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Science Communication Event

Faraday Cage Match – Presenting your Research with Improv Theater Artists
Wednesday January 25th at 7:00 PM at
Jet City Improv
FOSEP, along with the Infinity Box Theater, are collaborating on an event focusing on communicating your research. Graduate students will present their research t, then will have 10 minutes to work with theater improvisational artists to figure out a way to present their research in a more interactive and emotional way (which may be more needed than ever during these tumultuous times).

In order to hold this event, we need contestants! Please fill out this form if you’re interested in attending or competing. We will have a prizes, and FOSEP will be providing free food. Come join us for this exciting event.


Greetings from the 2014 AAAS meeting in Chicago!

It’s been an exciting several days with lots of talks, seminars, and advice, and looking toward the future for science and technology. This year’s theme is Meeting Global Challenges: Discovery and Innovation. The meeting kicked off Wednesday morning, but it really got going on Thursday morning with day-long seminars investigating the challenges of communicating with the public, in the form of communicating with journalists, social media, and public events. Later that night there was a presentation by Story Collider and one about love in honor of Valentine’s day.

Rather than belabor every single story that was covered at the meeting, I’ll point you to several news outlets that covered the entire meeting, with more detailed stories to come on the sessions that I attended.

AAAS Eureka Alert
Science Update
Science News
And if you’re a tweeter, the meeting used the hashtag #aaasmtg

My only regret is that I couldn’t be in 4 places at once!!! I had to pick and choose what I attended, but I’m leaving this meeting inspired by excellent conversations and new and innovative ideas!

Corey S.

Welcome back FOSEP general meeting is Tuesday 10/8!

Welcome back students, faculty, and staff to University of Washington and happy fall everyone! The FOSEP leaders are feeling refreshed after a wonderful summer break and can’t wait to get started with the new school year. We have some really exciting events planned for the upcoming year and hope you can join us as we promote scientific discussions across disciplines and varying levels of expertise.

Please join us on Tuesday October 8th, 2013 at the College Inn (in the back room) at 5pm. We will be reconnecting, sharing ideas, and learning about FOSEP and this year’s leaders and exciting upcoming events.

For the discussion portion of the meeting (from aprox. 5:30-6pm), we will be learning about how to navigate and decipher clinical trial data and how to separate flawed studies from true information.  The article that prompted this discussion is here – it has huge implications for those of us who drink as much coffee as I do!  But more interestingly, a new paper along similar lines came out in Science last week that is worth discussing, “Who’s Afraid of Peer Review?”   We will also be taking a look at this article from 2008 NYT:  Searching for Clarity: A primer on medical studies.


[FOSEP Seminar] Dr. Kevin Wood on Arctic: large-scale environmental data rescue through crowdsourcing

Dr. Kevin Wood will give a seminar talk Weds. April 10th on his experience working with Old Weather, a citizen science project that he co-leads with the National Archives (among other collaborators) to rescue old weather data from historical ship logs.

When: Wednesday, April 10 4:30-5:30pm

Where: PAA A110 (map)

Old Weather – Arctic: large-scale environmental data rescue through crowdsourcing

A vast reservoir of new-to-science environmental data is contained in historical ship logbooks and other original documents that have been preserved for generations by the U.S. National Archives and other repositories around the world, but these data are technically inaccessible. The Old Weather citizen-science project is recovering millions of these hand-written observations, converting them into digital format, and integrating them into large-scale data sets where they are used for new research. This data is needed for scientists to better understand longer-term environmental variations in the Arctic and around the world, and is vital to our efforts to model and predict future change and its human impact. Old Weather citizen-scientists also make enormous contributions in other areas from maritime history to plasma physics.


Kevin Wood, U.S. Old Weather – Arctic lead investigator, is a climate scientist at the NOAA – University of Washington Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean (JISAO). Before coming to UW he sailed the world’s oceans for 25 years aboard traditionally-rigged sailing vessels. His interest in historical climatology stems from this experience on these ships, much like those used by 19th century explorers, and from working on research vessels in the ice-covered seas of the Arctic and Antarctic. He holds a license as master of steam and sailing vessels and a Ph.D. from the University of Washington Department of Earth and Space Sciences.

Networking…what I realized at the AAAS meeting

The AAAS meeting in Boston, really brought up networking and how important it is for a scientific career (and a career in general).  It seemed especially important in the Washington DC atmosphere that dominates AAAS meetings.  As an introvert, the idea of networking is intimidating, but I also realized at this meeting the varying ways networking can be defined and that I can network in my own way.


The DC way of  networking is going to a reception, or party (at a bar or in a ballroom) where most people don’t know each other and schmoozing.  This was the most uncomfortable type of networking for me.  There was a smaller group reception at a bar, which was ok for me (especially because I saw some friends from my previous career as a teacher) – though I did wonder how many people who gave me their business card and who asked for mine were actually interested.  What was most challenging, though, was the large evening reception in a hotel ballroom for the AAAS fellows (  I was late, since I fell asleep after a long day before the next event.  I have never particularly enjoyed large parties where I don’t now people,  and everyone is already in small groups.  Even with the food and beverages provided, I didn’t feel as if many of the conversations I had there were that productive.  However, I also realized at the meeting that this type of networking wasn’t the only type of networking possible.


I went to many interesting and great talks (more to come on that front), and when there were people there with research or stories that interested me, I introduced myself and talked with them about their talk, or what they had done.  I also tried to use some of the techniques from Marketing for Scientists book including offering a lesson plan or idea to the professors who spoke.  I also went to the Societal Impacts of Science and Engineering Section meeting where I just started talking to people around me, after having brought my sack dinner (a way to save money) as a conversation piece, and a way to connect to others, though nobody took me up on my offer of hummus and carrots.  It was interesting seeing the politics behind a section meeting, and I enjoyed hearing other perspectives; I want to continue to attend these meetings and stay involved in this section.  Part of networking is showing up, letting people know you are there, being actually interested in what they do, and connecting over shared passions. I found some great connections through a shared interest in K-12 education and working with city kids (and I’ve already been in email conversation with people I’ve met this way).  This is the Networking I prefer – deep rather than wide  I realized at this meeting that while I should still try to become more comfortable at large “party” type situations, I can still network through smaller groups.  Though it may not be the “Washington DC” way, in some ways, it is my “Seattle way”

I apologize for getting this posted so late after the meeting- I got a cold at the meeting that developed into losing my voice and then bronchitis

Science Communication Challenges!

I think most scientists will agree that communicating complex scientific ideas to the general public is quite challenging. We have probably all been at some sort of family gathering, high school reunion, or significant other’s work party where when asked to explain what our research focuses on by a unknowing guest, we are met with blank stares, or even worse, the person turns around and walks the other way while you are in mid-sentence. Yes, the general public could definitely use a good crash course in basic scientific facts, but we as scientists can also work to do a better job of explaining these topics in an accessible, non-intimidating manner. While communicating science is hard and at times extremely frustrating, for those willing to commit even a bit of time, this act becomes easier with practice. With this in mind, here are two new ways to practice your science communication skills:


Can you explain your research using only the 1,000 most used words? I challenge you not to use the “hints” the page suggests, they really make it much too easy. And this is much harder than you might at first think, science is not even among the 1000 possible words! The text editor was created by Theo Sanderson and was based on this xkcd comic strip.


The American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, in conjunction with the Cambridge Science Festival, challenges you to submit your best answer for, “What is a germ?” Frame your response so elementary school students can understand it, they will be the judges! This challenge was based off of Alan Alda’s “What is a Flame?” challenge.