My name is Chelsea McCallister. I am a graduate student in the Integrated Biomedical Sciences program at the University of Notre Dame. I am a part of the Social Responsibility of Researchers (SRR) program within the university. The idea of the program is to bring together minds of researchers across diverse science and social science disciplines to learn how to best engage the community in research and train young scholars to frame our research under ethical and socially responsible research.
My scientific research focuses on how cancer cells are able to survive when they should not be able to, spread through the body during the process of metastasis, and ultimately lead to patient death. Cancer cell survival in incorrect contexts is what allows for cells to lose their regulation and spread through the body. What I am trying to understand is now cells mis-communicate with each other and are able to go rogue and cause disease. If we are able to elucidate the mechanism by which cells survive we will find targetable pathways we can shut down and prevent metastasis.
Part of the SRR program is developing and executing a project. Science communication is a fundamentally important skill which is not taught or addressed very well in academic training. Scientists need to be able to effectively communicate to be able to open a dialogue with the general public about science and encourage young students to pursue scientific careers. For my SRR project, I plan to work with the Alan Alda Center for Communicting Science to bring their theater improv workshop to the University of Notre Dame. The Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science uses theater and improv techniques to train scientists how to distill their message and communicate it to a general audience. Having the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science come to Notre Dame and run a two-day workshop will allow many people to be trained in the methods of using theater to communicate science. Not only will the workshop train current graduate students to use these techniques to effectively communicate, it will extablish the foundation for sustained implementation of an emphasis on science communication. Emphasizing science communication will not only help the current graduate students to competiveily enter into academic and industry science roles and strength the outreach of science at Notre Dame, but will prepare these students to train the next-generation of scientists in responsible research and scientific communication.