We have been overwhelmed by the positive response to ComSciCon events by graduate student attendees, invited experts, and other workshop participants. Below is a selection of testimony from past workshop participants:
Messages from ComSciCon sponsors
“The AAS has proudly supported ComSciCon since 2014. This year, we’ve renewed and expanded our partnership with this important event because of the quality of their programs and the documented student outcomes for graduate students and others. We look forward to partnering with them in the future and encourage other organizations to join the growing group supporting their important work.”
“The Optical Society is excited to be partnering with ComSciCon to develop new professional development opportunities in science communication for our graduate student members. Training young scientists to be exceptional communicators is a top priority for our Society. We have witnessed the success of ComSciCon's innovative student-led model and know our members will find great value in this program.”
"I've known the folks behind ComSciCon for a year now, and I think it's a fantastic resource for budding scientists who want to get better at explaining their work to their peers or the public" - Wade Roush writing on the Knight Science Journalism program website
ComSciCon-PNW 2017 Workshop attendee testimony:
“I’m still trying to process all of the amazing things that happened in this conference. It was probably the most valuable event of my academic career so far. So very well done - I was so impressed by the organization and the range of topics. Totally awesome.”
“My peers had amazing insights and suggestions. I loved being able to discuss something so important to me with other scientists. I left the session feeling like I was not alone and it was very empowering.”
“I think the broad exposure to different people’s science-adjacent or communication-heavy careers was super helpful for me at this point. Just seeing that a broader range of possibilities exist for people who like communicating was so helpful!”
“I look forward to being more active in outreach with my university, and to thinking more creatively about outreach for grant applications.”
“I thought it was very memorable when someone said that teaching (or outreach and communication) should be a dialogue and not a monologue. I’ll use this piece of knowledge to be more cognizant of how I am communicating with others during outreach events, but also when teaching undergrads.”
“I am more convinced that I could make a career out of communicating, rather than just science. In particular, the workshop has supported my desire to write a book for the general public.”
“I will be giving more consideration to my place in the academic institution, and how we play a role in changing the institutions we are part of.”
ComSciCon 2015 National Workshop invited expert testimony:
- Invited K12 Teacher Leader, Dr. Kristen Cacciatore, Boston Public Schools: I am a discerning consumer of teacher Professional Development and I thought it was outstanding. It is one thing to have a great idea -- bringing grad students interested in science communication together with science teachers -- but it takes a lot more than a great idea to implement an event that is valuable for all involved. The session yesterday was generative, producing resources that will be useful for many over a long period, and informative, as both teachers and graduate students learned from each other. I was really excited to learn about soundscapes and squishy circuits myself. It was a model of genuine collaboration, as both teachers' and grad students different expertises and perspectives were essential to generate the product.
ComSciCon 2015 National Workshop graduate student attendee testimony:
"At ComSciCon -- an event filled with many great experiences -- the write-a-thon was the most memorable experience for me. This was in part because it began before any of us met in person: it started with a blank sheet of paper and online discussions. Then, the peer group sessions, time spent on revisions late at night in my dorm room, the Pitch Slam, and meeting with an expert reviewer all fed the sense that my piece was developing into a highly polished product. Fantastic assistance from the ComSciCon organizers was also instrumental in helping me pitch to an actual publication outlet. Today, a week after its publication, my article has already been read by thousands, translated into multiple languages, and started discussions around the world. I have ComSciCon to thank for making this possible -- it has transformed how I approach science writing for the public."
~Steven Pan, doctoral candidate at UC San Diego who studies human learning and memory published his piece, “The Interleaving Effect” in Scientific American Mind in August, 2015, excerpt below.
ComSciCon 2014 National Workshop invited expert testimony:
ComSciCon 2014 National Workshop graduate student attendee testimony:
- Best thing I've done in grad school.
I was THRILLED to be accepted into the workshop, but I didn't have any idea how amazing it would be. It is EASILY one of the best experiences I've had as a
graduate student. I feel much more confident about my writing and much more informed about science communication in general.
- This was a truly fantastic, informative, and educational experience. Probably the highlight of my PhD thus far. I have never been so inspired and motivated to get out there and communicate for the cause. The cause that is science.
- This was an incredibly organized workshop. I was so honored to be invited. The other attendees were very impressive and I felt flattered to be included in such an elite group. I am about to graduate and start a science communication career in earnest, and this workshop was perfectly timed. It was encouraging, motivating, and inspiring to hear from the panelists, and mostly to meet other incredible young people. Everyone really believed in each others' ideas. Unlike your normal conference where there is often a feeling of competition in the air, this felt like a very collaborative and warm environment. There is nothing better than bringing together a group of talented, motivated, and hard working young people and letting them just talk to each other for a few days. I left feeling invigorated and inspired, and I know the network I made at this conference will serve me well in the future. The organizers were incredible and I only wish more people could have this experience that I know was formative in my own career path. To whatever funding agency may be reading this review, please fund ComSciCon, it was easily one of the most meaningful experiences of my graduate school career in shaping my future. This work matters.
Testimony from University of California students who have attended ComSciCon between 2013 and 2016:
ComSciCon has proven to be a priceless part of my graduate school experience... Attending ComSciCon 2016 was a chance for me to take the work I've done at UCSD and share it with other students and communicators to give and receive feedback, build collaborations, and learn about new research and practical approaches in the field of science communication. The ComSciCon alumni network shares resources across the country, maintaining the connections that are created in person during the conference itself, providing further avenues to share outreach and grow networks... ComSciCon has laid a foundation for my future as a scientist and science communicator and I consider it to be among the most important experiences during my time at UCSD
I found ComSciCon to be a truly invaluable experience in terms of developing my own skills as a science communicator as well as empowering me as an ambassador for effective science communication upon my return to campus. For one, at ComSciCon I was provided with in depth feedback on my science writing from professionals already working in the field. I've striven to apply this feedback to every piece I've authored since... Another aspect of ComSciCon that impacted me significantly was the panel on diversity and inclusion issues in science and science communication. The panelists were people of color in a variety of scientific professions, and gave me a lot of important perspective on my status as a cis white woman within the scientific community. As best I can, I have attempted to bring this valuable perspective back to Berkeley with me, where I am the president of the women in chemistry honor society and involved more generally in other diversity efforts on campus as well. Lastly, ComSciCon introduced me to a network of science communication students and professionals who provided a tremendous example of the many and diverse career paths available to me after graduation. In this sense, events like ComSciCon are an indispensable opportunity for graduate students to hear what possibilities await beyond the ivory tower, directly from the professionals who hold those positions.
After ComSciCon, I co-founded a science storytelling podcast with fellow science communication enthusiasts, and I was able to get ideas from and interview fellow ComSciCon attendees for the podcast! Personally, it also helped me feel a greater sense of community and get a better idea of what aspects of science communication appealed to me, which helped clarify my career path.
Participating in ComSciCon instilled in me from early in my PhD career that explaining my research without jargon was important. I believe this has helped me in shaping research proposals, collaborating with academics and clinicians outside my field, and continuing to center how the research I'm doing can impact policy... Participating in ComSciCon helped me refine my message to explain why my research matters. We get trained in how to do research well, but explaining why it matters can be almost as important to our careers -- in terms of getting funding, forging collaborations, and helping our ideas and findings gain traction. I wish every grad student could do ComSciCon to learn this.
Because of ComSciCon, science communication is now an integral part of my career path, and I plan for it to be a large part of my future opportunities. It has been an integral part of my graduate career, and I was able to gain skills not traditionally taught in most graduate programs
Unattributed testimony was collected anonymously through formal evaluation surveys collected from participants after our workshop programs.