LSC partners with Urban Canid Project for interdisciplinary research

Story by Ysabella Bhagroo. Ysabella is an undergraduate student majoring in LSC and the Department of Life Sciences Communication’s 2017-18 Lenore Landry Scholar.

A fox wanders through a city street in Madison, Wisconsin. Photo courtesy of the UW Urban Canid Project.

A fox wanders through a city street in Madison, Wisconsin. Photo: UW Urban Canid Project.

As Wisconsin’s red fox and coyote populations grow, Madison is seeing an increasing number of these urban canids establishing their homes closer to campus. Recently, LSC chair Dominique Brossard, associate professor Bret Shaw, and faculty associate Don Stanley teamed up with the UW-Madison Urban Canid Project, a project that investigates the way canids are living in Madison and how we coexist with them.

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LSC joins Planet Forward consortium

In 2018, the University of Wisconsin-Madison joined the Planet Forward consortium, a network of around 20 universities from across the U.S. dedicated to helping up-and-coming storytellers share stories of environmental and sustainability innovations.

Planet Forward is a project of the Center for Innovative Media at George Washington University and was launched in 2009 by Frank Sesno, former CNN correspondent and director of George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs.

The Department of Life Sciences Communication spearheaded the effort to bring the project to UW-Madison.

“Planet Forward is a new storytelling outlet for LSC that rewards our students in their passion for the environment and creative new ideas in sustainability,” said LSC professor and director of undergraduate studies Shiela Reaves.

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John Fett, professor emeritus of life sciences communication, dies at 85

The following is a press release published by the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences that has been adapted and republished here.

John Fett, a professor emeritus and former chairman of the Department of Life Sciences Communication who shaped the department’s course for more than three decades, on Jan. 30, 2018. He was 85.
John Fett

Born on May 7, 1932 in Plymouth, Wis., he earned a trifecta of degrees from UW–Madison: a B.S. in Agricultural Journalism (now Life Sciences Communication) in 1961, a M.S. in Agricultural Journalism in 1962 and a Ph.D. in Mass Communication in 1967. He was hired as an instructor at the university in 1962 and joined the faculty of the Department of Agricultural Journalism as a professor in 1967.

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Spring semester greets students with spectrum of opportunities

Hiram Smith Hall has been quiet over winter recess and LSC is excited to welcome students back for the spring semester. We hope our students have returned to campus feeling restored and invigorated.

This semester will be the first for some LSC students, and the last for many of our seniors. But for all, the new semester brings a host of opportunities.

LSC Students wait for a class in Hiram Smith Hall's Sumner Student Lounge.

LSC Students wait for a class in Hiram Smith Hall’s Sumner Student Lounge.

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Alumni profile: Laura Strugnell gives a voice to the next generation of agricultural research

In spring 2017, Laura Strugnell (B.S. ’17) tapped the mail icon on her phone and found an email sent to the Life Sciences Communication (LSC) undergraduate student listserv. Strugnell was searching for a job, and the email advertised a communications position in Texcoco, Mexico at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (known as CIMMYT for its Spanish name Centro Internacional de Mejoramiento de Maíz y Trigo).

A Madison native, Strugnell hadn’t planned on getting a job outside the U.S. However, she had taken a variety of agriculture classes and worked in a horticulture lab while at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, so she knew about CIMMYT’s global reputation. The more she thought about it, the more convinced she became that working at CIMMYT could be a prime opportunity to put her LSC education to work.

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LSC students apply communication education at internships near and far

Over the summer, LSC students had fun applying their science communication education as interns in professional settings across the country. Here we highlight a few examples of LSC’s many summer interns.

Riley Steinbrenner holding a crayfish for her internship at Trout Lake Station

Riley Steinbrenner holding a crayfish for her internship at Trout Lake Station

Senior Riley Steinbrenner traveled to Boulder Junction, Wisconsin this summer to intern at the University of Wisconsin Center for Limnology’s Trout Lake Station. She worked on the center’s social media strategy, helped organize station events, and created content for a section of the Center for Limnology’s blog, Off the Reel.

“One of my inspirations for Off the Reel was from what I learned about photography and communicating science with narrative in my LSC courses: Storytelling paired with visuals can increase narrative transport, which helps readers understand and enjoy learning about complex scientific research! I also got a chance to use the graphic-design principles I learned from LSC,” says Steinbrenner.

