Welcome to Dr. Rob’s Class
Every summer, Dr. Hampson teaches a course on “Communicating Science” in the Wake Forest School of Graduate Arts and Sciences, Biomedical Graduate Program. The course emphasizes effective outreach and public education by encouraging students to present their work in social media-compatible venues for public audiences. The students practice interviews, “sound-bites,” summaries, and prepare 5-7 minute talks on their research – which they then present to a non-scientist audience. In past years, they have presented at the Con-Gregate Science Fiction convention in High Point, NC. This year (2020) with strictly “virtual gatherings,” they presented in a Facebook Live event sponsored by Baen Books.

The course also involves writing about their science on multiple levels – from the technical detail required by an NIH grant proposal, to the lay summary attached to public disclosures and complaince documents. The students also write a Blog Post for social media, and hear guest lectures and interviews with individuals who write, work with, or encourage the communication of science to the public.This page and the following pages will highlight the 2020 guest interviews and student public talks. Below you will find Dr. Hampson’s tips for effectively communicating science.
Lessons from communicators:
  • The most effective science communicators are ones who build trust with their audience.
  • Effective science communication inspires the dreamers

  • Internet arguing is a spectator sport. You probably won’t convince the person with whom you are arguing.
  • Always be aware of how an outsider will view both your argument and your behavior.

  • The content and length of a scientific communication varies with the direction it is going:
  • “Down” to the technicians gets longer and more detailed
  • “Up” to management gets shorter, more concise and a broader overview.

  • The best way to deal with interviews is to prepare, prepare, prepare.
  • Have analogies, examples and key talking points prepared in advance
  • You may not have control of what the journalist writes, but you can make sure you provide the message you want to convey.

  • Read your audience. Watch their reactions to what you say.
  • If they are interested, you are probably speaking to the correct level.
  • If they are bored – increase the technical level; if they are confused – tone it down.

  • Communicating science is an important role for you. It speaks to who you are, and inspires the next generation.
Talking Points
  • Make your sentences short, but complete.
  • “Land” a sentence with a discrete ending.
  • Keep any given sentence to no more than 10 sec.
  • Try to convey your whole concept in 30 sec.
  • Stay on topic, answer the question asked, don’t ramble.
  • Avoid run-on sentences.
  • Avoid “uh” or other fillers.
  • It is better to delay your first words until you know what you are going to say, than to start speaking and then have to figure out what comes next.
Charge to Scientists:

When sharing your own Science:
  • Be accurate, yet audience appropriate
  • Don’t be condescending
  • Be honest about what you can and cannot do
  • Figure out what makes your work important to others
When sharing someone else’s Science:
  • Do your own due-diligence – read and understand the work before sharing
  • Apply the same standards to “internet articles” that a peer reviewer would apply to your research – i.e. is it valid science?
  • Do not accept as authoritative simply based on the source
  • Be aware of the “rigor” differences between research reports, news releases, press pitches and sensationalism
Selected Class Materials
  • Guest Lectures
  • Student Public Talks
  • Blogs