LSC faculty awarded NSF $450,000 grant to reduce polarization about new science

Story by Madison Brunett. Madison is an undergraduate student majoring in LSC and the Department of Life Sciences Communication’s 2018-19 Lenore Landry Scholar.

Gene Editing

Photo from National Human Genome Research Institute. Credit: Ernesto del Aguila III, NHGRI.

Imagine having the ability to rid the world of genetically inherited diseases. Scientists have created a gene-editing tool called CRISPR/Cas-9 that allows scientists to edit heritable and non-heritable genes at a faster rate and lower cost. This could lead to the elimination of diseases such as sickle-cell anemia and cystic fibrosis in the near future.

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The start to a new school year provides plenty of opportunities for students

As the summer comes to a close, we are excited to welcome new and returning students from across the state and world to LSC’s home in Hiram Smith Hall.

Hiram Smith Hall

Hiram Smith Hall summer 2018

In the coming weeks, LSC students will explore the theory and practice of subjects at the cutting edge of science communication. Some students will begin research projects and work on manuscripts that may be published in academic journals. Other students will create multimedia projects, design original websites and media content.

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Science and social media course cuts across disciplines

Science and Social Media. Einstein writes equations and social media icons on chalkboard

The internet is transforming the relationship between science and society. Open-access peer-reviewed journals, scientific blogs and online scientific communities have made science more accessible than ever. At the same time, the ease of online searching and ubiquity of social media has fostered the spread of misinformation and pseudoscience. As a result, social media literacy is increasingly important within the sphere of science.

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Brossard appointed to climate change advisory committee

University of Wisconsin-Madison Life Sciences Communication professor and chair Dominique Brossard has been appointed to an advisory committee that will oversee the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s newly announced Climate Communications Initiative (CCI).

LSC chair Dominique Brossard

LSC chair Dominique Brossard – Photo: Kyle Cassidy

“The National Academies have a vast library of authoritative information to help everyone from savvy citizens to responsible decision makers understand, prepare, and respond to climate change,” said Marcia McNutt, president of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.  “This initiative facilitates access to that storehouse to help protect the many sectors of human investment from unnecessary surprises.”

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LSC researchers explore security implications of gene editing

The following story was written by Brian Mattmiller of the Morgridge Institute for Research. It has been adapted and republished here. 

LSC professor Dietram Scheufele leads a panel and LSC chair Dominique Brossard serves as a panelist at an international workshop on genome editing security.

LSC professor Dietram Scheufele leads a panel and LSC chair Dominique Brossard serves as a panelist at an international workshop on genome editing security.

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Life Sciences Communication participated in an international workshop this month on the intersection of genome editing technology and national security.

The Oct. 11-13 conference, based in Hanover, Germany, assembled a global group of bioethics and government experts to address security questions on gene editing as they relate to human health, agriculture and the potential to genetically alter species. Experts from the United States and across Europe, China and India explored ideas for harmonizing gene editing policies across national borders.

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LSC researchers find attitudes toward human genome editing vary, but all agree conversation is necessary

The following story was written by Caroline Schneider of CALS External Relations. It has been adapted and republished here. 

In early August 2017, an international team of scientists announced they had successfully edited the DNA of human embryos. As people process the political, moral, and regulatory issues of the technology — which nudges us closer to nonfiction than science fiction — a new study from LSC researchers shows the time is now to involve the American public in discussions about human genome editing.

In the study published Aug. 11 in the journal Science, researchers assessed what people in the United States think about the uses of human genome editing and how their attitudes may drive public discussion. They found a public divided on its uses but united in the importance of moving conversations forward.

“There are several pathways we can go down with gene editing,” says LSC professor Dietram Scheufele, lead author of the study and member of a National Academy of Sciences committee that compiled a report focused on human gene editing earlier this year. “Our study takes an exhaustive look at all of those possible pathways forward and asks where the public stands on each one of them.”

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LSC’s Dietram Scheufele co-edits handbook on the science of science communication

Friday June 16th, the Oxford University Press released The Oxford Handbook of the Science of Science Communication. The book, co-edited by LSC professor Dietram Scheufele, Kathleen Hall Jamieson of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, and Dan Kahan of Yale Law School, provides a comprehensive overview of the current issues and challenges facing science communication.

Dietram holds a copy of The Oxford Handbook of the Science of Science Communication at the Oxford University Press book display at ICA’s annual conference.

The handbook features essays from the leading scholars in science communication including LSC professor and chair Dominique Brossard and LSC faculty affiliate Michael Xenos. Many LSC alumni also contributed including Heather Akin (who will be an assistant professor at the University of Missouri this fall), Nan Li of Texas Tech University, and Sara K. Yeo of the University of Utah.

“For a long time, the scientific community has relied on intuition rather than empirical data when it came to communicating the value of science to different political and public audiences,” says Scheufele.  “The handbook brings together some of the very best social scientists whose work helps us approach science communication from a truly scientific perspective.”

The handbook provides case studies of past science communication successes and failures, and identifies human biases that often affect the ways in which scientific information is processed.  In addition, the book takes the next step and provides ways to overcome biases – such as selective exposure, motivated reasoning and the availability heuristic – and discusses how these biases are exacerbated by the changing media environment.

More information and purchase information is available at the Oxford University Press.

LSC classes collaborate with the City of Monona through UW’s UniverCity Year Program

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

The 2016-2017 academic year marked the first year of the University of Wisconsin’s UniverCity Year program, where twenty-three classes across campus teamed up with the City of Monona to work on projects aimed at helping the city address key programs. The Department of Life Sciences Communication continued our tradition of engaging with Wisconsin communities by having two classes team up with UniverCity to help the City of Monona tackle projects while providing students an opportunity to immerse themselves in real-world professional experiences. One of LSC’s capstone classes developed a city-wide leaf management campaign, while students in LSC’s Information Radio class produced public service announcements for the city.
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