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Our Mission & Values

The Center for Communicating Science creates and supports opportunities for scientists, scholars, health professionals, and others to develop their abilities to communicate and connect.

Our differences, whether they be racial, cultural, religious, education level, academic discipline, or research specialty, can divide us. But such differences also enrich our lives, broaden our perspectives, and strengthen our collaborations. Arts tools and practices can be used to bridge these divisions, helping participants to learn to listen deeply, interact personally, directly, spontaneously, and responsively, and express themselves vividly.  It is our intention to deepen human interaction, strengthen empathy and awareness of others, and develop collaborative team and leadership capacities in students, faculty, and industry and community partners.

To reach these goals, the Center for Communicating Science

  • Provides experiential learning opportunities in which tools from the arts are used to help participants learn to connect and communicate across differences. Improvisation, storytelling, creative problem solving, and imaginative exercises are shared through student, faculty, and stakeholder workshops, seminars, courses, web resources, and professional development events.
  • Provides opportunities for researchers to communicate their work to audiences outside their specialties.
  • Provides opportunities for those interested in communicating science to connect and work together.
  • Serves as a clearinghouse for communicating science resources at Virginia Tech.
  • Serves as a training ground for post-MFAs from programs around the country who wish to learn to apply their theatre and performance training to transdisciplinary areas.

The work of the center embraces the principle of theater educator Viola Spolin (1999), who stated, "If the environment permits it, anyone can learn whatever he or she chooses to learn; and if the individual permits it, the environment will teach everything it has to teach." Educational reformer John Dewey is often cited as the source for the next essential step in learning: to reflect on our experiences.

We are committed to the heart of the concept “Hands On, Minds On.” Embodied learning is learning that lasts. Experimentation, awareness of others, and providing a safe space to take risks all help to open connections between people. Training in improvisational skills fosters successful collaborations. Participants in our courses and workshops pay close attention, listen and observe deeply, and accept and build on others' actions and offerings while staying flexible and open. Creative investment, freedom, and unconventional approaches to problem solving ignite participants’ imaginations and open paths to effective thinking. Arts practices help participants develop confidence, allow them to learn to fail, and encourage them to follow failure with risk. These are the skills that leaders, scholars, and scientists urgently need to connect the public with their important work—and to connect with one another.

     

Why We Do It

This photo shows four young adults seated in chairs in a small group discussion configuration. Behind them can be seen two other similar groups.
Workshop participants develop their collaboration skills by playing "What I Like About That Is. . ." Photo courtesy of Alexandra Freeze.

We are committed to applying the practices and tools used in the performing arts to help people develop their muscles of connection, communication, and collaboration—with an end goal of helping to solve the world's many and complex problems. 

The arts tools and practices used in performance training have profoundly positive application in the realms of collaboration and innovation. Social science research confirms that innovation is foundationally a result of collaboration.  New ideas, new approaches, and new products are born of collaborative human interaction and creative teams.  As a university and as a society we are increasingly aware of the fact that the most urgent challenges facing us are unfathomably complex, large, and interconnected. These challenges cannot be addressed by individuals or by traditional competitive means. They require collaborative skills that allow new approaches and new systems to be developed; collaboration helps individuals and societies to create new paradigms rather than revisiting old and failing structures.  Modern theatre performance training has evolved over hundreds of years. It has been tested and refined to grow individual and group skills in collaboration—the very skills needed by those who would meet the challenges we face.

Although many Americans respect scientists and engineers, their information about science and technology comes primarily from the Internet (NSF, 2019). Most of our country's population has very little formal training in science (U.S. Census Bureau, 2019), making effective communication of research findings both important and challenging. But just as important is helping scientists realize that those who aren't scientists are expert in something else. That expertise is ready and waiting to be tapped for collaborative problem solving, and diverse perspectives strengthen such collaborations.

Our work builds skills of deep listening, respect for and attentiveness to communication partners, and appreciation for the skills and knowledge held by those in all research fields and all walks of life. It helps researchers understand how much they can learn from their stakeholders, neighbors, families, and other collaborators and how important it is to find a common language.

We want the work of the Center for Communicating Science to be filled with joy and discovery.  We want to help specialists discover the excitement and adventure of transcending disciplinary boundaries and the satisfaction of climbing over the walls of the academy. We know that solving the most urgent concerns of our world will require investment and innovation from all sectors—and that this requires a culture of exploration, collaboration, and respect for the contributions that each individual can make.

Scientists and scholars have a responsibility to communicate their work with non-specialists, whether that be family members, friends, neighbors, community groups, large audiences, or researchers and scholars in other specialties. Although a land grant university can use its extension branch for the dissemination of research-derived knowledge, we see Virginia Tech's motto "Ut prosim" (That I May Serve) as a directive to individual researchers to contribute to narrowing the gap of understanding between the university and the rest of the world. The opportunities supported by the center enhance the capabilities of Virginia Tech's faculty, students, and stakeholders to build trust, engage public audiences, and bridge the gap of understanding.

One of the benefits of arts and performance practices is a deeper understanding of what it means to be fully expressive and fully connected to others. We have found that through these practices participants begin to reconnect with the human dimensions of their research and with their responsibility to the public. With a focus on deep listening, the games and exercises used in this approach to communication and collaboration promote and encourage cross-cultural understanding and an inclusive climate. Central to the center’s mission is the intention to deepen human interaction, strengthen empathy and awareness of others, and develop collaborative team and leadership capacities in students, faculty, and scholars. This work also benefits individual participants, as these skills help people to teach more effectively, take risks, solve problems, collaborate within and across disciplines, secure funding, compete for positions, and advance their careers. And in working to communicate their work to others, researchers and scholars come to understand it better themselves.

The communication skills gained through this approach transfer to collaborative innovation and creative problem-solving, with many "side benefits" along the way.

For example, researchers who are effective at connecting across differences can help build diversity in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) workforce. Building collaborative skills in undergraduate and graduate students results in cohorts of graduates who are able to work with others effectively across a variety of types of "difference": research specialty, gender, race, ethnicity, age, and more.

Researchers who can communicate about their research with non-specialist audiences have the potential to create a more scientifically literate society, affect policy decisions, and share the beauty and wonder of science with others.

Partnering with elementary, middle, and high schools in communicating science programs, as the graduate course at Virginia Tech does, increases the numbers of public-school children being introduced to "real scientists" on a regular basis. Graduate students who are able to connect and communicate effectively with others help to make research seem accessible and careers in science attainable.

Creative practice exercises and games develop listening skills, body language and environment awareness, and empathy, all useful for fully communicating and connecting with others—including, or perhaps especially, those who are different from one another in various ways.

     

Our History

This photo shows the backs of three people's heads as they watch two young women acting out a scene in a classroom. One, dressed in a red sweatshirt and a head covering, has a hand behind her back as if in pain. The other, in jeans and a blue t-shirt, is leaning toward her solicitously.
Graduate students watch their classmates improvise a scene in their communicating science course. Photo courtesy of Lauren Holt.

How We Got Here

The Center for Communicating Science at Virginia Tech was chartered in the fall of 2016 and held an opening celebration early in 2017. Its founding director and associate director, Patty Raun and Carrie Kroehler, worked with many others on campus to launch the center. You can read details below:

Plenty, as actor Alan Alda and others—including a growing program here at Virginia Tech—have shown over the past decade.

Alda discovered while hosting PBS's "Scientific American Frontiers" that when researchers go into lecture mode their vocabulary, body language, and even tone of voice can serve to confuse and exclude public audiences. He began approaching university presidents with the idea that theatre training could be used to help scientists learn how to communicate their research to non-scientists.

In 2009, Stony Brook University established what is now known as the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science. The center uses improv exercises and other tools from the theatre arts with science, engineering, and medical researchers at all stages of their careers to help them learn to connect with their audiences.

Science departments were initially skeptical, according to an administrator associated with the Alan Alda Center. But in the years since the Alda Center's inception, the program has taken off. Hundreds of graduate and professional students at Stony Brook have taken communicating science courses, and Alda Communication Training Company LLC, a public-private partner with the Stony Brook Center, offers workshops around the world.

