May 30, 2024

New Mexico Postdocs Hone Communication Skills at Science Communication Workshop

Two women smiling while talking during workshop
By Brittney Van Der Werff


A recent NSF EPSCoR-funded project highlighted a surprising gap between the goals and preparation of postdoctoral researchers. The study found that nearly seven out of ten postdocs considered explaining science to the public a key part of their future careers. Yet, a staggering six in ten reported little to no training in this vital skill.

To address this need, NM EPSCoR partnered with the University of New Mexico's Directed Energy Center to host a two-day workshop specifically designed for postdoctoral researchers on May 16th and 17th. The workshop aimed to equip participants with the tools and techniques to excel in science communication, and postdoctoral researchers from Sandia National Laboratories, UNM, and New Mexico State University participated.

"I came in knowing very little about science communication and now feel better equipped for future jobs where I hope to do more outreach and community engagement," one postdoc commented. 

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Pre- and post-workshop surveys further confirmed the program's effectiveness. Scores on a 1-to-5 scale (with 5 being highest) showed a noteworthy increase in science communication self-efficacy (belief in one's ability), with the average jumping from 2.84 to 3.51. 


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Confidence in presenting research also rose from 3.36 to 4.23. 




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Perhaps the most dramatic improvement came in science communication knowledge, where the average score leaped from 4.82 to a remarkable 7.73 on a 10-point scale. Additionally, the majority of participants said they intended to use the skills they learned on the job, at conferences, and in future presentations, highlighting the workshop's potential for long-term positive influence within the scientific community.


By empowering postdocs with the necessary skills, workshops like this pave the way for a future generation of scientists who are not only skilled at groundbreaking research but also adept at translating it for the public good.

Disclaimer: Portions of this article were improved with AI-assistance.