Andrea Lloyd, telecommunications media studies senior at Texas A&M, is doing an independent study with a professor on campus about data and science communication. Lloyd has applied to the University of Utah for a masters program in science communication. This is part of their comm-SHER program, which covers science, health, environmental and risk studies to see how it affects the public and how to communicate those topics.
Question: Why do you think that science communication is important and how does it serve a role in your community?
Answer: So I feel like science communication is important because everything we get is from science in a way. Everything can connect back to science, especially when you’re looking at the technologies that we’re dealing with and the engineering that goes into things. Just a car for example, even the food that we eat nowadays. And it’s really important that the public understands science, that way they can make informed decisions when it comes to policies or even learning about what kinds of brands or other products that are involved in their own lives.
Question: Can you expand on those technologies and how it relates to science communication?
Answer: Ya. Our society is moving so fast and advancing in so many different ways that it’s hard for a consumer to keep up to date with all the changes. So for example, I remember driving a car when there wasn’t a way to Bluetooth and you just had the cassette tape that you put in, and if you were lucky you had a converter for a cassette tape to CD. Nowadays you can Bluetooth your car, I can plug a USB into my car actually and play music and that’s just a simple technological change that anyone can understand. There are other changes coming about such as changes of fuel. So, for example, looking at electric cars, diesel cars, versus normal cars. I just actually heard on the radio today how Exxon Mobile is looking into how to use algae to help power cars. So there’s so many different ways that our society’s advancing that it’s important that as a community and as a public that we understand what’s advancing, how it affects us and how it’s for the good of society.
Question: What made you want to go into science communication?
Answer: So I have always been interested in science and mathematics and the technical side of things. I actually found a book the other day that I wrote when I was like 7 where I took facts from an encyclopedia and I was writing down like how our solar system works. I can reflect on my life and say ‘Oh ya, this is how I want to end up.’ I actually entered college being a math major because I wanted to write math textbooks and make it more accessible to students. Then I didn’t do well in math so I can no longer be a math major, but looking at how I’ve always had this interest in science and kind of just recently I figured out how communicating science is so important to our world. You always hear about environmentalism and things like that and that’s super important as well, but you also have the physics of things and the mathematics and chemistry and more your science and engineering topics that don’t get talked as much about as environmentalism does. That is important for the public to understand as well.
Question: Is there anything you would like to add about science communication or in general?
Answer: Probably to start with, if anyone is interested in science communication to look at what organizations they’re following and what interests them about science and to find ways to be communicative about science now. So, for example, I run my own blog and social media accounts talking about the work I do with The Urban Interface and the work I do with Texas A&M Sounding Rocketry Team and how I go about communicating science. With regards to anyone who’s interested in science to find an organization that communicates science, whether it be NASA or a local group or maybe it’s you’re own department if your in chemistry, and go ahead and share their social media and try to make it more accessible to the public.
So sort of making it more accessible to people who aren’t exposed to that all the time?
Exactly, because any way we can communicate science to anybody is a win for science and society.