LSC’s science communication colloquium featured an exciting line-up

The Spring 2018 Life Sciences Communication colloquium brought acclaimed speakers from near and far. Over the course of the semester, attendees of the colloquium heard from experts in science communication, science policy, sustainability marketing, media sociology, and other interesting areas.

We’ve published videos of the talks below in case you missed them. Continue reading

LSC offers popular science writing course this spring

With so many complex current issues such as climate change, vaccination and gene editing that have not only scientific and technical dimensions, but also ethical and social implications, it has never been more important to communicate about science effectively.

This Spring, the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Life Sciences Communication’s popular course LSC 560: Scientific Writing will teach graduate students in scientific fields to do just that. In the course, LSC senior lecturer and award-winning journalist Ron Seely will share over 20 years of expertise as a science and environmental reporter working for the Wisconsin State Journal and as a freelancer to help students bring clarity and simplicity to complex scientific subjects.

Hand writes Science Writing with Life Sciences Communication pen

“LSC 560 gives graduate students a professional understanding of how to effectively communicate science and research findings to the public. It helps any scientist or science writer who needs to understand how and why their messages must change along with the audience they address, whether it’s scientific, lay or governmental,” says LSC professor and director of undergraduate studies Shiela Reaves.

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LSC chair Dominique Brossard sheds light on communication about climate engineering

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

It’s the stuff of science fiction – artificially whitening clouds, injecting reflective particles into the stratosphere, seeding the oceans with iron – all to reverse the escalating consequences of climate change.

With changing global weather patterns, including five hurricanes within the past month, Dominique Brossard, chair of the Life Sciences Communication Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, believes the time to discuss solutions is now.

LSC chair Dominique Brossard – Photo: Kyle Cassidy

According to a recent Stanford study, if we want to reduce global temperature by 2 degrees Celsius, we need to significantly reduce our reliance on fossil fuels within the next 2 or 3 decades. To do this, experts are turning to climate engineering, or “geoengineering,” for answers.

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New semester brings new opportunities for LSC students

As the fall semester begins, we are excited to welcome to Hiram Smith Hall new and returning students from across the state and across the world.

In the next fifteen weeks, LSC students will explore the theory and practice of subjects at the forefront of science communication. Some students will create multimedia projects and design original websites. Other students will produce professional-grade audio projects and work on manuscripts that may be published in academic journals.

LSC students pose in front of Hiram Smith Hall during the first week of the Fall 2017 semester

This semester, it is also LSC’s pleasure to welcome a new lecturer to our faculty. Jenne Meyer is the Vice President of Brand for the healthcare company ERDMAN and serves on the Board of Directors of the companies BizStarts, BrightLife Innovations, and Jouze. This semester, she will bring her business experience to the classroom to teach LSC270: Communication in Life Sciences Industries and LSC 435: Integrated Marketing Communication.

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LSC’s Larry Meiller inducted in the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame

LSC is excited to announce that LSC professor emeritus and senior lecturer Larry Meiller was inducted into the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame on Thursday, June 15, 2017.  Larry’s on-air career has spanned 50 years and he continues to host “The Larry Meiller Show” every weekday in addition to serving as a faculty member at LSC and inspiring students to pursue radio in LSC’s Information Radio course.

Larry Meiller’s radio career started while an undergraduate student in the Department of Agricultural Journalism (now called Life Sciences Communication).  Meiller enrolled in a radio class his senior year and shortly after he was asked to fill in on “The Farm Program,” a department run agricultural radio segment on WHA AM radio, for a summer by late LSC professor Maury White. Not long after, Meiller took over running “The Farm Program” while pursuing his Ph.D. in Mass Communications at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Larry has hosted a number of programs including “The Farm Program,” “The Midday Report,” “Wisconsin Hear and Now,” and “Conversations with Larry Meiller,” and he has interviewed local and national celebrities including Jesse Jackson, Pat Summerall, John Grisham and others.

“Larry Meiller is truly a Wisconsin institution,” notes LSC chair Dominique Brossard. “Larry really epitomizes the Wisconsin Idea because not only does he love teaching students how to communicate effectively, but he also draws on that knowledge and the knowledge of the university as a whole to discuss a range of topics on his radio show.  And he has done this for 50 years! We are truly lucky to have him.”

More information on Larry and his career is available through the video below created by the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association and through this interview with Larry last year.

LSC chair Dominique Brossard named Fellow of International Communication Association

This week, Life Sciences Communication professor and chair Dominique Brossard is traveling to San Diego to be honored at the 2017 International Communication Association (ICA) Conference.  Brossard will be named a Fellow of ICA and will be recognized by association leaders at their annual conference.

Photo credit: Kyle Cassidy

Fellow status in the ICA, the most prestigious association for communication researchers, is a recognition of distinguished scholarly contributions to the broad field of communication. Brossard is an internationally known expert in public opinion dynamics related to controversial scientific issues.  Her research focuses on the intersection between science, media and policy and on understanding the role of values in shaping public attitudes.

