Michelle Paulsen Invited to Participate in Science Communication Conference

Michelle Paulsen Invited to Participate in Science Communication Conference

Michelle Paulsen

Graduate students in science fields may find it challenging to communicate their technical research to non-scientists. Because of her expertise in science communication, Michelle Paulsen of the Office of STEM Education Partnerships was invited to participate in a conference hosted by Compass, an organization working to provide communication training for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) graduate students.

Paulsen, who is program director of Reach for the Stars, shares the organization's goal of effective science communication training as she works with Northwestern’s GK12 (graduate students in K-12 education) program in collaboration with the Center for Interdisciplinary Education and Research in Astrophysics (CIERA). Reach for the Stars, funded by the National Science Foundation, aims to improve the communication skills of STEM graduate students as these “resident scientists” integrate their research into school classrooms.

On December 5 and 6, the #GradSciComm workshop brought together 30 science communication leaders at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. The participants explored way to incorporate science communication training into STEM graduate education. In an effort to identify core competencies, the group discussed the following essential strategies: being aware of one’s audience, clearly stating the significance of one’s science, avoiding jargon, telling stories and writing clearly.

Participants also discussed conditions that lead to innovations in areas such as communication training, including adequate funding, incentives and motivation for change. In early 2014 participants will create a specific plan for promoting the integration of communication training into STEM graduate education.

Information about the conference and its participants is available at http://compassblogs.org/gradscicomm/

"The conference provided a wonderful opportunity to network with other scientists and educators who share my interest and passion: helping scientists become effective, inspirational communicators of their work," says Paulsen. "We worked to map the various pathways to integrate science communication core competencies into STEM graduate student training, and I am looking forward to moving ahead on the project."

The Reach for the Stars program places STEM graduate student fellows in K-12 science classrooms for the academic year. In the classroom, the fellows work in partnership with a collaborating teacher to introduce more inquiry-based teaching methods and to share their cutting-edge research methods with K-12 teachers and students. One of the primary goals of the program is to advance graduate students’ communication and teaching skills.

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 12/26/13