The Marriage of Science and Communication: Beautiful, but Difficult

Author: Meredith Bennett, Junior Environmental Science

Ever since I was very young, I have been an avid reader. I recall an amused bookshop owner (and slightly annoyed parents) in Bar Harbor, Maine as they helped me choose a novel after I ran out of reading material on a family camping trip. This love of reading gradually led to a similar interest in writing everything from poems and stories to essays for class. Meanwhile, my life was characterized by a deeply ingrained appreciation for the natural world, and my primary goal became studying whales and other creatures as a marine biologist.

Since then, I have come to understand that my scientific curiosity doesn’t end at marine biology, which caused me anxiety when it came to deciding what to study in school. My solution to this problem has been to involve myself in scientific communication. For me, it is a way to immerse myself in the fields of many different sciences, even if only for a short time as I write or read articles about different topics.

As Editor of The D.U. Quark, a large part of my job is to find students on campus who are interested in getting involved in the journal. As I implore my friends to join or submit their writing assignments about science, a common response is something along the lines of, “No, I can’t write at all! That’s why I study science.” Surprisingly, I hear this response from scientists much more often then I hear English/Liberal Arts majors show distaste for science (some of The Quark’s most enthusiastic members aren’t science majors).

This aversion to writing that I observe in many young scientists is disheartening for several reasons. Perhaps most importantly, communication is part of the scientific method. It is the final step and exists to foster healthy collaboration between scientists across the world, so that experiments can be repeated and grow more credible. Good scientific communication also makes science more accessible to the general public, which despite being neglected by many scientists, is an extremely important initiative. The general public should know about science in part because they fund many scientists’ work by paying taxes, but also because there is intrinsic value in understanding something about the world we live in. Understanding the mysteries and wonders of our earth and universe make life more enriching, and scientists have the unique power and obligation to share their knowledge with others.

Scientific communication is so important because it highlights a connection between two fields that is extremely important, but often overlooked. I don’t think anyone would argue with the fact that writing is a form of expression. But science is expression as well. Maybe not the expression of individuals, but the expression of the human species. It is our way of making sense of our place in the universe and learning how things came to be the way they are. I believe everyone should have the chance to participate in this great story that is scientific discovery and innovation.

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