There are many exciting career opportunities and challenges faced by the next generation of early career science communicators as they transition into the professional industry. Last week in the department, LSC alumni from various companies came together to provide career development advice and guidance for LSC students at all stages of their careers.
Life Sciences Communication Master’s alum, Dennis Dimick (’74) recently visited campus to speak during the Wisconsin Science Festival. Dimick has worked as journalist, photographer, and editor for various newspapers. He served as the executive environment editor for National Geographic magazine, and was a picture editor for the National Geographic Society for more than 35 years until retiring in December 2015. Dimick is the Co-founder of Eyes on Earth, an educational collaborative meant to inspire a new generation of environmental photographers, and the 2013 recipient of the Charles M. Sprague award for service to photojournalism.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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 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.
Jill Peters, B.S. ’14, has always been drawn to nature. Peters grew up in a national park in northern Wisconsin, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, where she dreamed of working in the field. So, when she came to UW-Madison she decided to major in Biology and she got to work studying with the hope of one day doing conservation work in the great outdoors.
However, it wasn’t long until she realized Biology wasn’t quite the right fit. “Biology just felt a bit too broad for what I wanted to do,” notes Peters. Luckily, one of her friends recommended the Department of Life Sciences Communication, and according to Jill it was the perfect fit. “I always knew I wanted to work in conservation in some capacity, but I also wanted to have a creative outlet. I always wanted to do communications because I love writing and photography – they just come naturally to me.” So, in her third year at UW, Jill decided to major in LSC and get her certificate in Environmental Studies.