SULSA Young Scientists Meeting 2012 - Shout About Science!
Building on the success from last years SULSA Young Scientist Event, SULSA organised the 2012 YSE. This year the focus of the event was on building skills to communicate science in conference presentations, the media, outreach projects, grant writing and knowledge exchange.
Around 50 SULSA, BioSKAPE and SUPA PhD students came together in Edinburgh on 19 and 20 March 2012 to be immersed in the science of communication.... or the communcation of science!
With arond half of SULSA's original student cohort beginning to see the finishing line of their PhD, the event was timely, as the skills they gained will help them better communicate their research ideas and discoveries effectively. It is hoped the experience will allow the young scientists to think about the different ways information is presented to different audiences. By understanding this process, they can maximise their chances of communicating science information effectivley, hopefully resulting in that first dream post-doc in California, that prestigeous grant award from the Royal Society or that prime media-spot on the BBC. Emphasis was also put on communicating to the public and industry through outreach programmes or knowledge exchange programmes, as the intelligent communication of science increases its popularity and its seemless adoption by society.
The event kicked off with a series of talks from experts:
• Dr Bob Kibble
‘Refine Your Presentation Skills’
• Prof Irwin McLean
‘Inherited skin disease – breaking the barriers to new therapies’
• Dr Nicola Stanley-Wall
‘Outreach and Impact: A Personal Perspective and Case Studies’
• Dr Robert Ford
‘Is knowledge exchange relevant to academic research?’
‘How to obtain funding – it is all about marketing your excellent research to the right funders!’
After the talks, the teams heard from Catriona Kelly, Press and Public Relations Officer for the University of Edinburgh. Catriona set the stage for the evening’s team activity - The 'Shout About Science' Competition. The students placed in groups and given an unknown life sciences paper that had recently generated interest from the media. The teams were then tasked with converting the paper into a poster, a press release, and material for a radio interview. During the evening, with the help of a few beers, Catriona assisted the groups with their preparations.
On the morning of the second day, after a late night of furious communications preparations, the students were invited to be the audience in a debate about a major ongoing development in scientific peer review publishing: Open Access Publishing.
The panel that debated the issue was
• Chair - Ken Macdonald – BBC Scotland Science Correspondent Newsnight Scotland Website
• Dr Mark Patterson – Managing Executive Editor of eLife, a new open access Journal supported by the Max Planck Society, Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Wellcome Trust, that will be launched Autumn 2012 - eLife - Wellcome Trust
• Professor Frank Sargent – Section Editor of BMC Microbiology and Editor of Microbiology and the Biochemical Journal - Dundee University Staff page
• Dr Emma Hill – Ex-editor of Journal of Cell Biology and Director of the Open Microscopy Environment - OME
• Dr Jennifer Bell – Ex-editor of Nature Reviews Immunology, and Research Director of the Lupus Research Institute
The students and debate panel (L-R, Dr Emma Hill, Dr Jennifer Bell, Professor Frank Sargent, Dr Mark Patterson, and Ken McDonald)
The debate raised a lot of discussion from panel members and students about the conflicting interests of openly published research and the traditional subscription model of journal publishing.
After the debate the teams presented their posters to the audience, circulated their press releases for analysis, and were grilled by Ken McDonald for two minutes as if being interviewed on live radio.
The debate judging panel was joined by Catriona Kelly, and they scored the posters, press releases and interviews. The students also gave their own assessment of their colleague’s hard work.
The ‘Flu Team’ scored the highest with the expert panel, and they wrote about planning for the next flu pandemic (N. J. McLeish et al., PLoS one, 2011, (6)6, e20358). They shared a prize of £300 and wine kindly donated by Thermo Scientific.
The team who scored the highest with their fellow students were the team who wrote about sheep autoimmunity, calling themselves “Faces for Radio”. They shared a prize of £100. (http://www.sciencemag.org/content/332/6030/726.full)
SULSA was grateful for the support of Thermo Scientific and Roche during the event.
See you all again next year !!!
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