A Versatile PhD: industry, education, policy, and consulting career paths after graduate school
As graduate students, we are most exposed to the well-traveled career paths to academia, but what else can you do with a PhD in Oceanography, or any field for that matter?
Useful Tips for Science Communication from ComSciCon 2013
Science communication is important and hard. Sed ut perspiciatis unde omnis iste natus error sit voluptatem accusantium doloremque laudantium, totam rem aperiam, eaque ipsa quae ab illo inventore veritatis et quasi architecto beatae vitae dicta sunt explicabo. Reprehenderit qui in ea voluptate velit esse quam nihil molestiae consequatur, vel illum qui dolorem eum fugiat quo voluptas nulla pariatur? Check out the attached document for some collected tips and best practices.
BIG in SCIENCE Magazine article
The Broader Impacts Group and Sarah Rosengard were mentioned in Eli Kintisch's SCIENCE Magazine article "A Changing Climate of Communication".
...Discussions during the conference's nightly beer-and-wine socials revealed that some students are struggling to balance the dual roles of research and communication. Sara Zhou Rosengard, a student in the joint Massachusetts Institute of Technology – Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute graduate program, tells Science Careers that she chose to study chemical oceanography "because I wanted to contribute to a field relevant to climate change." But during her first year in grad school, she was "concerned that my research was somewhat removed from the bigger picture." She and some fellow students started the Broader Impacts Group, a campus organization that provides workshops and training on public speaking, radio, blogging, and art.
A number of graduate students told Science Careers that they sometimes feel they should downplay their outreach efforts when discussing their work on campus. "I am lucky in that my advisors are supportive of my efforts because they know it's important to me," Rosengard says. "But that's not the case for every advisor-student relationship. One of the purposes of the Broader Impacts Group [is] provide opportunities for students to learn these skills outside of the graduate program we're in."...
SPI/BIG Joint Panel on Science and Policy-Making
On Thursday, August 1, 35 students from MIT and the MIT-WHOI Joint Program gathered for Common Goods: Policy-making amidst a sea of possibilities. Four panelists included Dr. Nicholas Ashford, MIT Professor of Technology and Policy. Dr. David Cash, MA Commissioner of Public Utilities, Lynne Hale, director of The Nature Conservancy's Global Marine Initiative, and Dr. Porter Hoagland at WHOI's Marine Policy Center. These experts engaged in an in-depth discussion ranging from incentives for scientists to engage with policy makers, to scientific uncertainty, to strategies for engaging multiple stakeholders. Audience members contributed insightful questions to make a lively conversation. Following a lunch reception, panelists shared their career path experiences.
This event was a collaboration with MIT's Science Policy Initiative, a student group promoting the use of science to inform policy decisions and engagement of scientists in the policy arena. BIG hopes to continue this fruitful collaboration in the future.
Communicating Science 2013 workshop
BIG officers, Alice Alpert and Sarah Rosengard, recently attended Communicating Science 2013, a workshop organized by graduate students for graduate students with the shared passion for growing as science communicators. From Thursday June 13 to Saturday June 15, the workshop featured panelists from all walks of science communication: from education specialists to full-time journalists to those split down the middle between professional scientist and freelance writer. Insights gleaned from this 2.5 day affair include:
Bowling for New Members
The Broader Impacts Group joined forces with MIT/WHOI Joint Program representatives to sponsor a pizza and bowling night at Trade Center Bowl in Falmouth.
Communicate Ocean Science this weekend at World Oceans Day - New England Aquarium!
June 9, 2013 from 11-4pm, New England Aquarium
Communicate important science!
The Broader Impacts Group (BIG) will be doing demonstrations and activities at the New England Aquarium on World Oceans Day.
It was a big hit at the 2013 Cambridge Science Festival (CSF), so we are excited to take it on a second run. Check out a photo slideshow of the booth at the CSF here and this article in the MIT News here!
Why are plankton important?
Making the Invisible Visible: The Secret, Bizarre, and Amazing World of Plankton
(From the MIT News column "THE SECRET LIFE OF RESEARCHERS")
He greeted me with a blank stare.
I tried again. “Have you ever seen the cartoon Spongebob Squarepants?”
“Of course,” he said, seeming intrigued.
“Well, I’m sure you’ve heard of his arch nemesis, Plankton…”
Did either of these questions make you curious about plankton? Those were two of the most successful lures I used to attract young and old visitors to the booth “Making the Invisible Visible: The Secret, Bizarre, and Amazing World of Plankton” at the Cambridge Science Festival’s Science Carnival on Saturday, April 13.
