SETAC Globe - Environmental Quality Through Science
9 September 2016
Volume 17 Issue 9

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Let’s Face It, Most Scientists Could Be Better Communicators

Ruth Hull, Professional Training Course Committee, SETAC World Congress

“Fostering Environmental Science for an Ever-changing World” is the theme for the upcoming 7th SETAC World Congress/SETAC North America 37th Annual Meeting, which will be held from 6–10 November in Orlando, Florida. An important component towards ensuring advances in environmental science in the 21st century is the ability to effectively communicate complex science of an interdisciplinary nature to a variety of audiences. Steven Pinker, noted cognitive scientist and best-selling author of “The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century” aptly noted, “Let's face it: most scientists are terrible communicators. Why do the world's most cerebral people find it so hard to convey their ideas?”

YouTube recording of Pinker's presentation “Communicating Science and Technology in the 21st Century” from the MIT Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering.

This year’s selection of training courses is well suited to fostering the development of communication skills of environmental scientists. And with all the courses you can choose from at the upcoming SETAC World Congress, now is the perfect time to work on dispelling the myth regarding the poor communication skills of environmental scientists!

Researchers at all levels of expertise can benefit from guidance on how to make good scientific presentations great, how to write and review journal articles, or how to become better leaders. So take this opportunity to develop new or freshen up existing skills at this year’s meeting. For example, consider the importance of acquiring media and communication training for those working on topical issues of emerging concern! And for those just entering the job market, they can gain invaluable insight on how to become employed in environmental toxicology and chemistry by improving their résumé and working on interview skills, which will help them on their way to a rewarding career.

Of course, don’t forget the nine scientific training courses, which were highlighted in the July Globe, and the Mindfulness training course, highlighted in last month’s Globe. There is something for everyone!

If you are already registered for the Orlando meeting but want to add a professional training course, simply visit the SETAC Store to add items to your registration.

Writing and Reviewing Journal Articles

SETAC journal editors conduct this course to help you take your skills to the next level. The course starts with the basics of publishing in a peer-reviewed, scientific journal, moves on to the best way to review a research article, and ends with a writing and reviewing workshop. You are encouraged to bring your own article-in-process to use in the workshop portion of the course. And did you know that by providing quality peer reviews for articles submitted to ET&C or IEAM, you can earn Journal Reviewer Rewards points, which can be redeemed for rewards such as a free SETAC membership or SETAC meeting registration?

Communication and Collaboration: A Scientist’s Guide to Improving Professional Presence and Leadership in any Setting

This course is being offered through the collaboration of the SETAC North America Student Advisory Council and the SETAC North America Career Development subcommittee on Leadership. The Instructor is Laurel Brown, Assistant Director for the University of Florida Executive Education Program. This course focuses on understanding how emotional intelligence can build confidence, enhance professional presence and motivate others – important skills for scientists in any career (e.g., project management, research collaboration, running a lab or mentoring students). The goal of this course is to improve communication and cooperation skills and to excel at teamwork. The instructor will also discuss the skills necessary to interact in challenging situations, which will help team building and group problem solving. The good news is that with a little practice, everyone, regardless of their career level, can improve their communication and collaboration skills! For more expanded details on this training course, please read the companion article in this issue.

Media and Communications Training for Environmental Scientists

Be prepared when colleagues or the media start asking hard questions about your work! This course provides the basics of science communication and media training, and it allows you to practice what you have learned and receive feedback from the prominent and award-winning science journalist Britt Erickson from Chemical and Engineering News, and Andrew Maynard, an award-winning risk communications expert and director of the New Risk Innovation Lab at Arizona State University. This course was offered last year and received great reviews!

Making Good Scientific Presentations Great

The best science in a vacuum is meaningless. Everything you do needs to be communicated to someone at some point to be successful. Learn how to communicate in the most effective way possible! This workshop focuses on science communication techniques to help you reach a range of professional audiences. Build your presentation style, and learn how to make your presentations meaningful and memorable.

How to Become Employed in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry: Résumés, Interviewing, Networking

This course is designed for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows or anyone looking for résumé and career ideas. Learn from four instructors, representing government, academia, consulting and business: Teresa Norberg-King, USEPA; Jennifer Bouldin, Arkansas State University; Barry Gillespie, Environmental Resources Management; and Scott Belanger, The Proctor & Gamble Company. The workshop includes overviews of how to prepare résumés, where to find jobs, the hiring process, making applications with supporting materials, typical interview formats, and the selection and decision procedures for each type of organization. Instructors will present example résumés, and you will have the opportunities to consult with them on your résumés for each sector.

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