Scientific Communication: Why is it Important?

Bioconjugate [noun by-oh-kon-juh-git]: a biological substance containing of a formed stable bond between two separate molecules.

Scientific communication is the transmission of scientific concepts and discoveries to a target audience by means which will be understood by said audience. To be perfectly clear, italics were used in the aforementioned ‘target audience’ to denote that target’ is the key word. The target audience can be anyone from members of the same laboratory listening to a weekly report to viewers of a PBS documentary on space travel to school children learning about gravity for the first time. The word ‘target’ is vastly significant because you would never explain define gravity as being F=Gm1m2/r2 to a 7 year old child, nor would it be fitting to demonstrate the concept of gravity to Stephen Hawking by dropping apples from a balcony. In communicating science to an audience, it is key to do so in a context they can understand. This communication becomes difficult when the language use offers up nothing for the audience to relate to and form an association with.

There is myriad ways for scientists to become informed of new advances in the field with which they are familiar: peer-reviewed journals, scientific conventions and expositions, and even casual conversation with their peers. This type of communication fuel for the collaborative endeavor that is Science. I see, however, a stark deficiency of scientific communication intended for the general public, non-scientists who may have no other scientific leaning than a general interest in knowing ‘what’s going on’.

By and large, people are most interested in topics that are most relevant to their own lives and experiences. Farmers are particularly concerned with crop and livestock subsidies and USDA regulations, investors are ever-vigilant of market trends, and nearly everyone is curious as to what is happening in Washington D.C. because these things all affect their everyday lives. Of course this is a gross oversimplification, but it serves to make my point.

That fact is that scientific advances affect everybody. Scientific discoveries answer the questions ‘where do WE come from?’ and ‘where are WE going?’. These are questions that should be of concern to every person, yet many find science to be something esoteric and far away. Many think that to understand science once must commit to years of training and scholarship. There is a difference, thought, between practice and understanding. Sure, one must understand scientific concepts to practice science, but one does not have to know Newton’s constant to understand gravity and its contributions to every day life, nor does one have to understand the nuances of genetics and cellular signal transduction to fundamentally understand how cancer spreads.

It is the responsibility of scientists to disseminate their findings to the public because, without the public, what is the point of making these advances we work so tirelessly to achieve. Disseminating scientific information in a way that is meaningful to the public creates a dialogue around the topic and introduces new perspectives and may even spark an interest in those who become the next generation of scientists innovating and finding truth for the good of the world.

The Mission of ‘The Bioconjugate’

  1. Communicate ‘science’ in a meaningful and relative manner.
  2. Aid in the development of a dialogue about science and its impacts.
  3. Break down the preconceived notions that science is esoteric and unreachable. 

Published by

Andrew Lynch

Andrew Lynch has a B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Cellular and Molecular Pathology at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. He studies the role of chromosomal instability and anueploidy in the progression of cancer.

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