Fralin Life Sciences Institute Joins Center Support Team

This image shows the Center for Communicating Science website homepage. The logo colors are orange and teal, and under the center's name are the words "The art of connecting across difference. Two Cs are arranged to form an S and also resemble two interacting people.
Fralin graphic artist Alex Crookshanks helped redesign the center’s website this year. Photo from website.

Happy Autumn! We have a lot to report about all of our spring and summer activities, events, and news.

We are thrilled and grateful to announce that the Fralin Life Sciences Institute has joined the Institute for Society, Culture, and Environment; the Graduate School; the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences; and the School of Performing Arts as a major sustaining supporter of the Center for Communicating Science.

The new funding from Fralin affords a level of stability to the center that has allowed us to support a position for our associate director, begin pursuing new initiatives, and collaborate with Fralin researchers. Our SciArt Collaboration Incubator May 17 (and center-funded SciArt projects) included faculty from Fralin’s Center for Coastal Studies, and in August we partnered with Fralin’s communications team to offer a science communication webinar. Support from Fralin’s terrific graphic designer Alex Crookshanks allowed us to completely redesign our website.

With Fralin’s support, we were able to offer a series of 18 Pinch of Practice (or POP) workshops during the spring semester, including opportunities for engagement with The Story Collider and Make It Memorable. Called Pinch of Practice because the workshops were just an hour long and provided participants with the chance to build their muscles of communication, the workshop series attracted both graduate student and faculty participants and included sessions on engaging audiences, building confidence, developing the message, fundamentals of design, powerful visuals, crafting stories, making the most of virtual settings, and much more.

In addition to the Pinch of Practice series and other events mentioned above, in the past seven months we have provided workshops to

  • the International Network for the Science of Team Science 2021 conference;
  • first year Master of Public Health students;
  • Orion Living Learning Community undergraduate students;
  • researchers and practitioners in the Institute of Food Technologists;
  • first-year students in the Interfaces of Global Change interdisciplinary graduate education program;
  • FLEX (First-Year Learning Experience) undergraduate students;
  • faculty and graduate students at the Institute for Policy and Governance;
  • summer undergraduate research students;
  • educators and others in a three-part series through the Virginia Tech Roanoke Center;
  • third-year veterinary students in their Topics in their Animal-Human Relationships course;
  • biomedical engineering and mechanics graduate students from both Virginia Tech and Wake Forest;
  • the Virginia Tech Dairy Judging Team;
  • and others.

We also planned and provided a day-long collaboration incubator that resulted in eight center-funded collaborative projects, which you can read about elsewhere in this newsletter, and a four-week summer institute for 27 German Fulbright Fellows, also covered elsewhere.

The center was represented at the Science Talk ’21 conference in March with a presentation about our Girls Launch! kindergarten science videos project and at the Society for Research in Child Development annual conference April 7-9, where graduate student Kelly Runyon presented a research poster titled “What do Scientists Look like? Drawing Scientists in Kindergarten and Middle School,” a study that is part of outreach projects facilitated by the center. The kindergarten science outreach project was also the focus on an Open (at the) Source exhibit at the Moss Arts Center in April and an ICAT Play Date in September.

And last but certainly not least, the New River Valley Science on Tap community stuck with us through our move to online presentations during the pandemic and back to in-person events beginning in July. You can find us this semester at Rising Silo Brewery on fourth Wednesdays. Here’s a roundup of recent engagements:

We’re looking forward to a busy fall!

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