The 4th annual WCS lecture took place on Wednesday, May 2nd. Our speaker was Dr. Jennifer Gerbi, a program director at ARPA-E.
Dr. Jennifer Gerbi has been practicing physics and materials science for over 20 years, and has a keen interest in the intersection of high quality science and new business development. Currently serving as a Program Director at the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), she manages the DELTA and SHIELD programs, developed the new SENSOR program, and manages additional projects for solar and power electronics. Prior to joining ARPA-E, Gerbi worked at Dow Corning in multiple capacities including portfolio building and new business development. She led teams in areas such as solar, batteries, and silicones for electronics. Prior to Dow Corning, Gerbi served as a Senior Materials Scientist at The Dow Chemical Company, focused on rooftop solar shingles. Gerbi served a postdoctoral fellowship at Argonne National Laboratory (vapor phase diamond thin film growth) and as a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Illinois (novel thin film diffusion barriers). Dr. Gerbi holds a Ph.D. in Materials Science (semiconductor focus) from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She also received an M.S. in Physics from the University of Virginia and a B.A. in Physics from Bard College.
WCS members had the chance to sit down for lunch with Dr. Gerbi and discuss her career path.
Do you want to share the passion you feel for your research in your presentations? In this hands-on workshop, learn how to apply acting skills to your own science communications, to better engage and inform your audiences. Snacks provided. (Feb. 16th, CHB 102, 12-2PM)
WCS members had the pleasure to attend lunch and dinner with Mangels Lecture speaker Donna Nelson last week. Donna also gave some excellent talks about both the Nelson Diversity Surveys and her work as a science adviser for Breaking Bad. Special thanks to former WCS president Beth Mundy for nominating this speaker and coordinating the visit!
WCS is hosting this year’s Mangels Lecture!
As science advisor of the hit TV series Breaking Bad Donna J. Nelson will speak about her experiences in Hollywood and how the world of science and film connect. She will reveal how the science and science-related information behind the show was crafted in order to support the actors and engage the public. Nelson also will discuss initiation of and interactions in the work with script writers, providing key insight in the world of chemistry.
This event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. The event will take place at 7:30 pm in Kane 102 on 1/10.
A link to the event can be found here, or on Facebook here.
In addition to the lecture, WCS will be hosting a conversation with Dr. Nelson on Diversity in STEM. This will take place on 1/9 at 4 pm in CHB 102.
Last week, UW’s physics department hosted a seminar by Rachel Scherr, a UW physics alumna and senior research scientist at Seattle Pacific University who has also conducted research on diversity and education for the American Physical Society (APS). This discussion was prompted in part by the lack of diversity in this year’s cohort of physics graduate students: of 31 students, 30 identify as male. While the demographics of our chemistry department are much more balanced in terms of gender, the topic of diversity in admissions is important for anyone interested in graduate education.
Victor Lee, Abbie Ganas, and Katie Guye visited a local school during one of their science events, where they illustrated how different type of markers and pens are affected by mixtures of solvents on coffee filters. When these coffee filters are dried, these solvents create beautiful watercolor-like pictures. Similarly, the kids colored the book markers and then placed a drop of acetone on them and placed them in a bucket of water. The acetone then created different patterns on the book marker. These easy and fun demonstrations are a good way to teach children about diffusion and solubility.
If you enjoy helping with children and show them how much science can be, we have several events coming up to give you the opportunity! Next week, we will also be at edmonds heights elementary on Friday, May 19th, at Penny Creek elementary. If that does not work for you, we will also have the Shoreline STEM Fest on that Saturday. See our calendar for more details or feel free to contact Abbie, our outreach coordinator, or any of the other officers for more info.
Joy Delyria talked to us about easing the difficulties that scientific controversy presents. As a scientist, we are not here to change an individual’s mind using one conversation. I mean, if we do, that is awesome! However, realistically, that is usually not the case. Instead, each conversation is about portraying the science and exposing the common myths.
When starting this type of conversation, she first suggests to access one’s audience. How are they currently standing on the issue? Are they venters, on the fence, or on board? Talking to each different type of individual requires a different approach. Based upon the response, we are then able to establish frames of reference for audience.
The second major subject is the potential traps that need to be avoided. A story about cute critters, for example, tries to invoke empathy by creating a narrative. However, this story solely focuses on a tiny aspect of the issue at hand and makes the audience feel as if they are being manipulated. Another important trap to avoid is the crisis or doom and gloom stories that tend to overshadow the subtle message of the talk and to explain the issue at matter too complicated and too difficult to understand. This type of trap also mainly focuses on incidents and accidents as evidence, which does not support scientific discussions.
While these conversations are occurring, some things are to be advised. Most importantly, it is vital to listen to what they are saying, and making comments that assure that. This usually means that the audience is more willing to listen rather than shutting down the argument immediately. Secondly, scientific concepts need to be clarified using good metaphors. Typically, scientists would show the effects of CO2 as part of the green house gases that would heat up the earth whereas a simple example of a blanket would suffice and be more relatable to layman. Creating more CO2 gas is like a blanket; the more layers you put on it, the hotter it gets. Secondly, addressing their values is important in this conversation. Do they personally feel responsible for the environment? Or do they feel more responsible for the community? Addressing these values of responsible management and stewardship would encourage a more positive conversation about the environment.
In conclusion, Joy reminds us that it is not up to us as individuals to change one’s opinion. What we can do, however, is to collectively show them our scientific perspective on these controversial issues in a positive manner. And this by itself is considered success.
Here is a quick overview on what we discussed in our last member meeting. First, Beth started off by talking about Joy Delyria From PSC who gave a workshop at lunch on Friday 3/31 on how to talk to nonscientists about “controversial” topics. Then, Emily Myers from 500 Women Scientists introduced the 500 Women Scientists and gave the opportunity to join this wonderful group. If you are interested in joining this group, please email email@example.com. Beth then announced that Donna Nelson will join us for a lecture series at some point in the next two years. Katie C. was informing us for the multiple workshops occurring in DICE. Then, we were doing brainstorming for possible collaborations between WCS and Free Radicals, the chemistry interest club and honor society at the University of Washington; two main ideas were the panels that were given and trivia which occurred last year. Beth said to think about the nominations for WCS Annual Lecture; these nominations will open up within the next week or so. Coming to the conclusion of the meeting, Emily also is trying to set a date to give information about the RSO travel grant that can be obtained through WCS.
During the mentor network social last friday, we were able to rent off the HUB Arcade and to play mario kart on the wii u, pool, and ping-pong ball. Additionally, we were able to rent off the party room and provide refreshments and snacks. Next time, we hope to see you at the mentor network social!
The meeting was fairly short and included a variety of topics. The first major topic of discussion was the co-sponsoring of oSTEM’s mental health workshop with Brenda Kessenich on February 9, 5 PM. We then changed the topic of conversation to the blog posts and writing of one for the March for Women. The officers were discussing who to select for the Dean’s Lecture and have not decided for certain. Lastly, Beth proposed a book to discuss during the Summer Book Club.