Science communication matters
I am pretty passionate about plants and science. A big part of my job is to share my knowledge and communicate with colleagues and students to reach professional/academic goals. Outside of academia, communicating with the general public is important and I am especially excited to advocate for plant and general science literacy in younger students. I am a big fan of PlantingScience, a program run by the Botanical Society of America which matches scientists with middle and high school classrooms who are learning about photosynthesis, seed germination, or factors that affect plant growth. We ‘meet’ on a common website and I help to guide students as they develop hypotheses and conduct experiments. My role is often to review the scientific process, help them understand variables, review data types, and assist with data presentation. I answer a variety of questions about plants generally as well as about my career; for many students it is their first time interacting with a scientist. I have also led classroom discussions and q/a's more generally through Skype a Scientist, which is a bit more informal but has been important and useful through the virtual learning that has happened through the pandemic. I have also worked with elementary and middle school teachers and students during several National Lab Day events, where I led DNA extractions from fruits and developed modules for tree and shrub identification guides to help students learn to identify the plants on their campus.
Here are some other cool things I've done, along with some links and resources:
Chris Martine and I were interviewed in two segments, to cover a species we described, Solanum plastisexum, from the Northern Territory of Australia. First, we talked a little about the plant and the process of describing new species. The second part covered upcoming episodes "Plants are cool, too!". We also touched on diversity in science education and the importance of science communication a bit. The photo above is us in the 'booth', pre-interview! Check out the sunrise show on AM radio station WKOK from Sunbury, PA from April 23, 2019 here.
I was invited to give a presentation about how to successfully present your research, aimed mostly at new grad students. It offered me a chance to reflect and think a lot about all the things I do when I need to effectively communicate about my research AND manage myself before/during/after giving a talk. Bill Hammond organized the event for the Botany Graduate Student Organization. You can find the slides for my presentation here.
A new species from Texas that I described with Mark Fishbein a part of the OSU College of Arts and Sciences' magazine. They did a great job highlighting the importance of biodiversity discovery and new species description. It also features the OSU herbarium!
Matt Candeias (brains/host/plant geek behind the In Defense of Plants podcast) asked me if I would be interested in chatting with him about milkweeds on his show! We chatted for a bit about my career path and how I got involved in milkweed research as well as some of the specifics about my dissertation. Listen to Episode 145, Obscure Apocynaceae Appreciation here.