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Karen Southern
Director of Communications, (401) 874-6009

Metcalf Institute Workshop to Give Rhode Island
Scientists Valuable Communication Skills

One-day workshop at Metcalf Institute for Marine & Environmental Reporting will teach scientists how to communicate complex research to the public through the news media

Narragansett, RI May 8, 2012 -- Communicating complex scientific research to reporters, policy makers and the general public can be a daunting task. The Metcalf Institute for Marine & Environmental Reporting at the University of Rhode Island will attempt to bridge the communications gap with a one-day Science Communication Workshop for Scientists, on Wednesday, May 16, at the URI Graduate School of Oceanography.

The workshop is the second in a series, funded by the National Science Foundation Rhode Island Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (NSF EPSCoR), to help researchers from around the state learn how to effectively communicate scientific research to the public through the media. Professional journalists serve as trainers in these workshops to help scientists explain their research to the general public and give them the tools they need to transform complex ideas into clear, concise messages.

Providence Journal editorial writer and president of the Association of Opinion Journalists Froma Harrop and URI Journalism Department Head John Pantalone will teach participants in the May program best practices on how to draft compelling opinion pieces that engage the public.

"An important skill for advancing scientific literacy is the researcher's ability to break down complex information into simple language that the non-scientists can understand," said Sunshine Menezes, executive director of Metcalf Institute. "It's my hope that participants in the workshop will be inspired to put those valuable communication skills into practice."

The scientists participating in the series represent URI, Salve Regina, Brown University, Bryant University and the Community College of Rhode Island. Public information officers from each school will also attend the May 16 workshop to help the scientists learn how to make better use of their institution's media relations experts to promote their research.

The National Science Foundation founded EPSCoR as a mechanism to foster research and economic development to increase competiveness for future funding, stimulate collaborative research and enhance public understanding of scientific research. Rhode Island NSF EPSCoR partners with nine academic institutions across the state as well as with secondary schools, government and industry.

The mission of Metcalf Institute is to promote clear and accurate reporting of scientific news and environmental issues; to strengthen understanding and working relationships between members of the scientific community and members of the news media; and to provide opportunities for reporters to improve their skills in environmental journalism.

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May 9, 2012