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

Jones A. Rich bird, poor bird: urban street trees support native birds across a socioeconomic gradient. Envirobites. 2020. Publisher's VersionAbstract
As human populations grow and cities sprawl, wooded jungles increasingly yield to concrete jungles. In urban Los Angeles (LA), street trees are critical habitats for native birds, but new research shows that affluent neighborhoods boasted larger trees and more birds than poorer communities. These findings could help conserve urban biodiversity by informing city planners about the best ways to plant and maintain street trees.
Schultz K. Fail Better. PASSIOINVENTA. 2020. Publisher's VersionAbstract
I tried to hide my embarrassment and frustration, but I’m sure my averted gaze and nervous fidgeting made it obvious that I had bad news to share.

I’d been a member of the lab for a few months but, looking at the state of the project, you might not have guessed that. Progress had been slow, and I now had to report to my mentor not only that I’d failed again to get our experiment working, but also that I’d broken over a thousand dollars-worth of equipment with one clumsy mistake. I managed to get the words out with a flimsy stoicism and prepared myself for reprimand.

He gave me a look that was somewhere between understanding and amused and said “Happens to everyone! You did good. Just fail better next time.”

Fathi P. ComSciCon: the virtual experience. Illinois Grainger College of Engineering News. 2020. Publisher's VersionAbstract
ComSciCon is a competitive three-day science communication workshop created by graduate students for graduate students. The goal of this workshop is to help graduate students build science communication skills to effectively communicate their work with people across a variety of fields, as well as with the public. This year, the conference took place virtually. 

A few weeks before the conference officially began, all attendees participated in a Write-a-Thon. For this, we had to write a 600-800-word original piece of scientific writing, along with a freelance pitch for the article. The idea was to take something such as your research or a scientific concept and make it accessible to a target audience of your choice.
Steffel CN. Why Science Communication is Critical to Medical Physics. The Voice of Radiology Blog. 2020. Publisher's VersionAbstract

The summer before my senior year of undergrad, I was combing through the course catalog, hoping to add more than quantum mechanics to my schedule, when I discovered the Department of Medical Physics at my university.

I, like so many others, had discovered medical physics by chance.

Dundon M. Ice, heat, science, and acting. The Journal of Stories in Science. 2020. Publisher's VersionAbstract
On a scorching hot, dry summer day in inland Southern California, I found myself walking into a small, dimly lit room that was situated above a bail bonds shop. The building felt like it had been there forever. The walls were lined with a myriad of playbill posters and photos from Shakespeare productions. A large bookcase was filled to the brim with worn copies of plays and books. In the center of the room were two short rows of chairs facing the far wall, where there was a small setup of two handheld cameras and chairs facing each other. I was handed a short script, told to read it only once and then wait for my turn to do a “cold read” of the scene with my partner.
Grizzell JA, Hariharan J, Limper C, Sanchez A. For scientists across the country, #ShutDownSTEM stirs a mix of emotions. CASW Newsroom. 2020. Publisher's VersionAbstract

For many academics, news of a one-day strike from labs and classrooms arrived just a day or two before the event itself—“probably because so few [senior faculty/administrators] are active on social media,” said Bret Eshman, a postdoctoral fellow at Florida International University. “That’s how I found out about it on Tuesday.”

The following day, June 10, protests against racial discrimination and violence entered the ivory tower, spread by Twitter hashtags like #ShutDownSTEM#ShutDownAcademia#BlackInTheIvory, and #Strike4BlackLives. Organized by a group of physicists, #ShutDownSTEM asked for the suspension of all non-essential work in favor of open dialogue, education, and action to eradicate anti-Black racism within research and academia.


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