“Dominique is without a doubt one of the most widely recognized international experts in the area of communication about controversial science. Her track record of establishing communication research as a foundation for scientific work in other disciplines – both within the social sciences and the bench sciences – is unique in our discipline,” notes LSC professor Dietram Scheufele. Scheufele himself was named an ICA Fellow in June of 2016.

In addition to serving as a Fellow for ICA, Brossard is also a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and is a former board member of the International Network of Public Communication of Science and Technology.

LSC honors scholarship winners, donors, alumni, and friends at recognition reception

This past Thursday, April 20th, LSC students, faculty, and staff joined donors, alumni and friends for LSC’s annual Student and Donor Recognition Reception.

Sixteen students were honored for their academic achievements and received scholarships and awards thanks to the generous gifts from donors.  Warren Nesbitt, a 76′ graduate of LSC, served as the guest speaker. Warren, who is President of SolutionTrack Associates, reflected on his time in LSC and his successful communications career before giving students advice for their future careers.

Alumni, donors and friends traveled from near and far to attend and pass along their generosity to a new group of students, enabling many of these students to go above and beyond.   Thank you to all the generous donors for supporting our students and for all they invest in LSC!
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LSC offers online courses this summer for undergrads, grads, and non-majors alike

Summer is right around the corner and the Department of Life Sciences Communication is offering a variety of classes to educate undergraduate, graduate, and non-degree students in both the theoretical and applied side of science communication.  LSC is offering five classes this summer and each are online allowing students to enroll from all over the world.

Classes include LSC 350: Visualizing Science and Technology, an introductory course on the visual communication of science taught by professor Shiela Reaves. This online course overviews the principles of design, perception, and cognition, and outlines techniques used to portray science in the media.  Students explore visual communication through illustrated lectures and visual image analysis in both written assignments and team presentations.

LSC’s five online classes provide UW students around the globe the opportunity to participate.

LSC faculty affiliate Don Stanley is teaching LSC 432: Social Media in the Life Sciences, an online course overviewing the foundations of content marketing.  The course outlines effective digital marketing strategies and explores how social media can be leveraged for success.  Students learn tools for social media communication specific to the sciences and are tasked with building their personal social media presence.

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LSC’s Patty Loew helps facilitate University of Wisconsin and Native Nations partnership

Much of LSC professor Patty Loew’s research has focused on how indigenous people use media to form identity, reconstruct the past, and assert their sovereignty and treaty rights.  A member of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe, Loew’s passion for First Nation communities has led her to write multiple books and articles on Native topics, produce Native-themed documentaries, and teach various courses related to indigenous populations including the course LSC 444: Native American Environmental Issues and the Media.

LSC’s Patty Loew speaking at the 2015 UW/Native Nations Summit on Environment and Health.

Recently, her passions led her to a unique project. Loew is now working with the School of Human Ecology (SoHE) leading the UW-Native Nations Initiative, a partnership between UW-Madison, UW-Extension, and UW Colleges to improve the relationship between the University of Wisconsin and the twelve Indian nations located in the state.

In the past UW-Madison, UW-Extension, and UW Colleges have partnered with Native Nations on various efforts surrounding health services, environmental preservation, economic development, education, and more.  However, past partnership and support has sometimes been uneven, informal, or unsustainable.  The UW-Native Nations Initiative aims to build more respectful and reciprocal partnerships between the University of Wisconsin and Native Nation communities across the state.

“We haven’t done a good job of making our UW campuses welcoming spaces for Native students and our research approaches haven’t always been respectful.  We believe that we need to make changes,” Loew said.
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LSC’s Dietram Scheufele contributes to NASEM human gene editing report

Life Sciences Communication professor Dietram Scheufele served on the international committee examining the implications of human gene editing, and their report titled “Human Genome Editing: Science, Ethics, and Governance” was released today, February 14, 2017.

Human gene editing is not a new concept, however, with the emergence of CRISPR-Cas9, scientists are able to alter genes more efficiently and precisely than before.  In 2015, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine convened a consensus committee to better understand the clinical, ethical, legal, and social implications of this technology.

A subset of the human gene editing committee met with Rep. Bill foster (IL-11th District) on Monday February 13th to brief him on the report.

The international committee featured experts in science, law, political science, and industry from around the globe, including Scheufele and UW-Madison law and bioethics professor R. Alto Charo who co-chaired the panel.

Many of the questions posed to the panel were inevitably linked to science communication and Scheufele, who publishes extensively on public opinion of emerging technologies, was able to provide expertise to this multidisciplinary group.

According to the NASEM, “[the report] considers important questions about the human application of genome editing including: balancing potential benefits with unintended risks, governing the use of genome editing, incorporating societal values into clinical applications and policy decisions, and respecting the inevitable differences across nations and cultures that will shape how and whether to use these new technologies.”  Among the report’s contributions, it recommends criteria for germline editing, outlines the critical need for public engagement, and proposes seven general principles for the governance of human gene editing across the globe.

For more information on the report, see the following story by University Communications. Keep up with the discussion on Twitter at #GeneEditStudy.  The full report is available for download via the NASEM website.

Story adapted from University Communications.