First Year Reflection in LSC with Todd Newman

A lot can be accomplished within a year. LSC assistant professor Todd Newman didn’t waste any time getting into the swing of things here at UW-Madison.

LSC Professor Todd Newman

Newman joined the department in August 2018 to teach courses in strategic communication and marketing for LSC. Along with various instructional duties, Newman published academic research articles over the year, including “Climate change, cultural cognition, and media effects: Worldviews drive news selectivity, biased processing, and polarized attitudes,”and “The Emergence of Science as a Political Brand.”

Newman, also, just recently published an edited volume called, Theory and Best Practices in Science Communication Training. The book reports on the growing body of research in science communication training, and identifies best practices for communication training programs around the world. It includes contributions from researchers and practitioners from around the world, including a chapter written by LSC professor and chair Dominique Brossard and LSC postdoc Emily Howell on how scientists use social media.

In between getting ready for the upcoming school year, we caught up with Professor Newman and asked about his first year as a faculty member here in LSC.

LSC: Reflecting on your first year, what accomplishment are you most proud of and why?

TN: For the past two years I have been working on an edited volume in science communication training, which was completed in April and published in August. It is very exciting to see it come together, and it also helped me connect with researchers and practitioners from around the world. Also, I am very proud of the confidence I gained as an instructor over this past year. This includes the support and insight from my colleagues in the department, in addition to the students I was lucky to have in the classroom.

LSC: What were the courses you taught with LSC? Do you have a favorite classroom memory?

TN: In the fall and spring semesters, I taught LSC 270: Communication in Life Science Industries and during the spring semester I also taught LSC 435: Theory and Practice of Integrated Marketing Communication. My favorite memories are always the student presentations at the end of the semester. For example, in LSC 270 students worked in small groups to create a new product and develop an integrated marketing campaign around their product. There were always some really unique products, like hemp-based milk, whey infused coffee, and protein packed apple sauce!

LSC: What kind of research are you focusing on with LSC? What research groups are you involved in/collaborating with?

TN: My research agenda at LSC builds on research that I started during my postdoctoral work looking at the emerging field of science communication training. I recently published and edited a volume on the topic and also conducted two surveys of scientists’ views toward public engagement and communication training. More recently, I am bridging my interests in marketing and branding with research on the “science of science communication”. I am beginning to start several projects looking at ways that insight from these fields can better help scientists and scientific organizations connect to a changing society.

Since joining the department, I have been affiliated with the Science, Media, and the Public (SCIMEP) research group. Currently we are working on a survey measuring public attitudes on artificial intelligence.

LSC: How did you prepare for your first year? What is your trick for success?

TN: I knew that teaching a course new to me was going to be challenging. I allocated a lot of time structuring the course, and found ways to incorporate new activities and exercises for students to engage with the material. I want students think critically about the material, but have fun while doing so. It was also helpful to work on a number of collaborative projects. Working with teams helps to keep up the momentum on projects.

LSC: Now that you’ve been here a year, what’s something you wish you would have known before coming to UW?

TN: It may take some time for me to fully understand the unknown known.

LSC: What is something you’re excited about getting more involved with in LSC or at UW?

TN: I’ve started to work with a few students on their theses or dissertations and have really enjoyed the experience. I look forward to continuing to work with students in LSC, as well as across campus. I also had the opportunity to facilitate a few science communication training sessions on campus and look forward to continuing to do this as well.

LSC: Favorite campus hot spot to spend time?

TN: Hiram Smith Hall. I see it as my academic chalet. That counts as a hot spot, right?

LSC: If you were a Babcock ice cream flavor, what would you be and why?

TN: Probably Blue Moon…I like the color blue.

LSC: Any advice to an incoming faculty member at UW?

TN: Go on the Wisconsin Idea Seminar!