Shortly after the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science began its work at Stony Brook, Virginia Tech Dean of the Graduate School Karen DePauw learned about Alda's project and asked Patty Raun, then director of the VT School of Performing Arts, to participate in the Alda Center's first summer institute for university faculty and administrators. Already well versed in theatre and improvisation, Patty applied her knowledge to develop a graduate level Communicating Science course for Virginia Tech. In addition, we've provided workshop experiences for thousands of participants—faculty, graduate students, undergraduate students, industry partners, and community members—since 2011.

Offered each spring semester beginning in 2012, in 2016 Virginia Tech's 2-credit workshop-format Communicating Science course added sections in response to student demand, with four sections now offered per year. In 2013, biologist and writer Carrie Kroehler began co-teaching with Patty, and in 2015 Carrie also attended an Alda Center summer institute at Stony Brook for additional training. 

The Virginia Tech course, offered through the Graduate School as a part of its Transformative Graduate Education certificate program, helps participants to gain a greater awareness of the everyday tools of human interaction and provides opportunities for them to think, speak, and write about their research in a variety of ways. Graduate students from every college have completed the course.

In completing the Communicating Science course, graduate students have communicated their research to members of the surrounding community. For the first several years the course was offered, students gave presentations to public audiences assembled at Warm Hearth Retirement Village's Tall Oaks Hall. In 2016 we added an outreach event at Giles County's Eastern Elementary/Middle School, with graduate students presenting their research to six classrooms full of 6th and 7th graders. In 2017 we started a kindergarten visits project through which women scientists share their research with kindergarten children. Graduate students also have given presentations and facilitated workshops for undergraduate students, distilled their research to 90 seconds to compete in our annual Nutshell Games, given short talks for Blacksburg's Sustainability Week, presented at our New River Valley Science on Tap, and more. In addition, course participants write science news stories about one another's research and collaborate with undergraduate students enrolled in a science writing course. You can find some of these stories on our center website.

The increased interest from graduate students wanting to take the Communicating Science course, from faculty and graduate students requesting workshops, from the Preparing the Future Professoriate program in the Graduate School, from the College of Natural Resources Executive Master of Natural Resources program, and from others led us to see that a Center for Communicating Science at Virginia Tech could serve to expand and coordinate opportunities and resources on campus and beyond. With input from Karen DePauw in the Graduate School, Karen Roberto, director of the Institute for Society, Culture and Environment (ISCE), and many others, we wrote a White Paper describing our mission and goals, drew up a Center Charter, submitted it to the university, and received approval for launching the Center for Communicating Science: The Art of Connecting Across Difference. Housed in the top floor of ISCE's old brick house on the hill near Hillcrest Hall, and administratively within ISCE as well, the center became an official university entity in the fall of 2016.

Our "grand opening" the following spring was lots of fun! Graduate students gave 90-second research talks in the first annual Nutshell Games, NPR's Joe Palca shared his experiences as a science correspondent, and Virginia Tech President Tim Sands, Dean of the Graduate School Karen DePauw, and Director of ISCE Karen Roberto each offered their own 90 seconds of wisdom at our center opening events March 2, 2017.

Nearly 60 graduate students responded to the campus-wide call for participants in the Nutshell Games, and the first 28 prepared and presented  90-second talks about their research to an audience of more than 100 people gathered at the Graduate Life Center.

By the time Joe Palca spoke, a crowd of about 250 was on hand to hear him congratulate the graduate student speakers for their courage. As he put it the next morning, when he spoke on our local NPR station, ".  . . that was amazing bravery, because appearing in public is stressful . And some of them were just absolutely fantastic!"

Palca and assistant producer Madeline Sofia met with graduate students earlier in the day, speaking at two seminars about the importance of sharing research with the general public, telling engaging stories about science, and building a network of science communication across the country.

Listening, Palca emphasized, is a critical part of communication that scientists may not think about when they imagine communicating their research.

"Don't lecture them," he said. "Don't tell them what they ought to think. Find out what they are interested in."

The Nutshell Games, judged by Palca and Sofia along with President Tim Sands, Dr. Laura Sands, Dr. Karen Roberto, Dr. Karen DePauw, and Dr. Katie Burke, digital editor at American Scientist, resulted in a three-way tie for first place, each speaker receiving $500.

Caitlin Colleary, geosciences, told the story of her biomolecular paleontological research with a talk titled "Why is There an Alligator in my Freezer?"

Anza Mitchell, science education, relayed her studies on how school kids engage with engineering in her Nutshell talk "That's Engineering?!"

Max Ragozzino, entomology, used images from the film Alien to describe his work in his talk, "Emerald Ash Borer, and How We're Stopping it with the Chestbuster from Alien."

President Sands told the Nutshell Games speakers and the rest of the audience about an earlier job with Bell Communication Research and the value of having been required there to write summaries of his research that would make sense to non-scientists. That skill has served him well, he said, and is even more essential today.

"There's never been a time in my lifetime when communicating science concisely, efficiently, and in an engaging way has been more important," he said.  

Other events associated with the opening of the center included a two-part communicating science workshop for the Virginia chapter of the Wildlife Society the week before, a workshop for Virginia Tech faculty who are affiliated with the Global Change Center, and a workshop for graduate students to help them prepare for the Nutshell Games.  

 You can see the winning Nutshell Talks (and others) here!

During her many years of teaching introductory acting courses, Patty noticed that students from a wide variety of  majors were taking the course and applying it to their lives, studies, and careers. The exercises and games used in the graduate level course and in workshops help participants learn to communicate across difference, whether that difference be education level, socioeconomic status, race, gender, or research specialization. With these observations in hand, she developed an undergraduate Pathways course aimed at non-theatre majors from any field, Introduction to Applied Collaborative Techniques (TA 2404), which provides students with the tools they need to communicate and collaborate across difference while in college as well as in their future lives and jobs. 

We agonized over what to name the new center, as we wanted both to link it to the exciting work being done at the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University and its many affiliates—but also to communicate that we believe the tools from the arts that we use in our courses and workshops apply to communication and connection across all differences. Hence our subtitle: "The Art of Connecting Across Difference." 

We see the Center as providing opportunities in three arenas: 

  1. Communicating science and scholarship, with a focus on helping researchers, medical professionals, and others learn to be more direct, personal, spontaneous, and responsive in their communication; on public engagement; and on connecting scholars and researchers.
  2. Innovation, with a focus on team creativity, new ways of thinking, new ways of expressing, new ways of doing, practicing risk/fail/risk, and entrepreneurship.
  3. Collaboration, with a focus on trans- (and cross-, inter-, and intra-) disciplinary research, empathy and understanding "other," trust, inclusion, communicating across difference, and narrative.
This photo shows five young women laughing and gesticulating. They are in a room with large sheets of white paper on the walls. These papers are covered with writing.
Nature Conservancy scientists work out representations of their research in a Center for Communicating Science two-day intensive.

Where We've Been

Our workshops, presentations, and outreach events have reached more than 13,000 participants

As word got out that this approach to connection, collaboration, and communication was available (and effective and fun!), requests for workshops and other opportunities for collaboration started popping up. And as graduate students completed the course, often they requested workshops for their labs or graduate student clubs or extended our work in other ways. Here's a sampling of Center for Communicating Science activities:

Dean of the Graduate School Karen DePauw's commitment to the "improvisation for scientists" approach to improving communication led her to incorporate a three-hour workshop into her Preparing the Future Professoriate (PFP) graduate course. This introduction to the importance of communicating with people outside one's specialty—and to the improv approach—has now been presented to 20 PFP cohorts, once each semester since Fall 2011 when center director Patty Raun had just returned from the Alan Alda Center weeklong summer institute.

In 2013 Center Director Patty Raun participated in Virginia Tech's TEDx event, and she took the opportunity to develop a talk on one of her favorite subjects: transformational empathy. In a world of increasing social isolation, empathy is on the decline, studies show. A balance between analytic thinking and empathetic thinking, Patty argued in her talk, is essential to making the important decisions that will shape the future of our world. How can we achieve that? "I believe that arts education and practice can help us rebalance our society," Patty declared from the TEDx stage. "No tool is more important to our survival than the desire to see through someone else's eyes."

