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 around the country, and write and publish original works.

Recent Publications by ComSciCon attendees or about ComSciCon

Bain KO'KR&. ComSciCon-Triangle: Regional Science Communication Training for Graduate Students. Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education [Internet]. 2018;19 (1). Publisher's VersionAbstract
The ability of scientists to effectively communicate their research, and scientific ideas in general, with a variety of audiences is critical in both academic and non-academic careers. There is currently a dearth of formal and informal science communication training opportunities for graduate students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. This curriculum paper introduces ComSciCon-Triangle, a graduate student–organized science communication workshop for graduate students in STEM at research universities in the Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, region. Started in 2015, this annual workshop aims to empower graduate students to be more engaged in communicating their research with the public as well as with fellow scientists. Each workshop consists of interactive panel discussions with invited science communicators (science writers, academics, filmmakers, etc.), informal networking opportunities with invited guests and other attendees, and hands-on sessions for improving oral and written communication skills. Analyzing pre- and post-survey data from all ComSciCon-Triangle attendees from 2015 to 2017, we find that workshop attendees feel significantly more confident in their ability to communicate scientific ideas with both the general public and with other scientists, and more confident submitting a written piece to a popular science publication or journal. We discuss how ComSciCon-Triangle serves as a model for local science communication workshops “for graduate students, organized by graduate students.”
Clossey E. WITH COMMUNICATING SCIENCE CONFERENCE, EMERSON HELPING SCIENTISTS TELL STORIES. Emerson College News & Events [Internet]. 2018. Publisher's VersionAbstract

On the surface, Professor John Craig Freeman’s augmented reality installation Imagining the U.S./Mexico Border: Migration Stories has more to do with political science than natural science.

But Freeman, a public artist who teaches in the Visual and Media Arts Department, and School of Communication Dean Raul Reisbelieve that augmented reality (AR) and its close cousin, virtual reality (VR), have vast potential for telling the most pressing stories of science—climate change, public health, biotechnology, renewable energy, etc.—in a way that absorbs and engages the public.

Freeman will give a talk on Imagining the U.S./Mexico Border during Communicating Science (ComSciCon) 2018, a national workshop series to advance storytelling in the “hard” sciences. Founded by graduate students at Harvard University and MIT, and organized by graduate students across the country, the series is being hosted by Emerson College June 14–15.

Landis E. Science Communication Close to Home. The Central Sulcus (Emory Neuroscience) [Internet]. 2018. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Learning how to communicate science to the public is vital for graduate students today; however, many programs do not offer formal training in communication. This gap has been filled by ComSciCon, an annual science communication training conference organized by and for graduate students interested in learning how to share their science knowledge with the wider world. ComSciCon is a national body which has given rise to a handful of regional meetings now joined by ComSciConATL. Organized by four graduate students (including our own Anzar Abbas), ComSciConATL brought together 50 graduate students from the Atlanta area and greater Southeast region in early March to learn science communication skills through interactive workshops, panels and networking with local experts, and collaboration between fellow attendees.

Ganguly P. Why is it so hard for scientists to talk about leaving academia?. Massive [Internet]. 2018. Publisher's VersionAbstract

During the second year of my PhD program in psychology, I found myself on the verge of quitting. I was overwhelmed by the pressures of graduate school, feeling bouts of imposter syndrome, and struggling to do research independently. I had considered other non-academic jobs but never had the gumption to discuss it with anyone, especially my adviser. Those were dark days.

In February of that same year, I learned of an opportunity outside academia. A university email mentioned that applications were open for a national science communication conference called ComSciCon. The goal: to teach STEM grad students how to better communicate complex and controversial scientific topics to non-scientific audiences.

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