As terrestrial beings, feeling a connection with microscopic creatures that live in the ocean is challenging, especially if you don’t study the ocean or live near one. My aim in running this booth was to bridge this gap by exposing the watery realm of plankton through a live microscope demonstration, awesome video footage, and a crafts activity to design your own Super Plankton refrigerator magnet. Just as many visitors went home with a new appreciation for plankton and perhaps a Super Plankton magnet in hand, I went home with some great experience at putting my communications skills to the test.
The other motivation for this festival booth was including science outreach in the activities of the Broader Impacts Group (BIG), a student-run organization based at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and MIT. Formed in Spring 2012, BIG has produced a variety of science communication workshops, but organizing and executing a booth at the Cambridge Science Festival was our debut in further refining these communication skills in a practical setting.
This event provided a great opportunity to apply some of the skills cultivated in BIG workshops in areas as diverse as public speaking, blogging, and radio broadcasting. These workshops have featured acclaimed communication professionals, including journalist and media producer Ari Daniel Shapiro, science writer John Bohannon, and communications professional Linda Pogue.
Seven graduate students from the MIT/WHOI (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution) Joint Program and MIT Microbiology helped with the festival booth. While we were all armed with an arsenal of scientific knowledge about plankton, most of us had no prior experience with public outreach. No one really knew what they were getting into, and all of a sudden, after the carnival kickoff at noon, our booth was inundated with hoards of kids and their families.
It quickly became clear what tactics worked, like referencing the cartoon Spongebob Squarepants for kids, and what did not. Was that a glimmer of understanding in someone’s eyes? Because the audience was so diverse in age, education, and culture, the message had to be tailored to make it relevant for each new visitor to the booth.
One particularly effective way to connect with kids was using the GIANTmicrobes® plush toys of Copepod, Krill, Algae, Sea Sparkle, and Red Tide to illustrate food chain interactions. These toys made plankton more approachable because they could be handled (and cuddled) and had human-like personalities. This made it easy to direct a kid to the microscope and say, “Here’s a real copepod and look how small it actually is!”
The Science Carnival left me exhausted yet tremendously fulfilled. The instant feedback I experienced of someone “getting” the concept I was trying to teach and then hopefully going home with a greater understanding of our oceans was so rewarding, yet absent in my day-to-day life as a researcher. Although I had lost a full Saturday from research (and then some from all the organizing), it felt as though I had gained something bigger. The day was also a “test-drive” of the science communications skills I had been honing through lab meetings, conferences, workshops, and even family gatherings. Kids provided the perfect practice audience because they were receptive, yet forced me to distill my message down to the basics and really think about why it was important.
Despite our limited backgrounds in public outreach, it seemed like the BIG team pulled it off — one woman even gave us her business card and invited us to participate in an environmental high school career fair. Hopefully, this will be BIG’s first step towards more education and outreach events.
Communications Happy Hour with Science Writer John Bohannon
On a rainy Cambridge night, a couple MIT students met up with science writer John Bohannon for an informal "science communications happy hour" at the Miracle of Science near MIT. Amid conversations about how to communicate about climate change to the public, what the greatest science communications challenges are, and how John got to where he's at (a freelance science journalist who writes for publications including Science Magazine and Discover Magazine), some great ideas emerged. For example: what about developing an online calculator that communities and individuals can use to estimate the costs of climate change damage on their community, based upon real climate change projections and economic data?
It might be a while before we, or anyone else for that matter, invent that tool. But the take away is clear: great ideas can come out of informal conversations among like-minded people with a passion for using science to inform better decision-making.
Ocean Stories: A Synergy of Art and Science
Panel Discussions at the Museum of Science: March 3
Explore the planet’s last true frontier – the ocean – and encounter swirling currents traced in light, mysterious seascapes rendered in paint, and delicate marine life etched in vibrant color. At Ocean Stories you will find works of art infused with a sense of exploration and discovery that is common to science and art alike.
Synergy is an experimental program that catalyzes partnerships between artists and research scientists. With an emphasis on communication and collaboration, Synergy aims to provide meaningful creative and intellectual experiences for both the general public and for participating artists and scientists. We carefully select and match artists and scientists to work together to formulate a shared voice. We then present the outcome of these collaborations as group exhibitions that invite the public to engage with this unique collision of art and science.
Synergy was conceived in early 2012 in affiliation with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and is affiliated with the Broader Impacts Group.
