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Science Communications Bootcamp


There is no cost to register or to participate in the program. Breakfast and lunch will be provided.

Registrants are expected to cover travel expenses, accommodations and incidentals. A limited number of travel scholarships are available.


This program is open to graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, and early career researchers. First priority will be given to those involved in CMAP. In-person spots are limited to the first 25 registrants.

Program Schedule

The program took place May 24-25, 2023 at the University of Rochester River Campus in Rochester, New York.

Click the + icon next to the session names to expand each for more details.

Moderator and Program Leader

Corey S. Powell, former editor of Discover and American Scientist, founder of OpenMind, co-host of the Science Rules podcast

Guest Speakers

Whitney Clavin, journalist and public information officer for NASA-JPL and Caltech

Philip Ball, physics editor, writer, and essayist

Ethan Siegel, astrophysicist, writer, blogger, and podcaster

Rebecca Crocker, social media expert and graphic designer

Wednesday, May 24: Fundamentals
Lunch | 12:35 13:20 | Feldman Ballroom AB

Informal mixing time with CMAP scientists, faculty, and Corey Powell

Fundamentals Session A: Styles of Communication | 13:25 – 14:25 | Douglass 401

There are more ways than ever to share scientific findings with the public: radio, TV, podcast, video, and print ranging from a Substack to news to features to books. I’ll walk you through my different experiences and talk about how to gain access to different media. We will also hear from virtual guest speaker Whitney Clavin, discussing the unsung but pervasive work of public information officers (the dirty “PR” folks).

Activity: We’ll analyze the same story handled different ways in different formats.

Session B: Art of the Story | 14:25 – 15:25 | Douglass 401

What makes a great science news story? What about a great essay, blog post, or feature article? What do they have in common with a review paper or colloquium, and what are the fundamental differences? We will explore these questions with the help of virtual guest speaker Philip Ball – a former physics PhD and editor at Nature, now a leading science journalist and essayist.

Activity: Reading a story by Phil and discussing how it was constructed.

Special Guest | 15:10 – 15:25 | Douglass 401
Break | 15:25 – 15:40 | Feldman Ballroom CD

Coffee and snack break. Informal mixing time with Corey, speakers, and other CMAP Annual Meeting faculty and scientists.

Session C: Truth, Lies, and Expertise | 15:40 – 16:55 | Douglass 401

In the modern media world, expertise is more valuable than ever—but it is also more contested than ever. How do you share your expertise and get it heard? How do you decide what is real and valid when you are the reporter (or when you are the researcher for that matter)? And when is it acceptable, or even necessary, to voice your opinion in your role as a scientific expert? We will explore these questions with virtual guest speaker Ethan Siegel, an astrophysicist who started the popular blog and podcast “Starts with a Bang.”

Activity: Real-time interactive quizzes and discussion.

Group Photo | 16:55 – 17:00
Thursday, May 25: Advanced
Breakfast | 08:15 – 08:45 | Feldman Ballroom AB
Session D: Inside the Sausage Factory | 08:45 – 09:45 | Douglass 401

There is a long process from having a great idea to telling a great story. In this session, we will take a close look at all of the essential steps: finding the right outlet, pitching a story, working with an editor, controlling the final produce. We will also look at self-publishing/blogging, book-writing, podcasting, book-writing and other ways to tell your story.

Activity: Analyzing a story from pitch to draft to final version.

Session E: Social Media and Self-Promotion | 09:45 – 10:45 | Douglass 401

Twitter, Instagram, Facebook…maybe Quora and Reddit, too. You are already out there in some form, so you might as well make the most of it! We will pick apart the pros and cons of the different channels, including YouTube and TikTok (yes, really). Rebecca Crocker will include tips on brand-building and establishing your media profile. Rebecca and Corey will discuss their distinctive social media strategies.

Activity: Live social media critique and a network-building exercise.

Break | 10:45 – 11:00 | Feldman Ballroom CD

Coffee and snack break. Informal mixing time with Corey, speakers, and other CMAP Annual Meeting faculty and scientists.

Special Guest | 11:00 – 11:15 | Douglass 401
Session F: Ideas into Action | 11:15 – 12:30 | Douglass 401

Time to make your voice heard. You have the expertise, you have the unique stories, now you just need to figure out the right way to get them in front of an audience. Think: Why do you want to communicate? What do you want to communicate? Who is your target audience? What is your optimal outcome – how does it advance our overall goals. Formulate your ideas and pitch them to our judges, Rebecca and Corey.

Activity: Pitch slam! Everyone will pitch a story and receive a real-time critique.

Lunch | 12:30 – 13:30 | Feldman Ballroom AB

How to Register

First priority will be given to CMAP graduate students, post-docs, and early career researchers.

In addition to basic information, the online registration form requires a brief description of your research interests (300 words or less).

The registration deadline has passed: Sunday, May 14, 2023


Contact Natalie Antal, CMAP program administrator, at or (585) 276-4967.

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