Science Communication Month - October 2016


SciComm Saturday - CLICK HERE

PLEASE NOTE SCHEDULE CHANGE: The Oct. 31 seminar will be rescheduled at a later date. To receive notice of the new event, please join the L-Scicomm listserv!


Stay informed!

Join the L-Scicomm listserv to keep in touch about updates to this resources site, as well as announcements about future Science Communication events or initiatives. To join, send an email to

This October marks the 2nd annual Science Communication Month at Penn State. “SciComm” Month features a series of events aimed at opening up a discussion about the translation of science to the public and improving individual research communication skills.

SciComm Month is a joint initiative between The Penn State Institutes of Energy and the Environment, The College of Communications, The Vice President for Research, Penn State Libraries, and Penn State Harrisburg.



Click here to download a printable brochure. (PDF)




Monday, Oct. 3, 2016 - 4 p.m. - 5:15 p.m. | Foster Auditorium, Pattee Library

SEMINAR | Everyone Needs an Elevator Pitch: Strategies to Engage Non-Technical Audiences on Technical Research Topics

Andy Gustafson
Smeal College of Business

Skilled scientists and engineers must be equipped with not only technical expertise, but also with communication skills that can get others interested in their areas of research. This could mean the difference between—success or failure--in launching a new business, gaining a grant, or garnering support from the community at large regarding why your work matters. Learn strategies from a business communications expert to condense your key message into a “pitch” that can be given in the duration of a typical elevator ride.

Register Now!



Monday, Oct. 10, 2016 - 4 p.m. - 6 p.m. | Foster Auditorium, Pattee Library

SEMINAR | Rethinking Slide Design in Scientific Presentation: 
The Assertion-Evidence Approach

Michael Alley
Associate Professor, Engineering Communication

A small, but growing, revolution is occurring in the way that scientists design their presentation slides. This revolution advocates alternatives (based on multimedia learning principles) that challenge PowerPoint’s default structure of a topic-phrase headline supported by a bullet list of subtopics. One such alternative is the assertion-evidence structure, in which a sentence headline states the main message of the slide. That message assertion is then supported not by a bullet list, but by visual evidence.

Register Now!



Scientist Citizen flyer screenshotDon't Miss this related event:

Scientist-Citizen: Science Policy in the Age of Promise and Peril

Oct. 13, 7 p.m. - 8 p.m. | Freeman Auditorium, HUB-Robeson Center

The Penn State surrounding community is invited to join a panel discussion and engage leading scientific figures with experts in science policy, climate change, food & energy security, and other pertinent scientific issues at the forefront of leading global challenges.

This event is presented by the Science Policy Society. To download the flyer, click here


Monday, Oct. 17, 2016 - 5 p.m. - 6 p.m. | Foster Auditorium, Pattee Library

GhTfaujy.jpgKEYNOTE | From Ocean Outlaws and Glue Workers to Fracking and Clean Coal

Perspectives on Communicating Science from NY Times Investigative Reporting and Narrative Story Telling

Ian Urbina, New York Times

  • PLEASE NOTE TIME CHANGE: Due to airline issues, this talk will begin at 5 p.m. 

Ian Urbina has been an investigative reporter with The New York Times since 2003. He became a senior investigative reporter for the National Desk in 2010, where he wrote a series in 2011, Drilling Down, about the oil and gas industry and fracking. 
His investigations most often focus on worker safety and the environment. He has received a Pulitzer, a Polk, and various other journalism awards. Several of his stories have been made into feature films. His most recent and ongoing series, “The Outlaw Ocean,” explores lawlessness on the high seas. He holds degrees in history from Georgetown and the University of Chicago.

Register Now!



Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016 - 12 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. | 233A HUB

WORKSHOP | One Minute to Impress: Grad Student & Post-Doc Message Box Training

This COMPASS science communication training will help graduate students and post-docs share what they do, what they know - and most importantly, why it matters - in clear, lively terms. Grounded in the latest research on science communication, this training is designed to help participants find the relevance of their science for the audiences they most want to reach — journalists, policymakers, the public, and even other scientists. Participants will be introduced to The Message Box- COMPASS’ most fundamental tool no matter who you are preparing to communicate with. The Message Box is a powerful tool to help distill what you know and why it matters for your particular audience. There will be time for hands on practice with your peers, and an interactive exercise practicing your “elevator pitch” to explain to others what you do in 30 seconds.

There is no cost to participate, but all attendees must preregister; the workshop is limited to 50 participants. We will keep a waiting list and your spot will be confirmed via email. Lunch is provided for confirmed registrants from noon to12:30. The workshop will then be held from 12:30-2:30 p.m. 

Add to waitlist



Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016 - 4 p.m. - 6 p.m. | Foster Auditorium, Pattee Library


Don’t miss the chance to hear directly from leading journalists covering science and technology. COMPASS brings reporters and writers to Penn State to discuss how the media is changing and what it means for communicating science to the public and policymakers. They will share their personal perspectives on how to get your stories told and what makes a good science story, and “do’s and dont’s” of dealing with journalists. This lively session will encourage Q and A. Come early for the best seats!