You can watch the talk here.

Our graduate student workshops are primarily by invitation, either from faculty members eager to include a communicating science component in a course or seminar they're teaching or from graduate students who have taken GRAD 5144 (Communicating Science) and want to share some of what they learned with their colleagues or club members. 

9/3/2021 Department of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics (Introduction to Improvisation for Scientists)

9/1/2021 Virginia/Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, Topics in Human-Animal Interaction (Describing Basic Procedures, an Interactive Communication Workshop)

8/25/2021 Fralin Life Sciences Institute Communications, Marketing, & Branding Seminar

5/13/2021 Oral History Training (workshop for Black Excellence in STEM project)

5/13/2021 Nuts and Bolts of Archiving (workshop for Black Excellence in STEM project)

5/13/2021 Listening and Interviewing (workshop for Black Excellence in STEM project)

5/4/2021 Pinch-of-Practice Workshop (Make It Memorable's Hands-on PowerPoint: Learn How to Turn Theory into Practice)

4/29/2021 Pinch-of-Practice Workshop (Make It Memorable’s Decoding Slide Design: Using Science and Art to Make Powerful Visuals)

4/27/2021 Pinch-of-Practice Workshop (Make It Memorable’s Rethinking Presentations: Memorable and Influential Presentations)

4/22/2021 Pinch-of-Practice Workshop (The Story Collider's Crafting a Story of Your Research, Part 2)

4/20/2021 Pinch-of-Practice Workshop (The Story Collider's Crafting a Story of Your Research, Part 1)

4/15/2021 Pinch-of-Practice Workshop (The Story Collider’s Crafting Your Personal Science Story) 

4/13/2021 Pinch-of-Practice Workshop (The Story Collider’s Crafting Your Personal Science Story) 

4/1/2021 Pinch-of-Practice Workshop (The Story Collider’s Introduction to Storytelling for Scientists) 

3/30/2021 Pinch-of-Practice Workshop (The Story Collider’s Introduction to Storytelling for Scientists) 

3/25/2021 Pinch-of-Practice Workshop (Open Sessions for Practice Communicating)

3/23/2021 Pinch-of-Practice Workshop (Open Sessions for Practice Communicating)

3/18/2021 Pinch-of-Practice Workshop (Making Your Research Understandable: Bridging the Gap)

3/16/2021 Pinch-of-Practice Workshop (Effective Presentations: Building Confidence and Personal Presence)

3/4/2021 Pinch-of-Practice Workshop (Learning to Listen: Connecting with Audiences and Collaborators)

3/2/2021 Pinch-of-Practice Workshop (Make It Memorable’s Presenting Better Virtually: Engage Your Audience in a Virtual Setting)

2/18/2021 Pinch-of-Practice Workshop (Distilling Your Message: Succinct and Compelling Interactions)

2/16/2021 Pinch-of-Practice Workshop (Distilling Your Message: Succinct and Compelling Interactions)

1/27/2021 Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences Graduate Student Association (Communicating Your Research Online. . .Is Like Making Your Own Hollywood Blockbuster!)

11/7/2020 Nutshell Games: 90-second research talks ONLINE

10/25/2020 Remote Sensing Interdisciplinary Graduate Education Program (Connecting Across Differences)

10/15/2020 Remote Sensing Interdisciplinary Graduate Education Program (Connecting Across Differences)

10/8/2020 Remote Sensing Interdisciplinary Graduate Education Program (Connecting Across Differences)

10/1/2020 Nutshell Games prep workshop

8/31/2020 Outreach in Biology (Introduction to Center for Communicating Science and related outreach opportunities)

6/1/2020 - 8/31/2020 Girls Launch! video production project with 10 women graduate students

2/27/2020 Regina Nuzzo: Connecting 21st-Century Information to Stone-Age Brains: Numbers, Uncertainty, Surprise, and More (ComSciCon keynote address)

2/27/2020-2/28/2020 ComSciCon-Virginia Tech

2/25/2020 Biochemistry Graduate Student Association (first annual interdisciplinary event to learn about networking and communication skills)

2/21/2020 Cassandra Quave: Medicinal Plants as a Resource for Drug Discovery in the Post-Antibiotic Era (co-hosted with Massey Herbarium; talk followed by small group session with graduate students)

12/6/2019 Biochemistry Graduate Student Association (Jettison the Jargon)

11/16/2019 Nutshell Games: 90-second research talks (Moss Arts Center)

11/15/2019 Sarah McAnulty: Science is for Everyone: Making the Biggest Impact with Your Science Communication

11/15/2019 Sarah McAnulty: Putting a Friendly Face to Science with Skype a Scientist

11/13/2019 Interfaces of Global Change first-year seminar (Careers in Science Communication)

11/6/2019 Nutshell Games prep workshop

11/1-2/2019 Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences (Communicating science/public speaking)

10/25/2019 Interdisciplinary Graduate Education Program (Communicating Research)

10/18/2019 Interdisciplinary Graduate Education Program (Communicating Research)

10/11/2019 Interdisciplinary Graduate Education Program (Communicating Research)

10/3/2019 Best Practices for Interdisciplinary Pedagogy (Interdisciplinary Techniques: Overcoming Lingo and Building on Yes) 

9/27/2019 Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine Track (Introduction to Improvisation for Scientists)

9/17/2019 National Geographic Live at the Moss Arts Center (Meet-and-Greet with Jennifer Hayes and David Doubilet)

4/24/2019 Translational Biology, Medicine and Health program (Improvisation for Scientists)

4/12/2019 Public Health program (Communicating Science)

3/7/2019-3/8/2019 ComSciCon-Virginia Tech

2/27/2019 First generation graduate students, Office of Recruitment, Diversity, and Inclusion (How to Communicate What I Do)

1/30/2019 College of Natural Resources and Environment (Presenting Science for CNRE Graduate Students)

11/30/2018 Department of Agricultural Economics Food and Health Economics lab (Introduction to Improvisation for Scientists)

11/16/2018 Department of biological sciences--Stream Team (Distilling Your Message)

11/9/2018 Computer science graduate student association (Building Community)

11/8/2018 Chemistry department--Amanda Morris lab (Introduction to Improvisation for Scientists)

10/27/2018 Nutshell Games: 90-second research talks (Moss Arts Center)

10/16/2018 Nutshell Games prep workshop

9/19/2018 Pecha Kucha Night (Town of Blacksburg Sustainability Week collaboration)

9/5/2018 Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine course (Introduction to Communicating Science)

5/1/2018 Building Construction Science and Management graduate research seminar (Introduction to Communicating Science)

4/25/2018 Wonderful Wednesday Workshop Series (Writing for a Public Audience, part 2)

4/24/2018 Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute (Introduction to Improvisation for Scientists) 

4/18/2018 Wonderful Wednesday Workshop Series (Writing for a Public Audience, part 1)

4/11/2018 Wonderful Wednesday Workshop  Series (The Art of Presentations)

4/5/2018 Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute Translational Biology  (Storytelling with Data)

4/4/2018 Wonderful Wednesday Workshop Series (Storytelling with Data)

4/3/2018 and 4/10/2018 Interdisciplinary Graduate Professional Development Seminar (“Mini Nutshell Games”)  

3/27/2018 Biological Systems Engineering grad students (18) (Introduction to Improvisation for Scientists)

3/21/2018 Wonderful Wednesday Workshop Series (Raise Your Science Profile with Social Media)

3/19/2018 Food Science and Technology graduate students (30)  (Introduction to Improvisation for Scientists)

3/14/2018 Wonderful Wednesday Workshop Series (Science Stories for Kids)

2/28/2018 Wonderful Wednesday Workshop Series (Using Twitter for Science Communication)

2/16/2018 Civil and Environmental Engineering graduate students (55) in Jennifer Irish’s seminar (Improvisation for Scientists)

2/7/2018 Wonderful Wednesday Workshop Series (Raise Your Science Profile with Social Media) 

2/5/2018 Plant Translational Biology students (Introduction to Improvisation for Scientists)

1/31/2018 Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute (Using Twitter for Science Communication) 

