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MEDIA ADVISORY: 10th Annual MU Life Sciences and Society Symposium to be Held March 10-15

“Decoding Science” to encourage conversation on the communication gap between scientists and the public

March 15th, 2014

Story Contact: Jeff Sossamon, 573-882-3346, sossamonj@missouri.edu

WHAT: The 10th Annual Life Sciences and Society Symposium (LSSP) will be held at the University of Missouri campus from March 10-15. This year’s theme, “Decoding Science,” aims to bridge the gap between the highly technical language often associated with scientific research and the public’s need for a simpler explanation of the research.

“Scientists often struggle to tell the story of their research in a way that relates its importance to taxpayers and the public,” said Jack Schultz, director of the Bond Life Sciences Center. “We want to open a dialogue between the public and researchers on how to talk about serious issues including human and animal health, food security and the environment.”

Experts in science, communication and journalism will focus on how the scientist-public dialogue can be improved.

Filmmaker Randy Olson joins the list of speakers Saturday, March 15, to replace Sean B. Carroll. The former marine biologist changed careers to become a filmmaker and author who focuses on science-related topics. Olson left a tenured faculty position early in his career to become a filmmaker and focus on communicating science to the public through storytelling.

Presenters at the symposium include:

  • James Surowiecki, author of The Wisdom of Crowds, will give insight into how he distills complex human behavior and systems in his weekly column. He speaks at 7 p.m., Thursday, March 13, in Cornell Hall.
  • Bill Nye, who brought science to a wide audience on the Disney series Bill Nye the Science Guy, will help his audience appreciate the science that makes the world work. His lecture will begin at 10 a.m., Saturday, March 15, in Jesse Auditorium. Bill Nye tickets are sold out. Overflow seating is available at Bush Auditorium, Cornell Hall and Monsanto Auditorium, Bond Life Sciences Center

WHERE: MU Campus, see schedule below for details.

WHEN: Tuesday, March 11 – Saturday, March 15

NOTE: If needed, overflow seating with a live video stream of the presentations will be available at the following locations:

  • 10 a.m., Saturday, March 15, Jesse Auditorium  –  Bill Nye
    Overflow seating in Bush Auditorium, Cornell Hall
    MU Campus

No tickets are required for other speakers, but free online registration is encouraged at http://lssp.missouri.edu/decodingscience

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“Decoding Science: Bridging the Gap. Engaging the Public.”

Schedule of Events:

7 p.m., Thursday, March 13, Bush Auditorium, Cornell Hall

  • James Surowiecki, author of The Wisdom of Crowds, will give insight into how he distills complex human behavior and systems in his weekly column for The New Yorker magazine.

10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Saturday, March 15, Jesse Auditorium, Jesse Hall

  • Bill Nye, who brought science to a wide audience on the Disney series Bill Nye the Science Guy, will help his audience appreciate the science that makes the world work. Bill Nye tickets are sold out. Overflow seating is available at Bush Auditorium, Cornell Hall and Monsanto Auditorium, Bond Life Sciences Center
  • Barbara Kline Pope, executive director for communications at The National Academy of Sciences, will talk about her role connecting top scientists with the entertainment industry to ensure accurate science in film and TV.
  • Liz Neeley, assistant director of science outreach for COMPASS, will discuss how she trains scientists to use social media and multimedia to spread the word about their research.
  • Dominque Brossard, chair of the Department of Life Sciences Communication at the University of Wisconsin, will discuss strategic communication, public opinion in science and risks associated with it.
  • Chris Mooney, science journalist, will share his experience writing about the intersection of science and politics in his books that include the New York Times bestseller, The Republican War on Science.
  • Randy Olson, independent filmmaker and former marine biologist, now spends his time translating science stories into film projects like Flock of the Dodos and Sizzle.

Affiliated Events:

  • Superhero Science! Fact and Fiction in Comics – art exhibit, March 3 – 28, at Ellis Library Special Collections at MU.
  • “Everything is Toxic: Do We Need Superheroes or Historical and Scientific Literacy to Survive in a Toxic World?” – lecture by Tim Evans, associate professor of toxicology, Department of Veterinary Pathobiology at MU, 11 a.m. – 12 p.m., Wednesday March 12, at The Colonnade in Ellis Library.
  • “Dialogues about Breast Cancer” – interactive theater performance, 4:30 p.m. – 6 p.m., Thursday, March 13, Room M105 (Bryant Auditorium) at MU Med School.
  • Science Sleuth – kindergarten through fifth graders and their families are invited to participate in 25 hands-on science and engineering challenges to help decode a secret message. 1 p.m. – 3 p.m., Saturday, March 15, Bond Life Sciences Center at MU.
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