‘Communicating science’ the theme of workshops at URI for Rhode Island scientists, students

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KINGSTON, R.I. – June 25, 2012 – Governmental bodies and the general public are increasingly making decisions about subjects that call for a basic understanding of a wide range of scientific topics about which they know little, from pesticides on produce and water quality at beaches to the effect of pollutants on climate. At the same time, scientists often have difficulty explaining the results and implications of their research to those that need it most, and they sometimes are looked down upon when their scientific results don’t match political agendas.

To address the need for a greater understanding of science, several scientific organizations are hosting workshops about communicating science for students and researchers in Rhode Island next month.

“Because of the enormous size of the human population and our interaction with the changing environment, it is increasingly important for more people to understand and appreciate the process of science and why scientific research is important,” said Sara MacSorley, project administrator of the Rhode Island Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) at the University of Rhode Island, one of the sponsors of the workshops.

“We are lucky enough to live in a state with tons of interesting marine science research going on right in our own backyard – Narragansett Bay,” she added. “It’s relevant to all Rhode Islanders because it’s happening right here.”

EPSCoR, along with Rhode Island Sea Grant and the Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting at the URI Graduate School of Oceanography, will host a workshop at URI on July 30 for college students in Rhode Island about how to use social media to communicate science. The program will feature Bora Zivkovic, blog editor at Scientific American. This event follows two earlier workshops for science faculty members.

Students interested in registering for the social media workshop should visit www.riepscor.org/Science_Communication.html or contact MacSorley at 401-874-6880 or sara@riepscor.org.

The National Science Foundation is offering a workshop at URI called “Science: Becoming the Messenger” on July 18 for science researchers, graduate students and communications professionals from universities throughout Rhode Island. The program is designed to teach participants how to effectively communicate science to a broad audience.

The workshop will feature three accomplished communicators and trainers, Emmy award-winning television producer Joe Schreiber, former PBS executive Dan Agan and bestselling science author Chris Mooney. Participants will learn how to craft a message and deliver it to a variety of audiences, experience live interview training, develop writing and new media skills, hone their public presentations and produce a video.

To register for the NSF workshop, visit http://1.usa.gov/IHtzAX. The deadline to register is July 6.

“We want to help make science more accessible,” said MacSorley. “People want to know that scientists are human, too, and how the research is relevant to their lives. Communicating science is all about story telling.”