ComSciCon-Virginia Tech 2020 Registration Open; Regina Nuzzo Keynote Speaker

This photo shows several pairs of people seated in chairs and facing each other, engaged in lively discussions.
ComSciCon-Va Tech 2020 will provide plenty of opportunities for interaction and learning. Photo credit: Alexandra Freeze

Virginia Tech graduate students and upper level undergraduates are invited to apply for ComSciCon-Va Tech 2020, to be held February 27 and 28 at Virginia Tech’s Graduate Life Center. ComSciCon, a conference planned by graduate students for graduate students, is designed to empower early career researchers to communicate complex and technical concepts to broad and diverse audiences.

Statistician and journalist Regina Nuzzo will serve as keynote speaker, delivering her talk, “Connecting 21st-Century Information to Stone-Age Brains: Numbers, Uncertainty, Surprise, and More, Thursday evening in the Fralin Auditorium. Please join us at 5:30 p.m. in the Fralin Atrium for a reception followed by Nuzzo’s talk at 6:30 p.m.

Senior advisor for statistics communication and media innovation for the American Statistical Association, Nuzzo will address the gap between modern research advances and our “Stone Age” brains.

“Rather than trying to force people’s brains to fit the information, let’s talk about how to reshape the information to fit our idiosyncratic brains,” she says. “It’s worth our time. Otherwise when it comes to quantitative information — anything involving numbers or other forms of data, which includes most of science today — we might find ourselves needing to do a whole lot of retrofitting.”

In Nuzzo’s talk, she will offer a survival-kit checklist for communicating with humans, modern or otherwise.

Nuzzo has worked for the National Academy of Sciences and the Department of Energy and has published in NatureScientific AmericanScience NewsThe New York Times, and many other venues. Nuzzo holds a PhD in statistics from Stanford University, and her science journalism focuses on data, statistics, probability, and the research process.

The ComSciCon-VA Tech organizing committee’s 14 members, co-chaired by Susan Chen and Stephanie Edwards Compton, have planned an exciting program of events centered around the theme of inclusion, diversity, and accessibility in STEAM—science, technology, engineering, arts, and math. Attendees will interact with fellow graduate student leaders in science communication, learn from expert writers, communicators, and panelists, and have the opportunity to produce original writing for publication.

Attendees will be able to choose their own science communication adventure from concurrent workshop sessions all day February 28. Workshop topics include finding the story in your research, condensing your research into a nutshell, accessibility, science communication careers, social issues and advocacy, and more.

ComSciCon applications are open January 13-February 3. There is no cost or fee for student applicants, but ComSciCon participants will be selected through a competitive application process for a limited number of spots. Breakfast and lunch will be provided on Friday.

Supported by the Center for Communicating Science, the Communicating Science Club, the Institute for Society, Culture, and Environment, the Global Change Center, the College of Science, 4-VA, the Fralin Life Science Institute, and the Graduate School, ComSciCon-Va Tech will provide opportunities for skill development and networking. Originated at Harvard and MIT, the flagship ComSciCon is in its eighth year. Its popularity resulted in a franchising of the event to other venues around the United States and in Canada, and the first Virginia Tech ComSciCon was held in March 2019.

Other supporters of ComSciCon-Va Tech 2020 include CytoRecovery, the Department of Psychology, the Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise, and Jack Wardale Videography.

For more information, please contact ComSciCon-VA Tech organizing committee co-chairs Stephanie Edwards Compton ( or Susan Chen (


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