SCIENCE COMMUNICATION

Eliza Lawrence

Sophomore, journalism and biochemistry, Clark Honors College
Undergraduate researcher for the Center for Science Communication Research
Hometown: Portland, Oregon

Eliza Lawrence has a few thoughts on how the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can improve the way it talks about COVID-19 vaccines.

The sophomore and soon-to-be-published researcher spent the summer collaborating with Ellen Peters, director of the SOJC’s Center for Science Communication Research (SCR), to discover how information about the vaccine’s side effects may influence whether people choose to get vaccinated. Funded by a First Year Research Experience (FYRE) grant, which supports undergraduate researchers, Lawrence is investigating how communication can improve the public’s numeric literacy. She found that including numeric data—such as the percentage of patients who experience a specific side effect—encourages more people to trust the vaccine.

“What really draws me to science communication is that it can make a huge difference to people’s lives,” she said. “We have to figure out ways to communicate these scientific discoveries that are really impactful to people who don’t understand complex science things.”

From undergraduate research to experiential learning projects like the Science & Memory program, SOJC students with an interest in science are forging their own career paths at the intersection of science and communication.

“We talk about real problems every day in class—not just abstract ideas. This is literally journalism that is happening every day, and it’s changing people’s perspectives on the decisions they’re going to make.”
Eliza Lawrence

three people wearing hard hats stand in a forest discussing the aftermath of a fire

a student holds a small piece of glacier ice in front of their face

A student crouches behind a camera in a field of golden plants

a group of students walk away from the camera along a river bank with forested hills in the background

SOJC Launches New Undergraduate Science Communication Minor

In an era of COVID, climate change, and a public that is increasingly distrustful of scientific knowledge, science communication has never been more important. That’s why the SOJC, through the Center for Science Communication Research, launched a new, first-of-its-kind undergraduate science communication minor. The minor explores the issues, skills, and scholarship growing around the science of science communication, and courses like The Science Story take students into the field to practice what they are learning in the classroom.

Explore The Minor

Meet the Science Communication Faculty

outdoor portrait of Ellen Peters

Ellen Peters ’98

Director of the Center for Science Communication Research
Philip H. Knight Chair and professor

Ellen Peters wants people to make better decisions. A major international researcher at the intersection of decision making and science communication, she studies how evidence-based communication and numeric literacy can boost comprehension and improve decisions in health, financial, and environmental contexts. At the Center for Science Communication Research, she explores how policymakers, physicians, and other experts can enhance public understanding of science and technology by advancing the science of science communication.

outdoor portrait of Mark Blaine

Mark Blaine ’00

Journalism professor of practice
Founding faculty member of the Center for Science Communication Research

Mark Blaine wants to know how storytelling helps communicate scientific information to the public and how scientists can humanize data and statistics with empathy and accessibility. He co-leads the SOJC’s popular Science & Memory experiential learning program. He also co-hosts The Fire Story, a podcast that brings together wildfire experts from diverse backgrounds to give communication professionals and the public a more nuanced understanding of wildfire’s multiple dimensions through the lens of recent wildland fires in Oregon.

outdoor portrait of Hollie Smith

Hollie Smith

Associate director of the Center for Science Communication Research
Assistant professor of science and environmental communication

Before Hollie Smith became a researcher and teacher, she was a reporter and editor. It wasn’t long before she started asking questions about how to change the way journalism is taught to better communicate scientific and environmental topics. Today, her research looks at communication and media dynamics on natural hazards in the Pacific Northwest, including smoke, wildfires, and earthquakes. She also co-hosts The Fire Story podcast with Mark Blaine.

portrait of Morgan Krakow

What our alumni say

Morgan Krakow ’19

Reporter
Anchorage Daily News

"Science & Memory gave me the confidence to pursue technical science stories. I was able to spend time in the field alongside scientists, which was an amazing hands-on experience. That's been instrumental in some of the reporting projects I've taken on in my professional career since then."

See Morgan’s Work