Effective Communication Helps Keep Wisconsin Lakes Some of the Best in the Midwest

Each year, Wisconsin’s lakes and streams are visited by nearly 1.3 million anglers, making the state one of the top ten for angler activity. Collectively, these anglers spend over 21 million days fishing each season. While that’s 21 million potential days to hit the lake, teach a child to fish, or reconnect with old friends, it’s also 21 million days during which aquatic hitchhikers may be catching a free ride to new waters on the over 600,000 registered watercraft in Wisconsin.

Professional anglers can use numerous techniques, such as high-pressure spraying, to remove aquatic invasive species from their boats. Photo by Jeremy Jones.

Professional anglers can use numerous techniques, such as high-pressure spraying, to remove aquatic invasive species from their boats. Photo by Jeremy Jones.

Aquatic invasive species (AIS), like zebra mussels and Eurasian milfoil, are non-native species that, when introduced into novel habitats, are able to outcompete and edge out native species, often causing tremendous ecological damage in the process. One of the most common ways aquatic invasives jump from lake to lake is by “hitchhiking” on boats and other watercraft, or by hanging out in live wells and bait buckets. 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.


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

Dietram Scheufele named to NAS gene editing panel

Dietram Scheufele, professor of life sciences communication at UW-Madison and Morgridge Institute for Research affiliate, will serve on a national panel examining the implications of human genome editing.

Photo courtesy of Kyle Cassidy of the Annenberg Public Policy Center.

Photo courtesy of Kyle Cassidy of the Annenberg Public Policy Center.

The committee, announced Nov. 12 by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, will examine the clinical, ethical, legal and social implications of the emerging technology. Genome editing holds great medical promise but also poses risks of off-target genetic alterations and raises fears it could irrevocably alter the human germline. Continue reading

New faculty profile: Neil Stenhouse explores impact of science comm on political behavior

Neil Stenhouse joined the faculty in the Department of Life Sciences Communication as an assistant professor this August.

Briefly describe your career path—up to this point.
IMG_0235I got my BS in Psychology at the University of Otago in New Zealand, where I’m from. Following that I spent two years teaching English in Japan, where I became interested in getting a graduate degree in political science. I started that degree at the University of Auckland when I returned to New Zealand. In the midst of that degree I became interested in the politics of climate change, and found out about the Center for Climate Change Communication (4C) at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. Their work seemed an ideal match between my main area of interest and the kind of quantitative social science research I’d done up until that point. So I applied to start a Communication PhD at George Mason, and did research for 4C all the way through my degree. Continue reading

Writing students practice interviewing at Capitol press conference

State officials and experts gathered at the Capitol to help LSC students practice interviewing and writing by being part of a press conference just for the students. Students in LSC 111: Science and Technology Newswriting got to interview the assistant state veterinarian about avian flu in the mock press conference.


Students and experts gathered in a room in the Capitol on Monday, Oct. 5 for a mock press conference. LSC students asked the assistant state veterinarian questions about avian flu.

The Oct. 5 press conference was conducted just like a real press conference that reporters would attend at the Capitol. Department of Life Sciences Communication senior lecturer Mike Flaherty organized for assistant state veterinarian Darlene Konkle to announce the state’s latest actions to combat avian flu, a devastating new strain that has badly damaged Wisconsin’s poultry industry. The issue is an important one that has affected Wisconsin in the past. Those involved said the opportunity was really a win-win for everyone.

“The students asked great and engaging questions and this is such a great way to utilize a class like this,” Konkle said. “These types of things are always helpful for me too because I get to practice working with the media.” Continue reading

Students in LSC writing classes help document history of World Dairy Expo

The dairy industry and the World Dairy Expo are near and dear to Wisconsin’s heart. That’s why six students from writing classes in the Department of Life Sciences Communication were more than happy to help preserve the legacy of the World Dairy Expo by writing sections of a book documenting the event’s history.

image001“The students really approached this work with a lot of enthusiasm, even attending last year’s Expo to get a feel for the experience,” said Corey Geiger, managing editor of Hoard’s Dairyman and co-editor of the book. “I think what prepped them was a strong base of skills for writing about science.”

