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Science Communication and Outreach Career Symposium

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Author: Dr. Teresa Evans | Category: Career Development | October 07, 2015

The first annual Science Communication and Outreach Career Symposium was a great success! Over 170 individuals visited UTHSCSA for this event. Attendees included undergraduate students, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty from across San Antonio and the nation.

The primary goal of the two day symposia to showcase not only a wide variety of careers for STEM professionals but also the importance of strong communication skills in attaining and succeeding in any STEM career.

"Making connections through networking events like this one and maintaining those relationships was reiterated throughout the symposium as being one of the most proactive ways to begin your career search," said Allison Doyle, graduate student in the Department of Pharmacology. "I would definitely recommend this symposium to any graduate student or postdoc interested in exploring career options." 

The focus of the first day’s events, held at the Blue Star Brewery, was science outreach. These sessions provided professional development opportunities for attendees as they learned from scientists who are actively engaged in science outreach.

Also, among the presenters we had a professional radio science communicator, Dr. Alan Xenakis who shared with the group his insights as an Emmy Award Winning host of a medicine focused radio show.

In the evening, invited speakers and guests joined the symposium organizers and the local Alamo chapter of Sigma Xi for a reception followed by an engaging outreach activity, a Science Café.

The presenter at the café was a local entrepreneur and biomedical engineer, Dr. Gerald “Jerry” Wilmink, CEO of Wisewear. His presentation allowed the community to engage with local scientists around a relatable scientific topic.

The second day focused on providing career development for attendees. Information was provided about different science careers, focusing on how science communication is a necessary component of each. With two keynote speakers, Dr.Jamie Vernon, director of communications for Sigma Xi and Dr. Sharon Milgram, director of the Office of Intramural Education and Outreach at the NIH. 

Mariam Ishaque, a graduate student in the M.D./ Ph.D. program said that she enjoyed listening to Dr. Jamie's Vernon's talk the most.

"As someone who does not use social media, it became clear to me the impact it has and will have in the scientific realm in the future," Ishaque said. 

The afternoon featured professional development workshops, that focused on the following career areas: Industry, Entrepreneurship, Outreach, Policy, Education, Research, Military, Academic Leadership. You can review the notes from these panel discussions here.

Finally, the day came to a close with an innovative poster session where presenters were encourage to present their poster at a level appropriate for a general audience. Further, poster judges were recruited from across the San Antonio community that represented the lay audience.

"This symposium helped solidify for me that not only is it important to engage in research you are passionate about, but that you must be able to convey that research to scientific and non-scientific audiences alike," Ishaque said. "In practicing for the poster presentation, I identified the most salient aspects of my research and developed an effective way of community it."

Other feedback:

- Great symposium! Both Dr. Milgram and Vernon had invaluable career insight and left me with much to think about! Thank you!

- Very well represented broad range of topics available!

- Really enjoyed the speakers and panelists information useful; great value! Taking much back to my own students!

- Great symposium and the panel session were very informative and beneficial.

- As the first large conference I have attended, this really inspired me to find more opportunities to enhance my educational and career opportunities.

- The talks during the symposium were very helpful, it gave me a better idea about the options I have as a career

2015 Science Communication & Outreach Career Symposium General Public Poster Presentation Winners
1st Place Anastasia Rugel
2nd Place (Tie) Travis Block
2nd Place (Tie) Sabrina Martinez
3rd Place Nelson Torres
4th Place Miriam Ishaque

In the meanwhile, feel free to watch recordings of the Dr. Sharon Milgram's talk on NIH Office of Intramural Training or Dr. Jamie Vernon's talk on Tweet Success

If you missed this event please keep an eye out for other opportunities like it in the future and plan to attend.

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