Debunking Misunderstandings of Adolescence

UO research comes to life in a new YouTube video series

University of Oregon researchers spend decades diving into complex fields of study, but research on issues like the microbiome, data science, product design and medical ethics may be challenging to grasp for someone without a doctorate.

To help with that, University Communications recently launched a series of videos designed to explain complex academic concepts and how research affects the world outside the lab or classroom.

Titled “Understood,” the series features world-class UO researchers talking about their work, accompanied by animated graphics that illustrate how their research applies to issues of the day. The video series can be found of the UO’s YouTube page.

Visual communications specialists Chris Larsen and Nic Walcott spearheaded the video series. YouTube is now the second-most searched platform on the internet for people looking to learn about a new topic.

“YouTube is a great platform for people to engage with the thought-provoking research that happens at the University of Oregon,” Larsen said.

“Working with faculty on ‘Understood’ has been very rewarding,” Walcott said. “I get to constantly learn new things and then share that knowledge in an easy-to-understand video.”

UO media relations manager Molly Blancett helps recruit faculty members to appear in the videos. Many of them also participate in Quack Chats pub talks, a series of monthly research talks held at the Downtown Athletic Club.

“Chris and Nic do a brilliant job at illustrating complex topics and making them easy to follow,” Blancett said. “When we show these ‘Understood’ videos around campus and in the community, people tell us they come away more curious and eager to learn more about these intriguing topics.”

The videos created so far feature artificial intelligence, emoji, cryptocurrency, landslides and the Cascadia earthquake zone.

Asian studies professor Alisa Freedman puts her video about understanding Japanese culture through emoji to work in the classroom.

“They are great outreach for prospective students and for encouraging students to take classes and do research projects in topics they hadn't considered before,” Freedman said.

 In the most recent video, psychology professor Jennifer Pfeifer debunks misunderstandings of the adolescent brain. She tackles neuroscience, biology and psychology and gives parents advice on how to communicate with their child during this time of tremendous change.

“Working with Nic and Chris to make the developmental science of adolescence widely accessible through the illustrated videos was wonderful,” Pfeifer said. “They provided a great opportunity to reach a broader audience and share current evidence-based perspectives on adolescent development.”

More videos will launch in the coming months.

Follow along by subscribing to the “Understood” videos on the UO’s YouTube channel. Additional information about Quack Chats is also available on Around the O.