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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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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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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Former LSC 625: Risk Communication students present their research at the Society for Risk Analysis

A popular course in the Department of Life Sciences Communication is LSC 625: Risk Communication taught by LSC chair, Dominique Brossard.  The course teaches students how to talk about risk and explains the complexities of risk in the context of the other knowledge they have gained through LSC classes.

“Many of the emerging topics in science and technology come with a great deal of risk, so it is critical for science communication professionals and researchers to understand how to talk about it,” notes Brossard. “Science communication isn’t just about communicating science, it is also about communicating risk, so it is important to teach students strategies for doing that.”

sra-logoMany LSC students have taken the course over the years, including LSC master’s student Chris Wirz, LSC Ph.D. student Kate Rose, and recent LSC Ph.D. alum Molly Simis-Wilkinson.  In fact, Kate and Molly also served as teaching assistants for the class.  This week Chris, Kate, and Molly made the trip to San Diego for the Society for Risk Analysis (SRA) 2016 Annual Meeting where they presented their research – much of which builds on the principles taught in LSC 625.
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Ph.D. student examines the relationship between technology, conservation and public opinion

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

Populations of the Hawaiian honeycreeper, a colorful bird native to Hawaii, struggle to survive due to bird malaria transmitted by non-native mosquitos. Gene-editing and de-extinction techniques could offer promising avenues for adapting the species to adversity—but how does the public feel about these interventions?

The relationship between public opinion and scientific interventions is exactly what Patrice Kohl, a doctoral student in the Department of Life Sciences Communication, is working to understand. Kohl takes an interdisciplinary look at how the public reacts to conservation efforts to prevent extinction, much like the Hawaiian honeycreeper.

Patrice Kohl

Patrice Kohl

Kohl was recently awarded an Integrated Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) fellowship from the National Science Foundation. IGERT funds graduate students across the country, encouraging research that fosters strong collaborative bonds across disciplines while their advisor participates in interdisciplinary activities. The UW-Madison IGERT program that Kohl is funded through, which involves her Ph.D. advisor LSC chair Dominique Brossard, focuses on novel ecosystems. While the exact definition and parameters of novel ecosystems are debated, they can generally be described as ecosystems whose historical trajectory has been influenced and changed by human intervention.
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Students learn the essentials of journalistic writing at Capitol press conference

The day-to-day role of a news writer entails many tasks, from conducting interviews to investigating stories and writing articles.  One such task is attending and participating in press conferences.  Yet, for a novice writer this can be intimidating.

Students gathered in the Wisconsin Assembly chamber at the Capitol on Wednesday October 5 for a mock press conference.

Students gathered in the Wisconsin Assembly Chamber at the Capitol on Wednesday October 5th for a mock press conference.

Not so for the students of LSC 111: Science and Technology Newswriting.  Continuing with tradition, Department of Life Sciences Communication instructor Michael Flaherty arranged a mock press conference at the Wisconsin State Capitol just for the students of LSC 111.  These prospective writers will feel more comfortable heading into future press conferences having participated in a practice press conference in the Wisconsin Assembly Chamber at the State Capitol.

The mock press conference, which took place on Wednesday October 5th, featured Frank Frassetto, director of the consumer protection division of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP).  The focus of the press conference was DATCP’s recent warning to consumers that they’ve discovered credit card skimmers at gas pumps around the state that enable thieves to steal credit card information.
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WPT and UW-Madison’s “Wisconsin’s Homegrown Farmer” highlights LSC grad Daphne Holterman

UW-Madison and Wisconsin Public Television are partnering for “Wisconsin’s Homegrown Farmer“, a show highlighting three different farming families in Wisconsin.  The program explores the passion each family has for farming, the challenges each has faced, and how each family has collaborated with university researchers to make modern farming a success.

Daphne and Lloyd Holterman. Photo: Morgan Strauss.

Daphne and Lloyd Holterman. Photo: Morgan Strauss.

One of the families highlighted is Daphne and Lloyd Holterman who have been farming for over 30 years. Daphne graduated from UW-Madison 35 years ago as an Agricultural Journalism major, now Life Sciences Communication.  Soon after graduating she used her science communication skills to work in agriculture and food communications.

“I [worked in communications] during the week and farmed on the weekends.  And I loved every minute of it.  I loved working on the farm and getting my hands dirty. Then during the week, I would go to the office and work with other creative people to create communication plans where I would draw on my agricultural experiences,” Holterman said.

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Flooding creates extraordinary Tribal Youth Media Workshop experience

Each year LSC Professor Patty Loew and LSC Faculty Associate Don Stanley make the trip to the Bad River Ojibwe Reservation to lead the Tribal Youth Media Project.  The workshop, which is hosted by LSC, works to educate tribal youth on video production and storytelling techniques with the goal of helping participants communicate environmental stories and share tribal cultural practices with the outside world.

Donovan and Zach interviewing a couple from Ottawa, Canada who were stranded at the Bad River Lodge.

Donovan and Zach interviewing a couple from Ottawa, Canada who were stranded at the Bad River Lodge.

This summer the workshop unfolded a bit different than years past. During the first week of the program rains swept through northern Wisconsin depositing 11 inches in Bad River creating a state of emergency. “Bridges have collapsed, roads have washed away and Bad River is an island. The tribe is shut down, the casino is closed and lodge visitors are stranded.” noted Loew in an email on July 12th.

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LSC highly involved at the 2016 North American Congress for Conservation Biology

The Department of Life Sciences Communication was happy to contribute to the 2016 North American Congress for Conversation Biology.  The 3rd biennial congress’s theme was “Communicating Science for Conservation Action” and highlighted the importance of successful communication strategies in conversation science.  More and more scientific organizations are realizing the importance of communication in turning research into action and LSC is continuing its strong involvement in conversations across disciplines.

Jamie HoNACCBgberg, the organizing committee chair for the conference, noted “We are excited to collaborate with Life Sciences Communication faculty, staff, and students, and greatly value their contributions to the conference. Integrating perspectives from the LSC Department will surely enrich our dialogue during the conference, and provide meaningful impacts to conservation scientists’ work in the future.”
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