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Tips for Improving Scientific Communication with a General Audience

2019 Education–Career Development Session



Chairperson(s): Jonathan Shannahan, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN; and Samantha J. Snow, US EPA, Durham, NC.

Primary Endorser: Postdoctoral Assembly

Other Endorser(s): Ethical, Legal, Forensics, and Societal Issues Specialty Section; Graduate Student Leadership Committee

For research to broadly and positively impact public health, it must be efficiently communicated to, and understood by, the general public. The majority of university-level scientific training focuses on performing cutting-edge research and sharing those findings with other scientists within one’s own field. In a time where information is readily accessible, ensuring effective and accurate scientific messaging through community outreach is necessary for maximizing societal impact and understanding. This is true during one-on-one conversations with nonscientists, and through interactions utilizing social and mass media. Deficiencies in the capacity to share science-related topics with nonscientists result in misinterpretation of conclusions and decreased community engagement in science. This session is designed to bring in scientific outreach experts to share tips and strategies for researchers to successfully communicate science with the general public. Speakers will focus on (1) individual interactions, (2) controlling your message, (3) the use of innovative social media platforms, and (4) effective utilization of mass media. These interactive presentations will include real-world examples of successful scientific communication as well as illustrations of common errors scientists are prone to committing. These discussions will be highly applicable to all attendees, including graduate students, postdoctoral trainees, and senior toxicologists. This session will allow both trainees and seasoned toxicologists to learn and implement this increasingly useful and necessary skill set.


Tips for Improving Scientific Communication with a General Audience. J. Shannahan. Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN.

Beer-Reviewed Science: How (and Why) to Talk About Your Science with People outside the Lab. K. May. North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC. Sponsor: J. Shannahan

Science Is Not Finished Until It Is Communicated. J. Zelikoff. New York University School of Medicine, Tuxedo, NY.

Using Free Social Media Online Tools to Communicate Scientific Activities, Distribute Data, and Enhance Scientific Articles Post-Publication. A. Williams. US EPA/NCCT, Durham, NC.

How to Communicate with and through the Media. L. Helmuth. Washington Post, Washington, DC. Sponsor: J. Shannahan