Anahita Zare and Jacqueline (Jackie) Gamboa Varela are both University of Missouri graduate students, both study chemistry, both have served as leaders in Mizzou's Science Communication and Public Engagement group, and both have attended past ComSciCon national workshops (Anahita - ComSciCon'15, Jackie - ComSciCon'16).
With all this in common, it may not be surprising that when one of the pair decided to start a new science-focused radio program in 2013, it became a collaboration between the two of them. This week, that collaboration is being honored with a national award.
At its annual award ceremony on March 4th, the Intercollegiate Broadcasting System (IBS) announced that Anahita and Jackie, as hosts and creators of the radio program The Big Electron, would receive the 2017 award for Best Public Affairs Program
Anahita and Jackie exemplify the entrepreneurial spirit for and leadership in science communication that ComSciCon's national workshop is intended to cultivate. Through their work, they have not only devoted their own efforts to communicating science to a broad audience in Missouri, but also created a platform for other graduate students at Mizzou to do the same.
The Big Electron airs weekly on Sundays on KCOU 88.1 in Columbia, Missouri. You can also listen to their past episodes on iTunes.
Jackie explains, "I decided to start The Big Electron with a group of science grad and undergrad students in Spring 2013 to discuss and explain the great research that the University of Missouri has and also to share science to our fellow students."
It was Anahita's exposure at the ComSciCon 2015 National Workshop that led Jackie to apply in 2016. Anahita wrote, "When I told Jackie about my experience with ComSciCon, I told her that the experience of meeting peers in science communication and public engagement was invaluable. It was the first place I had been where everyone in the room had supportive and creative advice for graduate students pursuing careers in science outreach and communication."
Asked how their experiences at ComSciCon impacted their work, Anahita responded "ComSciCon fueled my interest in developing the Big Electron as a science communication and public engagement brand which Jackie and I plan to continue after we graduate this year." Jackie added, "I was advised to listen and critique other podcasts which has really helped me improve our content. "
Anahita published her ComSciCon write-a-thon composition on Alzheimer's disease on Nature's ConferenceCast blog and Jackie published her piece on DNA damage on Nature's SciBytes blog. Anahita also published a piece she wrote at the ComSciCon-SciWri event in 2015.