HOW A KERNEL OF CORN MAY YIELD ANSWERS INTO SOME CANCERS
PMCB faculty are often contributors to independent source of news that convey research directly to the public. In this article, Dr. Kevin Folta talks about the links between the processes that govern cell identity in a kernel of corn and those that turn a blood stem cell into a cancerous threat to human life. The article is based on recent research published by Dr. Mark Settles, faculty.
"IN THE UNPOPULAR POSITION OF JUSTIFYING GENETIC ENGINEERING TO MY OWN GENERATION"
Our students often write, tweet and participate in discussion forums trying to bridge the gap between advances in science and public perception. In this publication, Chris Barbey (student) writes about the need to find common ground in genetic engineering.
GETTING KIDS EXCITED ABOUT SCIENCE
Our graduate students have served as both science fair judges and project mentors in local public schools. Engaging kids with simple but exciting experiments boost their interest in plant science. PMCB students help kids develop their science projects from coming up with an idea, setting up an experiment, testing a hypothesis, analyzing data, reaching a conclusion and communicating the results.
CAN RANDOM BITS OF DNA LEAD TO SAFE, NEW ANTIBIOTICS AND HERBICIDES?
While mowing his lawn, Kevin Folta (faculty) was inspired to describe here how moving DNA is a research tool to understand how specific genes work and how it could lead to new discoveries. This informal article makes his Oct 17 Plant Physiology paper accessible to a non-scientific public.
TALK SCIENCE WITH ME
A UF/IFAS initiative where scientists meet community members at libraries, bars, cafes, laundromats and other locations for informal discussions about science. Several PMCB students have engaged with the community during these sessions.
EMPOWERING THE NEXT GENERATION
PMCB students share knowledge with eager young minds by developing specialized training for students. One NSF-sponsored workshop, for instance, provided a 5-day hands-on experience with protein purification, western blotting and more for high school students.
PROMOTING SCIENCE IN PUBLIC POLICY
Our students have the opportunity of communicating science to policy makers. Alejandra Abril Guevara (student), Chris Barbey (student), Kevin Folta (faculty), for example, addressed biotechnology and genetically modified organisms (GMO) technology and safety for the United States House Science Committee, see article here.
GMOS: YOU'VE GOT QUESTIONS, WE'VE GOT ANSWERS
Our students are actively engaged in making information about GMOs in food and agriculture easier for consumers to access and understand. Chris Barbey (student), for example, answered questions about biotechnology with the public during the 2015 SXSW (South by Southwest®) Conference & Festivals, check feature here.
This weekly podcast hosted by Kevin Folta (faculty) discusses the interface between society and science and genetic improvement in agriculture. Chris Barbey (student) have interviewed prominent guests and several PMCB alumni have been featured in interviews.
PMCB in the Community
Do you want to make a difference?
If you want to share your research to create impact and promote change beyond academia, PMCB can take you there. Most scientists unfortunately do not receive formal training in science communication and are not trained to engage with the public in general. We are trying to change that.
As a graduate student in PMCB you will find plenty of opportunities to engage with a broader audience and make your mark in the world. We train our students to be effective science communicators and also provide students with opportunities to expand their network and create their own opportunities. We recognize that communication skills are an asset in the job market and are increasingly making the difference in job placement.
Science is at the core of most issues that affect the world we live in. Just to name a few are climate change, food scarcity, overpopulation, environmental degradation. We believe that science is a catalyst for change. However, in a world increasingly dominated by easy access to bad information, the general public does not who to trust. Despite that, consumers are actively seeking honest answers about science, especially food and agriculture. And yet, people don’t trust farming and science. So, how do we build public trust in scientists?
Inspired by Kevin Folta’s effective efforts in connecting the public to biotechnology and agriculture, PMCB recognizes that facts do not matter without trust. In other words, scientific facts will not make a difference by themselves until you have established trust between you and your audience. And trust is built on shared values and mutual concerns. With this in mind, PMCB is trying to lead our outreach efforts with ethics.
PMCB values the importance of reaching out into the community and beyond to build the trust of the public and inspire next generation of scientists. Many of our students and faculty are drawn to outreach efforts because of its potential to contribute to the betterment of society. Below are some of the activities and programs that our students and faculty member have participated in: