LSC offers online courses this summer for undergrads, grads, and non-majors alike

Summer is right around the corner and the Department of Life Sciences Communication is offering a variety of classes to educate undergraduate, graduate, and non-degree students in both the theoretical and applied side of science communication.  LSC is offering five classes this summer and each are online allowing students to enroll from all over the world.

Classes include LSC 350: Visualizing Science and Technology, an introductory course on the visual communication of science taught by professor Shiela Reaves. This online course overviews the principles of design, perception, and cognition, and outlines techniques used to portray science in the media.  Students explore visual communication through illustrated lectures and visual image analysis in both written assignments and team presentations.

LSC’s five online classes provide UW students around the globe the opportunity to participate.

LSC faculty affiliate Don Stanley is teaching LSC 432: Social Media in the Life Sciences, an online course overviewing the foundations of content marketing.  The course outlines effective digital marketing strategies and explores how social media can be leveraged for success.  Students learn tools for social media communication specific to the sciences and are tasked with building their personal social media presence.

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LSC’s Patty Loew helps facilitate University of Wisconsin and Native Nations partnership

Much of LSC professor Patty Loew’s research has focused on how indigenous people use media to form identity, reconstruct the past, and assert their sovereignty and treaty rights.  A member of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe, Loew’s passion for First Nation communities has led her to write multiple books and articles on Native topics, produce Native-themed documentaries, and teach various courses related to indigenous populations including the course LSC 444: Native American Environmental Issues and the Media.

LSC’s Patty Loew speaking at the 2015 UW/Native Nations Summit on Environment and Health.

Recently, her passions led her to a unique project. Loew is now working with the School of Human Ecology (SoHE) leading the UW-Native Nations Initiative, a partnership between UW-Madison, UW-Extension, and UW Colleges to improve the relationship between the University of Wisconsin and the twelve Indian nations located in the state.

In the past UW-Madison, UW-Extension, and UW Colleges have partnered with Native Nations on various efforts surrounding health services, environmental preservation, economic development, education, and more.  However, past partnership and support has sometimes been uneven, informal, or unsustainable.  The UW-Native Nations Initiative aims to build more respectful and reciprocal partnerships between the University of Wisconsin and Native Nation communities across the state.

“We haven’t done a good job of making our UW campuses welcoming spaces for Native students and our research approaches haven’t always been respectful.  We believe that we need to make changes,” Loew said.
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Alumni profile: Jill Peters leverages her LSC education to land her dream job

Jill Peters, B.S. ’14, has always been drawn to nature. Peters grew up in a national park in northern Wisconsin, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, where she dreamed of working in the field.  So, when she came to UW-Madison she decided to major in Biology and she got to work studying with the hope of one day doing conservation work in the great outdoors.

However, it wasn’t long until she realized Biology wasn’t quite the right fit. “Biology just felt a bit too broad for what I wanted to do,” notes Peters. Luckily, one of her friends recommended the Department of Life Sciences Communication, and according to Jill it was the perfect fit.  “I always knew I wanted to work in conservation in some capacity, but I also wanted to have a creative outlet. I always wanted to do communications because I love writing and photography – they just come naturally to me.”  So, in her third year at UW, Jill decided to major in LSC and get her certificate in Environmental Studies.

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LSC’s Dietram Scheufele contributes to NASEM human gene editing report

Life Sciences Communication professor Dietram Scheufele served on the international committee examining the implications of human gene editing, and their report titled “Human Genome Editing: Science, Ethics, and Governance” was released today, February 14, 2017.

Human gene editing is not a new concept, however, with the emergence of CRISPR-Cas9, scientists are able to alter genes more efficiently and precisely than before.  In 2015, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine convened a consensus committee to better understand the clinical, ethical, legal, and social implications of this technology.

A subset of the human gene editing committee met with Rep. Bill foster (IL-11th District) on Monday February 13th to brief him on the report.

