Why Communicating Science and to whom?

Our responsibility as scientists is a topic I address in a blogpost in more detail. Our job is not only to expand horizons but also to make the achievements of humankind accessible to the community. It is a natural desire of humans to ask questions, but also to understand the answers.

A vivid, critical, and lucid exchange between fellow scientists is absolutely necessary to maintain and continuously improve on the quality of our research. While the former is actively pushed forward (media, public events, etc.), communication within the scientific environment is still underrepresented.

There is a broad set of political parties and pressure groups, all interacting in an opaque web. It seems that sticking to true facts or acting in the most meaningful way can not be taken for granted. This of course assumes that the most meaningful way of action is obvious. Often it is not. Moreover, it is getting more and more difficult for the community to form an opinion based on the overflow of information. We as researchers are expected to be independent and shed light on complicated issues. I think we should all be very well aware of this role.
I am convinced that we as researchers have to make absolutely sure to work to the best of our knowledge and in a truthful manner. We have to seek contact outside of our offices, meet the community at eye level, build bridges, communicate, discuss, but also intervene whenever needed. Keeping a healthy balance between information and understandability is certainly a challenge. I am keen to meet this challenge together with my colleagues.

Credit: Nils Pickert

Public Talks and Lectures

Public talks are a great tool to bridge the gaps arising between the community and the scientific environment. Usually there is enough time to not only provide an overview that is easy to grasp but also to provide insights into everyday research and its difficulties. Both are important to foster a sense of trust in the work of scientists and to communicate the underlying motivation behind each research project.
Stay tuned and check my account at "European Space Talks", an initiative powered by the European Space Agency.

  • 02/2019 - Lecture on the evolution of stars and their remnants as part of the "Big History" lecture series, Univ. of Amsterdam
  • 11/2018 - Space-Talk event "Space Sarau – Encounter between Art, Music and Astrophysics", Amsterdam ("An illustrated history of the Universe")
  • 10/2018 - Talk at the public "Astroseminar", University of Münster, Germany ("Vom (un/be) greifbaren Universum und unserer (un?)fassbaren Zukunft")
  • 07/2012 - Talk at "Wissenschaft macht Schule", Marie-Therese Gymnasium Erlangen, Germany ("Radiointerferometrie - der Zugang zu den Tiefen des Universums")
  • 07/2010 - Talk at "Wissenschaft macht Schule", Marie-Therese Gymnasium Erlangen, Germany ("Aktive Galaxienkerne")

Media

Credit: Nils Pickert

Science Slams

Accelerated developments in fundamental research require elaborate science communication techniques, where “Science-Slams” are highly effective. The basic aim is to present research in an attractive manner and to translate field-specific jargon and formalisms to the every-day language. This approach removes barriers between the non-scientific and scientific communities, which promotes not only the interest but also the acceptance and support of the broad community towards science. I am pleased that these events meet the great interest of a very broad and diverse audience. Science-Slams also help us scientists to improve our skills to pitch our work, to bring together different fields of research, trigger interdisciplinary projects, and attract young scholars and students.

Outreach Projects

Dedicated outreach projects help young scholars to get into direct contact with the research environment. Such projects help to counteract scholar's inhibitions and to promote the fascination and necessity of fundamental research.

  • 2014-2017 - Master Classes in Astroparticle Physics: Fundamentals of Astroparticle Physics, live experiment with a nebular chamber, extraction of real data taken with the Pierre-Auger Observatory
  • 10/2017 - Feeding the Instagram Channel of the Univ. of Erlangen-Nürnberg (#FAUtakeover) with impressions from our daily work at the astronomical institute (Dr. Remeis Observatory)
  • 06/2017 - Project with the faculty for design (Univ. of Würzburg): design of astrophysical outreach material
  • 02/2016 - Project interfacing sciences and arts with the school of design (Munich, Germany): design of outreach material on orders of magnitudes in the Universe and on Earth; free art- and photographic works on the basis of scientific information provided in an informal Q/A session.
“Science is the process that takes us from confusion to understanding.” (Brian Greene)
Image credit: DESY, Science Communication Lab