What is ComSciCon?

ComSciCon is a series of workshops focused on the communication of complex and technical concepts organized by graduate students, for graduate students.  ComSciCon attendees meet and interact with professional communicators, build lasting networks with graduate students in all fields of science and engineering from across the US and Canada, and write and publish original works.

Recent Publications by ComSciCon attendees or about ComSciCon

FREDERICK ROBERT. Self-Education in Science Communication. American Scientist [Internet]. 2019. Publisher's VersionAbstract

My first consciously conducted science experiment was to gauge my parents' reaction to my playing in the mud. They sighed and brushed me off when I played in the dirt but encouraged me with toys and special clothing to play in the water, so I wondered 'How will they react when I combine dirt and water and play in that?'

That kind of self-directed learning is encouraged by certain educational institutions. But whether encouraged by formal schooling, we all start out—in some sense—as self-directed learners. Many of us get muddy in the process. That commonality of childhood experience can limit us as adults, though, by making it too easy to think of educating ourselves at more challenging subjects—such as science communication—as beyond the scope of self-education. Instead, as we grow up, we are increasingly prompted by many social systems to rely on formal experts. In some cases, that's useful because adult mistakes can be far more costly than muddy clothes.

Ad Right

So when a group of self-directed graduate students invited me to serve as an expert reviewer at ComSciCon-Triangle 2019, a workshop about communicating science for graduate students put on by graduate students, I went with the enthusiasm of a muddy imp who had just learned how to make his parents scream.

Chang J, Sanchez A. Science Communication Workshop Aims to Engage STEM Researchers Across New York. WSKG [Internet]. 2019. Publisher's VersionAbstract

In just over a decade, the United States went from laughing at Stephen Colbert’s “truthiness” to fighting over Kellyanne Conway’s “alternative facts.” Scientific evidence is a necessary resource in this contentious environment, but to utilize that resource, scientists need to build effective communication skills. ComSciCon-Cornell helps scientists do exactly that, bringing together graduate and postdoctoral researchers from across the Central and Western New York region to learn about and engage in scientific communication.

This past July, a team of six Cornell University graduate students and postdoctoral fellows organized ComSciCon-Cornell 2018 for 40 STEM researchers. The two-day event explored modern digital communication, with special focus on storytelling, socially sensitive topics, and public engagement. On both days of the conference, attendees learned from a diverse group of 20 professional communicators and experts through Q&A and interactive sessions. Concurrently, attendees wrote their own popular science articles and actively engaged with panelists and workshop peers alike for feedback.

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