Talking about Science

There’s more to a scientist than just a curious spirit and a knack for carrying out experiments. In fact, one of the most important skills a scientist needs is the ability to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences.

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Jennifer Gardy is a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of British Columbia. Today, she talks to ScienceGirl.Org about how communication is important for a scientist and how some people do it for a living!

Communication skills are required at every step of your research. First, if you’ve got a hypothesis you want to test, you need to be able to explain it to your supervisor and to the agencies that fund research in order to get the money and permission you need to move forward with your experiment. During the project, you need to be able to communicate with your fellow experimenters to make sure things are running smoothly and everyone’s on the same page. When the project is complete and you’ve made some great insight, you need to publish your result in a scientific journal so your colleagues can benefit from the knowledge you’ve discovered, and you often travel to conferences to give presentations on your work. If what you’ve done has an impact on the public, you’re often asked to talk about your work to them too, on television, through newspaper articles, or in public lectures.

As you can see, communicating science can take many forms – from writing a proposal or a journal article to talking to an audience of fellow scientists to explaining your work to a public who is not at all familiar with what you do. While this communication is a huge part of what scientists do every day, science communication can also be a full-time job!

Many scientists find the communication aspect of their job so rewarding that they decide to embark upon a science communications career full-time. For those that choose to make this switch, the career possibilities are endless.

There are traditional science communications roles to fill – things like a newspaper reporter or a writer for a science magazine like SEED or Discover, but there are many other roles that you might not think of right away. Some of the scientists I know have gone on to produce and host science television shows, coordinate communications efforts for the agencies that fund science research, or run a science journal like Nature. I’ve even met a few folks whose job is to design the exhibits for science museums – how fun!

No matter whether you’ve got your eye on a science career or a science communications career, it’s well worth honing your communication skills at the same time you’re expanding your scientific horizons. Get as much practice in writing as you can – volunteering at school newspapers is a great idea – and make sure you’re comfortable with public speaking, as scientists do a lot of it! Try taking on teaching responsibilities, like leading younger students in science experiments, and don’t be afraid to take risks and be creative in how you explain science concepts. Above all, remember that science is amazingly fun and interesting, and always strive to bring that excitement to your science communication endeavours! ????????? ?????

2 comments ↓

#1 shaden on 03.07.10 at 12:35 pm

I am in Faculty of Agriculture I learn microbiology And Iwant to know what is te important of this science because I do not interested with it And How can I learn and practice community skills?

#2 ScienceGirl on 04.19.10 at 10:19 am

@shaden Did you know that the human gut is home to 1-2 kg of bacteria, there are 1,000 times as many bacteria in your gut than there are stars in the Milky Way. Microbes are everywhere.

If you’re interested in human and/or plant health, microbes can play a big role in causing diseases and even making medicines. Understanding the microbial world is a big part of biotechnology research today.

ScienceGirl

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