Sunday, June 17, 2012

Retreating to Communicate

While I know many people expect my job as an evolutionary geneticist is to work alone in a dark tower (but only during a thunder storm), creating new breeds of monstrous fruit-flies (maniacal laugh... maniacal laugh), I actually spend most of my time doing something else entirely, trying to communicate how cool my fruit-flies really are. Well not so much the fruit-flies, but the questions we address using our little critters. Since I am unlikely to be creating a freeze ray to help me take over the city some time soon (Sorry Dr. Horrible, but it is unlikely I will be in your posse anytime soon), I generally use the more traditional means of communication, like presenting my work to my peers. This generally occurs in one of two ways, first presenting a "talk" or seminar at a University or a professional conference, or the far more common (and meat and potatoes of my field), by writing research manuscripts.

Now as many folks are aware of, writing can be (at least for some people, and that includes me) hard work. As a scientist, in addition to helping other people in the lab with their experiments, analyzing their hard earned data, and writing their papers (not to mention teaching, meetings, etc...). It turns out that many others struggle with this as well. Well, a few months ago I received an interesting email for a Writers Retreat held on the campus of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. So here I am (having just arrived an hour or so ago). In addition to quiet time to write, there will be opportunities for professional coaching, and peer feedback, which I am very excited about.  We have also been asked to read the first thirteen pages of "Explaining Research: How to reach key audiences to advance your work" by Dennis Meredith. This book (or at least the first thirteen pages) reminds us as scientists to do a better job communicating, not only with each other, but with everyone!

In any case I am very excited about this opportunity, and I will let you know how I fare!

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