You are browsing the archive for plainspoken scientist Archives - AGU Blogosphere.

30 March 2015

Q&A with journalist-turned-geologist Rex Buchanan (Part 3): A reporter on the other side of the media

I always thought I’d be one of those guys that got along with reporters really well. Well, maybe I wouldn’t. I had another television reporter just this week that I basically said, “Don’t call me again because I ain’t talking to you.” I went home and my wife said, “You know, you’re picking ‘em off one by one; sooner or later you’re not going to talk to any of them.”

Read More >>


23 March 2015

Q&A with journalist-turned-geologist Rex Buchanan (Part 2): Walking a political tightrope

About the first of October, we had a … I think it was a 4.2 [magnitude earthquake]. We had to go down to where the earthquake was and meet with the county commission. It was open to the public. All the Wichita television stations were there. [Many of us] had lunch together, and I said, “I know when I walk in that room, everybody’s going to say, ‘well I’m sure glad I’m not that guy.’” And everyone at the table pretty much agreed with me.

Read More >>


11 March 2015

Fukushima Daiichi disaster in the news is a teachable moment for scientists

Today marks the fourth anniversary of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. On March 11, 2011, a magnitude-9.0 earthquake occurred offshore of Japan and kicked off a tsunami. At the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station, the natural disasters knocked out backup power systems used to cool reactors. Consequently, three reactors underwent fuel melting, hydrogen explosions, and radioactivereleases. Although it happened four years ago, the disaster, and possible consequences, still generates questions from reporters, scientists, nuclear plant operators and the public, says Ken Buessler, a marine radiochemist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. He says he uses the disaster’s news focus to try to educate the general public about the science of radiation, including how at-risk people really are.

Read More >>


2 March 2015

You can hide under your desk … as long as you still answer the phone

“Well, if you need me I’ll be hiding under my desk,” I told my adviser on Friday afternoon. I’d just finished a 20-minute phone call with PRI (Public Radio International)’s The World.

Responding to press inquiries is hard, and a morning of staring intently though the clutter on my desk wracking my brain for simple, concise answers to unexpected questions had left me feeling ragged. It had been just over 24 hours since the University of Arizona’s public information office had co-issued a press release with AGU about my recent paper on Icelandic glacial rebound, which was published in Geophysical Research Letters, and I’d spent all day Thursday and all of Friday morning answering emails and phone calls from reporters.

Read More >>


19 February 2015

Four Ways Scientists Can Give Good Answers to Bad Questions

One of the reasons I love working with scientists is that they tend to be very direct. Ask a question: get an answer. Sometimes the answer is a little long and makes me revisit basic physics I haven’t thought about since middle school, but I definitely get an answer. Thankfully, most of the questions journalists, policymakers and citizens ask scientists are straightforward. But many are off-base and sometimes even badly framed. If a scientist provides a direct answer to a bad question, they can inadvertently leave audiences with an inaccurate impression of their work.

Read More >>


17 February 2015

Science communication as a “responsibility”

“I am a scientist, first and foremost, but I feel it is my responsibility to answer questions from the public when I am asked,” Diffenbaugh said during a panel on communications Feb. 12 at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in San Jose, California.

Read More >>


13 February 2015

Video in Education and Outreach

Video is an excellent tool for conveying emotion and generating excitement. It’s got beautiful moving images, ambient sound, and music (if you dare). It’s got human connection if you talk with people on camera or see them active on screen. It’s the most visceral way to capture an audience and tell a story. It’s not the best at communicating the details of a story however. Text, well written, still does a good job at that. But if your audience is prepped and excited about a topic or in my current case, a research expedition (because they watched an interesting or compelling video), they may be more inclined to sit down and read more about it.

Read More >>


8 December 2014

Geoscientist and singer-songwriter shares her creative side at AGU’s Open Mic Night – and you can, too

Science is about discovering universal truths. Music, they say, is a universal language. So what better way to communicate science than through music?

Read More >>


3 December 2014

“Yes, And …”: How Improvisational Acting Improves Your Communication Skills

The idea is not new – doing improv does improve your ability to communicate. While the specific vehicle – improvisational acting – may seem foreign from the scientific process, the concept connects the realities of life (improvised, after all) with the vagaries of doing science (experiments don’t always go according to plan, right?).

