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In The Frame, The Glory

On Wednesday, most of the University Communications staff enjoyed a daylong workshop by the National Science Foundation about how to communicate science in a changing media landscape. I’d attended a similar gathering last February at the AAAS annual meeting in San Diego, but was interested to hear what this particular panel of expert presenters had to say to Wednesday’s captive audience of researchers from UNL (and other area colleges and universities) about how to effectively get the word out about their work.

I was also glad to hear a lot of discussion about framing from science and political journalist Chris Mooney, a commentator and author of three books including The Republican War on Science. Mooney also writes the Intersection blog for Discover Magazine, as well. In essence, his point to scientists was to think about their work as the general public would — What practical benefits can come from it? Why is it relevant in my life? Why should I care? Framing is something that, as campus communicators, we do almost as second nature when evaluating how to promote UNL research and get it into the run of play in the national conversation. But the workshop compelled researchers to walk through the steps, one by one, to come up with the distilled, thin-sliced, 20-words-or-less message about what it is their research does for the world.

Then many of them got to go live with their work, and put their newfound framing skills into action. In an afternoon session on new media, several UNL (and other) researchers were tapped as guest bloggers on Chris’ Intersection blog. Check the guest posts out:

Managing Earth Wind & Fire by computer science and engineering’s Shant Karakashian, who used an environmental and economic frame for his blog.

ANDRILL investigates climate history of Antarctica by Frank Rack, ANDRILL’s executive director. He, too, uses an environmental frame, with the world’s history of climate change as an important element in that frame.

Nanohybrid materials: small is powerful by chemistry’s Patrick Dussault. He presented his research from a practical-use angle.

Never roam alone by Keith Rodenhausen and Stefan Schoche approached their blog entry from the perspective of a trend in academia.

Twins with and without wings? by Jenn Brisson, Cassia Oliveira and Neetha NV of the School of Biological Sciences. They essentially frame their work in the form of a question.

The brain in action: windows into the mysteries of language disorders by Autum McIlraith, special education & communications disorders project coordinator. She basically framed her research as solutions-based and life-improving.

Hungry for solutions: science and feeding the world by Vicki Miller of UNL’s Office of Research and Economic Development. The frame here, again, is problem-solving.

Not bad, eh? Looks like we’ve got some budding bloggers on our hands.

Thanks to all of the NSF representatives and presenters, and to Nebraska ESPCoR for organizing the conference. It was an informative and festive time. Come back anytime.

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