Recent Panel Connects Science Communication with Policy

On Tuesday, October 26th, 2021, NSPN members were joined by professionals in science communication and science policy to discuss their personal experiences transferring skills between the two types of career paths. The panel discussion, Where Science Communication Meets Policy: An exploration of careers, was made possible by our panelists, Mrs. Andrea Widener, Dr. Vincent Tedjasaputra, and Dr. Matthew Diasio.

Although careers in science communication and science policy are often thought of as separate, our guests demonstrated how easily their experiences translated between positions. “I think of science policy as a form of science communication - science policy is just science communication specifically to policymakers,” shared Matthew. He elaborated that his experience as a AAAS Mass Media Fellow writing mostly about COVID-19 allowed for an easy transition, content-wise and skillswise, into his current position as a Science and Innovation Policy Advisor for the British Embassy in Washington, D.C.

One of the most important skills that came up during all of the panelists’ career experiences was building connections between very different audiences, a critical practice in both science communication and science policy. After all, the things that matter in good communication to the general public also matter in good communication to policymakers. This skill of connecting by communicating can be developed across different mediums and situations. Andrea discussed several examples of bringing policy issues related to science and research culture through Chemical & Engineering News, and focusing her work heavily on directly reaching scientists. Vincent explained that his experience as a AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow certainly benefited his practical skills as the Director of Scientific Communications at the American Lung Association, but also that his history as a professional musician also led him to be comfortable on a stage and speaking to large, diverse groups. As a whole, the panelists all demonstrated that communication experience doesn’t come from one set path. However you choose to pursue science communication, depending on your personal interests and opportunities, it’s sure to prepare you well for a wide range of careers.

Overall, we hoped that attendees left inspired to participate in more science communication opportunities for professional development, no matter their future career path! NSPN is excited to increase its efforts in bringing science communication training to our community through the new Public Engagement & Communications committee. If you would like to get involved in the committee, please join us for our next meeting or contact communications@scipolnetwork.org.

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