Scientists to learn the art of communicating clearly

Friday, September 20, 2013 | 7:45 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Scientists earning a Ph.D. and graduate degrees will gather in the MU Student Center this weekend to learn one more thing — how to best communicate their research to anyone who wants to hear it.

The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology is hosting a conference Saturday about science communication — the ability to explain research in simple language.

With the public interest and tax dollars supporting research, scientists increasingly see the need to be able to explain their discoveries in a comprehensible, nontechnical way, said Hannah Alexander, associate adjunct professor of the MU division of biological sciences.

Alexander said that unlike many other scientific conferences, which focus on scientific skills or conducting research or publishing studies, this one will spotlight the art of breaking down the science into layman's terms.

"We want to concentrate on the one skill you need to do in any career in science," she said.

All 125 people scheduled to attend are graduate and postgraduate science students from across the country.

The conference is a marathon of speakers and networking — 19 speakers give scientists a few sessions to choose from over the course of the all-day event.

American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology public outreach coordinator Geoffrey Hunt said the conference is an avenue for career exploration as well, exposing scientists to opportunities outside of only doing research.

"We're trying to show people that they can have success outside of the lab," he said.

Supervising editor is Allie Hinga.

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