The Department of Life Sciences Communication at the University of Wisconsin–Madison offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral education in science communication. Our research, teaching, and outreach focus on both applied and theoretical communication issues. A degree in LSC prepares students for professional and academic careers related to communicating about health, the environment, agriculture, and the biological sciences in an era of rapid technological change and media convergence.

Hiram Smith

The department was established in 1908 as the first Department of Agricultural Journalism in the world and quickly developed a rich history. In 2000, we changed our name to LSC to reflect the extraordinary growth in our field. The study of agricultural sciences has been accompanied by rapid expansion in neighboring life sciences disciplines, such as agricultural biotechnology and nanotechnology, and in associated basic sciences such as biochemistry and bacteriology. Simultaneously, the field of communication has embraced marketing in addition to journalism, resulting in broader career opportunities for our graduates.

Situated in the heart of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, LSC benefits from close proximity to life sciences departments and from an increasing number of double majors at the undergraduate level — pursuing a simultaneous major in Genetics and LSC, for example — and from a graduate student body that includes science graduates.

Our faculty studies a broad range of science communication issues critical to the future of our state, nation, and global community. Examples include combating invasive species to preserve environmental integrity, exploring how risk aversion influences public opinion of controversial science, and helping Native-American children relate tribal beliefs about the natural world to emerging scientific discoveries.

As students strive to learn multimedia skills, for instance, they can take a course where they will be placed in a company launching new scientific products and help that company establish effective communications, while learning the basics of angel investing and the foundations of a high tech industry.

Our alumni maintain that LSC has excelled in fulfilling its mission for more than a century because of the mix of theoretical excellence and practical insight that it cultivates in its faculty, staff, and students.

Where else will a student find a professor with a graduate degree in agricultural engineering, a Ph.D. in communication, and five years experience as an international business consultant teaching a required undergraduate course on communication campaigns? Our legacy is embodied in the synergy of theory and practice.

Mission & Vision:

LSC research, teaching and outreach focuses on excellence in applied and theoretical communication issues related to the College of Agricultural & Life Sciences Priority Themes (Basic Sciences, Bioenergy and Bioproducts, Changing Climate, Economic & Community Development, Food Systems, Health & Wellness, Healthy Ecosystems).

A degree in LSC prepares students for professional and academic careers related to communicating health, environmental, agricultural, biological, and bioenergy sciences across diverse audiences in an era of rapid technological change, digital communication, and social media. Life Sciences Communication trains the leaders of tomorrow through educational and research excellence directed toward the general public, targeted audiences, or niche markets.

LSC Core Values:

  • Global leadership role in science communication research, education and outreach;
  • Teaching and research excellence;
  • Real-world impact exemplifying the Wisconsin Idea;
  • Synergy of theory and practice experienced through theoretical excellence and practical insights;
  • Integrity and transparency in all interactions;
  • Culture of respect, inclusion, and collaboration among a diverse body of faculty, students, and greater community;
  • Interdisciplinary focus enriching student, staff, and faculty experience.