September 2011

Students on front lines of public engagement


Harvard's Science in the News program includes a variety of outreach activities and is being held up as a model.

Jeff Teigler

Tammy Slenn

When the H1N1 outbreak occurred in 2009, Jeff Teigler was starting a graduate program in virology at Harvard Medical School.

"I was the only person interested in viruses that most of my friends and family knew. In answering their questions – What is swine flu? How is it worse than regular flu? Why can't I just ask for antibiotics from my doctor? – I realized how big the gap was between scientists' understanding and how that translated into public knowledge about something as common as our yearly encounter with influenza," Teigler says.

Later that year, Teigler co-presented a public lecture at Harvard Medical School on swine flu, and today he helps to run a program that focuses on scientific literacy.

Science in the News, a volunteer organization at Harvard University, was founded in 1999. Teigler has been co-director since January 2010, and Tammy Slenn joined him at the helm in January 2011.

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