ComSciCon, Improvisation Laboratory Events Set for Spring Semester

We've got two exciting events set for spring semester, and we hope you'll join us! ComSciCon-Virginia Tech will be held March 7 and 8, and Improvisation Laboratory events will take place February 28, March 28, and April 25.

ComSciCon is a communicating science conference organized by graduate students, for graduate students. Click here to apply.

Originally hosted in 2014 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, for graduate students at MIT and Harvard, the “flagship” ComSciCon has grown to serve students from across the United States and around the world. Its reach now extends to locally franchised workshops.

Rhetoric and writing PhD student Allison Hutchison spearheaded the effort and is collaborating with the Center for Communicating Science and others
to host a ComSciCon at Virginia Tech March 7 and 8. All events will take place at the Graduate Life Center and Newman Library.

Registration for the conference is limited to 60 graduate students and advanced undergraduate students and will open soon. ComSciCon-Virginia Tech sponsors include the Center for Communicating Science, the Global Change Center,  the Rhetoric Club, the University Libraries, the Graduate School, and the Center for Humanities. The Center for Humanities and University Libraries are hosting the lunchtime plenary speaker and an afternoon workshop on writing for public audiences specifically for faculty and students in the humanities and social sciences.

The full slate of ComSciCon-Virginia Tech events is listed here:

Thursday, March 7: ComSciCon welcome, keynote, and workshop: "The Art of Connecting across Difference"

7 to 9 p.m., GLC multipurpose room

Join Virginia Tech's Center for Communicating Science director Patty Raun and associate director Carrie Kroehler for the launch of the first-ever ComSciCon-Virginia Tech! Thursday evening's event is an opportunity for graduate students from disciplines all across campus and other participants to begin connecting, communicating, and collaborating before they dive into the great workshops and panels on offer all day Friday.

Friday, March 8: Morning Sessions

8:30 a.m. Breakfast and opening remarks, GLC multipurpose room

9:45 to 11:45 a.m. Concurrent sessions

Finding the Kernel of Your Research (Pop Talks) (GLC multipurpose room):

Join three previous winners of the Nutshell Games, an annual competition held by the Center for Communicating Science, and challenge yourself to distill your research into a 90-second Pop Talk. Participants in this interactive workshop will practice techniques to help get to the kernel of their research and prepare and practice their very own 90-second Pop Talk. Later, in the afternoon wrap-up session, participants can perform their Pop Talks on the Lyric stage in Blacksburg!

Communicating Data Visually with Tableau and Excel (GLC Room C):

Have thesis or dissertation data that you want to present visually? Want to learn how to create impactful and appealing visualizations for a variety of audiences? Join Professor Jane Robertson Evia for a hands-on workshop that will guide you to create various types of graphs, tables, and other data visualizations using both Tableau and Microsoft Excel.

Finding the Story in Your Science (GLC Room F):

Ever wonder how scientists craft the stories that appear in publications like American Scientist and Discover magazine? First, they have to find the “story” of their research, a method that enables non-experts to more easily understand the scientific method and process. Katie Burke, Digital Features Editor of American Scientist, will guide you in storyboarding your own research to create a narrative you can develop into a science story.

12 to 1 p.m. Lunch and plenary speaker: David Perry, "The Public Scholar in the Age of Twitter" (GLC multipurpose room)

Friday, March 8: Afternoon Sessions

Tweeting Science (1:15 to 2:15 p.m., GLC Room C):

Do you follow any science communicators on Twitter? Want to share your research and fieldwork on social media? Attend this panel hosted by two active tweeters to learn how they engage with Twitter followers. Nick Caruso is the co-author of Does It Fart? The Definitive Field Guide to Animal Flatulence, a book whose concept was born from a tweet! Derek Hennen is a PhD student in entomology who dazzles followers with extreme closeups of his favorite research subject: millipedes!

"I didn't say that!": Ensuring Accuracy with the Media (2:30 to 3:30 p.m., GLC Room C):

What do you do when your discovery of giant hogweed in Virginia goes viral? Find out from Jordan Metzgar, the curator of the Massey Herbarium at Virginia Tech, and journalists Cassandra Hockman, former communications director of the Fralin Life Science Institute, and Robby Korth, higher education reporter for the Roanoke Times. These panelists combine the perspectives of a scientist and a science writer to give you insights on how to communicate scientific research to journalists and media so the public stays well informed.

Designing Science Communication with the Library Studios (1:15 to 3:30 p.m., Newman Library):

The University Libraries' studios offer an array of tools and software programs to support science communication, and you’ll get to learn about each in this session. After an introduction to the exciting possibilities in each studio, you will choose one studio in which to attend a workshop. Find out how to make a podcast, design a virtual reality experience to share your work, or decide where, when, and how to use data visualization!

Write-a-Thon: Blogging & NPR Story Writing (1:15 to 3:30 p.m., GLC Room F):

Your research is important, and the public needs and wants to know about it! However, public audiences don’t read scientific and academic journals; they read blogs and listen to the news. Bring a short science story draft (500-1,000 words) to this workshop (it can be about your research or someone else’s research that you find fascinating) and get feedback from professors, fellow graduate students, and Science Writing students about your work. Choose a venue for your story such as Joe’s Big Idea and walk away from this workshop with a more polished piece that you can submit!

Friday, March 8: Reception & Pop Talk Performances

4 to 6 p.m., Lyric Theatre

To culminate the day’s activities, we will gather at the Lyric Theatre for a reception. Listen to Pop Talks (and even perform your own), concise and engaging research talks similar to the Nutshell Games event held by the Center for Communicating Science every fall. Mingle with fellow conference-goers, learn about their research, and become part of a community of people connecting across difference. This event is free and open to the public. Invite your friends! 


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Improvisation Laboratory Events Set for Spring Semester
Ready to tune up your listening and awareness skills? Want to learn to say "Yes, and"? Hungry for real connection instead of digital connection? Interested in trying some improv?

Welcome to this spring's Improvisation Laboratory!

Our workshops and the communicating science graduate course are grounded in applied improvisation, and we are always learning along with our students and workshop participants.  Three spring Improvisational Laboratory events will allow us to experiment with some new approaches and to get on-the-spot feedback from participants. Your participation will allow you to learn about applied improvisation and to build your muscles of connection, communication, and collaboration.

No registration is required, and you don't need to commit to being present for the whole 3-hour session. We'll be meeting Thursday evenings in room 170 of the New Classroom Building (NCB), 5:30 to 8:30, February 28, March 28, and April 25. Participants may arrive on the half hour and stay as long as they like. You are welcome to participate a single time or to attend all three sessions. We'll be doing different games and exercises every session.

No prior theatre training or improvisation experience is required. Stanford improvisation teacher and author of Improv Wisdom Patricia Ryan Madson says, "Improvising. . .is a way of learning how to be human together in the best possible light." Come join us at NCB 170 as we learn together!