Professional and communication skills

Science Communications

I am increasingly working with graduate students to help them develop better communication skills. I focus mostly on students in science and engineering, but I’m beginning to branch out to other fields since I believe that effective communication with people outside one’s field is essential for all disciplines.

Making Slides for Professional Events

An article by science writer Kendall Powel published in Nature in 2012 that gives good advice about designing posters.

A short overview of how to prepare a poster from the Learning and Advising Center at Philadelphia University.

A great website by Colin Purrington that provides extensive advice about making posters as well as several templates in different styles that can be used to create posters in PowerPoint or OpenOffice. Dr. Purrington taught evolutionary biology at Swarthmore College for 14 years and is now a nature photographer and blogger.

Here’s a PowerPoint template that I modified from a template from the American Psychological Association.

Here are some slides I used for a presentation I gave to the UConn Student Association of Graduate Engineers (SAGE) for their 2019 poster design event "Poster 101: Design engineering poster.” I described how to design a poster and urged the students to use posters to tell a story about their work.


Science Communications Resources

Here are some links to resources about communicating science to the public. Many of the concepts discussed by these professionals apply to fields outside the sciences.

Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition

I present workshops to help students who want to compete in UConn’s Three Minute Thesis competition. The UConn 3MT competition is part of the Universitas 21 international competition held each year. My workshop instructs students how to distill their thesis topic to a 3-minute presentation. I urge students to use storytelling methods to create a narrative structure for their talk. I base my instruction on that advocated by Randy Olson, filmaker and science communication instructor and advocate.

ASM Kadner Institute

An outreach activity I am particularly proud of was my involvement with the American Society for Microbiology's Kadner Institute. The Kadner Institute was a five-day intensive professional development program held each summer for advanced graduate students and postdoctoral researchers. The Institute taught participants about employment options and helped them develop professional skills for their careers. The interactions between the Institute faculty and participants were beyond those that typically take place in a graduate program. Faculty members conveyed the human side of their professions along with descriptions of their daily activities. The Institute was a highly successful model for professional training in the sciences.

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