Though research, universities solve many thorny problems in society. But sometimes getting the word out can be almost as thorny. 

On Sept. 23, the University of Iowa Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development (OVPR&ED), in partnership with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), brought in a group of 50 dean-nominated UI faculty for an AAAS Communicating Science workshop.

During the three-hour session, led by AAAS Communication Associate Gemima Philippe, faculty researchers focused on how public engagement is a dialogue between researchers and the public, and developed methods for fostering that conversation. By the end of the workshop, participants developed a 60-second “elevator pitch” that tells the story of their research in a brief and relatable way.

The workshop is one in a series of strategic steps by OVPR&ED to cultivate the communication skills of UI faculty in order to foster trust between scientists and the public, share exciting research discoveries, and promote the use of university-based research in public decision making. Each summer OVPR&ED offers a Communicating Ideas workshop, and in 2014 and 2015 workshops were led by Melissa Marshall, a consultant, senior lecturer at Penn State University, and research science communication coach whose “Talk Nerdy to Me” TED Talk is a YouTube staple. 

The Office of Research and Economic Development provides resources and support to researchers and scholars at the University of Iowa and to businesses across Iowa with the goal of forging new frontiers of discovery and innovation and promoting a culture of creativity that benefits the campus, the state, and the world. More at http://research.uiowa.edu, and on Twitter: @DaretoDiscover