New Center Initiatives Expand Reach and Impact
May 18, 2023
Center for Communicating Science faculty are looking forward to developing new projects and working with new collaborators this summer. We also appreciate continuing engagement with those we have worked with previously.
Coming up first, on May 19, Center faculty members Patty Raun and Carrie Kroehler will facilitate a day-long intensive for the current cohort of Virginia Tech’s Presidential Postdoctoral Fellows and Research and Innovation Postdoctoral Scholars. This communicating science skill-building experience will be expanded through the summer with online workshops and will culminate in an in-person capstone event early in the fall. This series is being developed in partnership with the university’s Office of Research and Innovation as part of its work to support postdoctoral researchers at Virginia Tech.
Additionally, online workshop opportunities for the Innovation Campus faculty to build on their communicating science intensive, which was held in Arlington, Virginia this past January, will continue throughout the summer and fall.
In June, Raun and Kroehler will be traveling to Salt Lake City, Utah, to facilitate a “collaboration incubator” for the principal investigators of a multi-university, multi-hub National Science Foundation project called the Critical Zone Collaborative Network. The critical zone, defined as Earth’s “outer skin” from its bedrock to its treetops, is the subject of research by geologists, hydrologists, microbiologists, ecologists, and many other specialists. At Virginia Tech, critical zone geophysicist Steve Holbrook heads up a group of seven universities, affectionately dubbed Team Bedrock. We’re thrilled to be working with Steve and contributing to this huge effort to better understand the critical zone!
With workshops in May, June, and July, the Center for Communicating Science will support a new National Science Foundation-funded Research Experience for Undergraduates program in the Department of Chemistry. STEER, or Students Transforming Energy and Environmental Research, will bring in 6-9 students, each to spend the summer engaged in research with a chemistry faculty member. Their communicating science workshops will culminate in a departmental event, STEER Speeches, and in their presentations at the Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium.
As in the past several years, the Center also will collaborate with the Office of Undergraduate Research to provide communicating science workshops for the undergraduate student researchers in the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellows program.
Last year’s workshop series for high school student participants in the summer programs hosted by the Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Diversity (CEED) were a big hit with the students and CEED staff, and we’re happy to be working again this year with the C-Tech² camp (Computers and Technology at Virginia Tech) and the Black Engineering Excellence at Virginia Tech program (BEE VT). Center for Communicating Science faculty fellow Laura Epperson, a post-MFA in the theatre department, will facilitate workshops at the beginning of each program to help students get acquainted, tune up their listening skills, and begin connecting across differences. Later in the 2-week program, a “distilling your message” workshop will help students prepare for their project presentations.
July will bring a cohort of 28 German Fulbright undergraduate students for a sixth and final “Communicating Across Disciplines and Differences” program. This program, a collaboration with Virginia Tech’s Cranwell International Center, will guide students through academic content, co-curricular activities focused on some of the challenges we currently face in American society, and extracurricular activities designed to help students see the slice of American life that is right here in the New River Valley.
We look forward to interacting with lots of you this summer!