1/17/2018 Wonderful Wednesday Workshop Series (Using Twitter for Science Communication)

11/4/2017 Nutshell Games: 90-second research talks (Moss Arts Center)

11/1/2017 Landscape architecture/Architecture PhD Colloquium series (Writing for a Variety of Audiences) 

10/24/2017 Nutshell Games prep workshop

10/20/2017 Science Festival exhibitors' workshop (Improvisation for Scientists)

10/4/2017 and 10/11/2017 John Matson Chemistry Research Group (Improvisation for Scientists; Collaboration)

4/20/2017 A. Morris Chemistry Research Group (Improvisation for Scientists)

2/28/2017 Nutshell Games prep workshop 

12/6/2016 Women in Geosciences (Improvisation for Scientists)

8/31/2016 Research a la Mode (Improvisation for Scientists)

8/9/2016 Plant Physiology, Pathology, and Weed Science (Communicating Science)

7/5/2016 Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise (Communicating Science: Interpersonal Communication)

4/27/2016 Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology (Communicating Science: Improvisation and Metaphor)

4/4/2016 Graduate School Professional Development Series (Distilling Your Message)

3/4/2016 Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences (Improv for Scientists; Distilling Your Message)

2/26/2016 Engineering Education (Improv for Engineers: Connecting with Others)

11/2/2015 Psychology Graduate Student Club (Communicating Science: Collaboration)

9/9/2015 Research a la Mode (Communicating Science: Improv for Scientists)

2/25/2015 Translational Biology, Medicine, and Health (Communicating Science: Improvisation)

2/3/2015 Renewable Materials Research Group (Communicating Science: Improvisation)

5/6/2014 VT Carilion Medical School (Patient-Centered Communication: Empathy)

2/18/2014 IGEPs (Communicating Scholarship: Personal, Direct, Spontaneous, Responsive Communication)

12/5/2013 Waste Water Lab (Communicating Science: Improvisation)

10/18/2013 Graduate student policy group (Communicating Science; Distilling Your Message)

11/30/2012 Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise (Communicating Science: Interpersonal Interaction)

Originally aimed at graduate students, the communicating science work we do is spreading into undergraduate programs and associations. The course Introduction to Applied Collaborative Techniques, developed by center director Patty Raun, attracts students from all colleges. A collaboration with the English department's science writing course pairs undergraduate writing students with graduate researchers for interviews; the resulting stories are published on our Research Stories page. And through our internship program, five undergraduate students have now completed semester-long for-credit internships with the center.

Below is a list of undergraduate student workshops we've provided as a result of invitations from faculty, graduate students, club leaders, and others.

7/12/2021 Fralin Summer Undergraduate Research Fellows (Communicating Your Research, Session 3)

6/16/2021 Fralin Summer Undergraduate Research Fellows (Communicating Your Research, Session 2)

6/9/2021 Summer Undergraduate Researchers (Communicating Your Research)

6/9/2021 Summer Undergraduate Researchers (Communicating Your Research)

6/9/2021 Summer Undergraduate Researchers (Communicating Your Research)

6/7/2021 Fralin Summer Undergraduate Research Fellows (Communicating Your Research, Session 1)

3/31/2021 Orion Living-Learning Program First-Year Students (Communicating Science workshop)

3/30/2021 Orion Living-Learning Program First-Year Students (Communicating Science workshop) 

10/27/2020 Biological Systems Engineering junior seminar (Communicating Science workshop)

10/26/2020 Biological Systems Engineering junior seminar (Communicating Science workshop)

7/22/2020 Office of Undergraduate Research (Summer Research Symposium presentation one-to-one coaching)

6/17/2020 Office of Undergraduate Research (Communicating Science Virtual Workshop)

6/10/2020 Office of Undergraduate Research (Communicating Science Virtual Workshop)

6/3/2020 Office of Undergraduate Research (Communicating Science Virtual Workshop)

3/30/2020 Visit to science writing class in English department to introduce  graduate researcher interview/spotlight features project 

3/3/2020 Orion Living/Learning Community (Communicating science workshop)

1/24/2020 Landscape architecture students (Communication Begins with Listening)

11/1-2/2019 Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences (Communicating science/public speaking)

10/13/2019 5th year architecture students (Connecting, Communicating, and Collaborating)

9/17/2019 National Geographic Live at the Moss Arts Center (Meet-and-Greet with Jennifer Hayes and David Doubilet) 

7/26/2019 through 8/18/2019 German Fulbright Summer Institute for 20 German undergraduate students (Communicating Across Disciplines: New Approaches for Applied Sciences)

6/12/2019 Translational Obesity Undergraduate Research Scholars  (Communicating Science)

6/7/2019 NSF REU Program in Interdisciplinary Water Science and Engineering (Communicating Science)

5/29/2019 through 8/1/2019 Office of Undergraduate Research (Communicating Science for Summer Undergraduate Researchers)

4/1/2019 Office of Undergraduate Research (Communicating Your Research to a Diverse Audience)

4/2/2019 Office of Undergraduate Research (Communicating Your Research to a Diverse Audience)

4/3/2019 Office of Undergraduate Research (Communicating Your Research to a Diverse Audience)

4/9/2019 Office of Undergraduate Research (Communicating Your Research to a Diverse Audience)

4/11/2019 Office of Undergraduate Research (Communicating Your Research to a Diverse Audience)

4/15/2019 Office of Undergraduate Research (Communicating Your Research to a Diverse Audience)

12/5/2018 TLOS (technology-enhanced learning and online strategies) Spark Chat ("Nutshell" pitch workshop)

11/27/2018 FA 2004 Creativity and the Aesthetic Experience (Introduction to Applied Improvisation)

11/27/2018 FA 2004 Creativity and the Aesthetic Experience (Introduction to Applied Improvisation)

11/26/2018 FA 2004 Creativity and the Aesthetic Experience (Introduction to Applied Improvisation)

11/26/2018 FA 2004 Creativity and the Aesthetic Experience (Introduction to Applied Improvisation)

10/23/2018 DaVinci/Curie Living Learning Communities Leadership in Science (Bennett Grooms: Science Communication)

10/10/2018 Third-year landscape architecture students (Communicating Your Work)

10/3/2018 Fifth-year architechture students (Communicating Your Work)

8/21/2018 APEX Global Entrepreneur Challenge (Learning to Listen and Listening to Learn)

8/16/2018 Global Living Learning Community workshop

7/22/2018 through 8/11/2018 German Fulbright Summer Institute for 24 German undergraduate students (Communicating Science: Communication, Collaboration, and Connection across Differences and Disciplines)

6/1/2018 Virginia Tech Research and Extension Experiential Learning program (Introduction to Science Communication)

4/30/2018 Introduction to Food Science course (Improvisation for Scientists)

4/17/2018 GRAD 5144 students present their research to DaVinci/Curie LLC leadership in science course

4/13/2018 Undergraduate Student Experiential Learning Symposium  (Learning to Listen and Listening to Learn)

4/11/2018 Wonderful Wednesday Workshop: The Art of Presentations (Greg Justice)

4/9/2018 Introduction to ICAT undergraduate honors colloquium (Introduction to Improvisation for Scientists)

4/4/2018 Wonderful Wednesday Workshop: Storytelling with Data (Liz Allen)

3/28/2018 Wonderful Wednesday Workshop: Design for Impact: Tips, Tricks and Feedback – Posters, Text, PowerPoint (Meaghan Dee)

1/30/2018 DaVinci/Curie Living Learning Communities Leadership in Science (Introduction to Improvisation for Scientists)

1/17/2018 Wonderful Wednesday Workshop: Using Twitter for Science Communication (Anne Hilborn)

10/20/2017 Science Festival exhibitors' workshop (Improvisation for Scientists)

10/4/2017 and 10/11/2017 John Matson chemistry research group (Improvisation for Scientists; Collaboration)

7/23/2017 through 8/12/2017 German Fulbright Summer Institute for 24 German undergraduate students (Communicating Science: Communication, Collaboration, and Connection across Differences and Disciplines)

7/19/2017 Undergraduate Summer Research Seminar Series (Poster Presentations)

7/5/2017 Undergraduate Summer Research Seminar Series (Introduction to Improvisation for Scientists) 

4/20/2017 A. Morris Chemistry Research Group (Improvisation for Scientists)

4/10/2017 Introduction to ICAT honors colloquiam (Risk, Fail, Risk)

11/2/2016 Undergraduate researchers seminar (Effective Presentations)

9/27/2016 Galipatia engineering students (Risk/Fail/Risk, for K-12 outreach)

7/13/2016 Undergraduate Summer Research Seminar Series (Effective Poster Presentations)

7/6/2016 Undergraduate Summer Research Seminar Series (Communicating Science: Intro to Improv)

4/19/2016 Iranian Student Association (Communicating across Difference: Connection/Improvisation)

 

Once the Communicating Science graduate course and workshops were underway, Center Director Patty Raun was approached by faculty members from the Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability (CLiGS) and soon found herself helping to provide communication, collaboration, and leadership training to students in the College of Natural Resources and Environment's Executive Master of Natural Resources (XMNR) program in Virginia Tech's National Capitol Region. Since 2013, she has provided course content for the program every semester.

Beyond our work with students, we also reach others with this approach--using tools from the arts to help people connect and communicate more effectively. Here’s a sampling of workshops and events we've been invited to facilitate or participate in off campus or that have widened our audience on campus :

9/10/2021 ICAT Play Date (Girls Launch! A Pandemic Response to Providing Female Scientist Role Models to Children)

9/3/2021 Department of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics, joint Virginia Tech/Wake Forest program (Introduction to Improvisation for Scientists)

8/25/2021 Fralin Life Sciences Institute Communications, Marketing, & Branding Seminar

7/19/2021 through 8/13/2021 German Fulbright Summer Institute for 27 German undergraduate students (Communicating Across Disciplines: New Approaches for Applied Sciences)

7/1/2021 National Science Foundation initiative on using digital tools in design (Introduction to Center for Communicating Science workshop for the Cold Climate Housing Research Center, Fairbanks, AK)

6/24/2021 National Science Foundation initiative to support young faculty (Introduction to Improvisation for Scientists)

6/10/2021 International Network for the Science of Team Science 2021 conference (The Art of Connecting Across Difference: A Participatory Workshop in Communication Awareness)

5/17/2021 SciArts Collaboration Incubator 

5/14/2021 Institute of Food Technologists (Effective Strategies to Communicate Science, an Interactive Workshop)

5/4/2021 Pinch-of-Practice Workshop (Make It Memorable's Hands-on PowerPoint: Learn How to Turn Theory into Practice)

4/29/2021 Pinch-of-Practice Workshop (Make It Memorable’s Decoding Slide Design: Using Science and Art to Make Powerful Visuals)

4/27/2021 Pinch-of-Practice Workshop (Make It Memorable’s Rethinking Presentations: Memorable and Influential Presentations)

4/15/2021 Pinch-of-Practice Workshop (The Story Collider’s Crafting Your Personal Science Story) 

4/13/2021 Pinch-of-Practice Workshop (The Story Collider’s Crafting Your Personal Science Story) 

4/7/2021 Poster presentation at the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) Biannual Meeting (What do Scientists Look like? Drawing Scientists in Kindergarten and Middle School)

4/1/2021 Pinch-of-Practice Workshop (The Story Collider’s Introduction to Storytelling for Scientists) 

3/30/2021 Pinch-of-Practice Workshop (The Story Collider’s Introduction to Storytelling for Scientists) 

3/25/2021 Pinch-of-Practice Workshop (Open Sessions for Practice Communicating)

3/25/2021 Poster presentation at Science Talk 2021 (Girls Launch! Science Outreach in COVID Times)

3/23/2021 Pinch-of-Practice Workshop (Open Sessions for Practice Communicating)

3/18/2021 Pinch-of-Practice Workshop (Making Your Research Understandable: Bridging the Gap)

3/16/2021 Pinch-of-Practice Workshop (Effective Presentations: Building Confidence and Personal Presence)

3/11/2021 Virginia Tech Roanoke Center (Connecting Across Difference: Skills for Effective Communication in Person and Online)

3/4/2021 Virginia Tech Roanoke Center (Connecting Across Difference: Skills for Effective Communication in Person and Online)

3/4/2021 Pinch-of-Practice Workshop (Learning to Listen: Connecting with Audiences and Collaborators)

3/2/2021 Pinch-of-Practice Workshop (Make It Memorable’s Presenting Better Virtually: Engage Your Audience in a Virtual Setting)

2/25/2021 Virginia Tech Roanoke Center (Connecting Across Difference: Skills for Effective Communication in Person and Online)

2/18/2021 Pinch-of-Practice Workshop (Distilling Your Message: Succinct and Compelling Interactions)

2/16/2021 Pinch-of-Practice Workshop (Distilling Your Message: Succinct and Compelling Interactions)

1/14/2021 Women and Gender in Development Conference (Preparatory workshop: Communicating Your Research)

1/14/2021 Office of Undergraduate Research (Mentoring Undergraduates in Research panel)

1/10/2021 Blacksburg Unitarian Universalist Sunday service (Connecting Across Differences: Imagining Others)

6/11/2020 Oestreich Lab, College of Medicine, Department of Microbial Infection and Immunity, Ohio State University (Introduction to Distilling Your Message)

3/19/2020 Lani Fu, Superhero Clubhouse: Theatre Arts and Climate Justice (co-hosted with School of Performing Arts Graduate Colloquium Series)

2/27/2020 Regina Nuzzo: Connecting 21st-Century Information to Stone-Age Brains: Numbers, Uncertainty, Surprise, and More

2/21/2020 Cassandra Quave: Medicinal Plants as a Resource for Drug Discovery in the Post-Antibiotic Era (co-hosted with Massey Herbarium; talk followed by small group session with graduate students)

11/15/2019 Sarah McAnulty: Science is for Everyone: Making the Biggest Impact with Your Science Communication

11/15/2019 Sarah McAnulty: Putting a Friendly Face to Science with Skype a Scientist

11/1-2/2019 Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences (Communicating science/public speaking workshop)

10/22-10/23/2019 Communicating Science Intensive for NatureNet Fellows and other scientists with The Nature Conservancy at the annual NatureNet Science Fellows meeting and research symposium, Charlottesville, VA 

10/10/2019  2019 Organization of Fish and Wildlife Information Managers Annual Conference (Distilling Your Message), National Conservation Training Center, Shepherdstown, West Virginia

9/27/2019 The Humorous Side of the Climate Story: A workshop on the bizarre, unexpected, and delightfully weird side of climate change (Sara Peach)

9/17/2019 National Geographic Live at the Moss Arts Center pre-event (Daniel Bird Tobin and Al Evangelista: Animating and Embodying Science)

8/4/2019 Voice and Speech Trainers Association annual conference, Orlando (Patty Raun, keynote address, "Let Your Life Speak: The Art of Connecting across Difference")  

7/26/2019 through 8/18/2019 German Fulbright Summer Institute for 20 German undergraduate students (Communicating Across Disciplines: New Approaches for Applied Sciences)

6/20-22/2019 Cultivating Ensembles in STEM Education and Research, New York Institute of Technology, New York City (interactive workshop, "Who, what, when, where, how, and why, why, why? Exercises for distilling your message")

6/20-22/2019 Cultivating Ensembles in STEM Education and Research, New York Institute of Technology, New York City (lightning talk, "Scientists and writers: How a university collaboration (and beyond) shows they're good friends")

6/20-22/2019 Cultivating Ensembles in STEM Education and Research, New York Institute of Technology, New York City (performance, "Laser")

6/20-22/2019 Cultivating Ensembles in STEM Education and Research, New York Institute of Technology, New York City (poster presentation, "Communicating Science: An ethnographic study")

6/12/2019 Introduction to Improvisation for Scientists workshop, faculty from Ecuador's Universidad San Francisco de Quito

4/25/2019 Improvisation Laboratory

4/2/2019 Transdisciplinary Communities Research Symposium, Blacksburg, VA (Daniel Bird Tobin, keynote address: “Building Transdisciplinary Communities: Spontaneous Understanding”)

