Communicating Ideas

One of the most important functions of scientists is to share their

knowledge with communities that could benefit from it.  Obviously

one way to make results accessible is via the internet, but to truly

reach a diverse set of communities (colleagues, the public, a broad

cross-section of undergrads, as well as physics majors) requires

in-person interaction tailored to each audience.

To impact both colleagues and laypeople requires both presentation skills and public speaking skills.  When presenting results to colleagues at professional meetings or colloquia, I need to be clear, concise, fluent in the current literature surrounding my field of study, as well as confident enough to open myself to questions and constructive criticism.  Speaking to the public, however, requires a slightly different set of sub-skills; there the main challenge is to convey important technical ideas in a manner that is easily understood (and interesting) to those with very little background knowledge in the subject.  And often the public asks the most difficult questions!

Insuring that our society remains competitive in scientific fields requires that we adequately train the next generation of scientists.  The physics course I taught required dedication, people skills, and organization, as well as some knowledge of evaluation processes.  Mentoring individual students is satisfying (and challenging) in a different way.  It has required me to learn to balance the intimacy of a one-on-one mentoring relationship with the distance required to instill feelings of independence (and ultimately confidence) in young researchers.

Communicating Ideas


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