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Communicating Science: Programs for Faculty, Trainees and Learners

Indiana University School of Medicine’s Communicating Science (CommSci) program trains the next generation of scientists and health care professionals to communicate more effectively and engagingly with a variety of audiences, both inside and outside the university.  

The program consists of three, two-hour, face-to-face workshops covering topics such as audience analysis, message distillation, developing effective visual aids and working with journalists and the media.  

Apply Now

The priority deadline for applications is Nov. 30. Application details are available below.

Bridging the gap between scientific expertise and public understanding

Grounded in the latest research on science communication, the CommSci program incorporates techniques from public relations, applied improvisational theatre and health communication to teach participants skills such as finding common ground with their audiences, adapting their language to different levels of complexity and effectively answering questions about their work. 

Mary Ott, MD, professor of pediatrics, found the program transformative. She said, “The Communicating Science workshop that I did was one of my favorite faculty development activities, ever.” 

This hands-on series includes one-on-one coaching with experts in advocacy and public communication, so FAPD can only accept 16 participants per cohort. All participants must commit to attending all three workshops. The CommSci program is open to all IU faculty, staff, and learners. If a cohort fills, preference will be given to medical school faculty and learners, and those outside of medicine will be registered for the next cohort. 


To apply for these workshops

  • Complete the application form. The priority deadline for applications is Nov. 30 each year, but participants will be accepted on a rolling basis. Once each cohort is full, applicants will be placed on a waiting list for the next year's program.
  • In 250 words or less, applicants must briefly summarize their background and explain why they are interested in receiving training in scientific communication. They also share their primary goal that they hope to accomplish with this training.
  • Applicants are highly encouraged to seek support from their department chair or division director due to the time commitment required for the workshops. Participating in the Communicating Science program can be an important component of an annual report and contribute to promotion and/or tenure.


Series Overview 

Thursday, January 23, 2025, 4 to 6 p.m. ET

Participants will explore ways to engage audiences effectively, build trust and speak about their work effectively and responsively with multiple audiences, from peers and interdisciplinary colleagues to family members and policymakers. Borrowing techniques from improvisational theatre, participants will practice connecting with their audiences, paying attention to nonverbal cues, and responding to questions appropriately. This session helps participants invite audiences into their work by bridging experience, culture and background gaps.

Thursday, February 27, 2025, 4 to 6 p.m. ET

The second session introduces principles of clear communication. Through a combination of experiential exercises and group work, participants will learn to speak clearly and vividly about their work in a way that non-scientists can understand. Participants will practice defining their communication goals, identifying main points, explaining the meaning and context of their work and responding to questions effectively. Storytelling techniques will also be taught to help break down complex topics into digestible messages. The skills learned in this session will be valuable for presenting research, giving interviews, engaging with the community, pitching to potential donors or simply explaining what you do to someone unfamiliar with your field.

Thursday, March 20, 2025, 4 to 6 p.m. ET
Cavanaugh Hall Room 446 Recording Studio

The third session allows participants to practice the skills they learned during an on-camera interview with a journalist. During this exercise, participants will offer and receive feedback from their peers. This session focuses on planning, developing and delivering engaging messages about complex topics in an unscripted format. Participants will learn to answer questions and succinctly explain their research when dealing with different types of media and audiences.

By the end of the series, participants will be able to:

  • Develop strategies for making their messages and information memorable.
  • Prioritize clarity by avoiding jargon and using evocative language and analogies.
  • Apply a strategic communication tool that considers their audience, the context, challenges and communication goals.
  • Develop, practice and refine a short talk through practice and constructive feedback.
  • Harness the power of narrative to discuss complex science and research.
  • Gain a stronger understanding of the science behind science communication.


Graduate minor in Communicating Science

IU graduate students in the biomedical sciences and health professions can pursue a graduate minor in Communicating Science. The minor is a partnership with the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI.