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9 November 2015

What makes newsworthy science? Depends on your audience.

As a scientist-turned-journalist, I have approached scientific research from two different angles. When I was a researcher, I paid the most attention to papers that related to my specific areas of interest, and evaluated them based on how they furthered my community’s understanding of my field. As a reporter, however, I consume new research with a slightly different set of questions in mind. I still wonder, “what do these results tell us about how the world works?” but I also have to ask myself, “will my audience be interested?”


2 November 2015

Showing by (simply) telling

Why did I decide to submit an abstract for the “Up-Goer Five Giving-It-a-Try” session at the 2015 AGU Fall Meeting, which challenges scientists to explain their work using only the 1,000 most common words in the English language? Well, I’m already presenting my research for the meeting, so I’ve got the talk outline and figures already queued up. That made my decision easier. But, what I really wanted was to see whether I could translate my work into simplified language. Scientists love jargon, but I think it’s equally as fun to discover just how common (or uncommon) even basic geology-related words are. All I can say is that it’s lucky “rock” is one of those words, or it would have been really hard to write my abstract in Up-Goer language!


27 October 2015

Ignite a crowd, in just 5 minutes, at the AGU Fall Meeting

Scientists are increasingly encouraged to share the meaning and implications of their research with non-scientists. And, as many who have attempted this endeavor at a party or a Thanksgiving dinner table know, talking about scientific research with those outside your field is difficult. Yet, it can be fun and rewarding.

Being able to convey the details and importance of your work can help to boost public support for science, enhance your career prospects and improve your chances of finding funding. Communication is a skill not typically taught as part of scientific training, but training and practice can help you communicate more effectively.

Ignite@AGU is one such opportunity for researchers to hone their communication skills and become more comfortable talking about their work with diverse audiences. Similar to a TED talk, Ignite gives presenters just five minutes and 20 auto-advancing slides to make their point.


12 October 2015

Riding a “Roller Coaster” at National Geographic

“Is that it?” I ask the security guard at the desk.

“That’s it,” he says.

That moment marked the end of my roller coaster ride in a fellowship program with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in which scientists work summer stints as reporters in news outlets across the country.


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?