Northland RC Meeting Focused on “Communicating Science”

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The Northland Regional Chapter of SOT (NLSOT) held its fall meeting on Thursday, October 1, 2015, on the University of Minnesota campus in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The meeting was titled “Communicating Science,” and was cosponsored by 3M Toxicology and Compliance Solutions, Charles River Laboratories, and hosted by the Division of Environmental Health Sciences in the Graduate School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota. The meeting was extremely successful with approximately 80 participants attending in person. With generous funding from the Society of Toxicology, webcasts of each of the keynote speakers as well as the workshop are available on the NLSOT website.

Speakers on the topic of communication of science included Eram Cowlas, Managing Editor of the 3M Newsroom; Buddy Ferguson, Risk Communication Consultant; Katie Nyquist, Health Communications Specialist, Minnesota Department of Health; and Tim Barrett, Director of STEM Education Outreach, Minnesota High Tech Association, who lead a workshop on the communication of science and technology.

The Fall Meeting started with a brief welcome and agenda overview conducted by NLSOT President Nicole Soucy. The first speaker of the morning was Ms. Cowlas, who gave an overview of scientific storytelling. Next, Mr. Ferguson provided a presentation on risk communication, and  Ms. Nyquist followed with insights on the communication of controversial topics, with an overview of the science of doubt. The morning session adjourned for lunch during which time the attendees had a chance to network.

The afternoon session commenced with Dr. Soucy leading the NLSOT business meeting where topics included the current status of the organization, highlights from the past 12 months, and potential future NLSOT initiatives. For the second time, NLSOT hosted a three-minute thesis competition among the graduate student and postdoctoral members, with competitors from the University of North Dakota and the University of Minnesota, Duluth. Postdoctoral scholar Sarah Lacher took home the grand prize. Mr. Barrett led the final portion of the meeting with an entertaining and fun workshop focused on improving communication skills. Following the meeting, attendees were invited to a post-meeting happy hour at Surly Brewing Co.

NLSOT serves toxicologists in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Eastern Montana. For more information about the chapter, please contact Secretary/Treasurer Nathan Pechacek or go to Northland Regional Chapter website.

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