A note from the new Public Outreach Committee chair

Published February 01 2017

Over the past five years, the Public Outreach Committee at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology has strived to fulfill its mission to increase the effectiveness of science outreach activities through the involvement of ASBMB members. As I take over for the previous chair, Tom Baldwin at the University of California, Riverside, my goal is to continue the fantastic work the committee has done and help to expand the reach and effects of our efforts. Ultimately, our aim is to establish the ASBMB as an organization that is known for promoting science outreach and makes it easy for its members to participate in programs and activities. In other words, we want you to get involved. Here’s a sampling of how you can:

Skills training

The first step to being successful at outreach is being a good communicator. That’s why the POC offers “The Art of Science Communication,” an online course that provides scientists with fundamental training in science communication, focusing in particular on how to present science to a nonexpert audience. The course runs three times a year, February–March, June–July and October–November. Stay tuned to our website for announcements.

For 2017, the committee is in the process of developing more courses aimed at helping participants communicate with certain types of audiences, such as policymakers and K–12 students. These courses will expand on the lessons taught in “The Art of Science Communication” to train attendees on how to engage effectively with different groups.

Resources

Communication skills honed? Ready to participate in outreach events but need ideas that work? The POC will sponsor a number of activities at the ASBMB annual meeting this year where you can improve your skills in outreach. Not going to the annual meeting? Not to worry: Check the “Resources” tab on our website. You’ll find all kinds of great tools to get you started in outreach, from activity guides to how-to manuals. We constantly are adding new material to the website, so check often!

Opportunities

Too busy to plan an outreach event yourself? Want to find an outreach activity in your hometown? Just go to our website, type your zip code into the “Local Outreach Activities” tab, and you’ll bring up a listing of outreach events close to home. Show up and bring your science to the masses: It doesn’t get much easier than that. If a program doesn’t exist where you live, reach out to us, and we’ll help you start your own!

Share your ideas

Have an outreach program that you want to show off? Got a great outreach resource that you want others to use? Share them with us.

Member engagement

One area where the committee is looking to step up its game is greater engagement with the ASBMB membership, particularly with those of you who already have your own outreach activities. We are developing several outlets, including a regular outreach newsletter and social-media campaigns, to showcase the great outreach work that our members are doing (see “Share your ideas”). We also want to create more networking opportunities for people involved in outreach and help them share ideas and connect with one another. To do so, the committee is working to put on a career symposium at the University of Kentucky in 2017 focused on outreach and communication. The committee also hopes to arrange an in-depth outreach symposium in 2018.

Our long-term vision is that outreach becomes something that all scientists do as part of their jobs and get recognized and rewarded for doing. I often am amazed by the success stories I hear about scientists doing both outstanding science and outreach. But we all must do more. The POC hopes that each of you will introduce someone to science. If each of us is engaged in promoting science, we can be hopeful for the future of the enterprise that we hold so dear.

Susanna Greer Susanna Greer is the national director of the clinical cancer research, nutrition and immunology program at the American Cancer Society.