It was my honor to be selected as an attendee of the inaugural Communicating Science Conference for Graduate Students (ComSciCon) in the Los Angeles region. In the two-day conference, I gained many insights about science communication both in oral and writing formats, and connected with many STEM PhD students from nearby universities (UCLA, UCR, UCSB, and Caltech) who conduct really cool research.
The conference includes high-quality science communication lectures given by scientists from different disciplines and career stages and several fun science communication practices. For example, in one practice, I was asked to improv a one-minute science pitch of my own research to a randomly selected audience from an imagined diversified pool (from kindergarten kids to my own sub-discipline professors, to aliens). I used to think that I always need to be really prepared to make a good science communication, but this practice totally changed my mind: I realized my own potential of having improv science communication.
Another part of ComSciCon events that I found really beneficial is the Write-A-Thon, in which I wrote an 800-word popular science writing about my own research. Each writing piece underwent two-rounds’ reviews: first peer-reviewed by other attendees from the same assigned group (all of us study very different research questions but all pieces are fun to read). In the second-round review, we gained feedback from a professional journal editor. This feedback brought me new perspectives on how to write an article that’s intriguing to the public.
Last but not least, thanks to the great writing piece of another Caltech attendee in my group, I finally got to understand what quantum mechanics is about.