (human geneticist like myself), so she understands the different perspectives brought by the scientist audience (say in a conference) and the improv audience (whatever the actor audience equivalent is). I think if this becomes something regularly offered to Cornell BESTies she might be able to fine tune it to a scientist crowd. If you do decide to make this more of an option, please let her know that Sri Raj, who attended her previous class, recommended it wholeheartedly." -Sri Raj