Outreach fun at the meeting

Every year at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology meeting, the ASBMB Public Outreach Committee sponsors a bevy of exciting, interactive events that go beyond typical conference sessions. This year is no different. Here is our lineup for 2016.

Science communication workshops

Over the past few years, the Public Outreach Committee has developed “The Art of Science Communication,” an online course that provides fundamental training in presenting science to a nonexpert audience. The course next will be offered in the summer of 2016, but you can get a sneak preview of what to expect at two on-site science communication workshops that will feature exercises taken straight from the course.

A half-day workshop that provides hands-on communication training is slated for Saturday, April 2. Focused on how to give an elevator talk about your research and led by members of the committee, this workshop will help you come up with a pithy, engaging pitch to use in conversation with colleagues at the conference. Several graduates of the “Art of Science Communication” course will be on hand to share their experiences and help walk you through the exercises.

A second workshop on the craft of storytelling happens Monday, April 4. Our speakers for “Tell Your Science as a Story” include ASBMB Chief Science Correspondent Raj Mukhopadhyay, who will walk you through the importance of telling a story when communicating your science to others. You’ll get a chance to create your own science story using tips and feedback from our experts. At the end of the workshop, brave souls will present their stories to the whole group.

Outreach sessions

The first of this year’s outreach offerings will happen the morning of Saturday, April 2. “Building Your Outreach Program from A to Z” is an interactive networking session with presentations from program organizers and participants about unique outreach efforts aimed at the general public. We’ll also have a panel discussion about the National Science Foundation’s "broader impacts" requirement, which mandates that all grant applicants specifically delineate how their projects will benefit society. There will be insights from former NSF program officers on how to navigate the preparation, writing and reviewing of your grant and plenty of time for informal networking.

Later that evening, our annual outreach poster session will showcase activities and programs from ASBMB members and local organizers that bring science to the general public. Held during the ASBMB opening reception directly after the Herbert Tabor Research Award lecture by Robert G. Roeder of The Rockefeller University, this informal gathering is a great chance to learn what outreach is all about!

Wikipedia edit-a-thon

Raise your hand if you have used Wikipedia for researching a scientific topic. You aren’t alone: The crowd-sourced encyclopedia is one of the most visited websites. Unfortunately, the quality and accuracy of Wikipedia articles are highly variable, especially when it comes to science. To help improve the scientific content on Wikipedia, we will host a biochemistry and molecular biology-themed edit-a-thon at 6:30 p.m. Monday, April 4, as part of ASBMB Game Night. Sponsored by the Simons Foundation, the edit-a-thon requires no previous experience — our seasoned moderators will guide you through the process. Just join us, pick your favorite scientific subject, and get to work adding your own knowledge and expertise.

Meet the BioArtist

One of the overarching goals of outreach is to bring science to new audiences by taking it out of its normal, staid settings and bringing it to different outlets and interesting cultural venues. On the evening of Tuesday, April 5, we will do just that with “Meet the BioArtist,” a science-themed art gallery event to be held at the Karl Strauss Brewery. Winners from the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology’s BioArt contest will be on hand to present their works and talk about the blending of their scientific research and artistic ambitions. Come see outreach in action!

The Cellular Culture blog will roll out in-depth descriptions of these sessions throughout March.

Geoff Hunt Geoff Hunt is ASBMB’s outreach manager. Follow him on Twitter.