The World Dairy Expo commemorative history book titled “We Need a Show” highlights the Expo’s beginning, its successes and struggles during its first 50 years, as well as its future. The six LSC students wrote chapters of the book, covering topics such as cattle judging, how technology enhances the Expo, and how youth make lasting memories during their Expo experience. The book is now available at the Hoard’s Dairyman website. Continue reading

LSC to help host Politics and the Life Sciences conference

The Department of Life Sciences Communication, housed in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, is excited to be partnering with the Association for Politics and the Life Sciences to put on its annual conference Oct. 23-24.

10255729_10152365743822140_1435178686891009219_nThe association is a diverse group of scholars, scientists, and policymakers who work in the intersections of politics and the life sciences. For example, many use evolutionary, genetic, and ecological knowledge to further work related to political behavior, public policy, and ethics.

“UW-Madison and LSC bring tremendous energy and expertise to the study of biopolitics, as suggested by the large number of UW–Madison scholars who are participating,” said Gregg Murray, APLS executive director. “And we at APLS are excited about the possibilities for collaboration and further advances in research that this conference brings with such an intellectually rich venue and hosts.” Continue reading

Undergraduates apply LSC skills and theories to excel at summer internships

Lots of LSC undergraduates had very exciting summers, interning everywhere from a UW-Madison Center for Limnology field station to a weather station in Chicago.

Undergraduate classes in LSC give students the theoretical base and skills to work in many areas of science communication. For example, senior Morgan Strauss was a marketing intern for Didion Milling in Johnson Creek and Cambria, WI.

Morgan Strauss

Morgan Strauss

“I’ve been able to learn a lot about numerous communication methods in LSC and have been able to improve my writing and oral communication skills immensely, which was especially helpful for all the blog posts and press releases I wrote,” Strauss said. “LSC has also expanded my knowledge of social media marketing, web design, and print/electronic design, which was relevant to a lot of projects at Didion.” Continue reading

Ahna Skop blends science and art as newest LSC affiliate faculty member

Art and science may seem like a mismatch, but to Ahna Skop, the newest affiliate faculty member in the Department of Life Sciences Communication, they make perfect sense.

Raised by two artists and holding an associate professorship in the Department of Genetics, she strives to be interdisciplinary in all of her work. When not researching cell division in her lab, she is teaching her science students how to write effectively and think about using visuals to communicate. She also incorporates art into her research interests. For example, she has organized the bi-annual Worm Art Show for the International C. elegans Meeting for the past 19 years.

On April 17, 2008, Ahna Skop, assistant professor of genetics, poses in front of oversized images highlighting microscopic science, an art display she coordinated and installed in the lobby of the Genetics-Biotechnology Center Building at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. ©UW-Madison University Communications 608/262-0067 Photo by: Jeff Miller Date: 04/08 File#: D200 digital camera frame 0757

Ahna Skop, associate professor of genetics.
©UW-Madison University Communications 
Photo by: Jeff Miller

“I know there are ways to communicate science effectively through the visual and I spend a lot of time thinking about them,” she said. “It’s not just through writing. There are ways you can clearly articulate science to the public in a very simply way with a nice image or illustration. When thinking in the visual you often see things in a way you wouldn’t have before.” Continue reading

Young alumni utilize science communication skills to succeed at BioTechnique

Undergraduate alumni of the Department of Life Sciences Communication are well prepared to enter numerous fields thanks to the skills and connections they gain from LSC, and industry companies certainly take notice.

BioTechnique logoJust one example is the story of two December 2014 LSC graduates who immediately found jobs at BioTechnique, a company based in Madison that opened its doors just last year and helps produce cancer-fighting products. The company has been very pleased with the pair in the past several months and look forward to building a relationship with LSC to possibly hire more of its alumni. Continue reading