Jon Hamilton – NPR
Mark Fischetti – Scientific American
Kate Sheppard – Huffington Post
Zack Colman  – Christian Science Monitor
Amy Matthews Amos – COMPASS Trainer
Megan Gilley – COMPASS Trainer



Register Now!



Monday, Oct. 24, 2016 - 4 p.m. - 6 p.m. | Foster Auditorium, Pattee Library

SEMINAR | ADRI: Integrating Arts and Design Research with Science and Technology

Andy Belser, ADRI Director,
and Director of FaceAge: A Trans-Disciplinary Template for Research and Engagement

College of Arts and Architecture established the Arts and Design Research Incubator (ADRI), the goal of which is to help get high-impact arts and design research projects off the ground and in the public eye. Operating within the Arts and Architecture Research Office, ADRI provides seed funding, technical support and workspace to projects that, although often in their initial stages, have a strong probability of attracting future external funding. In keeping with goals outlined in the college’s strategic plan, ADRI projects are typically collaborative and interdisciplinary in nature, push methodological boundaries, link research and teaching, make innovative use of technology, engage with University-wide research initiatives and priorities, and have the potential to garner national and international recognition.


Register Now!



Friday, Oct. 28, 2016 - 1 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. | Land & Water Research Building

WORKSHOP | Interest-Based Negotiation and Multi-Party Stakeholder Engagement

Lara Fowler, Penn State Law & Institutes of Energy and the Environment

Explore interest-based negotiation and working with multiple stakeholders. This hands-on workshop is limited to 20 people and will involve role plays to practice skills. Participants will leave with a better understanding of what interest based negotiation is and how to build a framework for working with multiple parties in a constructive fashion, including running an effective meeting that allows for different voices to be heard. This workshop is based on 20+ years of experience working on water and energy issues, including as a facilitator and mediator. 

Note: There is no cost to participate, but pre-registration is required. Limited to 20 participants. We will keep a waiting list, please visit to add your name.


Register Now



Saturday, Oct. 29, 2019 | Land & Water Research Building


Register now for a unique opportunity to enhance the broader communication impacts of your research activities. This day will bring together communication and biophysical research scientists to explore potential collaborations, and offer hands-on science communication training from the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science.

Registrants: CLICK HERE for Directions and Agenda. (PDF)


MORNING WORKSHOP & INCUBATOR | “Science Communication: Research and Practice”
9:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. 

The morning session of this SciComm incubator will focus on research collaboration and team-building, with the end goal of building collaborative relationships between communications researchers and scientists from other disciplines. The aim is to find the sweet spot where collaborations result projects that advance the science and research agendas of all involved. Attendees will explore how communications research can facilitate broader impacts and improved public understanding and acceptance of their science. STEM and biophysical researchers will have the chance to walk the interdisciplinary talk and brainstorm with communications research faculty. Any researcher (faculty or postdoc) seeking to better understand how to communicate with the public is encouraged to register; in fact, Penn State departments with existing relationships with the College of Communications include Geography, Geosciences, Agricultural Sciences, Environmental Engineering and Earth and Mineral Sciences. Researchers from health areas are also encouraged to apply.

Proposals that result from the event are encouraged to apply to the SSRI seed grant program (level 1, up to $5000), and will be eligible for additional funding from PSIEE and/or the College of Communications Science Communication Program. Details on the proposal submission and evaluation process will be distributed to registered participants prior to the event.

707_524ef0d65200d.jpgSaturday Keynote: “Communications Research as Broader Impacts Research”

Lauren Feldman, Associate Professor of Journalism and Media Studies at Rutgers School of Communication and Information 

Broadly, Dr. Feldman’s research focuses on the effects of news and political media on political knowledge, attitudes, and behavior. She is particularly interested in understanding the media’s contribution to political polarization around climate change and in developing and testing message strategies to help reduce partisan and ideological divides.


aldacolor.pngAFTERNOON WORKSHOP | Communicating your Science without “Dumbing it Down” 
2:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. 

Following a networking lunch, join us in the afternoon workshop from 2:30-5:30 p.m. to learn general principles for engaging an audience in complex material without “dumbing it down.” We will discuss approaches for interpreting technical information for a general audience, including the use of clear language, vivid examples, and analogies to connect your audience with unfamiliar topics.  We will practice how to craft clear, conversational statements about what you do and why your work matters. Participants will be actively engaged in explaining scientific material to lay people.  Then use an actual Penn State research topic and practice your newfound skills on real, live people! In Part 2, participants will get to experience Improvisation for Scientists, a workshop pioneered by science advocate, Alan Alda.  Learn how and why this approach can help you better connect with your audience. Practice of some basic improvisation exercises that require focusing closely on others, taking responsibility for the needs of the listener, and connecting more directly and spontaneously with different audiences.

There is no cost to participate, but all attendees must preregister; the workshop is limited to 40 participants. We will keep a waiting list and your spot will be confirmed via email. Lunch is provided for confirmed all-day registrants at University Park. 

Register Now!