Science in Ten-Hundred Words: The "Up-Goer 5" Challenge
We had a lot of fun with the Upgoer Five activity and wrote some great paragraphs. We struggled with certain concepts such as plankton and the biological pump, but also deconstructed our research to its essential components, for example: How to describe a coral without using the word coral? It’s a lot of small animals that live together on rocks and don’t move around, and they make the rocks they live on. We also found powerful metaphors, like the idea of a book to convey the idea of DNA, or referring to lights in a house as electricity. This exercise helped us start our communication from where our audience is coming from, rather than what is easiest for us.
Below are several entertaining samples from JP Students who attended. Check out the website that inspired this activity and give it a try!
The Broader Impacts Group Kickoff at the MIT Museum
On Monday February 11, the Broader Impacts Group hosted a Cambridge Kickoff meeting at the MIT Museum. The meeting featured speaker John Bohannon, a creative communicator of science who has engaged the public not only via science writing, but through the cutting-edge medium of dance. About 25 participants attended, coming from a range of MIT departments, from earth science to science writing, and backgrounds, from students to museum curators. Our BIG officers- Sarah, Alice, Guy- and John Bohannon led an active discussion on the merits, challenges and methods of science communication, and on potential collaborations that might arise from a BIG's presence in Cambridge. Many ideas made their rounds around the room, including events with the MIT Museum and MIT's Public Service Center. Stay tuned for more to come...
Communications Workshop with Linda Pogue
January 29 & 31, 2013 from 5:00-7:00pm, WHOI
"It's so great that the BIG scientists are taking the initiative to improve how they and their colleagues communicate.” – Diana Kenny, workshop participant
Participants in the two BIG communication workshops last week learned effective approaches to presenting scientific material, both to academic and public audiences. In the first session, communications professional Linda Pogue emphasized setting goals for what actions the presenter would like the audience to take after the presentation, be that funding further research or joining a local citizen science effort. Those who wished gave a 5-minute presentation and received feedback on their organization, content, and delivery. These workshops empowered participants to give engaging and compelling presentations with a purpose. Participants found the sessions useful, noting that “it's rare to take part in such a short, to-the-point but useful workshop,” and they “will remember the key ideas better, thanks to Linda's well-crafted workshop.”
Beyond the Silver Liquid: 3 Joint Program Students blogging at UN Mercury Negotiations in Geneva
Three MIT/WHOI graduate students, Alice Alpert, Bethanie Edwards and Julie van der Hoop, and a several other MIT students are in Geneva, Switzerland, attending the UN Environment Programme's fifth and final meeting to finalize a legally-binding global mercury agreement. They are blogging at mit.edu/mercurypolicy and will be tweeting live from sessions, sharing their experiences as we observe the treaty-writing process and as we communicate the current state of mercury science to delegates.
Blog Writing Workshop
BIG held a successful blogging workshop on Tuesday January 15 from 5-6:30pm in the WHOI student lounge. Science writer Ken Kostel from the WHOI Communications Department and students Sarah Rosengard and Ben Linhoff lead an open discussion on the experience of blogging as a young scientist. Workshop participants also engaged in hands-on, interactive practice in concise science writing.
Social Event with At Large Steinbach Scholar Andrew Dessler
Andrew Dessler will be visiting Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution from August 20th through 22nd as a visiting scholar. A Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at Texas A&M University, Dr. Dessler's research focuses on water vapor feedbacks in the atmosphere and the role of clouds in climate variability. Dr. Dessler has served as a Senior Policy Analyst in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy in 2000, was named a 2011 Google Science Communication Fellow, and is a co-author of the book The Science and Politics of Global Climate Change: A Guide to the Debate.
Please join the Broader Impacts Group for a social hour of light refreshments and insightful discussion on both his cutting edge research and his experience combining a career in academic science with a mission to communicate scientific findings to the public.
Radio Sound Bites Evening
The Broader Impacts Group will host a Radio Sound Bites evening with Ari Shapiro, a former Joint Program student and WHOI postdoc and current science radio journalist, and Emily Moberg, a current JP student. Ari and Emily will talk about what goes into radio journalism and how they think about stories and communication when they do radio. They’ll also be showing us how to use their equipment and showing us some clips of their work, including interviews with JP students! They will be happy to guide anyone who would like to try their own hand at making a small radio piece. This workshop will be great opportunity to think about communication in a different way and even get some experience in a new medium. Everyone in the Woods Hole community is welcome so please spread the word. We are hoping to make this an informal potluck dinner so please bring something to share. However, beverages will be provided! So bring your ears and your imagination and we hope to see you on July 12 from 6-8pm in Clark, room 271 on the Quissett campus. Directions can be found at http://www.whoi.edu/page.do?pid=8957.
Results from the Kick Off