3/28/2019 Improvisation Laboratory

3/12/2019 Entomological Society of America Eastern Branch conference (Get Out of the Elevator! Succinct and Compelling Interactions with the Public)

2/28/2019 Improvisation Laboratory

2/12/2019 BioXFEL 2019 (a National Science Foundation Science and Technology Center international conference) Keynote address and engagement: "What's in a Nutshell? Brief Compelling Interactions with the Public," San Diego, CA

1/31/2019 Roanoke Higher Education Center Facts and Snacks (Powerful Tools from the Arts: Developing Communication Skills)

1/29/2019 Shandong University visiting scholars (Introduction to Improvisation for Scientists)

12/5/2018 TLOS (technology-enhanced learning and online strategies) Spark Chat ("Nutshell" pitch workshop)

11/30/2018 American Society of Consulting Arborists presentation and workshop: Connecting Across Differences. San Diego, CA 

11/26/2018 Advancing the Human Condition Symposium, Coastal CoLab Presentation (Nicole Dietze, Al Evangelista, Brittney Harris, Daniel Bird Tobin)

10/12/2018 Science Festival exhibitors workshop (Improvisation for Scientists)

8/21/2018 to 8/23/2018 National Science Foundation Science and Technology Centers Directors Meeting presentation (Communicating Science: The Art of Connecting Across Difference) and workshop (Improvisation for Scientists) 
for directors, faculty, and post-docs from across the United States. Center for Energy Efficient Electronics Science, Berkeley, CA

7/22/2018 through 8/11/2018 German Fulbright Summer Institute for 24 German undergraduate students (Communicating Science: Communication, Collaboration, and Connection across Differences and Disciplines)

6/27/2018 Universities Council on Water Resources/National Institutes of Water Resources conference presentation: Building communication and collaboration skills, from the inside out. Pittsburgh, PA

6/25/2018 Introduction to Improvisation for Scientists workshop, faculty from Ecuador's Universidad San Francisco de Quito

5/3/2018 and 5/4/2018 Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry regional meeting, Memphis, Tennessee (The Art of Communicating Science)

4/25/2018 Wonderful Wednesday Workshop: Writing for a Public Audience (Cassandra Hockman)

4/18/2018 Wonderful Wednesday Workshop: Writing for a Public Audience (Cassandra Hockman)

4/11/2018 Wonderful Wednesday Workshop: The Art of Presentations (Greg Justice)

4/4/2018 Wonderful Wednesday Workshop: Storytelling with Data (Liz Allen)

4/2/2018 Mid-Atlantic Mitosis Meeting (Introduction to Improvisation for Scientists)

3/28/2018 Wonderful Wednesday Workshop: Design for Impact: Tips, Tricks and Feedback – Posters, Text, PowerPoint (Meaghan Dee)

3/21/2018 Wonderful Wednesday Workshop: Raise Your Science Profile with Social Media (Anne Hilborn)

3/14/2018 Wonderful Wednesday Workshop: Science Stories for Kids (Carrie Kroehler)

2/28/2018 Wonderful Wednesday Workshop: Using Twitter for Science Communication (Anne Hilborn)

2/26/2018 "An Evening with Science Comedian Brian Malow," Anne and Ellen Fife Theatre, Moss Arts Center (589 in audience)

2/26/2018 "A Science Comedian's Guide to Communicating Science," Vet-Med Commons, Virginia/Maryland School of Veterinary Medicine (75-100 in audience)

2/25/2018 "The Role of the University in an Era of Science Skepticism and 'Fake News,'" Anne and Ellen Fife Theatre, Moss Arts Center (panel discussion, 175 in audience)

2/7/2018 Wonderful Wednesday Workshop: Raise Your Science Profile with Social Media (Anne Hilborn)

1/31/2018 Wonderful Wednesday Workshop: What to Do When a Reporter Calls (Cassandra Hockman)

1/24/2018 Wonderful Wednesday Workshop: Writing a Press Release (Cassandra Hockman)

1/17/2018 Wonderful Wednesday Workshop: Using Twitter for Science Communication (Anne Hilborn)

11/14/2017 Strengthening Your Communication Skills: Exercises to Build Rapport (presentation at the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry North America 38th Annual Meeting, Minneapolis, MN)

10/20/2017 Science Festival exhibitors workshop (Improvisation for Scientists)

9/16/2017 interactive session at CESTEMER 2017, Chicago (Cultivating Ensembles in STEM Education and Research)

9/15/2017 keynote address at the national conference of the Educational Theatre Association, September 15, Nashville, TN

7/22/2017 through 8/12/17  German Fulbright summer institute for 24 German undergraduate students (Communicating Science: Communication, Collaboration, and Connection Across Differences and Disciplines) 

5/1/2017  Communicating Science: Intro to Improv workshop at the Mid-Atlantic Mitosis Meetings, American Association for Cell Biology 

4/12-14/2017 Invited residency at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point (Communicating across Difference; Leadership; Empathy; and Connection)

2/27/2017 Workshop for Virginia Tech Global Change Center faculty (Introduction to Improvisation for Scientists) 

2/22-23/2017 workshop for Virginia Chapter of the Wildlife Society (Communicating Science: The Art of Connecting across Difference)

10/3/2016 Southwest Virginia STEM Summit (Communicating Science: Games for Classrooms)

7/7/2016 University San Francisco di Quito (Ecuador) (Communicating Science: Improvisation)

3/30/2016 AACCS/Pew Research (Distilling Your Message)

3/29/2016 AACCS/Pew Research (Improvisation for Scientists)

11/6/2015 A2RU (Assessing Transdisciplinary Work: Panel/Effective Assessment)

10/20/2015 Virginia Science Festival (Improvisation for Scientists)

6/28/2015 United Methodist Church (Audience Engagement: Communication for Liturgists and Clergy)

1/10/2012 Blacksburg High School National History Day (Effective Presentations: Effective Audience Contact)

The center’s mission is to create and support opportunities for scientists, scholars, health professionals, and others to develop their abilities to communicate and connect. And they communicate! An exciting by-product of our mission is the outreach that has become part of the work of the center. The presentations our communicating science graduate students make to retirement communities, middle schoolers, undergrads, and others; the monthly Science on Tap events; our annual Nutshell Games, a 90-second presentation competition; our Girls Launch! kindergarten science visits project; and other outreach events all help to connect researchers with other community members. Here are some of the opportunities the center has provided for graduate students, faculty, and others to communicate their work to the world beyond the university:

8/25/2021 Science on Tap, Kristin Rose Jutras: The Poetry of Science Communications

7/28/2021 Science on Tap, New River Valley (Emmanuel Frimpong and Hiromi Okumura: The Art and Science of Stream Biodiversity)

6/24/2021 Science on Tap, New River Valley (Abby Lewis: Oxygen: Stories of Fire, Beer, and the Guillotine)

4/22/2021 Science on Tap, New River Valley (Sweta Baniya, Minh Duong, Sara Richards, Jennifer Sano-Franchini, Khanh To, Na Xie: Asian & Pacific Islander in Academia: Research Stories and Successes)

3/25/2021 Science on Tap, New River Valley (Bruce Hull: Leading From Where You Are: Sustaining Hope for a Sustainable Future)

2/25/2021 Science on Tap, New River Valley (Bennett Grooms: A New Age of Conservation: Helping Wildlife by Understanding People)

1/28/2021 Science on Tap, New River Valley (Daniel Bird Tobin: Embodying Emotional Connections to Science Through Theatre)

11/19/2020 Science on Tap, New River Valley (Kasha Patel: Ha ha! Science Comedy Night With Kasha Patel)

11/7/2020 Nutshell Games: 90-second research talks ONLINE

10/22/2020 Science on Tap, New River Valley (Steven Licardi: Building a Loving Relationship with Our Mental Health)

9/24/2020 Science on Tap, New River Valley (Emma Coleman, Cat Woodson, and Erik Olsen: Cycling Towards Healthier Communities) 

7/30/2020 Science on Tap, New River Valley (Emmanuel Frimpong, Korin Jones, Daniel Smith, Amber Wendler, and Shaz Zamore: Celebrating Black Scientists, a panel discussion) 

