FSU graduate student mixing passion for science and communications


A graduate student from Florida State University has received a prestigious scholarship designed to teach scientists how to better communicate science to the general public.

Dani Davis, a graduate student in ecology, was selected to participate in ComSciCon, a scholarship sponsored by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing, the National Association of Science Writers, and the Communicating Science Workshops.

The scholarship was part of the annual conference of the National Association of Science Writers. During the conference, Davis and 20 other scientists participated in workshops on how to better write current science articles and develop interview skills. They also attended sessions on building a successful podcast and working in the media.

“It was really a great experience,” said Davis. “The workshop made me think maybe this was something I could do to feel like I had the tools to do it professionally.”

Participants also interviewed scientists outside their field. For Davis, that meant interviewing Daniel Scheeres, professor of aerospace engineering at the University of Colorado.

“It was just a great experience talking to someone so far from the realm of ecology,” Davis said.

Davis first got a taste of science communication while working as an outdoor educator at a nature center in Georgia. As a student at FSU, she made YouTube videos explaining different principles of ecology in order to generate enthusiasm among undergraduates for the field.

She has also recently started blogging for the WFSU Green Blog.

“Environmentalists, like all scientists, can be passionate about what they do and yet be very bad communicators,” said Thomas Miller, FSU professor of biological sciences, advising Davis. “Dani Davis is remarkable because she has a unique skill in explaining ecology to the public, while making it both informative and exciting. This scholarship allows her to develop this skill as she grows as a young scientist.

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