Workshop on Talking about Complex Biomedical Issues Sponsored by Vice President of Research

The public needs more help today than ever in understand the complexity of scientific issues and research. Ever wonder how to sum up a research project to a friend without creating misinformation and confusion?

A symposium for CSU employees and students on April 5, sponsored by the Office of the Vice President of Research and featuring a New York Times bestselling author, will address just that. “Talking to the Public about Complex Biomedical Issues” will provide advice from a leading national author and CSU experts about how to address public concerns and misconceptions about research projects that are complex and difficult to explain to a lay audience.

“One could easily argue that we live in a scary world of potential biomedical hazards,” said Stu Tobet, a researcher in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and one of the symposium organizers. “As scientists and students in training at a major research university, it is our responsibility to understand the issues surrounding public health concerns to the best of our abilities and to do a better job of explaining them to others. This symposium is a step toward tackling and communicating some of the most complex scientific issues we face today.”

Following an introduction by Peter Dorhout, vice president for Graduate Affairs, Bill Farland, vice president for Research, will provide an overview of the issues with “Risky Business: Communicating Public Health Concerns in Modern Society.” Dr. Richard Bowen, a professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences, will provide an example of a complex health issue and how his research intersects with the public when he presents “West Nile Virus: Public Concerns and Research Priorities.” Finally, award winning author and CSU alumna Rebecca Skloot will provide “A Journalist’s Tips for Communicating Science to the Public.” Skloot wrote current bestselling book “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.”

The symposium is slated from 2 – 4 p.m. Monday, April 5 at the Fort Collins Hilton. A reception following the symposium at 4 p.m. will include poster presentations that provide information about key resources at the university including writing, responsible research conduct and professional development skills.

This symposium was developed by an ad hoc committee to support scientific communication efforts on campus comprised of members of the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, the College of Liberal Arts and CSU Libraries.