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Communicating Science

Individuals who have chosen science as a career understand the scientific process, the need for research, the potential that comes from gaining an understanding of how things work, and the very long time span needed to realize that potential. But what about people who aren’t scientists?  And politicians who want to see the returns on their investments in science? How does the scientific community help others understand? 

Communication. 

Part of the mission of the Biophysical Society is to share knowledge about biophysics. One of the best ways to do this is by helping you, the members, tell your stories, and giving you the tools and resources to learn how to talk about science outside of the lab. 

Why does this matter?  Familiarity and comfort with scientific topics often leads to better understanding, and as a result, more support for science by the public and policy makers.

There are several online resources for you to use to hone your communication skills.

BPS Webinar:  Communicating Your Science to Non-Scientists 

This previously-recorded webinar recording is available free to BPS members.

Communicating with the public and the media are essential elements to being a successful science professional. Learn “what's news” and how to articulate your role and goals to people outside of the scientific community in ways that spark advocacy and passion for the profession and subject of science. Presented by Alaina G. Levine.

AAAS Center for Public Engagement with Science and Technology

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) offers both research-based information on public engagement and a communications toolkit to help scientists build communication skills.

Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science

The Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science, founded in 2009, is known for its workshops that help scientists break out of their scientific jargon and talk about science in a way that the public can understand.  In addition to offering workshops, the Center has online resources available to help scientists become better communicators.  This includes a webinar series on blogging about science.

Friends of Joe’s Big Idea   

Most scientific training programs do not include training on how to be a good communicator and share scientific findings with a general audience. With the growth of social media, Wikipedia, and blogs, there are more opportunities than ever for scientists to share their work firsthand with a wide audience, and fortunately, this has been accompanied by an increased interest from scientists in learning how to do that better. 

National Public Radio’s science correspondent Joe Palca has seen this firsthand.  During his travels, Palca has met many young scientists who have expressed their desire to be better communicators.  In response, Palca started the group Friends of Joe's Big Idea (FOJBIs).

Friends of Joe's Big Idea, (pronounced foe-JOE-bee) is a community of young scientists that includes undergrads, graduate students, postdocs, and faculty interested in improving their science communication skills. There are currently around 500 FOJBIs across the United States.  Palca and Madeline Sofia, assistant producer of the NPR science desk, work with FJOBIs to become better communicators.  Members of the group are given opportunities to practice pitching stories and to receive feedback on writing and editing.  They also can participate in both online and local in-person networking and career development activities.

Want to get involved? The community is open to anyone actively engaged in science, no matter their training level.  Visit the FJOBI website to join.