View of the mural "I Am A Man" by Marcellous Lovelace (installed by BLK75) on South Main Street, Memphis, Tennessee, under the waning light. (Photo by Ben Young Landis)

Strength in Diversity | November 2019

News and Things for November 2019
Curated by Ben Young Landis

  • The urgency of diversity in U.S. science writing
  • Science Translators Showcase returns to California State Capitol
  • Scenes from October #SciPolComm workshop
  • Indigenous space art
  • A “Consumer Reports” for your carbon footprint
  • “Bearded Lady” project promotes women in paleontology
  • Recent and upcoming events

Discussing the Urgency of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in U.S. Science Writing

Science writing in the U.S. has a diversity problem: the profession is overwhelmingly white, even as national demographics continue to shift and as diverse perspectives are ever more critical when reporting on scientific understanding and its societal impacts. At the annual meeting of the National Association of Science Writers on October 26th, the opening plenary sought to clarify the fundamental elements of this problem and explore avenues for improvement. The session “How Can We Solve the Diversity Dearth in U.S. Science Writing?” (#SciWriDiversity) was produced by Ben Young Landis, Clinton Parks, and Kelly Tyrrell, and the expert panel featured reporter Kendra Pierre-Louis of the New York Times, media studies professor Yanick Rice Lamb of Howard University, dean of communications Marie Hardin of Penn State University, and media relations director Marin Hedin of Johns Hopkins Medicine. (Access the plenary session slides | Explore the #SciWriDiversity livetweets | Share the #SciWri19 plenary highlights)

California Science Translators Showcase Offers Policy Conversation Experience to Graduate Students

Graduate students have few options to practice the craft of providing conversational science advice to policymakers. Providing such training and opportunity is the goal of the Science Translators Showcase program offered by the California Council on Science and Technology (CCST). Originally designed by Ben Young Landis for CCST in 2017, the Showcase is now auditioning for its fourth cohort — who will spend an afternoon in the California State Capitol in February explaining their research in face-to-face conversation with state legislative members and staffers. (Read the design story behind the #CCSTShowcase | Audition videos due to CCST by Wednesday, December 4th)

#SciPolComm Workshop Educates Science Professionals on State Policymaking Process

Science professionals with expertise spanning fisheries management, genetics, and agriculture gathered on October 11th for the first independent offering of the “Helping Science Inform Policy: Tools for Engaging State-Level Leaders” workshop. Taught by Ben Young Landis, Debra Cooper, and Gabby Nepomuceno, the workshop offered an overview of California’s state legislative process — and provided a primer on the nuance between advocacy and advice when engaging policymakers on scientific issues. (Share photos from the October 11th workshop | Stay tuned for future trainings)

Indigenous Space Art

In April 2019, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory engineer Aaron Yazzie (Navajo/Diné) asked others in the Twittershere to share great examples of Native and Indigenous art depicting space and astronomy. Thus the #IndigenousSpaceArt hashtag was born, and over the course of the year, dazzling photos followed of beadwork, paintings, handcraft, clothing, and song paying tribute to planets, stars, and space exploration. The collected thread is both a celebration of Native art and of Native Americans working in STEM fields today. (Browse the Twitter Moments curated by Aaron Yazzie | Retweet Corey Gray | Read a profile of Yazzie in Native Business Magazine)

Future Proof Website Reviews Everyday Consumer Products for Carbon Footprint

Science journalist Tim De Chant asked one day, “Why isn’t there a Consumer Reports for the climate generation?” Not finding such a website, he created one. Launched in November 2019, Future Proof tackles everyday household products such as lightbulbs, laptops, and refrigerators, reviewing product options not just for their utility, but also for their impact on your personal carbon footprint. De Chant, who also teaches at the MIT Graduate Program in Science Writing, is currently seeking site contributors to help grow the effort. (Visit Future Proof | Follow @FutureProofRev | Follow @tdechant)

Bearded Lady Project Dispels Misconceptions of Paleontology as a Male-Only Profession

From science fiction films to TV documentaries to museum paintings, nearly all paleontologists depicted are men. Dispelling this stereotype is the goal of the Bearded Lady Project, the brainchild of paleontologist Ellen Curano and art director Lexi Jamieson Marsh. On display now through April 2020 at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, this traveling exhibit showcases photo portraits of women paleontologists in the field, lab, or museum, humorously posing with a fake mustache or beard — yet stark in its sepia tones and poignant message. (Share the photo tweets | Visit the Bearded Lady Project in Washington DC | Visit the original project website)

Recent and Upcoming Events

October 25th Meeting: Second Congress of Regional Science Writers Groups, hosted by Marla Vacek Broadfoot and Ben Young Landis (State College, Pennsylvania)

November 7th Working Group: “Data Science Solutions to Environmental Challenges in the Electric Power Industry: An EPRI-EPIC Workshop” facilitated by Ben Young Landis, organized by the Electric Power Research Institute and the Environmental Policy Innovation Center (Washington, DC)

February 3rd Workshop: “Helping Science Inform Policy Workshop — Tools for Engaging State-Level Leaders” led by Ben Young Landis, presented by the 67th Annual Meeting of the Western Section of The Wildlife Society (Redding, California)

Sign up to get Creative Externalities news and things in your email inbox via Mailchimp:

“Have fun. Do no harm. Leave the world a better place.”

— Ben Young Landis