As with any human endeavor, science is only important so much as people care about it. Academic scientists often tend to be a bit insular, living in this ecosystem of publish or perish, citation metrics, and brand name journals. So long as other scientists in your field know who you are, believe you do good science, and cite your papers, you become a "successful" scientist. Little else has been traditionally incentivized, particular for career advancement. Fortunately, this is changing. Science is waking up to the fact that much of scientific research is publicly funded by governments and through taxes. Thus, we have both a reason and a responsibility to reach outside of the ivory tower and engage the general public. As scientists, we are not just tasked with generating scientific knowledge, but as informed citizens, we also have the duty to spread this knowledge for the benefit of society. We should convince the general public to support science, to trust scientific evidence for policy decisions, and care about issues like climate change, conservation, and science education. I believe this is an imperative part of doing science.
While doing field work in Yunnan, China, I stopped by a high school in the city of Menghai to talk to students about science, my experiences growing up in the U.S., and the importance of wildlife conservation.
Through Skype a Scientist, I gave a tour of the Redpath Museum and talked about my research to a 4th grade class in Kansas City.
Back at the University of Notre Dame, I talked to honors students in Biology and Environmental Sciences about my research experiences and science outreach initiatives.
I helped to create opportunities for graduate students in the Redpath Museum to do more science outreach in the form of bar talks and more.
programs/institutions I have been involved with
I was on the organizing committee for ComSciConCAN. ComSciConCAN is Canada’s first national science communication workshop for graduate students. This unique professional development program aims to help the next generation of leaders in STEM fields develop the skills needed to communicate their research and ideas to their peers, experts in other fields, policy makers, and the general public. ComSciConCAN took place July 18-20, 2019 at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.