Center for Communicating Science director Patty Raun was interviewed by Virginia Tech graduate student Chris McCullough this spring about her work with the center and her family connection to the study of insects.
McCullough’s interview, published recently in Entomology Today under the title “Why Empathy, Connection, and Confidence Are Critical for Science Communication,” gave Raun an opportunity to talk about childhood experiences she had with her father, Earle Raun, a board certified entomologist and certified professional crop consultant .
“This science communication work is coming full circle for me,” Raun told McCullough, “because I am trying to help people figure out what they have in common with others—and I had a great example in my dad’s science communication.”
Before starting his own pest management company, Raun’s father was a faculty member at Iowa State and then entomology department head at University of Nebraska-Lincoln. “Dad loved being in the field and making connections with farmers, trying to support their success with their crops,” Raun said. “He would engage with farmers and talk their language. He never set himself apart from them. He had a way of connecting with people to understand their concerns.”
When asked about her work with the center, Raun said, “I believe the most urgent challenges in our world today involve science.” McCullough requested some “quick advice” for today’s entomologists, and she responded with a list that is relevant to all researchers: “Some of the things that I’d encourage them to do are, one, find ways to really listen to their communication partners; two, find something they have in common; three, use shared words and language that can be understood; four, share humanity, joys, and struggles—because emotional connection is more powerful than logic; and five, bring underrepresented groups into the conversation and be present in communities outside of their field—not as a ‘presenter’ but as a person.”
Read the entire interview here.