The international committee featured experts in science, law, political science, and industry from around the globe, including Scheufele and UW-Madison law and bioethics professor R. Alto Charo who co-chaired the panel.

Many of the questions posed to the panel were inevitably linked to science communication and Scheufele, who publishes extensively on public opinion of emerging technologies, was able to provide expertise to this multidisciplinary group.

According to the NASEM, “[the report] considers important questions about the human application of genome editing including: balancing potential benefits with unintended risks, governing the use of genome editing, incorporating societal values into clinical applications and policy decisions, and respecting the inevitable differences across nations and cultures that will shape how and whether to use these new technologies.”  Among the report’s contributions, it recommends criteria for germline editing, outlines the critical need for public engagement, and proposes seven general principles for the governance of human gene editing across the globe.

For more information on the report, see the following story by University Communications. Keep up with the discussion on Twitter at #GeneEditStudy.  The full report is available for download via the NASEM website.

Story adapted from University Communications.

LSC professor Dietram Scheufele awarded National Science Foundation grant to help develop innovative approaches for science learning

LSC professor Dietram Scheufele is part of a team of researchers and museums awarded a National Science Foundation grant to develop and test innovative approaches to communicating chemistry in informal science learning environments. The grant, which has a total award of $2,634,708, is titled “ChemAttitudes: Using Design-Based Research to Develop and Disseminate Strategies and Materials to Support Chemistry Interest, Relevance, and Self-Efficacy.”  Scheufele will serve as the principle investigator for the Wisconsin component of the grant and Scheufele’s advisee Emily Howell, a doctoral student in the Nelson Institute and member of LSC’s SCIMEP research group, will serve as project assistant.

nsf-logoThe grant is led by the Museum of Science in Boston and is a unique collaboration between science museums and research leaders in the field of science communication. Chemistry is present almost everywhere in our lives, and many people are also fearful of “chemicals” in their food or the environment.  So far, however, chemistry is a field that is underrepresented in science museums and other science outreach activities.
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LSC’s science communication colloquium featured an exciting lineup

This semester’s LSC science communication colloquium brought acclaimed speakers from near and far. Every week of the semester attendees of the colloquium heard from experts in bioethics, science communication, scientific art, science and technology studies, science policy, and new information technologies, among other interesting areas.

Check out the list of speakers below. You can click each speakers’ name for more information about them. After each speaker, a link by their names will take you to a video and audio stream of their talk.  Continue reading

LSC 515 students campaign to “Clean the Stream” at Union South

Story by Sarah Krier. Sarah is an undergraduate student majoring in LSC and the Department of Life Sciences Communication 2016-17 Lenore Landry Scholar

As the fall semester came to a close, students in LSC 515: Public Information Campaigns and Programs presented their semester’s work in front of a room full of professors, Union South employees, and peers. Four separate teams competed to determine whose campaign to clean the waste stream at Union South was most thorough, well communicated, and cohesive.

LSC 515 is a capstone course focusing on understanding the principles of social marketing and utilizing these principles to plan a strategic communications campaign to promote issues of public interest like environmental conservation and health conscious behavior.

“The curriculum provides the opportunity to bring together communication methods and theory, all that students have learned during their time with LSC, and develop a real-world social marketing campaign,” said Associate Professor Bret Shaw who taught the course last semester.

Students conducted a trash audit of the waste stream at Union South as a part of their project. Pictured here are (left to right) Shelby Kuenzli, Nikki Rasmussen, Sam Marquardt, Madeline Fischer, Bret Shaw, Maria Castillo.

Students conducted a trash audit of the waste stream at Union South as a part of their project. Pictured here are (left to right) Shelby Kuenzli, Nikki Rasmussen, Sam Marquardt, Madeline Fischer, Bret Shaw, and Maria Castillo.

