Science Engagement Week

Just a few days ago I was at  Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It was nice to be out of the Miami heat and feel the fall brisk air of the north, even if only for a few days. As part of the Botany in Action Fellowship (BIA), I attended Science Engagement Week to augment my science communication skills. Along with five other fellows from other institutions all over the US, I was awarded the fellowship in March. This fellowship emphasizes sharing research with our communities and whole heartedly believes that our science is only as good as we can communicate it. So we convened for a jam-packed weekend with workshops and events tailored to science communication. We collaborated on interacting with different audiences, eliminating jargon from our presentations, and incorporating outreach into our research. Most importantly we had lots of venues to practice our public speaking skills.

As Phipps is a satellite partner for The Fairchild Challenge, the week started off with the first challenge of the year—EcoChallenge!, where fellows are interviewed by middle and high school students about what it’s like to be a scientist. The students then create a poster highlighting each fellow and their research. We each presented a lightning talk at the yearly Peak Behind the Petals members event and followed it up with a more informal tabling session at the Tropical Forest Cuba Festival. Ashley Cecil, artist-in-residence at Phipps provided a workshop on incorporating art into science engagement.  Ann Gibbons, author and correspondent for Science magazine, coached us on science blogging. Maintaining this monthly blog is a requirement of the BIA fellowship, and you can find the other fellows blogs here.

Nichole Tiernan