Read More >>


11 November 2014

Scientists Engage With the Public During Lava Flow Threat

On 27 June, lava from Kīlauea, an active volcano on the island of Hawai`i, began flowing to the northeast, threatening the residents in Pāhoa. Eos recently spoke with Michael Poland, a geophysicist at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) and a member of the Eos Editorial Advisory Board, to discuss how he and his colleagues communicated this threat to the public.

Read More >>


3 November 2014

Doodling in Science Class: Using Stick Figure Animations to Explain Complex Science at Stanford University (Videos)

Emma Hutchinson discusses how climate change might impact the strongest wind system on Earth, and what that means for ocean circulation patterns in this Stanford University video. Traer partnered with Hutchinson to animate her story with white board drawings in the hopes of making it easier for the public to understand her complex research. Video courtesy of Stanford School of Earth Sciences. By Miles Traer From my time as an …

Read More >>


16 October 2014

And now for the fun part: choosing your outreach activities!

The wonderful thing about science communication and outreach is that there are an almost infinite number of ways to share your science. We’ve made a quick list of some of the kinds of activities you can be involved in to share your science.

Read More >>


8 October 2014

Scientists and Reporters Just Want to Get to the Bottom of It All

After just a few short months, my desk at the Los Angeles Times had succumbed to the same peculiar malady as my desk at Oregon State University, where I did my Ph.D. in paleoclimatology: It seemed to have sprouted a thin coat of fluorescent sticky notes. Each tiny square bore a fact that merited remembering or a question that demanded answering, and, every day, they multiplied.

Read More >>


8 August 2014

Worried about Speaking in Public? Try Toastmasters. Really.

That’s right, Toastmasters, the outfit with the retro name that seems to promise insurance salesmen who shake your hand too hard, like that guy in the movie Groundhog Day who keeps pestering Bill Murray. “It’s Ned! NED RYERSON!”

Yes, I was dubious, too.

But then la few weeks ago I actually went to a meeting…

Read More >>


28 July 2014

Want to Really Communicate Your Science to the Public? Go on a Journey and They’ll Follow

Consider these three related stories. Little Red Riding Hood sets off through the forest to Grandmother’s house. Mad Captain Ahab sails the Pacific in search of Moby Dick. You hit the road for a season of field work. Yes, Red Riding Hood, Ahab, you. All related.

Read More >>


16 July 2014

Adventures in the (other) field: Mass Media Fellow Julia Rosen reports from the Los Angeles Times

“Buzz! Buzz! We want you to have time to speak with the Los Angeles Times,” a woman named Christina interjected. I was standing, clutching my notepad and recorder, in Buzz Aldrin’s office in West Los Angeles on probably the most challenging assignment of my summer (so far) as a scientist-turned-reporter for the LA Times.

Read More >>


2 July 2014

Students: Submit Your Design or Video to the 2014 AGU Student T-Shirt Design and Video Contests

Do you think you have what it takes to create the next viral video or geo-style trend? Prove it by taking part in the 2014 Student T-shirt Design and Student Video contests. The winner of each contest will receive free registration to the 2014 AGU Fall Meeting. Plus, T-Shirts with the winning design will be sold at the AGU Fall Meeting, with proceeds going to the Student Travel Grant Fund. More about each contest is below.

Read More >>


17 June 2014

Science Communication in the Post-expert Digital Age

In the digital age, anyone can comment, tweet, or blog. This means that expert voices are often diluted in the online conversation. In a Forum in the 17 June issue of Eos, Amy Luers, director for climate change at the Skoll Global Threats Fund and David Kroodsma, research analyst at the Skoll Global Threats Fund, describe the challenges for scientists trying to communicate in this “post-expert” age.

Read More >>


9 June 2014

A maker of the first COSMOS reflects on its successor

As the final episode of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s series airs tonight on the National Geographic Channel, a Senior Producer and Director of the original COSMOS series, Geoff Haines-Stiles, shares his thoughts and reactions about the remake and how it compares to the original. Haines-Stiles also shares a film tribute he edited for the 1987 memorial service for Carl Sagan, creator and star of the original COSMOS.

Read More >>


22 May 2014

Crafting Your Own Visuals for Science Communication: Part II

You don’t need fancy software like Adobe Illustrator to create a nice science visual. You can create a graphic in basic, accessible software, such as Microsoft PowerPoint.

The PDF below walks you through the creation process from start to finish, with the objective of creating the below landscape schematic using PowerPoint. Learn tools and insider tips along the way! (Click on the link or the image below to open the PDF.)

Read More >>