A significant societal problem is that many scientists lack the necessary science communication skills for their research to be understood. Acquiring these skills is a challenge because the form and content of the communication varies according to the intended audience, e.g. a funding agency, a prospective employer, an outreach event, or a scientific talk. In 2017, the Brandeis MRSEC developed an effective solution with the Brandeis Science Communication Lab (SciComm Lab) as a science-communication resource center that offers individual coaching with peer mentors and targeted workshops for the entire Division of Science community.
The SciComm Lab model involves one-to-one, discipline-specific scientist-to-scientist coaching related to an authentic task. The client benefits by having a specific science communication need met through one-on-one coaching by a scientist. The Fellow benefits because they develop and hone critical communication skills, as well as managerial and mentoring skills, needed for academic and industrial careers. In 2019, the MRSEC partnered with MIT and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology to publish a paper on their science communication model and concluded that it is a scalable model for other institutions. The MRSEC will continue to participate in the broader SciComm Lab Consortium that tracks demographics and effectiveness of SciComm Labs across multiple institutions with the goal of disseminating the model nationally.
The Brandeis MRSEC encourages members and REU students to use the SciComm Lab, analyzes the demographic usage data, and further studies the long-term impact of the resource on users. The Science Communication Lab will promote lasting diversity within the sciences, by closing gaps in communication and providing awareness enduring a scientist’s entire career.