Lohwater gives science communication presentation

Speaker says scientists should actively communicate, discuss research, scientific process

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Lohwater, above, spoke to students as a part of a forum on science communication on Thursday.



“Many scientists think the public needs to better ‘understand’ science,” Lohwater said. “However, that’s not the main issue and may conflict with their core beliefs and values rather than they just don’t understand.”

The Office of Graduate Career Development hosted a seminar Thursday with guest speaker Tiffany Lohwater, director of meetings and public engagement at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, to engage with graduate students in developing strong communication skills.

Lohwater said communicating with others about science is “a challenge” because the language of science is extensive and often hard to grasp by outside readers.

“A lot of scientists have trouble finding resources in their community and so forth so that they can expand their ability to explain their research,” Lohwater said.

According to the National Science Board, 91 percent of American audiences are interested in new scientific discoveries and 95 percent believe that scientists are helping to solve challenging problems.

“Many scientists think the public needs to better ‘understand’ science,” Lohwater said. “However, that’s not the main issue and may conflict with their core beliefs and values rather than they just don’t understand.”

Lohwater said it is important for scientists to establish a two-way conversation when presenting research.

Communication and outreach activities are vital for public funding, increasing public interest, and interacting with undergraduates, children and politicians, among others. It allows scientists to bring personal meaning to their work, Lohwater said.

Michelle Prysby, the director of science education and public outreach for the College, said research scientists at universities should reach out to high school teachers to provide them with more up-to-date scientific information.

“It’s important to be strategic and develop a message to stand out as a communicator, handle questions, recognize the main, and most important points,” Lohwater said.

Lohwater said finding what is most relevant to the public presents a challenge to many scientific researchers. Most scientists are taught to explain details, find relevance and then give the conclusion of their research last. The public, however, wants to know the end product first.

“The message [from a scientist] should be memorable, meaningful, and short,” Lohwater said. “Twitter, Facebook, and other social media are a great way to reach an audience and network.”


Published March 23, 2014 in FP test, News





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