Communicating Science to the Public

Conference: 2020: 70th ACA Annual Meeting
08/07/2020: 12:00 PM  - 1:00 PM 
Oral Session 


Whether it be discussing climate change, public health policies, or simply conveying the impact of their research to the public, scientists need effective strategies to communicate and engage a broad audience. This session aims to bring together speakers discussing their experiences and approaches to scientific communication.


Bringing the Real World to a Crystallography Lab – A Quality Management Framework

12:00 PM - 12:20 PM 
The underlying focus of chemical education and training in the university setting is to provide students with the background knowledge, technical skills and understanding to enable them to apply an intellectual, inquiry-based approach to problems. Crystallography is no exception – we are applying highly specialized techniques to ask fundamental questions about structure and function. Understanding the "nuts and bolts" of crystallography, including symmetry, diffraction, structure solution and refinement, is central to our ability to effectively use crystallographic methods to answer our research questions, be them chemical or biochemical, and to push the boundaries of knowledge. But let's be honest, most undergraduates don't pursue graduate studies, and landing an academic career can be very challenging for our graduate students and postdocs. Most of our trainees head out into the "real world" and apply themselves to industrial problems. And when they get there, they are often faced with the rules, regulations and processes that govern a company's activities, which can be daunting. In an effort to better prepare students for this culture shock, we've implemented an ISO 17025 compliant quality management system in our academic structural biochemistry laboratory. We discuss the experiences, challenges and benefits of implementing an ISO 17205 compliant quality management system to an academic lab, including buy-in from students and other research groups in a semi-open lab environment at York University. 

View Abstract 117


Gerald Audette, Dept of Chemistry, York Univ Toronto, ON 

Additional Author

Robert Audette, Audette Consulting St. Albert, Alberta 

Translating hands-on activities to virtual resources for broader scientific engagement

12:20 PM - 12:40 PM 
Educating the public about crystallography and structural chemistry is part of the charitable mission of the Cambridge Crystallographic Data Centre (CCDC). We continue to fulfill this mission through involvement in scientific festivals, but the restrictions placed on public gatherings due to the ongoing pandemic has affected how we at the CCDC conduct these outreach activities. As some of the hands-on scientific events we had lined up were cancelled, we have created online resources and guides based on the planned activities. This talk will highlight some of the outreach projects we have converted to virtual, interactive activities and how we have engaged a community of scientists and non-scientists. We will also share our extension of the International Year of the Periodic Table (IYPT, 2019) through crystal structures which began as an online project to educate the public about the elements through crystals, and has been transformed into an educational card game. 

View Abstract 319


Yinka Olatunji-Ojo, The Cambridge Crystallographic Data Centre Oakland, CA 

Additional Author(s)

Ilaria Gimondi, The Cambridge Crystallographic Data Centre Cambridge
Simon Coles, National Crystallography Service, School of Chemistry, University of Southampton Southhampton
Caroline Davies, The Cambridge Crystallographic Data Centre Cambridge
Suzanna Ward, CCDC
Amy Sarjeant, Bristol-Myers Squibb
Claire Murray, Diamond Light Source, Harwell Campus Didcot

A Battleground with no Neutral Ground: Twitter for Scientists

12:40 PM - 1:00 PM 
The world is simultaneously terrifying and electrifying right now; social media is high-fidelity reflection of this, misinformation and all. Twitter offers a platform to the voiceless and disenfranchised as well as the loud and powerful. As scientists, we are privileged to have other platforms available to us for voicing our thoughts, opinions and research; due to this, we are used to placing our thoughts into a context. The reality of social media is that we cannot chose the context that our posts exist within. Understanding and reacting to the zeitgeist are key skills needed for effective navigation of the social media landscape. There are times to post and there are times to listen and amplify; this presentation will explore trending topics and appropriate responses relevant to the crystallographic community. 

View Abstract 324


Christine Beavers, Diamond Light Source Didcot