Friday, 04 July 2014 00:00

Won’t you SHARE YOUR SCIENCE?

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puppies talk science"Puppies talking science" could be next viral internet meme!The Outreach Subcommittee of the Committee for Postdocs and Students (COMPASS) announces the Share Your Science Video Contest with prizes up to $500. This new initiative aims to increase basic science awareness because informed decision makers produce better outcomes for funding.

Ever tried explaining your research to a non-scientist family member or friend? We have all faced the blank stares of well-intentioned and sincerely curious individuals who innocently asked, "So, what exactly do you work on in the lab?" Make no mistake, they are interested. Biomedical research is having an unprecedented impact on our world and society, and most folks want to know more. It's not that you lack enthusiasm either; you love your project and love to talk about it. So what is the problem? For the most part, many scientists have trouble clearly communicating their work when they are not talking with other scientists.

Basic science research in the U.S. is largely sponsored by the public through tax revenue or charitable contributions. COMPASS believes that we scientists should engage the public and explain what we do in a manner that is accessible and stresses the great value the public receives from their investment in basic research. To champion research and bolster public support and understanding, researchers must learn to effectively communicate the value of their work. Science outreach activities can provide an opportunity to sharpen teaching and speaking skills, and encourage scientists to think more broadly about their research. They can also help scientists identify and consider public concerns about their work. Think of science outreach as a career development opportunity that has the added benefit of producing a richer ecosystem for the entire research enterprise.

To encourage you to become better science communicators and strengthen public appreciation for your work, COMPASS is sponsoring the Share Your Science Video Contest. We want you to think creatively about telling your research story to a non-scientist audience. All you have to do is produce a brief video (2-3 minutes) that clearly describes your research in a manner that will be easily understood by non-scientists. Your short film should highlight why your research is important to the general public. In other words, what are they getting for their investment? Finally, we want you to have fun telling your research tale. Be as creative and entertaining as possible. Make use of special effects, animation, music, sing or dance about your research, create a new internet meme ("puppies talking science"?), the sky's the limit. Your videos should be engaging as well as informative. Our goal is to get folks as excited about your research as you are.
COMPASS wants to help cultivate scientists who engage their communities and help inspire public appreciation for research. Your work is important – it improves health, helps grow our economy, and makes us a more competitive nation. Don't keep it to yourself, Share Your Science!

The deadline for submissions is September 15, 2014 and prizes range from $100-$500. More details can be found here.

Paul T. Mungai

Paul T. Mungai is interested cellular redox signaling during hypoxia and ischemia. He is currently studying how oxidative modifications to myofibril proteins affect cardiac function as a postdoc in R. John Solaro's lab at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Outside the lab, he is interested in early science education, scientist training, and science policy.

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