5th Annual Indiana Science Communication Day

From Labs to Legislation: Inspiring Change Through INSciCommDay

Past event


Authors: Emily Selland, Julian Najera, Emma Thrift-Cahall

Scientists have an innate sense that their work is important for the betterment and advancement of society. However, articulating such profound work to the layman is no easy task for us as young, aspiring scientists; we must learn how to break down our research into its simplest form while retaining essential details. Bridging the communication gap between scientists and non-scientists is crucial to making our work known, instilling trust in the science community, and educating the general public.

On February 26th, 2024, 36 graduate students from 5 universities across Indiana attended the Science Policy Initiative at Notre Dame’s 5th Annual Indiana Science Communication Day (INSciCommDay) to help minimize this gap one lawmaker at a time. These students arrived at the Statehouse in Indianapolis, IN with posters in hand, ready to share their work with state legislators from the Senate and the House, as well as any interested community members. This opportunity allowed graduate students to gain experience engaging a non-scientific audience and to communicate their research directly to policymakers in our state while connecting with fellow researchers within the state. With topics ranging from Alzheimer’s disease to reducing contamination in our drinking water, graduate students engaged with legislators about interesting and impactful research.

Back in 2019, the very first INSciCommDay only had 15 participants and 2 posters. Witnessing the growth of this event through graduate students in the state has been astounding, and we commend them all for attending to advance their communication and networking skills. Since its inception, some students have even formed connections with policymakers who are truly interested in making a change and gone on to pursue internships and careers in science policy, industry, government, and academic research. INSciCommDay is unique because it is not just a “day” – it is a professional development experience. By signing up for INSciCommDay, participants are able to attend a Science Communication and a Poster and Pitch Workshop hosted by professionals who provide guidance on how to translate their research.

The 5th Annual INSciCommDay stood out this year with its exceptional level of collaboration and partnerships. This year, SPI partnered with GLOBES to offer INSciCommDay and related workshops as a mechanism to fill the GLOBES certificate’s required Science Communication Module. SPI also partnered with Indiana’s School of Medicine’s Initiative for Mobilizing Public Health Advocacy, Care, and Translational research for Alzheimer’s Disease in Indiana (IMPACT) to help expand INSciCommDay’s reach across Indiana.

Science and research and development (R&D) play a pivotal role in advancing human knowledge, driving innovation, and addressing global challenges. Through scientific inquiry, we gain insights into the workings of the natural world, leading to technological breakthroughs that improve our quality of life, enhance healthcare, boost economic growth, and protect the environment. Effective science communication promotes informed decision-making, encourages critical thinking, and builds trust between scientists and society. We are looking forward to more INSciCommDays to come – so keep an eye out for information about the 6th INSciCommDay next spring, and please reach out to scipol@nd.edu if you are interested in helping us to make it happen!

The current legislators and how to find yours.

Statement of non-partisanship: This event is a non-partisan educational and professional development event for graduate students. All students are participating as individuals, and do not officially represent their university in any capacity. Partisanship or lobbying activities are strictly prohibited at this event.