Monday, June 24, 2019

Small Worlds Exhibit Celebrates Intersections of Science and Art

“I didn’t grow up with gardening, but I’m a nurturer, I see the connections.” Artist Rene Williams walks me through her newly renovated greenhouse discussing her latest Science Loves Art exhibit, small worlds, and inspiration she finds in plants while running the tips of her fingers through dill and basil releasing the herbal oils. Williams is an outreach and education partner with Wyoming EPSCoR’s Track 1 Micro project who uses scientific artifacts and objects found in nature to create art.

Photo by Gregg Kerr

Small Worlds was motivated by a desire to introduce the community to microbes in an approachable way. “Small things can be seen and are appreciated,” explains Williams. By focusing on small things found in nature, the exhibit established a sense of place and wonder among attendees. In addition, attendees were encouraged to see what is unseen through the microscopes. As passersby peered deeper into the looking glass, “people shocked by what they couldn’t see that became visible under the microscope.” Many scientists submitted pieces and several from EPSCoR’s Micro project proudly displayed their work including, Sarah Konrad EPSCoR Deputy Director, Gregg Kerr DNA liquid handling facility lab manager, Linda van Diepen project CoPI and scientist, and Abby Hoffman graduate student in botany. Title of scientist was not a requirement for the exhibit; artists just had to convey their appreciation for the small worlds. When asked what surprised her most about the exhibit’s opening night, Williams enthusiastically recounts how passionate the scientists were about displaying their work, the creative process behind it, and connections to their research.

Mixed Media by Abby Hoffman
Through this exhibit, and Williams’ work in general, art is the communication tool used to describe science. The exhibit is a welcoming way to learn about science, meet scientist, and learn about their work. She explains, “the key to talking about science with the general public is that you don’t have to label everything as science.” The beauty of the natural world connects science and curiosity. “We’re not convincing the public to like science because they already like it. They just don’t like the label.”
Mixed Media by Lynne Boddy

Check out the Fermentation Festival later this summer for another opportunity to get to know microbes in a fun, tasty, and approachable manner!

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Science Journalism Interns take to the Airwaves and Newsrooms Across Wyoming

Warm temperatures and long days are a welcome sign of summer in Wyoming. Classrooms and textbooks give way to open ranges, Carhartts, and field notes. Starting this summer, students from the Communication and Journalism department at the University of Wyoming are scattering to newsrooms across the state as part of an internship program in science journalism through Wyoming EPScoR’s Track 1 Micro project. Interns will develop hands-on experience, receive mentoring by seasoned reporters, and build a body of work in science journalism. Mining and tourism buoy Wyoming’s economy. We are a state blessed by a wealth of natural resources, large swaths of federal land, and the nation’s first national park. Wyoming is perfectly positioned to lead science communication initiatives. Associate Professor Kristen Landreville directs the summer science journalism internship program. Below are brief descriptions of the 2019 interns and their associated newsrooms.

  • Nolan Behnke works in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle newsroom. Nolan wants to learn more about the different facets of Wyoming journalism and how to produce a strong story. He was an intern with Wyoming Public Radio in spring 2019 and wants to diversify his media background. His goal is to learn how science is researched and reported in the state. 
  • Kiley Carrol is interning at her hometown paper, the Sheridan Press. Kiley grew up on a ranch and is keen on expanding the Sheridan Press’s coverage of agriculture and science issues.
  • Ivy Engel interns with Wyoming Public Media. She is studying biology with minors in chemistry, journalism, and business. Hoping to go into science communication upon graduation, she is excited to get a taste of the world of broadcast journalism and to share her love of science.
  • Tristan Kutzer is working in the Casper Star-Tribune newsroom. During the school year, he writes for the University of Wyoming student newspaper, the Branding Iron. He is excited about the strong mentorship experience that the Casper Star-Tribune can provide him as he develops an interest in news writing, photojournalism, and videography. 
  • Mary Rucinski is an intern at the Laramie Boomerang. Mary is an aspiring journalist who, in addition to covering science topics with this internship, is eager to cover local government and public affairs.
  • Sarah Teter is a graduate student interning with the UW Haub School developing research briefs for public consumption and developing stories for Western Confluence, a publication of the Ruckelshaus Institute. Sara comes to this internship with several years of journalism experience, including her work at Laramie Live.
  • Jeff Victor is a graduate student interning as a science reporter with Wyoming Public Radio. In a former life as a Laramie Boomerang reporter, he was awarded six Pacemakers for his coverage of the university and Laramie culture.

These interns represent Wyoming EPSCoR’s Micro project and bring that voice to communities across the state. This project and partnership with the Wyoming Press Association will build bridges into new communities in unique and positive ways.