For Graduate Students
For Future and Current Members
We are fortunate to work with some of the most passionate grad students, who are dedicated to improving their community and their own communication skills. Grow your professional development with our high-impact, low-time model.
Positive Outcomes for PyPhD
We have found positive outcomes in both our graduate student participants, as well as the community. Graduate students report increased science communication skills, due to practice in relating their research discoveries with K-12 students and providing real-world examples that will complement science topics covered in a classroom. We have been met with outstanding appreciation from our collaborators as well, which have now extended outside of traditional classroom environments.
Present Your PhD will always be willing to adapt and grow alongside our local and graduate communities. We aim to reflect the work conducted by graduate students, and a springboard for innovative ideas in outreach and education. While our practices may shift as communities change, our mission of sharing and communicating science will always remain constant.
Science communication (scicomm) is the practice of informing, educating, sharing wonderment, and raising awareness of science (or STEM)-related topics. It can be used to generate support for a scientific study (think grants), inform decision making (policy), and generate a sense of community (outreach). It goes beyond explaining the figures and the data; scicomm is about storytelling, addressing misinformation, and/or inspiring change or action.
The skills needed to become an effective science communicator are not inherently developed throughout early science career training. Most graduate programs do not include scicomm classes outside perhaps grant writing. Yet, the skills gained from practicing science communication expand far and away beyond writing academic papers or grants.
Academic Uses of SciComm
As an early career scientist (or STEM professional), academia is likely where you'll be spending most of your time. It makes sense that you'd want the skills your're building as a communicator to be immediately useful. Consider the following:
- Giving a poster presentation
- Networking at a conference
- Presenting at a seminar
- Contributing to a grant (hello, broader impacts!)
- Teaching a class or instructing a mentee
- Breaking down an article during journal club
- Meeting with collaborators or committee members
- Elevator pitches
Can you think of any other times during grad school that you need to talk about your or someone else's research or findings? The opportunities to practice good communication are truly endless! If you make your mark as someone who can bring people into these conversations and help them understand the jargon, the methods, and the importance of the results, you'll quickly become a go-to for future opportunities that will look great on a resume or CV!
The challenge, however, is that these big events (conferences, posters, collaborator meetings) are not frequent and the smaller opportunities tend to be more interested in critiquing the research than in giving presentation feedback. Engaging in scicomm through Present Your PhD can help give you the pointers needed to excel when it counts and feedback to improve along the way.
Beyond the Academy
The unspoken reality is that not everyone will or wants to stay in academic research (less than 20% of new STEM PhD's can expect to find a tenure-track job). But, how do you know if you'll be able to catch that industry recruiter's eye or stand out when considering a governmental lab? What if you don't want a future that is research-heavy, or that includes research at all? What are the skills needed to thrive and be successful in fields where publication numbers may not be the only metric that'll earn you the interview?
Being able to transmit a message clearly and concisely so that it is understood in invaluable. Name any job in or adjacent-to STEM and it is likely that, at some point, someone will need to learn some science really quickly and doesn't have time to digest the whole narrative. Becoming the person who can create those bursts of information that are also engaging will make you essential to the team.
Scicomm isn't just journalism and writing, too, though that seems to be how many academics brand it. While these are incredibly important, they don't encapsulate the oral or visual components of translating an idea. There is always a market for someone who can create a compelling slide deck or captivating image. To do so accurately is to have strong scicomm skills and an understanding of what the important message or story is to convey.
The evidence for the importance of scicomm skills is in the number of training programs out there to help develop these tools. Below is a list of a few of these programs, but luckily, Present Your PhD is free, local, and non-competitive, ensuring that you can get the access and support you need to thrive.
- iBiology Young Scientist Seminar Series
- Escape from the Ivory Tower: A Guide to Making Your Science Matter
- English Communication for Scientists
- AAAS Mass Media Fellows Program
- Communicating Science: Tools for Scientists and Engineers
- #GradSciComm: How COMPASS is Answering the National Demand for Science Communication Training
- Building Buzz: (Scientists) Communicating Science in New Media Environments
- Practical Science Communication Strategies for Graduate Students
- Successful Science Communication: A Case Study
- Communication Breakdown
At the end of the day, it's not about your ability to use Twitter, maintain a blog, or even change minds. Having an ability to practice and use scicomm during graduate school heightens your ability to think about the big picture and move a project forward. And that is a skill that, when you've done it well and in a variety of ways, will look incredible to the hiring committee.
Jen is an Associate Professor at Emory University who focuses on RNA research, leadership development, and scicomm.
Don't just take our word for it
Scicomm is happening all over the world, and the world has a lot to say about it. Below are just a few examples of why having a scicomm skillset is adventagous:
Science communication is part of a scientist’s everyday life. Scientists must give talks, write papers and proposals, communicate with a variety of audiences, and educate others. Thus to be successful, regardless of field or career path, scientists must learn how to communicate. Moreover, scientists must learn how to communicate effectively. In other words, to be a successful scientist, you must be an effective communicator
-Scientific American, link
At its most aspirational, science communication has the potential to kick start a stronger fusion of public and scientific values, locking our field into the public conscious in a manner similar to the omnipresent tech giants Google and Apple. This will certainly lead to better scientists, research, funding and hopefully better science articles in the newspapers
The demand for ‘technical writers,’ which includes the various forms of science communication, will increase by 11% over a decade, which is faster than the average.
-Bureau of Labor Statistics, link