6/1/2020 - 8/31/2020 Girls Launch! video project

5/7/2020 Science on Tap, New River Valley (Erin McKenney: Wild Sourdough Starters and Citizen Science; Lester Schonberger: Supply Chains and Food Pantries)

4/21/2020 Communicating Science (GRAD 5144) student presentation videos presented to Eastern Elementary/Middle School for use with 6th and 7th graders

4/8/2020 Communicating Science (GRAD 5144) student research presentation videos made available to the activities and events director at Warm Hearth Retirement Village

4/4/2020 Science on Tap, New River Valley (Linsey Marr and Kaisen Lin: Viral Transmission)

2/27/2020 Science on Tap, New River Valley (Regina Nuzzo: Connecting 21st-Century Information to Stone-Age Brains: Numbers, Uncertainty, Surprise, and More)

2/26/2020 Girls Launch! Kindergarten science visit at Eastern Elementary/Middle School in Giles County (Felicia Etzkorn and Kate Hennion: The World Is Made of Chemicals)

1/31/2020 Girls Launch! Kindergarten science visit at Eastern Elementary/Middle School in Giles County (Farhanaz Sharmin, Carrie Kroehler, Kate Hennion: How Do We Learn about People? Interviews and Surveys)

1/23/2020 Science on Tap, New River Valley (Grace Davis and Stephanie Edwards Compton: Cancer: A Traveling Ecosystem)

1/13/2020 Girls Launch! Kindergarten science visit at Eastern Elementary/Middle School in Giles County (Alaina Weinheimer and Carolina Martinez-Gutierrez: DNA)

12/16/2019 Girls Launch! Kindergarten science visit at Eastern Elementary/Middle School in Giles County (Medha Satyal and Hannah Wilding: The Brain)

11/19/2019 Girls Launch! Kindergarten science visit at Eastern Elementary/Middle School in Giles County (Brogan Holcombe and Kelly Runyon: Jungle Jaguars and Forest Black Bears)

11/16/2019 Nutshell Games 90-second research talks (Moss Arts Center)

11/14/2019 Science on Tap, New River Valley (Ruoding Shi: Understanding Differences in Respiratory Health in Coal-Mining Counties)

11/12/2019 Communicating Science (GRAD 5144) student research presentations to a public audience at Warm Hearth Retirement Village

11/6/2019 Communicating Science (GRAD 5144) student presentations to Eastern Elementary/Middle School 6th and 7th graders

10/24/2019 Science on Tap, New River Valley (Celebrating Women in Science! Members of the local Blacksburg-Radford pod of 500 Women

9/26/2019 Science on Tap, New River Valley (Sara Peach: What to Expect When You’re Expecting Climate Change)

9/18/2019 Sustainability Lightning Talks (Town of Blacksburg Sustainability Week collaboration)

9/17/2019 National Geographic Live at the Moss Arts Center pre-event (Daniel Bird Tobin and Al Evangelista: Animating and Embodying Science)

8/22/2019 Science on Tap, New River Valley (Maddy Grupper: Public Trust in Drinking Water)

7/25/2019 Science on Tap, New River Valley (Carol Davis: "Individual actions or systemic change?"--Thoughts about creating a more sustainable world)

6/27/2019 Science on Tap, New River Valley (Derek Hennen: Millipedes of Virginia)

5/3/2019 Girls Launch! Kindergarten science visit at Eastern Elementary/Middle School in Giles County (Hila Taylor and Kat Black: Tortoises and Bats)

4/29/2019 Girls Launch! Kindergarten science visit at Eastern Elementary/Middle School in Giles County (Tyler McFayden, Tatiana Garcia-Meza, Hayley Oliver: Your Amazing Brain)

4/25/2019 Science on Tap, New River Valley (Susan Chen: Let's Talk Trash: Why Food Waste Matters)

4/11/2019 Communicating Science (GRAD 5144) student presentations to Eastern Elementary/Middle School 6th and 7th graders

4/9/2019 Communicating Science (GRAD 5144) student research presentations to a public audience at Warm Hearth Retirement Village

3/29/2019 Girls Launch! Kindergarten science visit at Eastern Elementary/Middle School in Giles County (Meredith Semel and Hayley Oliver: Lemurs in Madagascar)

3/25/2019 Science on Tap, New River Valley (James Costa: Darwin's Backyard "Experimentising")

3/22/2019 Girls Launch! Kindergarten science visit at Eastern Elementary/Middle School in Giles County (Carrie Kroehler and Hayley Oliver: Seeds and Sprouts)

2/25/2019 Science on Tap, New River Valley (Brenen Wynd: "Almost all my friends are dead": What does paleontology tell us about extinction?)

2/5/2019 Girls Launch! Kindergarten science visit at Eastern Elementary/Middle School in Giles County (Dana Korneisel and Khanh To: Fossils of West Virginia)

2/4/2019 Girls Launch! Kindergarten science visit at Eastern Elementary/Middle School in Giles County (Amelia Tankersley and Madeleine Bruce: Mindfulness)

1/28/2019 Science on Tap, New River Valley (Sihui Ma: The Science of Fermented Drinks)

12/20/2018 Girls Launch! Kindergarten science visit at Eastern Elementary/Middle School in Giles County (Kat Black; Sharri Zamore: Snakes Galore!)

11/26/2018 Science on Tap, New River Valley (Rajesh Bagchi: What's the Better Deal? The Science of Purchasing Decisions)

11/26/2018 Girls Launch! Kindergarten science visit at Eastern Elementary/Middle School in Giles County (Sarita Hough and Carrie Kroehler: Density and Buoyancy)

11/1/2018 Communicating Science (GRAD 5144) student presentations to Eastern Elementary/Middle School 6th and 7th graders

11/1/2018 Science on Tap, New River Valley (Michelle Stocker: Detectives at Work--The Case of the Embedded Tooth)

10/30/2018 Communicating Science (GRAD 5144) student research presentations to a public audience at Warm Hearth Retirement Village

10/27/2018 Nutshell Games: 90-second research talks (Moss Arts Center) 

9/27/2018 Science on Tap, New River Valley (Erica Feuerbacher: Old dog? New Tricks! Animal Behavior with Erica Feuerbacher)

9/19/2018 Pecha Kucha Night (Town of Blacksburg Sustainability Week collaboration)

8/23/2018 Science on Tap, New River Valley (Debby Good: Is "23andMe" for You? The Promise and Peril of Genetic Testing)

7/26/2018 Science on Tap, New River Valley (Tom Ewing: Booze and Flu(s): Science and Spirits in the 1918 Spanish Influenza)

6/28/2018 Science on Tap, New River Valley (Brynn O'Donnell and Robin Scully: Ghost Streams and Painting Water)

5/29/2018 Girls Launch! Kindergarten science visit at Eastern Elementary/Middle School in Giles County (Henrietta Bellman and Erin Heller: Living Coastlines)

5/24/2018 Science on Tap, New River Valley (Nick Caruso: Does It Fart?)

4/28/2018 Girls Launch! Kindergarten science visit at Eastern Elementary/Middle School in Giles County (Vanessa Guerra and Carrie Kroehler: Who Wants to Save the Earth?)

