Graduate Students Are Communicating Their Research in Many Ways

GRAD 5144 student Vanessa Guerra explains some of the necessities of life as kindergarten children volunteer to be Save the Earth Superheroes.

Congratulations and thank you to the many graduate students with ties to the Center for Communicating Science who are doing lots of great communicating and helping others learn to communicate, too!

On September 19, four Communicating Science (GRAD 5144) “graduates” will be communicating with the public at the Blacksburg Sustainability Week Pecha Kucha event. Scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Alexander Black House, Pecha Kucha presentations confine presenters to 20 slides and 20 seconds per slide. Ellen Garcia will describe her work to make research labs more sustainable, James Wilson (who also was our Science on Tap speaker in March) and Ariel Heminger will show the audience how to landscape for healthy birds and bees, and Sara Harrell will talk about developing an environmental perspective. Other talks include building with pallets, new recycling guidelines, nature fun with kids, zero waste, and the Mountain Valley Pipeline. Please join us for a night of fast and fun learning!

Cathie Bukowski, another GRAD 5144 graduate, has published a book for public audiences, The Community Food Forest Handbook. Bukowski co-authored the handbook with her dissertation advisor, John Munsell. The book grew from their experiences creating and managing a food forest and visiting more than 20 such projects across the country.

GRAD 5144 grad Cristina Marcillo has taken her communication and collaboration skills to Guatemala, where she taught members of the public to monitor drinking water. Marcillo, a biological systems engineer, worked with an anthropologist and citizen scientists from all over Guatemala. You can read about the project here on the VT News or through Marcillo’s blog post.

Nutshell Games winner Brynn O’Donnell has recently launched a podcast, Submerge, to explore “our collective relationship with water.” O’Donnell has three postings up, including episodes on “eruptions from the deep” and salty streams, with an interview with GRAD 5144 grad and Flint water researcher Anurag Mantha. Watch for the next episode: “Water Scarcity.” O’Donnell was also our June 28 Science on Tap speaker.

Another Nutshell Games participant, Rachel Brooks, participated in our collaboration with the English department’s science writing course last semester. She was interviewed by an undergraduate student who then wrote about her research, a story now posted on our website. Brooks has now been interviewed “for real,” and another story about her research recently appeared on the front page of the Roanoke Times and was then picked up by the Associated Press and the Washington Post.

Other Nutshell Games participants and GRAD 5144 grads who shared their time to communicate their research in our English department collaboration include Erin Poor, Michelle Graham, Carrie Jensen, Neda Moayerian, Carol Anne Nichols, Farnaz Khaghani, André Stevenson, MJ Farruggia, Maddie Brouse, Jacquelyn Prestegaard, Reza Fateminasab, Yucheng Fu, and Sergio Ballivian.

Graduates of GRAD 5144 also are helping others develop communication skills:

Caitlin Colleary was the spark for our kindergarten science visits project, now called Girls Launch!, and she and others provided science presentations and activities monthly at three Giles County kindergarten classrooms last year. Girls Launch! will get underway again this fall, providing opportunities for graduate students to communicate their science and inspire young children.

Lisa Whalen started and continues to organize Research à la Mode (RALM), a monthly venue for graduate students to practice communicating their research. Underway since 2015, the program invites graduate students from all departments to give talks and to attend talks–and provides free ice cream! RALM’s next speaker will be GRAD 5144 student Bennett Grooms, “What do the social sciences offer to wildlife management? Exploring insights on wildlife recreationists,” 5 p.m. September 27, Museum of Geosciences, 2062 Derring Hall.

Hen Bellman assisted Elizabeth Grabau, professor in the School of Plant Environmental Sciences, with a June 1 workshop for undergraduate students participating in the VT-REEL program (VT Research and Extension Experiential Learning). Jyotsana Sharma coached graduate students who were presenting at the “Creating a Place & Space for Graduate Education” conference held at Virginia Tech in June. Ellen Garcia led workshops during spring semester for an Introduction to Food Sciences course and a Leadership in Science course. And Bennett Grooms will provide a communicating science workshop for this fall’s Leadership in Science course.

Please let us know what you’re doing to communicate your research! We’d love to tell others about your efforts.

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