Brock team awarded NSERC funding for science communications

Communicating science to a general audience can be daunting. Words and images that describe principles and findings are often far beyond the vocabulary of the average person.

But Brock University’s new Validation, Prototyping and Manufacturing Institute (VPMI) is aiming to bridge the gap between the jargon of science and the lingo of a general audience so that all can equitably access science information.

With $19,542 in funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) announced Thursday, May 19, VPMI Associate Director Wendy Ward is heading up a team that is creating “Mobilizing Science from the Lab to the Community.”

The upcoming program will offer training for scientists and industry-based researchers in the areas of podcasting, writing and producing graphics for the general public.

“Science impacts all aspects of our lives. As scientists, it is really important that we can share findings in an understandable way and without barriers to a broad audience,” says Ward, Professor of Kinesiology and Health Sciences. “This helps make connections between science and our daily lives, enhancing life experiences and discovering new constellations where, together, we can solve challenges by having conversations with individuals that bring differing perspectives and unique talents.”

The modules, which are currently being developed, will also cover theories and practices of knowledge mobilization, “a critical component to moving research findings into action with the individuals or groups that can use those findings,” says Brock Knowledge Mobilization Officer and team member Jayne Morrish.

“Knowledge mobilization is the process of connecting academic research or creative work with organizations, people or governments to improve programming and outcomes, inform policy change and make real-world collaborative impact,” she explains.

Common ways of sharing research are through podcasts, blogs, articles, media interviews and images, among other methods.

In addition to explaining knowledge mobilization theories, the modules will cover practical instruction on such subjects as how to: use plain language in articles, social media and podcasts; set up podcasts and conduct interviews; blog; use social media effectively to get the message across; and create graphical abstracts, among other topics.

VPMI Director Paul Zelisko says the training program is ideal for the VPMI’s industry partners.

“Industry is often at the forefront of research and development, and that is especially true of our VPMI partners,” says the Associate Professor of Chemistry.

“Being able to communicate research findings from these partnerships or industrial advancements to a broad audience is key to a business’ success,” he says. “These modules will help the VPMI’s industrial partners effectively disseminate their findings and ultimately expand their market share.”

The training program is expected to be offered by early 2023.

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