Students were tasked with finding creative marketing communication strategies to enhance Union South’s recycling initiatives. “Clean the Stream” was the students’ slogan, stemming from the idea that waste becomes contaminated because of the lack of proper sorting measures—recycling trash items or vice versa. After conducting both observational reports and interviews with students at the Union, it was observed that an overwhelmingly high number of students reported that they generally felt confused about what items were recyclable, compostable, and what should ultimately go in the trash. Items that are most problematic include plastic straws, silverware, and coffee sleeves.
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Life Sciences Communication graduates have promising job prospects

With the start of the semester, many students are now on the job market for the first time or they are starting the last semester of their undergraduate careers. Searching for a job can sometimes seem like a daunting task, but students can take solace in the promising job outlook for agriculture related fields.

IMG_2781 (1)“LSC majors know how prepared they are for their career choices in communicating science – they understand research methods so they can stay current and most importantly they understand audiences and what attracts them across digital platforms. This confidence results in better job interviews, and ultimately in great jobs” notes LSC professor and director of undergraduate studies, Shiela Reaves.

The recently released 2015/2016 Entry-level Job Report for Recent Graduates in Agriculture and Related Disciplines provides insight into the number of graduates and starting salaries for those graduating from colleges in agriculture and life sciences.  The report shows that although overall entry-level salaries have stayed relatively constant, the number of entry-level positions is on the rise.
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Alumni profile: LSC grad Sara Schoenborn leverages her education to achieve success in diverse fields

Graduates from the Department of Life Sciences Communication go on to have successful careers in a wide range of industries – partly because the knowledge they learn at LSC can be applied to a wide variety of jobs.  LSC alum, Sara Schoenborn (BS ’10) has used her expertise for a successful career.

Sara Schoenborn

After graduating, Sara pursued her dream of working in the media industry, working as the assistant editor for Agri-View, an agricultural newspaper in Wisconsin.  Sara, who was also a Dairy Science major, found the job to be a perfect mix of her passions. While at Agri-View, she put to use the skills she learned at LSC, including researching and writing stories with compelling narratives, creating a strong digital media footprint, and designing print layouts.  She also used the knowledge she learned in her classes to ensure she was portraying individuals in a fair and balanced way.

After approximately three years she decided it was time for a new challenge. In the spring of 2013, Sara became the executive director of Wisconsin FFA Foundation – an organization dedicated to making a positive difference in students’ lives through agricultural education. “I really viewed my job as a way to give back to an organization I was a part of while I was in high school. It was my opportunity to give back and carry on that tradition for other students,” Sara said.
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From public outreach to peer review, UW–Madison scientists find value in social media

By Kelly April Tyrrell, UW-Madison University Communications

Social media has erased many of the boundaries between leaders and the people they represent, between experts and the lay public, between scientists and nonscientists. It has enabled people to communicate directly and interact in unprecedented ways.

At the University of Wisconsin–Madison, a survey of 372 scientists engaged in biological or physical science research shows that scientists are increasingly using social media to communicate with nonscientific audiences.

Nearly 75 percent of the scientists surveyed at UW–Madison between April and June 2016 believe that nonscientists add valuable perspective to discussions about scientific research, which came as a surprise to Dominique Brossard, professor and a leader of the group that administered the survey, the Science, Media and the Public research group (SCIMEP) in the UW–Madison Department of Life Sciences Communication. A report from the survey is published on the SCIMEP website.

“Scientists think lay audiences have something important to say,” says Brossard. “It really reflects the reality of complex science today, where often there are ethical dimensions to consider.”

Dominique Brossard

Dominique Brossard

At the same time, the SCIMEP team found scientists at UW–Madison are also using social media more often to communicate with their peers.

“The norms are changing,” says Brossard. “UW–Madison is representing this quite well.”

Indeed, a non-UW–Madison study published in October in the journal PLOS One shows that scientists from a variety of disciplines around the world report that while they have not widely adopted social media, they believe there are numerous advantages to using it in their work.
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