Tuesday, July 24, 2018
The 4th Annual ComSciCon-Cornell spanned two days in July (Friday, July 13th and Saturday, July 21st) on the Cornell University campus. STEM graduate students and post-doctoral researchers from universities around Central and Western New York (e.g. Cornell, Binghamton, Rochester, Syracuse, SUNY ESF, and others) attended to learn more about digital communications with an emphasis on effective storytelling, dealing with socially sensitive topics, and public engagement.
This professional development experience has two unique aspects. One, it is designed to support graduate students interested in science communication. But secondly, the organizers are grad students and postdocs themselves who have taken their passion for communication of scientific research to the next level: helping others discover the need and develop the skills to communicate their research to broad audiences. During the yearlong planning process they learned many transferrable leadership skills: sharing a vision and rallying resources to bring it to fruition; working on a cross-disciplinary team of busy individuals; fundraising; application solicitation, triage, and selection; communication with university representatives, speakers, attendees, and local staff; logistics and event planning; and sustaining institutional memory so the event will continue in future years. Along the way they also learned key skills in conflict resolution, negotiation, how to sell an idea, and effective networking.
Attendees network with other participants passionate about science communication, learn from and interact with a diverse group of professional communicators and experts selected and invited by the organizers, and produce original works aimed at communicating their scholarly research to public audiences.
Attendees in the national workshop network have founded new science communication organizations in collaboration with other students at the event, published over 80 articles written at the conference in popular publications with national impact, and formed lasting networks with student alumni and invited experts.
The ComSciCon-Cornell local workshop, run by graduate students and postdocs, was founded in 2015 with support from the BEST Program and has had 150+ participants from upstate and central New York areas to date.
This year, the Office of Engagement Initiatives has co-sponsored this event through an Engaged Opportunity Grant. Sponsorship also comes from the Graduate School, CALS, the College of Engineering, the Office of the Vice Provost for Research, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Department of Chemistry, KAVLI, CCMR, the Department of Physics, the Department of Biomedical Engineering, and the Alliance for Science.
Please feel free to contact the ComSciCon-Cornell organizers with comments and suggestions about the event.
For more information, visit the ComSciCon website and follow the Twitter handle @ComSciConCornL
See articles and reflections on previous ComSciCon events: