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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Announcing the winners of the first “My LSC” contest

The Department of Life Sciences Communication (LSC) is happy to announce the winners of its first “My LSC” contest. Molly Sequin earned first place, Travis Senn second place, and Olivia Riedel third.

The My LSC contest started this semester as a way for students to tell their story about the people, places, experiences, and memories that have shaped their time in the department. Students could submit entries in the form of a blog, photographs, or video. Submissions needed to speak to their time here and beyond, such as what LSC means to them, why they chose it as their major, what they want to do with their LSC degree, and more.

To reward their hard work, the top three winners will receive multiple prizes. The top three students will receive $500, $300, and $200, respectively. Their work will also be showcased on the LSC website and social media channels, as well as displayed on the first floor of Hiram Smith Hall. Anyone is invited to stop by and view the students’ work. Continue reading

Spring 2016 Colloquium still delivering exciting lineup

Mark your calendars: The LSC colloquium is once again bringing an exciting lineup of speakers for students and faculty alike. Attendees of the colloquium will hear from experts in risk, science communication, health communication, science and technology studies, science policy, and new information technologies, among other interesting areas.

The colloquium will take place each Wednesday from 12:05 to 1 p.m. in 137 Hiram Smith Hall. This semester the colloquium was organized by LSC chair Dominique Brossard. Check out the list of speakers below. All faculty, staff, and students are welcome to attend. You can click each speakers’ name for more information about them. Follow @UW_LSC or #uwlsc700 on Twitter for live tweets from the talks  Most importantly, after each speaker, a link by their names will take you to a video of their talk.  Continue reading

LSC remembers alumna Jean Fewster, gracious donor and friend

Members of the Department of Life Sciences Communication are remembering fondly all that Jean Fewster — successful alumna, gracious donor, and great friend of LSC — did for the department before passing away on Oct. 15, 2015 at the age of 91.

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Jean Fewster, LSC alumna and donor.

Originally from Toronto, Canada, Fewster’s career began with the Dairy Farmers of Canada. She went coast-to-coast spreading knowledge of the importance of dairy in the home through avenues like recipes, brochures, and radio shows.

She then came to the University of Wisconsin–Madison for a master’s degree in home economics journalism and nutrition and earned a Ph.D. in mass communications in 1969 in the Department of Agricultural Journalism, which is now known as the Department of Life Sciences Communication.

“She just filled up the room wherever she went and was so positive and upbeat,” said LSC professor emeritus Larry Meiller, who knew Fewster. “I don’t think those qualities diminished one bit during the 30 years I knew her.” Continue reading