What is science communication?

Isabel celebrating her graduation Woman in a cap and gown jumping for joy after graduation.

Meet ANU Bachelor of Science graduate Isabel Richards, who studied Science Communication.

I recently graduated from the Australian National University with a Bachelor of Advanced Science and first class honours in science communication. In particular, my honours thesis investigates how science is communicated through animistic magic in Aboriginal Australian Sci-Fi texts. 

When I was researching university degrees in high school, I was on the hunt for a program where I could combine my love of science with my love humanities subjects (literature in particular). I also didn't want to specialise in any one stream of science, but still wanted to use science to make a positive difference in the world.

The science communication major at ANU was the perfect blend of all these things for me -- I could learn about the latest research in different areas of science, how to speak and write confidently about science, how science fiction shapes our attitudes and understanding of science, and how to effectively campaign for change on issues like the climate crisis, medical misinformation, and the gender gap in STEM. I love that the science communication field is interdisciplinary and has many pathways. 

Furthermore, most people aren't scientists and engage with science in a variety of different ways. A short video or news article explaining photosynthesis or quantum physics doesn't appeal to everyone. And not everyone is going to think these concepts matter to them. So to me, science communication is about more than just transforming complex concepts into something digestible for non-experts.

It's about sparking curiosity and ongoing conversations with friends, so that engagement continues beyond news bites.

It's about creating meaning of scientific concepts so people -- across all genders, ages, cultures -- feel more connected to science and to the workings of our planet. That means exploring questions like how does science make you feel? Why? And how is it relatable to our everyday lives?

The more we talk about science to a variety of different people, the more we’re working towards building a community that helps non-scientists understand the nuances and complexities of science and its importance.

Currently, I use all the learned knowledge and skills as a Research Assistant at the ANU School of Cybernetics, co-host the Sci_Burst podcast, and a collaborator with CPAS on research about science in fiction. I am grateful for my degree in science communication and look forward to what the future holds!

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To hear from current students (2nd Year Ph.B., 4th year B.S., and 5th Year Honours) be sure to check out our video: https://bit.ly/3efPGUq.