Illuminating Discovery Hub Updates: December 2017

Screenwriters’ Event

Jo Handelsman and Kevin Ponto have welcomed Laura Knoll,  Professor of Medical Microbiology and Immunology who studies Toxoplasma, to the team. The team has been in the process of gathering external viewpoints for the conference. On November 10th, Laura flew out to Park City Utah to experience a weekend-long screenwriters retreat. During this event she gathered opinions from the participants as to the desired format and structure for the immersive scientific experience that we had been thinking about. The team has also gathered opinions and advice from Knatokie Ford and Alan Alda on their thoughts of our proposed bootcamp. Currently, the team is working through this feedback in means and developing a plan of action moving forward.

Illuminating Discovery

The 2017-18 course is currently running until February 8, 2018, with additional public events in February and March. It is a non-credit course. Projects develop in real time throughout the course, with time for testing and refinement with peers and experts. A community of practice is developing through peer-to-peer feedback and formal and informal evaluation. This community of practice model will be the foundation for a train-the-trainer program to support course sustainability. Participants will have several opportunities to present their work to peers in the class, to faculty in the Discovery Building and at public events. The core components of the curriculum are story elements and structure, visualizing data, and interactive engagement models. Together, these elements teach students to think more effectively about audiences, data, and communication for a variety of science communication settings.

Small World Initiative

We are excited to welcome the newest Small World Initiative Partner Instructors (SWIPIs) to our community. As in past years, the 2017 SWIPI cohort hails from across the country and around the globe. This year we added instructors from the state of Wisconsin, Australia, and Colombia, expanding the SWI network to two new countries and continents.
Explore the SWI community through this interactive map
The SWI community now encompasses 14 countries and 39 states of the U.S. For the second time, the summer SWI in-person training took place at the University of Connecticut, Storrs led by Training Committee Chair, Debra Davis and Director of Science, Nichole Broderick. New Executive Director, Sam Rikkers, and Director of Outreach and Strategic Partnerships, Erika Kurt also attended to meet new SWIPIs and participate in training activities. Several veteran SWIPIs visited in-person or joined by video conference to share their experiences and answer trainee questions.
As demand to join SWI’s ranks and implement its discovery-oriented curriculum grows, SWI is hosting the inaugural January Partner Instructor Training the week of January 8, 2018. SWI Science Director, Nichole Broderick, will return to her native Wisconsin to help train the new SWI cohort at UW-Madison, where she did her graduate work. While January is not Wisconsin’s balmiest month, what visiting instructors may face in terms of Wisconsin’s winter’s elements will be more than made up for by the training’s scintillating science and instruction at UW-Madison’s state-of-the art Discovery Building.SWI’s January Partner Instructor Training will prioritize institutions approved for 2017’s training but waitlisted due to capacity constraints. In addition, SWI is actively recruiting minority-serving institutions and University of Wisconsin state campuses.

SWI students present their semester’s work at Tea @ 3 at the Discovery Building.

The transition of SWI’s headquarters to UW-Madison’s Wisconsin Institute for Discovery earlier this year has yielded a boost in administrative support that will serve the initiative and provide for its future stability. SWI now has a new website and that will soon house all resources supporting existing SWIPIs and new institutions looking to engage with our initiative. In addition, SWI’s fundraising efforts continue, now with the assistance of the University of Wisconsin development team, aimed at raising support for SWI’s 2018 Partner Instructor trainings and establishing a Chemistry Hub.

Finally, the pilot SWI course at UW-Madison is wrapping up. Thank you to those who joined the students for their poster session at Tea @ 3 in the Discovery Building. We look forward to continuing to grow in the spring semester.

Catalysts for Science Policy

CaSP continued to host great events this fall, including a very successful forensic science policy panel event held in the Discovery Building. See this story for more information about CaSP at WID.