I entered the University of Minnesota as a microbiology major with a passion for advocacy. I originally believed that these interests would remain separate, but I quickly reconsidered. Now more than ever, science needs advocates. The relationship between science and public policy has deteriorated, exacerbating problems like climate change and childhood vaccination. With the erosion of environmental protections, attacks on stem cell research, and unsustainable growth, I fear science denial is growing.
The inability to communicate science is a significant factor in the divide between the public and the scientific community. If the public can’t understand, science skepticism grows and inevitably spreads to policy-makers. As a result, we have seen a rise in policy that lacks scientific support and in many cases contradicts it. That’s why I am working as a writing intern at the Science Communication Lab. I believe the results of evidence-based research can point us in the right direction, and that communicating the roadmap laid out by science will move us in that direction.
I don’t expect science advocacy and communication to be easy. Most of my background in science involves engaging with other scientists where the topic is of interest and importance. When writing for non-scientist, however, I cannot make the same assumption of interest and importance. Writing for the public requires finding the most compelling stories in science and making them meaningful to the reader. To make stories more compelling, science must also be made more accessible. Developing compelling stories and increasing accessibility depends on context, audience, and method of communication, factors which I haven’t had to consider before. As a writing intern, I hope to learn how to break down complex topics for written, visual, and oral presentations. Developing these skills will ultimately help me become a more effective advocate for science as a foundation for public policy.