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LSC grads tackle entrepreneurship to make their dreams a reality

LSC grads go on to have careers in numerous fields, whether it’s digital marketing, technical writing, broadcast production, or science outreach.  More still go on to create their own ventures through entrepreneurship. These individuals imagine new opportunities not yet in the marketplace and take action to create successful enterprises. The businesses they create span a range of industries from agriculture to health and fitness and technology development.

Andy Peterson with his wife, Jenna, and daughter, Shirley.

One LSC entrepreneur is 2008 grad, Andy Peterson. Andy started working on a plan for his business, Limousin Live, in his LSC capstone, allowing him to jump into the company directly after graduation.  Today, Andy owns two companies. Limousin Live which helps ranchers market their herd’s genetics through quality content and information, and Peterson Craftsman Meats where he raises and harvests high-quality meats.

“LSC impacted both of my businesses by helping guide me to the industries that were the best fit for my interests,” says Peterson.  While in school, Andy learned to produce podcasts through an information radio class with LSC’s Larry Meiller, and mastered content marketing and website design from LSC’s Don Stanley and Sarah Botham. Right off the bat, he was able to provide high-quality websites and content to his ranch clients and bring social marketing strategies to the cattle arena.

“To me, LSC totally encapsulates the Wisconsin Idea because it allowed me the space to be creative. The classes in LSC provided me the tools and resources to be successful and the creative room to explore different business solutions,” notes Andy.
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LSC senior lecturer Ron Seely lends his expertise to help protect the Great Lakes

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

LSC faculty are leaders in the science communication field, and in addition to their teaching, research, and outreach roles within the university, many also pursue science communication work at the local, regional, and national scale.  LSC senior lecturer Ron Seely recently lent his expertise to a worthwhile regional effort – protecting the Great Lakes.

Ron Seely, LSC senior lecturer and award-winning science writer.

In September 2016 the Mary Griggs Burke Center for Freshwater Innovation at Northland College invited Seely to attend a two-day summit about the future of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) and write a white paper about the issue. The initiative aims to clean and protect the Great Lakes’ water resources with federal funding.

Seely used the conference discussions among biologists, limnologists, ecologists, and other scientific professionals to produce a digestible and convincing document about the challenges facing the lake.  That said, his work started well before the conference. Ron spent months preparing for the summit by researching the biological processes of freshwater resources and the effects of pollution, biodiversity, and water quality on the Great Lake’s ecosystem.

Ron agrees these efforts paid off. “It’s a great comfort when you sit down to write something like this to have a huge stack of information to pull from. I had a better handle on the discussion as it happened. In the end, I went to the summit pretty well prepared and I think that’s a good lesson for a writer. You can’t really spend too much time understanding your topic.”

According to the summit and Seely’s white paper, the benefits provided by the GLRI are clear. The program, which started in 2010, has made tremendous positive strides to improve the health of the Great Lakes. “All the experts who had been involved pointed out that it is this tremendously successful bipartisan program,” noted Seely.

Since its publication last fall the white paper has passed through the hands of important decision makers and continues to make the rounds among congressional delegates involved in determining the future of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

 

 

Alumni profile: 2014 grad Dexter Patterson finds his purpose at LSC

Today, Dexter Patterson (BS ’14) is busier than ever. In addition to serving as the social and digital media specialist for the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association, he is in the process of building a media company, and pursuing his master’s degree at the Brian Lamb School of Communication at Purdue University. According to Dexter, LSC defined his badger experience and helped him find his purpose.

Learn more about his LSC experience below:

New LSC course examines the role of narrative in science communication

The use of narrative in science has become a particularly active area of research in recent years. Narrative can be a powerful tool for any form of communication and science is no exception.  But it is not as easy as it may seem.  When using storytelling in science, there are many questions to address. What does research tell us about what is effective when using narrative in science? What should the plot line be? What platform is best? What is the length and format? These are just a few of the questions communicators must address when composing a narrative about science.

This semester, LSC debuted a new course focusing on this emerging area in science communication – LSC 430: Communicating Science with Narrative. The course, taught by Professor Shiela Reaves, explores how storytelling can be used to communicate complex scientific topics to non-expert audiences. Students examine the impact of metaphor in science writing, the scientific paradigm shifts surrounding narrative theory, and how news-editorial thinking can be used in the sciences.

“Although storytelling is ancient to the human species, it is relatively new in the life sciences, and many scientists are not aware of the persuasive impact of non-fiction storytelling found in the news media. By understanding the power of storytelling to change minds, our students can stand out in the field,” notes Reaves.
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