As more than 800 journalists and public information officers descend on Cambridge for ScienceWriters2015, something unusual will be happening in and around the meeting: a group of science graduate students called ComSciCon will be using it as a living laboratory for building their science communication skills. You're invited to get a taste of the whole effort at an opening keynote panel on the MIT campus on Friday, October 9, from 3:30 to 5:00 pm. Read on for the details.
I've known the folks behind ComSciCon for a year now, and I think it's a fantastic resource for budding scientists who want to get better at explaining their work to their peers or the public (or who might be considering a career switch into some form of professional science communication). The group's main activity is organizing a summer workshop, ComSciCon, where graduate students from around the country gather to hear talks by professional communicators and produce original works for publication.
ComSciCon-SciWri15 is a pilot program, sponsored by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) and the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing, designed to give ComSciCon alumni a chance to build on their experiences at the summer conference through additional writing practice and interactions with professional science writers.
ComSciCon-SciWri15 participants will attend ScienceWriters2015 while at the same time attending "complementary sessions meant to strengthen their non-technical writing skills," according to the event's Web page. "Each student will compose a news story based on a scientific discovery presented at the conference in collaboration with professional science writers."
To kick the whole thing off, the organizers have put together a panel discussion on science communication in the digital era that's open to all ScienceWriters2015 attendees. I'll be part of this panel, along with Christie Aschwanden from FiveThirtyEight and Joe Palca from NPR. Here's the full description, shared with me by Erica Palma Kimmerling, a Tufts University graduate student who is co-chair of the ComSciCon-SciWri15 organizing committee::
The keynote panel discussion on “Effective Scientific Communication in the Digital Era” will feature insights from communication experts Wade Roush (MIT’s Knight Science Journalism), Christie Aschwanden (FiveThirtyEight), and Joe Palca (NPR) on how scientists can best utilize the evolving digital landscape to disseminate their work and reach out to non-scientific audiences. After an initial perspective is provided by each of the panelists, audience members will have the opportunity to engage with the experts through an interactive question and answer session. The panel will take place from 3:30-5:00pm on Friday, October 9th in room 4-370 on the MIT campus.
I'm looking forward to the discussion—and to meeting Aschwanden and Palca in person, after having followed their work for so many years. Room 4-370 is on the central campus—check whereis.mit.edu if you need directions. I hope to see you there.