About Me

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I'm an assistant professor of neuroscience at Washington State University in Vancouver, where I use tiny zebrafish (the size of an eyelash!) as a model system to study human hearing loss and how we can prevent it. I'm also a long-time Toastmaster and I teach communication workshops. This blog represents the merging of my two passions - science and communication, which has really become one central passion - the science of communication. There's a revolution in science right now...the idea that we scientists should sometimes leave the lab and talk about what we do, and why we do it, to real people. This blog looks at why we should do this, and how to actually talk about science with non-scientists (and with each other!). Portions of this blog are also featured on Qualia, the AAAS MemberCenter blog site.

Monday, December 16, 2013

FameLab: share your science in 3 minutes or less

Last week I competed in FameLab USA, a science communication contest sponsored by NASA and National Geographic.  Each contestant gets 3 minutes, and only 3 minutes, to talk about research that interests them.  No powerpoint, no graphs, just you, maybe a basic prop, and the audience.

Competing in FameLab was a fantastic experience!  I placed in the top three in the San Francisco regional, so I may have a chance to go on to the US finals.  I’ll post videos soon of my speeches, and I’m going to feature various aspects of FameLab in a series of blog posts, including guest bloggers than I met at the contest.

In this first post I feature an overview of the competition as an encouragement to all of you science communicators out there-you should enter!  FameLab is truly international, with regional contests in over 20 countries.  In the US, contests are generally associated with large scientific meetings. Topics in my regional varied widely, with several on astrobiology (the search for signs of life on other planets) and others on marine biology, such as the secret life of squid.  The winner was a geologist who caught our attention with her rock-paper-scissors opening (spoiler: geologists always choose “rock”!).

Each talk was both informative and entertaining; a great mix sure to leave a lasting impression.  No FameLab competition near you?  You can submit a video for the online “regional”, or organize an unofficial event in your town.  I may have my students give FameLab-style presentations about their research in my neuroscience class this spring.  The possibilities are endless, and with only 3 minutes, they go by quickly!

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