UW Student Scientists Connect Individual Research with Local Murals
Press release - January 25, 2018 - read release below or view release on UWyo News.
Scientists have long appreciated the arts and used art forms in their practice. And, even though scientists strive for objectivity, they bring their own perspectives and preconceptions to public art, according to a University of Wyoming research scientist.
UW graduate students enrolled in last fall semester’s science communication class, “The Art of Science Communication,” did just that.
Dan Albrecht-Mallinger, a UW doctoral student, who studies birds, stands with artist Talal Cockar’s “Tierra y Libertad” mural in downtown Laramie. Albrecht-Mallinger, through a science communication class assignment, developed a 60-second audio guide relating the feeding behavior of the birds he studies to the mural’s depiction of cultivation and abundance. (Doug Eddy Photo)
Doctoral candidates -- specializing in topics ranging from soil science, birds and bees to black holes, frogs and trees -- were tasked with selecting pieces from the seven downtown murals in the Laramie Mural Project and connecting them to their research, says Bethann Garramon Merkle, an associate research scientist with the Wyoming Migration Initiative on the UW campus.
Garramon Merkle, the class’s lead instructor, says, by researching, writing and recording audio guides for a selection of public artworks in downtown Laramie, the students learned how to take their research “beyond science, connecting it with something integral to the Laramie community -- our murals.”
Author: Chris Petranick, a PhD candidate studying bumble bee physiology
"Even when discussing a basic research idea, I hope my
audience is left with some appreciation for the virtue
of finding things out."
My name is Chris Petranek and I study bumble bee physiology as a graduate student at the University of Wyoming.
Before I got here, my research was focused on conservation population biology of obscure bumble bee species in Mexico and Guatemala. Communicating the relevance of the science was not difficult, especially since it coincided with the popularity of “saving the bees”. While I think science motivated by an obvious benefit to society is fine, science for the sake of itself is incredibly important, as many game-changing discoveries were happenstance, e.g. penicillin, X-rays, and super glue. Research on creatures spanning the tree of life can provide apparently unlikely insight to myriad issues pressing mankind, even if the studies seem entirely trivial at face value.
Author: Heather Speckman, a PhD candidate studying big data and tree physiology
"I shoot trees for science."
Hello, my name is Heather Speckman I will be your blog master for this week! Where to start talking about me…. Yes, I am a scientist, but I feel that term comes with such stereotypes and frankly…. Frankly it’s Friday and I’m not in the mood for stereotypes. So I hereby dub this "Stereotype Slaying Friday"!
Let’s talk about what a scientist actually is and is not.
Stereotype Number #1: Scientists wear lab coats.
Well, I’m a scientist and I do have a lab coat…. I wear it like twice a year when I need to bleach things. Here’s some other gear I use:
Author: Michelle Mason, PhD candidate studying active galactic nuclei
"I've loved math and science my whole life
and I hope I can share some of that love
with you. I don't want to tell you, or even
show you, about science and how we
communicate it. I want to involve you. "
Or, in regular English: Hello World! My name is Michelle and I'll be running our SciComm blog for the next week. I've loved math and science my whole life and I hope I can share some of that love with you.
Third grade science class is what really started me off on this journey. We were learning about all nine planets in the Solar System (back before Pluto was demoted), and I decided right then and there that I simply had to learn everything about the Universe. Literally. Everything. Ah, youth... so much energy, ambition, and naivety. But can you really blame me? The Hubble Space Telescope produces the most outstanding pictures of the Universe. Then, to top it off, Contact (the movie) came out, and my fate was sealed. Don't get me started on the scientific inaccuracies of that movie, but 3rd grader me neither knew nor cared. Space was beautiful and amazing, and I needed to know more.
Author: Chelsea Duball, PhD candidate studying soils
"While scientists face many challenges in
pursuing interdisciplinary research and
scientific communication, it has become undeniable that we need to see more of the two."
Amidst the wonder that exists between science and art, lie even deeper depths, layers, and forms of the two...
One of the greatest of these layers, is interdisciplinary research. No, I am not talking about when 20+ soil scientists collaborate together to rewrite the whole soil classification system for the U.S. (trust me, this can get ugly). Although collaborations such as this are important within a specific discipline, interdisciplinary research holds its own unique benefits.
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