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Cornell University


Monday, March 26, 2018
Opportunities for Public Communication of Science takeaways

Our identity as a researcher often is cloaked in the language of our work.  Bio-assays, Coregonus artedi, habitable zone of host stars... even you and your colleagues sometimes find those discussions boring.  Still, you know what they are talking about, and they understand you.  You get it, but what about others outside of your group?  The language might seem boring, but the engagement that produced its meaning is not.  How do you get that excitement and meaning across to others?  As the kick-off for Professor Bruce Lewenstein's annual Comm 5660 workshop, a panel of 4 science professionals gave advice about how to craft messages about science that will grab non-scientists by their short attention span and pique their curiosity.

Science Communication Panelists:
Lisa Kaltenegger, Associate Professor of Astronomy, director of the Carl Sagan Institute, and featured in IMAX film The Search for Life in Space.
Sarah Davidson Evanega, Senior Associate Director of CALS International Programs, International Professor of Plant Breeding and Genetics, and Director, Cornell Alliance for Science.
Ellen George, PhD student in Natural Resources, curator of
Mark Sarvary, Director of Investigative Biology Laboratories and public science event advisor for Ithaca’s Science Cabaret.

We asked attendees what they thought were the most important take-home messages.  Here are their answers:

"Amazing stories from scientists. Truly inspiring."

"Platforms for science communication."

"How to talk with journalists."

"The behind the scenes of talking with journalists."

"Be more active in twitter."

"The diversity of ways in which the panel members do comm."

"How to engage with social media, different opportunities to engage with science communication"

"Learning how to engage with scientists in twitter."

"Learned lots! Really enjoyed hearing that communication should be in a picture form."

"Different ways that science communication can be used to reach out to local communities."

"Tips from personal real experiences the panel members have had in their efforts to communicate science."

"The role/significance of social media in science communication."

"Response to misinformation on social media."

"Interaction with the media."

"Start small. Go where the people are."

"I was unaware how useful twitter was in connecting like minded scientists/researchers etc.
Local ways to engage in general with the public
How to approach the public."

"Learning about the different communication outlets."

"Ideas for platforms for communication."

"New tools to engage public."

"The power of Twitter in the science community."

"Good starting points for developing a science/social media presence."

"Know your audience"

"Dr. Kaltenegger's comment: 'don't be afraid to admit you don't know.'"  

"1. Being enthusiastic. 2. Knowing your audience. 3. Painting a picture. 4. Using Wikipedia as a social platform."