LSC research methods course teaches students fundamental skills for success

You might not expect a single course to help prepare students for careers in advertising, journalism, market research, digital marketing, and public relations among others. But LSC 250: Research Methods in the Communication Industry does just that. The course teaches students the skills needed to synthesize and analyze data – an important skill in a broad range of fields.

LSC 250 focuses on developing research method skills including understanding research reports and data, identifying markets, segmenting audiences, measuring attitudes and developing effective campaign strategies and messages.

According to LSC chair Dominique Brossard, “The skills students learn in LSC 250 are fundamental for future academic research, but it is important to remember students will use those same skills when they graduate and move on to work in the industry.  Identifying and articulating trends in data is critical.”

Assistant Professor Neil Stenhouse teaches students data visualization skills

LSC’s Neil Stenhouse teaches students how to effectively communicate quantitative findings.

Through the course, students learn to design and conduct surveys, experiments and other forms of inquiry, interpret data, and write reports clearly demonstrating data significance.  Additionally, students work in groups to create an experimental or observational study with their peers.

“This course is really helping me. I am planning on getting a certificate in business so this course is giving me a lot of the background knowledge needed for a career in a variety of business fields,” notes LSC major Elizabeth Woidat. “The concepts in this course can apply to a lot of different majors.  It is also good to have this background knowledge when participating in research on campus.”
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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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LSC undergrads apply their communication skills at summer internships near and far

Many LSC undergraduate students engage in a wide variety of internships each summer and this year was no exception. Students throughout the department honed their science communication skills in professional settings, interning across the country – from Wisconsin to California and in between. In this story we highlight a small selection of students who demonstrated their knowledge and excellence in diverse fields.

Jordan Gaal in Washington DC with AHEC staff

Jordan Gaal in Washington DC with AHEC staff

One of the fields a degree in LSC prepares students for is health communications. For instance, junior Jordan Gaal was a Statewide Communications Assistant with Wisconsin Area Health Education Centers this summer. Through his internship, Jordan traveled to Washington DC to speak about the importance of health education with our national legislators.

“Classes such as Communication Industry Research Methods with Neil Stenhouse taught me how to effectively communicate science research through reports and presentations. Science, Media and Society taught by Dietram Scheufele helped me understand the strong role media plays in science communication, which led me to recognize the connection between media and healthcare in Wisconsin,” noted Jordan.  Check out Jordan’s full internship story in this feature by Scenic Rivers AHEC. Continue reading

New semester brings new opportunities for LSC students

Life Sciences Communication University of Wisconsin MadisonTuesday, September 6th, marks the start of the fall semester and we are excited to welcome students back to Hiram Smith Hall. The faculty and staff at the Department of Life Sciences Communication are looking forward to meeting new and returning graduate and undergraduate students as they begin their classes.

We have many exciting classes and projects going on this fall in LSC and we hope to see students from across the department involved.
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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 Contributes to Comprehensive Genetically Engineered Crops Study

LSC chair and professor Dominique Brossard served as a committee member of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s latest study on the impacts of genetically engineered crops.  The 20 expert committee investigated the potential economic, agronomic, health, safety, and other impacts of genetically engineered crops and food. The committee’s report, ‘Genetically Engineered Crops: Experiences and Prospects’ was released in mid-May of 2016, and provides an independent, objective examination of a range of issues related to GE crops based on scientific evidence.

Genetically Engineered Crops: Experiences and ProspectsThe committee members, which also included Biochemistry professor Richard Amasino, made sure to listen to and incorporate a large range of voices and points of view within the report. They examined over 1,000 research and other publications related to the topic; held information-gathering meetings via three in-person meetings and 15 webinars (for a total of 80 presentations); and read more than 700 comments submitted by members of the public.

Brossard points out that the committee took an innovative approach to help increase the openness and transparency of their work, including having a committee website that shared information about the study and the efforts along the way, and making the results easily accessible and widely shared.

The report is available for free download via the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine GE Crops website. According to William Kearney with the Academies’ Office of News & Public Information, the report was the fastest Academies report to reach 10,000 downloads. It has been downloaded more than 16,000 times in 110 countries and covered in more than 200 media outlets to date.

Some of that coverage highlighted Brossards’ contribution, including a MIT Technology Review article and a Washington Post story featuring LSC’s Brossard, among many others.

Brossard and Amasino traveled to Washington D.C. to participate in the congressional and public briefings associated with the release of the report. Brossard is continuing to speak with the media on the report and has talks scheduled into the fall to discuss the results.

For more information or to keep up to date with the discussion, be sure to check out the Twitter conversation at #GECropStudy.