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LSS 87: PCST 2020 – The Conference That Wasn’t

A short teaser to pique your interest

Today should be the first day of the Public Communication of Science and Technology Conference (PCST 2020), in Aberdeen, Scotland.

Sadly, it was postponed due to COVID-19. We decided to bring the spirit of the conference (that wasn’t) to you through interviews we conducted at the previous PCST conference that was held in Dunedin, New Zealand in 2018. In Dunedin, we spoke with attendees who have/had connections to the Finger Lakes region, especially to Cornell University.

Bruce Lewenstein has been on this show many times before. He is one of the founders of the PCST network. He is a Professor of Science Communication at Cornell University and the Chair of the Department of Science and Technology studies. He talked to us about the importance of the PCST network.

We also interviewed two of his former students, who are both well-established professors now: Dominique Brossard is a Professor and Chair in the Department of Life Sciences Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; and John Besley
is the Ellis N. Brandt professor of Public relations at Michigan State University.

Two other conference attendees with Cornell ties were Christine O’Connell, who at the time was a professor at Stony Brook’s Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science and School of Journalism. Since then she became the Executive Director of a nonprofit foundation called Riley’s Way. She talked to us about the workshop she has developed, that focused on women in STEM fields and bias in science communication. Christine received her bachelor’s degree at Cornell.

We also spoke to Vicki Martin about how Citizen Science fits into Public Communication. Vicki was a Research Fellow at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and is currently a Research Fellow at the Institute for Future Environments at the Queensland University of Technology.

We produced this episode because PCST had a strong impact on two Locally Sourced Science contributors, Kitty Gifford and Mark Sarvary who attended the PCST conference in 2018. They organized an international panel on bringing science communication education to the undergraduate level.

PCST 2018 Panel on Turning Undergraduates into science storytellers.

Conversations at PCST 2018 helped to flesh out ideas about a Science Communication and Public Engagement undergraduate minor that was launched at Cornell University in Spring 2020. If you are interested in Science Communication, join the Friends of Cornell University SciComm (FOCUS) LinkedIn group.

That mandatory selfie before our PCST 2018 selfie

Show Host and Producer: Mark Sarvary
Music: Joe Lewis

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