4/23/2018 Science on Tap, New River Valley (Sid Roy and William Rhoades: Is Your Tap Water Safe? The Story of Flint (and America) )

4/18/2018 Communicating Science (GRAD 5144) student research presentations to a public audience at Warm Hearth Retirement Village

4/13/2018 Communicating Science (GRAD 5144) student presentations to Eastern Elementary/Middle School 6th and 7th graders

3/28/2018 Girls Launch! Kindergarten science visit at Eastern Elementary/Middle School in Giles County (Madeline Bruce and Amelia Tankersley: Emotions Science)

2/26/2018 "An Evening with Science Comedian Brian Malow," Anne and Ellen Fife Theatre, Moss Arts Center (589 in audience)

2/25/2018 "The Role of the University in an Era of Science Skepticism and 'Fake News,'" Anne and Ellen Fife Theatre, Moss Arts Center (panel discussion, 175 in audience)

2/21/2018 Girls Launch! Kindergarten science visit at Eastern Elementary/Middle School in Giles County (Ellen Garcia: It’s a Small World)

1/24/2018 Girls Launch! Kindergarten science visit at Eastern Elementary/Middle School in Giles County (Vanessa Diaz and Tyler McFayden: Mindfulness)

1/22/2018 Science on Tap, New River Valley (Kwame Harrison: Experiencing Blackness in Defiantly White Spaces--in a Car)

12/12/2017 Girls Launch! Kindergarten science visit at Eastern Elementary/Middle School in Giles County (Kat Bland and Carrie Kroehler: Animal Skins and Habitats)

11/27/2017 Science on Tap, New River Valley (Jake Socha: Flying and gliding creatures)

11/14/2017 Girls Launch! Kindergarten science visit at Eastern Elementary/Middle School in Giles County (Caitlin Colleary: Skulls, Teeth, and Dinosaurs)

11/10/2017 Communicating Science (GRAD 5144) student presentations to Eastern Elementary/Middle School 6th and 7th graders

11/9/2017 Communicating Science (GRAD 5144) student research presentations to a public audience at Warm Hearth Retirement Village

11/4/2017 Nutshell Games: 90-second research talks (Moss Arts Center)

10/23/2017 Science on Tap, New River Valley (Marcella Kelly research group: Camera traps and poop)

9/25/2017 Science on Tap, New River Valley (Abi Tyson: Football helmet safety)

8/28/2017 Science on Tap, New River Valley (Marc Stern: How to build trust)

5/6/2017 Science on Tap, New River Valley (Caitlin Colleary, Anza Mitchell, Max Ragozzino: paleontology, engineering, insects)

4/24/2017 Science on Tap, New River Valley (Bill Hopkins: Hellbenders) 

4/21/2017 Communicating Science (GRAD 5144) student presentations to Eastern Elementary/Middle School 6th and 7th graders

3/2/2017 Nutshell Games: 90-second research talks (Graduate Life Center)

11/10/2016 Communicating Science (GRAD 5144) student research presentations to a public audience at Warm Hearth Retirement Village

11/9/2016 Communicating Science (GRAD 5144) student presentations to Eastern Elementary/Middle School 6th and 7th graders

4/6/2016 Communicating Science (GRAD 5144) student presentations to Eastern Elementary/Middle School 6th and 7th graders 

4/5/2016 Communicating Science (GRAD 5144) student research presentations to a public audience at Warm Hearth Retirement Village

11/5/2015 Communicating Science (GRAD 5144) student research presentations to a public audience at Warm Hearth Retirement Village

4/14/2015 Communicating Science (GRAD 5144) student research presentations to a public audience at Warm Hearth Retirement Village

4/1/2014 Communicating Science (GRAD 5144) student research presentations to a public audience at Warm Hearth Retirement Village

4/26/2013 Communicating Science (GRAD 5144) student research presentations to a public audience at Warm Hearth Retirement Village

     

Our Community

Leadership

Director of the Center for Communicating Science: Patty Raun

Director of the Center for Communicating Science: Patty Raun
Director of the Virginia Tech Center for Communicating Science
praun@vt.edu
I'm a professional actor and voice coach, a theatre professor, and Director of the Center for Communicating Science at Virginia Tech. I've devoted my life to developing healthy and varied voices (both literal and figurative) in individuals, institutions, and communities. I served as department head of Theatre and as director of the School of Performing Arts at Virginia Tech from 2002 - 2016 and have recently shifted the focus of my research and teaching to sharing the powerful tools of the theatre in the development of communication skills for scientists, technology professionals, and scholars -- helping them to discover ways to become more direct, personal, spontaneous, and responsive.  I'm particularly interested in empathy development, serious games and roleplay, collaborative problem solving, and values-based leadership. 

Associate Director of the Center for Communicating Science: Carrie Kroehler

Associate Director of the Center for Communicating Science: Carrie Kroehler
Associate Director of the Virginia Tech Center for Communicating Science
cjkroehl@vt.edu
I am a biologist, writer, editor, Virginia Tech faculty member, and Associate Director of the Center for Communicating Science. In my career, most of my work has focused on "translating" research for non-scientists. I came to believe in the power of play, experiential learning, and hands-off teaching while doing my student teaching, working with school groups, and raising my children, and I've been happy to put that training and understanding to use in helping researchers learn to communicate more effectively with people outside their specialties. My hope is that we can bridge the gaps between us so that we can listen to and learn from one another as we transform our global society into one that sustains all of us and our beautiful, threatened, life-supporting earth.

 

Dr. Laura Belmonte, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences

Dr. Jacqueline Bixler, Director, School of Performing Arts

Dr. Daniel Breslau,  Head, Department of Science and Technology in Society

Dr. Karen DePauwVice President and Dean for Graduate Education

Dr. Ronald Fricker, Interim Dean of the College of Science

Dr. W. Steven Holbrook, Head, Department of Geosciences

Dr. Rachel Holloway, Vice Provost for Undergraduate Academic Affairs

Dr. Matthew Hulver, Director, Fralin Life Sciences Institute

Dr. Menah Pratt-Clarke, Vice Provost for Inclusion and Diversity

Dr. Karen Roberto, University Distinguished Professor and Director of the Institute for Society, Culture and Environment

Ms. Lesley Yorke, Senior Director of Communications, University Relations

 

 

 

Dr. Katie L. BurkeScience Journalist and Digital Features Editor, American Scientist

Dr. Jennifer Case,  Department Head, Engineering Education, College of Engineering

Susan Chen, Graduate Student, Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Bennett Grooms, Graduate Student, Dayer Human Dimensions Lab, Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation, College of Natural Resources and Environment

Dr. William HopkinsProfessor, Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation, College of Natural Resources and Environment

Dr. Bruce HullSenior Fellow and Professor of Sustainability, College of Natural Resources and Environment

Dr. Shernita LeeDirector of Recruitment, Diversity, and Inclusion, Graduate School

Dr. Todd SchenkAssistant Professor, School of Public and International Affairs, College of Architecture and Urban Studies

Bob Whiton, Alumnus of VT, Community member, Chemist, Beekeeper 

Graduate students representing every college at Virginia Tech have taken the graduate-level Communicating Science course since the course launched in 2012, and the same is true for undergraduate students and Introduction to Applied Collaborative Techniques. Many more have participated in  center-sponsored workshops and events.

A number of these have gone on to win awards at presentation contests and poster competitions, be named as Teaching Fellows, volunteer for the Virginia Tech Science Festival and for other outreach projects, present at Science on Tap New River Valley, the Science Tavern in Roanoke, Sustainability Week, and other venues, start new science outreach projects, initiate a campus-wide communicating science club, host Virginia Tech's first-ever ComSciCon, and apply for jobs related to science communications. Perhaps more importantly, they left the course with new friends and colleagues and new attitudes about communication, collaboration, and connection. We hope they'll take their communication skills out into the world and also that they'll stay connected with us! 

Vanessa Diaz, Department of Psychology

Todd Nicewonger, Department of Engineering Education

Rachel Rugh, instructor, School of Performing Arts

Jane Robertson Evia, collegiate assistant professor, Department of Statistics

Carlos Evia, associate professor, School of Communication 

Elizabeth Allen, program associate, Institute for Policy and Governance

Daniel Bird Tobin, post-MFA, School of Performing Arts

Al Evangelista, post-MFA, School of Performing Arts

Cassandra Hockman, communications coordinator, Fralin Life Science Institute

Meaghan Dee, assistant professor, School of Visual Arts

Anne Hilborn, fish and wildlife conservation PhD, Marcella Kelly's lab

 

This photo shows 18 people standing in an arc in a large room with hardwood flooring and a white ceiling with chandeliers.
Workshop participants develop awareness of themselves and others in an exercise. Photo courtesy of Alexandra Freeze.

     

Center for Communicating Science - teal and orange logo

Center for Communicating Science - teal and orange logo

     

Center for Communicating Science
230 Grove Lane
Blacksburg, VA 24061
(Campus mail code: 0555)

Director Patty Raun | praun@vt.edu
Associate Director Carrie Kroehler | cjkroehl@vt.edu